14 September 2007


There is something called as idealism. The kind of idealism you associate with university students and student activism. I can’t exactly define it because I have never experienced it. But it is the kind of idealism which comes from the so-called intellectual discussions in the coffee house and a Presidency College or JNU/St. Stephen’s education. This kind of idealism has manifested itself in different forms at different times. It is anti-establishment, anti-convention. Pre-independence it had an anti-imperialist, anti-British tone. During the 1960s, it was in the form of Vietnam, Flower Power, Beatles and Hippies. In China, it was in the form of pro-democracy movements which eventually culminated into Tiananmen Square Massacre. During my father’s college days of late 1960s and early 1970s, it was the Naxalism, the leftist movement, in Bengal. This Naxalism was not a guerilla war of some outlawed group run by some illiterate, poor peasants, but fought by some of the best and brightest young minds of Bengal, who chucked out promising and lucrative careers for an uncertain underground life. They believed in an ideology, a dream. They were the idealists or were they the fanatics? This kind of idealism essentially implies complete faith in the cause for which you are fighting. This is the kind of idealism which has been protrayed in ‘Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi’. The proponents of such idealisms, which are often anti-establishment, often end up getting disillusioned or compromise, chuck their ideology and get on with their life. Just like Kay Kay Menon in the movie. The fiery thoughts and speeches can take you only so far.

My father once asked me during my engineering days that does our generation also has some idealist inclinations about changing the world, about bridging the divides, a dream of an utopian world, just like the one described in Kishore Kumar’s song ‘Aa chal ke tujhe’. But my generation can’t relate to this kind of idealism. We are the kids of information age, fed with the staple diet of internet, where every activity of the old world has been prefixed by an ‘e-‘. Okay, RDB (Rang De Basanti) has stuck a chord with my generation but we essentially inhabit the real and practical world, which offers opportunities to the ones who dare, who work hard and smart, who believe in themselves and not in some romantic ideology.
But I think some amount of idealism is essential in this era of anarchy and mayhem. It is this idealism, however irrational it may be, which brings hope in these troubled times.

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