Saturday, 23 August 2014

Mob Culture and the death of Individuality

‘ Iss ghar ko aag lag gai ghar ke chirag se”, (this house was set on fire by its own lamp) goes a popular Urdu couplet. This is what seems have happened to the publishing industry in India. Around the turn of the Century, Indian Publishers began creating ideological comfort food for corralling diverse readers made nervous by an increasingly ‘Net driven globalized world that spoke in many tongues. The publishers first created and then, with not inconsiderable help from the academe and the book sellers, began firmly guiding the indoctrinated towards clear theoretically labeled categories like Feminist, Bhasha, LGBT , Pre or Post colonial Writing, Teen lit, Chic lit and so on. They did not realize that they could one day be in danger of being hoise by their own petard .
A few young ambitious writers trained by Management schools and armed with excellent marketing skills who the publishers had created and lionised have suddenly taken things in hand and begun selling themselves through the Net. These young writers will write to please the young readers but certainly not displease or challenge traditional habits of thought. System created readers have created system writers who have in turn chosen to banish the middle men an women and firmly taken control of the consolidated mass readership . They are selling in millions .

Individualism R.I.P.
To students armed with 3 G mobiles, Rahgiri and flash mobs are their natural habitat . Hell is individualism with its angst . And the supreme hell, the veritable Raurav Narak is standing alone in an area with no connectivity. 
For these young , reading books does not mean walking alone along a lonely path to sit under a secluded tree . Nor browsing in book shops in the hope that he or she may chance upon little known books of individual brilliance . It means joining a crowd, entering a certain comfort zone that will rids one of the burden of individual choice.
The supreme irony of our age is that the rise of mass shared experience is not driving the young towards socialist ideals but against them. The Media Unions are already dead . And the divisions between north and south parts of Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkata are getting more pronounced each day . Despite everyone coming together to hold candle light vigils for a death or tragedy to the other quarter , how much real understanding or tolerance for the lives of the two sisters killed in Badaun or the girl molested in Meerut  is there ? .     


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