Much is being said about coronavirus and Covid 19 while Arjuna fever continues to rage in the community. Arjuna fever is not a disease per se; it is more a psychological paralysis with symptoms of fear, cowardice, and greed. It is a deep fear against speaking up for what is right or as they put it-speaking truth to power.
Arjuna fever has destroyed families and communities. It has even destroyed nations such as Afghanistan as we are witnessing in the media today. Arjuna fever is the fear of principals, deans and teachers to confront bullies in the classrooms who rob your children of proper education.
When you live in a family and injustice is not confronted, then such a family has Arjuna fever. In too many families, arrogance prevails over goodness. Sons and daughters do not accept their responsibilities, abandoning their kids to the care of their aging parents. Many grandmothers and grandfathers now have to take care of their dougla grandchildren while the parents are on a fun-seeking adventure.
Arjuna fever is the failure to speak out when wrong is said about a person or subject and you know otherwise. Take, for example, the negative campaign against the Modi government and its Hindutva ideology. There are many in the diaspora who know otherwise but would not come forth and set the records straight. Scared of being labeled bigots, fascists, and devotees of Modi, they opted for silence.
The Keith Rowley administration is a monumental failure and yet many would not speak out against it. The said people who are silent today were very vociferous when the Kamla-led People’s Partnership was in power. Men and women who are dumb today were busy posting letters condemning the government. I recalled a Jittansingh from Arouca having the worst things to say about the PP government. In which hole is he hiding today?
When a government comes to power and ignores the needs of its supporters, such a government has Arjuna fever. For example, the PPP government in Guyana campaigned with the promise to re-open the sugar-cane estates that were shut down by the Granger administration. However, to this date, not a single estate has re-opened.
Politicians are deeply saddened by the demands made by friends and supporters who are in a position to generate their own income but depending on the government. One politician remarked: “The more they get the more they want.” Not surprisingly many contractors were aligned with the PNM when the election’s bell rang in 2015.
I have no issue with a contractor trying to maximize his income using all means possible. I think that such behavior is acceptable within his vocation which is ‘cutthroat’ competition. However, when our intellectuals and academics adopt such an attitude, then it has to be Kali Yug-the Dark Age. Academics and intellectuals are supposed to be advisors to the politicians. They are the ones to collect data, conduct research, and design policies for the politicians to implement. However, when out academics choose to go down on their knees, then there is limited hope for the diaspora.
It would have been a frightful experience for Sri Krishna, seeing the bow slipping off Arjuna’s hand and his expression of dejection and loss wrote largely on his face. Arjuna was the greatest warrior in the land and all his training in warfare was to prepare him to fight
However when the moment came around, Arjuna wanted to run away. Thankfully, Sri Krishna (God on earth) was there to rebuke him and educate him on his duty as a warrior.
We may not be fortunate to have Sri Krishna with us when we are confused and dejected. However, He has left us the Bhagavad Gita, the very message he delivered to Arjuna, to jolt us into action. (If you have doubts about the authenticity of the Bhagavad Gita, then you should read ‘Bhagavad Gita As It Is.’
A few should stop using their sham activism as bait to trap honey to satisfy their insatiable greed while the vast majority of Indo-Caribbean people are in a daily grind to survive. Many of our activists are like the commanders of the Afghanistan army that surrendered their weapons in exchange for a few dollars. It is exactly such behavior that returns the PNM to power in Trinidad and Tobago and would see the return of the PNC/APNU in Guyana soon.
The only hope is to lift our vision beyond our narrow self, family, and Guru-chela cult. If that can be achieved, the community would prosper, not just a few individuals, families, and cults. Indian polity is broad, not narrow. No one can say that any single region dominates Indian politics and economy. The same cannot be said for Pakistan which is today dominated by the Panjab with the other ethnic regions openly defying the government. Such a practice is a recipe for civil war. Is the diaspora engaged in a silent civil war? I think so!