SANNATA SYNDROME


Wed, Aug 21, 2019

 (Sequel to “Intellectually Speaking”)

PART - II
MANDEEP LAMA

The Search for Remedy
Under the prevailing circumstance, the onus, I feel, is squarely on the creative people. Those of the people who have this bit of an invigorating insight and inner glow, and that bit of blessedness in them ‒ which separates them from the common toiling masses ‒ must step forward to make the difference. Over the years we have tried and tested our political leaders, and almost all of them have been found severely wanting. Each one of them has failed to find solutions to our persisting problems. In fact the politicians themselves have been found, and continue to be the problem. So, therefore, it is time for the other kind of leaders of the humankind to emerge from their hibernation. It’s time for many genres of our creative people to come forward and start pondering rather profoundly, and try finding the sort of remedial measures to be applied onto many of our deep rooted personal, societal, and systemic maladies.
Intellectual as well as spiritual development of the citizens and that of the State would call for an unwavering mind and its unceasing creative efforts. It is for this reason that people with immaculate creative talents ‒ artistes, writers, poets, playwrights, lyricists, actors, dancers, singers, painters, musicians, scholars, educationists, economists, social scientists as well as the mainstream scientists with an alternative view of the conventional reality ‒ must come forward and launch an unremitting intellectual movement for the purpose of ushering in an era of holistic understanding and enlightenment in Sikkim. However, there is a bit of problem that needs addressing first.
The Problem
    Due to her tiny size, an intellectual movement may not be exactly tenable in Sikkim. There would be paucity of resource persons needed for the task. As such, we would be requiring an outside help. Darjeeling Hills, with her proven history of socio-cultural and intellectual invigoration, would be a suitable partner. On the count of a separate State for the Indian Nepali/Gorkha community, the people of Darjeeling Hills have also been suffering from an utterly lamentable political volatility. A distinct population in every way with proud and proven socio-cultural and heroic antecedents has been reduced to being sheer pawns at the hands of wily politicians at the local, state, and national level. Such being the case, the beleaguered people of the Darjeeling Hills would also be groping for a change in their existential equation.  
For developing a better understanding of the problem afflicting Sikkim and the Darjeeling Hills, a flashback of sort on the past few decades should be gainful.
    Like in many States in the India Union, when regionalism gained grounds in the absence of towering leaders at the central level, and the era of ragtag coalition governments commenced, many local political bigwigs came to style themselves as “Supremo” of their respective dominions and started dominating the State politics like copybook dictators. More than anything else, this “Supremo” political culture is singularly responsible for destroying the vibrant civil societies in Sikkim and in the Darjeeling Hills. Why because, there is a fundamental flaw in the “Supremo” nomenclature. It is the people, and not an individual, who are supreme in a democratic system of governance. However, ever since the beginning of the decade of 1980s, both the Darjeeling Hills and Sikkim have been continuously governed by the self-styled “Supremo” leaders turning the two regions into some kind of their personal fiefdoms! The utter result of this sort of political curriculum has been that the characteristic free thinking intellectualism of the two regions ended up being its first victim. Slowly but surely traditional and contemporary arts, literatures, theatres, and all other sort of creative imperatives of the region came to be brutally overwhelmed.
The Plan
Such being the scenario, intellectuals in the Darjeeling Hills could become a willing partner in banishing the “Supremo” political culture from the body politics of the Darjeeling Hills in the manner we want it banished from Sikkim. If the intellectual tribes of Sikkim and the Darjeeling Hills could be motivated to come together and creatively unite against the prevailing malicious political culture of the region, it would be so much better for establishing a genuine form of democratic political system in the entire region. This “intellectual movement” would require a platform to base upon its ideology. A reasonable term is proposed here for the purpose; and the term is KĀLBHĀ.
The term Kālbhā is constituted of a two-word phrase viz., kāla (samaya; time, era) and bhāva (abhivyanjanā; expression). Thus the phrase Kālbhā is to be understood as “Expression of the Era.” In the present context, the “era” or kāla would denote the period roughly from the mid 1970s till the present times; and “expression” or bhāva (abhivyanjanā) would emphasize the cumulative experiences of the decades in reference. These experiences would chiefly be of the circumstances as generated by the social, cultural, political, educational and economic portfolios of the two places during the period under discussion. Such other itinerary could be added up as the mission gains momentum.
In its complete regalia, this intellectual movement could be termed as Kālbhā Intellectual Movement; or KIM in acronym.
The Background
The opening years of the 1970s decade brought in a huge challenge to the erstwhile Kingdom of Sikkim and the Sikkimese society. Change was definitely up in the air but the Chogyal and his administration miserably failed to respond to the challenge of the changing times in a creative manner. This sorry discrepancy resulted into Sikkim becoming the 22nd State of the Indian Union.
Similarly, the Darjeeling Hills had also been struggling for decades for a separate homeland for the Indian Nepali/Gorkha community. The movement for a separate state started turning ugly from around mid 1970s, and the Darjeeling Hills swiftly started sliding into what has been a prolonged state of political instability giving way to sad socio-cultural and economic decadence. This regretful state of affairs came into being because, like the Denzong Chogyal, the string of leaders in the Darjeeling Hills also did fail to respond to the challenges of their times in a creative manner. Why our leaders have failed to creatively respond to the challenges is because they have failed to imagine. Bereft of imagination leaders gets down to manipulating power instead. It is the travesty of our times that this manipulation of power by the leaders of all shades and denominations goes by the name of politics. This is the reason why sensible people abhour politics.      
Thus, both Sikkim and the Darjeeling Hills rapidly entered into an identical sort of socio-political quandary ushering the “Supremo” political culture, or an era of “one man rule.” In political terms, the “Supremo” nomenclature denotes a dictatorial system in which system one person becomes the pivotal point of reference. Thus, an unabashed personality cult comes into play. In this upsurge and adulation of the personality cult, which has since become the leitmotif of the region’s brand of politics, people have been increasingly lured into forgetting the fact that the “Supremo” brand of politics is so grotesquely unbecoming of in a democratic set-up.
What the “Supremo” political culture ushered in both Sikkim and the Darjeeling Hills is the era of one man rule, which wantonly went on destroying the democratic credentials of the region. The systematic tearing up of the democratic fabric of the region has been done through:
•    ruthlessly silencing – even murdering – political opponents and suppressing the opposition parties;      
•    converting social, cultural, religious, educational, academic, and such other non-governmental organisations into the sort of frontal organisations of the political parties blatantly demolishing their autonomous credentials;
•    coming onto the seats of governance of people with awry academic qualifications, talents, skills, and intentions;
•    creating personal fortunes out of the public funds;
•    encouraging the nefarious art of sycophancy, nepotism, opportunism, coercion, allurement, and factionalism;
•    marginalising all genres of thinking people and their creative faculties;
•    doing nothing pragmatic for the growth and development of the intellectual traditions;
•    adoption and practice of the out dated monarchical ethos of “charity” in public affairs, which demonstrate the lack of creative envisioning.
The above listed points are merely the salient features of what has terribly gone wrong with the region’s socio-political and cultural setup due to reasons of the rise of the so-called “Supremo” culture. The dimension of the effects and the aftermath of such a system are really huge. However, the overall impression of the situation thus created could be marked out as: an acute sense of despair, frustration, suffocation, and alienation, as also the tragic sense of destiny’s treacherous inevitability, of desperation, of seething anger, and so on.
These are some of the ruling expressions of the era we have been living in since long.
Project Kālbhā
The principal task of the Kālbhā Intellectual Movement (KIM) would be to seek to depict all the above denoted “Expressions of the Era” (Kāla-Bhāva) and still such others in all the forms and genres of the region’s artistic and literary engagements. Besides portraying the deficiencies of the era, KIM should also be able to suggest creative solutions to many of the ills and inadequacies that reside within each of us and in the multiple systems we participate in, and, thus, seek to provide the much needed “creative thrust” to the task of building a prudent and awakened society.    
However, it would take great amount of patience, perseverance and skill to motivate thinkers and intellectuals to come around to kick start and steadfastly carry forward the effort. A great deal of pragmatic effort has to be applied and sustained. An adequate support system has to be created and firmly put in place. The idea has to be painstakingly nurtured, developed and propagated in the fashion of building a corporate brand. It would take time for the idea to take root, sprout, and grow into maturity. Evolution of this nascent idea into a formidable tool for affecting a systems change (byavastha parivartan) would call for utmost patience, perseverance, and dedication.
Kālbhā Intellectual Movement’s initial involvement could be in music, songs, dances, paintings, cartoons, poetry, dramas, storytelling, and gradually spread over onto other domains of creative ensemble. However, it would not be enough to express the anguish of the era in reference. That would only be half the battle won. An equally important task would be to educate the people on the terrible follies of elevating one person to the position of “Supremo” as well as to encourage them into asserting and exercising their democratic franchise for the larger goal of establishing a prudent society.
Once the Kālbhā Intellectual Movement gains momentum, it will organically grow creating many branches of the Kālbheli intellectual endeavour. In times to come, its germs could spread further and farther ushering an age of holistic understanding and enlightenment in the foothills of the eastern sub-Himalayan region and, may be, elsewhere in the country as well.
It goes without saying that one of the objectives of the Kālbhā Intellectual Movement would be to effectively drown the region’s “Sannata Syndrome” in the creative tumult of the region’s reinvigorated civil societies.   
     (Note: The proposal ‒ Kālbhā Intellectual Movement ‒ needs to be further meditated upon, more coherently coneptualised, and adequately elaborated for the furtherance of the idea. Knowledgeable and creative minds may kindly consider doing the needful.)

CONCLUDED


Area: 7096 Sq Km
Capital:Gangtok
Altitude: 5,840 ft
Population: 6.10 Lakhs
Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 ft. to over 28,509 ft above sea level
Climate:
Summer: Max- 21°C ; Min – 13°C
Winter: Max -13°C ; Min – 0.48°C
Rainfall: 325 cm per annum
Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi