Why is it that nations, in the practice of national identity building/ within the general ambit of governance/ must at the same time cause so much inconvenience to their citizens?
So I'm thinking that part of this is that it’s more or less inevitable. Think of it. Nation, Nationhood, national identity. All very abstract. Try to hold it and there’s really nothing there/ what does the nation look like? Vaguely like a webbed plus sign. But that’s on a map. And we all know that the maps not the territory. Umberto Eco has something quite wonderful on that, in a volume of essays called /how to travel with a salmon/ but anyway we digress.
What does the nation look like?
It looks like the symbols that in very complex interactional ways build our idea of what the nation is. Yours is different from mine of course, but there’s enough in common for there to be a sort of common denominator.
Very good. Problem being how do you govern that? Building homogeneity out of heterogeneity is a difficult thing; and besides peoples regular lives really do take an astonishing amount of time and energy.
So you have governance, the task of which is to build a highly abstract and complex notion in the minds of people who really don't have the time. And the large shows become inevitable. You have to have the pomp, the festival, the glamour / in both senses of glamour, really: the page three sense and the older faery sense/ and what you have as a concomitant is an understanding that the show implies presence/ not just of some kind of collective national identity but of /shall we say (and i have to do this in Bangla, sorry) Bharikki in the identity politics of the region.
Let me try and explain Bharikki. It’s one of these words like abhimaan in Hindi. Very difficult to translate anything close to well in English. Bharikki is weight, relative weight that is. So if you have the quality then people will treat you with respect, and you'll be able to put in serious bids for the UN Security Council. Yeah, that’s with a capital S and a C/ MS Word just didn’t let me type lowercase on the SC/ They’re getting you in caps all around the world, that sort of bharikki.
So you have to put up the show. It has to be enormous because of the enormity of scale of the idea you are implying. You have to, like all creators of identity have a point in the time space continuum to treat as sacred/ very important concrete of identity, dates. Independence Day, Republic Day, days of identity definition. All of which really follows and is no problem/ except this identity building exercise has to, apparently, take place on my way to office in the morning.
They're preparing to gleam for Republic Day. Its all very crisp and cool and neat blocks and lines, and attractive men in uniform. But while attractive men in uniform are a very pleasing thing, they do take a lot of time to march across the particular (only) about two hundred square yards of Rajpath i have to cross in the morning.
The unfortunate thing about peoples real lives is that they are prone to take a lot of energy. So much in fact that even though i deeply acknowledge that there is an aesthetic point to winter morning sunshine on severally colored regularity, i would still really prefer not to be late for work. Me and lots of others i guess. I sit in my car and look around at fellow stuck-in-this-damn-jammers and wonder how many people out there were thinking of ways in which this situation could be avoided. Alternate road routes mostly, probably, but i'm willing to bet that some involve governance and some engineering. And some of the plans may be viable. They should have a contest.
‘Send, with stamped self addressed envelope enclosed, 500 word essay on “System to Avoid Traffic Jam at Rajpath during Republic Day Parade Rehearsal”'.
Truly, they should. There’s an urgent problem to be solved and some very interesting people out there.
In the meantime, i’m still resenting being late for work.