No more!

No more!

Young India wants to rid the country of the deadly virus of mediocrity, writes Rachna Chhabria.

Mediocrity has spilled into all spheres of our lives. We have literally turned the old adage of ‘see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil’ on its head. Now it has become ‘will tolerate mediocrity, will revel in it, and will also dole it out’. Salman Rushdie, in one of his short stories, has called it a ‘curse’. Mediocrity is a curse that has cast its ominous and dark shadow over us and now the shadow is threatening to plunge us into darkness. For decades, we Indians have adopted the chalta hai dictum in our attitudes, beliefs and even our behaviour. We accept everything with liberal doses of chalta hai. I feel this has perpetrated mediocrity, because if it’s acceptable to us once, it will be acceptable again and again.

The billboard of mediocrity looms large from every street corner: in the form of poor street lights, garbage spilling on to the roads, stray dogs roaming the streets like it’s their fiefdom, children falling into septic tanks and ditches, electric wires hanging low. We see these signs of mediocrity every single day. Though it’s an eyesore, nothing much is done about these issues. There is complete apathy on the part of the authorities where any of these issues are concerned. And the citizens too have no options other than to tolerate these problems. The more we tolerate them, the more vicious the problems become.

‘See mediocrity, hear mediocrity and speak mediocrity’. Everywhere we go, mediocrity smacks us in the face. In music, with its vulgar lyrics choked with double entrendes that equate women to tandoori kebabs, these songs are heard during festivals, weddings and parties. The worst offence is when people use them as their ring tones and caller tunes. Mediocrity bites us in the noses in the form of movies with their no-brainer plots. We don’t know whether we are laughing with or at the middle-aged heroes wooing nubile young girls. Most of these movies torture our senses, but still end up joining the 100 crore club. Our afternoon and night hours are spent gazing at the LCD, absorbed in TV serials that portray women as conniving, scheming adulteresses, out to extract their pound of flesh. When we do take the plunge into the world of words, we prefer books which hover on the periphery of fiction. These books are so blasé about style and grammar that good literature lowers its head in shame. To add insult to the injury, these books become bestsellers, turning their writers into instant celebrities.

I think somewhere along the line, mediocrity has made us comfortable in our skins with all its blemishes, warts and scars. It has throttled our motivation and lowered our aspirations and expectations. Things have reached the point where mediocrity rides low on our noses in the form of mediocrity-tinted glasses. The large view looming before us is dull, faded and skewed at the edges.

We complain about escalating prices, bureaucracy, red tapism, corruption, lethargic justice, pot-holed and heavily congested roads, but have we mulled over our own roles in getting ourselves and our country in this mess? We have never taken a stand against the problems snapping at our heels, because we were so busy breaking rules: happily driving down a one-way street to escape the traffic and save precious petrol, littering public places, handing out bribes to bypass long queues and indulging in all kinds of murky behaviour.
It’s not all dark and grim. There is a sliver of hope and light. The media is now taking a stand by highlighting issues that really need to be highlighted. It’s heartwarming to see that the media has focused its lens on what affects the common man. A case in point being the Delhi rape case, where extensive reporting by the media woke up the entire nation from the soporific effects of the false sense of safety that had lulled us into a drugged sleep. The frenzy, stoked by the media, made angry citizens demand answers from the government. Angry young India emerged. And it wanted instant answers.
The conscience of angry young India, which was jolted rudely awake, is worrying itself crazy about issues that stalk us from all corners.

Young India is in a hurry to upgrade its software from the older mediocre version to a superior one. They want to rid the country of the deadly virus of mediocrity which has slowed down the entire machinery and is threatening to devour our aspirations, sap our motivation, and turn us into complacent zombies. Angry young India has realised the value of ‘stand up, be noticed and heard and counted’. They know that no one is going to deliver their rights to their doorsteps, it has to be demanded in a loud and firm voice, and maybe, even snatched from unyielding hands. The old mantra, chalta hai, should soon be replaced with nahin chalega.

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