Outlook for 2019

Raman Swamy

Psychologists have coined a term to describe the personality traits of people who thrive on uncertainty and crave for chaos.  They have called it the Need for Drama Syndrome.
For those addicted to the Need For Drama or NFD, the coming year 2019 will be a very happy new year.   This applies to people all over the world but most particularly to citizens of India. 
For the next five months, from now until national Election Day, it is guaranteed to be a non-stop roller-coaster ride of political soap opera at its most strident and tumultuous.

Emotions will run high,  tempers will be lost every day,  angry words will be exchanged thick and fast,  fake news manufacturers will have the best time of their lives and there will also be fleeting moments of joy, sorrow, triumph,  disappointment and also fear.  The one continuous connecting thread will be uncertainty, unpredictability and instability.  And suffering. 

It does not need an astrologer or fortune-teller to predict that India and Indians are in for a very traumatic period of political reality TV in the remaining months of this winter right through to early summer.  

No soothsayer, however, can foresee what will happen after that.  Hopefully, there could be a brief spell of relative calm after the Lok Sabha elections are over, as the winners get busy with government-formation and the losers lick their wounds and sulk in silence.  

But there can be no guarantee of even that brief respite if the results throw up a hung Parliament or if clinching evidence of large-scale election fraud comes to light or if incidents of serious violence had occurred during the campaign or if some other unforeseeable ghastly event takes place.  Anything can happen.  Nothing can be ruled out. 

In either case, whatever the outcome, whosoever gets the mandate to rule the country for the next five years till 2024, the possibility of a return to normality is distinctly remote. There will be no traditional honeymoon period for the new government and the new Prime Minister.  There will be no lessening of decibel levels, no respite from discontent of the masses, no immediate end to the pain and suffering of the common man. 

The next six months after that will not be a phase of peace and tranquility or of hope and faith.  It will be a time of growing impatience, marked by shrill demands for election promises to be fulfilled instantly and without any delays or excuses. 

Every country experiences trials and tribulations in every era and hence one should not claim that the coming 12 months will be the most traumatic in the history of independent India. In any case historical comparisons are odious and subjective. But it is safe to assert that from now till December 2019, the country will be beset with a multitude of problems and things are going to get a lot worse before they get any better. 

Normally, at the end of a year and the before the birth of a new year, it is customary to strike a note of optimism and hope. But to attempt to do so at this point of time would be unrealistic and dishonest.   Politics has touched a nadir. Politicians are speaking with unrestrained viciousness and vulgarity. The economy is in dire straits, with an army of jobless youth crying for income opportunities, angry farmers demanding a fair price for their produce, dalits seeking justice with growing irritation, minority communities expressing their feeling of insecurity,  religious fanatics enjoying their transition from the fringe of society to the centre-stage. 

The social fabric of the country has been damaged to such an extent in the past four years that it will take a great deal of time and effort to heal the wounds. This, at a time when the credibility of democratic institutions is at an all-time low.  The corporate class and the urban elite are living in their own echo chambers where the cries of the suppressed, depressed, oppressed and repressed masses can no longer be heard. 

This is the stark reality of the scenario at the turn of the year.  But, at the dawn of 2019, perhaps it is best to follow tradition and express the hope that the year ahead will be a happy one – even though such a greeting rings hollow in the face of the evidence.

Jan 1, 2019

Raman Swamy [email protected]

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