Monday, June 15, 2009

Swinging between Extremes

It has been an amazing month that has passed us and what strikes me is our tendency to embrace the extreme at every possible opportunity on every possible matter.

Let me list a few of these extremes:

Election results:

The results were a surprise to every one including those in the Congress Party. Anybody who claims that he had foreseen this would be lying.

- We went around town screaming about the decisive mandate. Decisive Mandate???? The government is in a precarious situation and depending on the support of a couple of allies.

- We shouted from the roof tops about the maturity of the Indian voter. Maturity???? The votes were divided as never before.

- An impressive showing in UP was touted as the master strategy of Rahul Gandhi and how he had arrived on the scene.

- The orchestrated chorus in which every one joined to plead with the PM to include RG in the cabinet
- That this was the demise of regional parties

Stock Market:

Post the election results, the stock market decided to join this celebration and achieved what no other stock exchange has achieved in the world. We saw exuberance in its wildest form as the indices hit, what is known in stock market parlance, the upper circuit and we saw a 30 - 40% jump in prices of almost every share. Some exceeded even this.

Nobody has been able to fathom what had changed between April and May. Economic indicators seem as buoyant or lacklustre as earlier. The clouds have vanished and investors feeling left out of this rally are furiously buying as if there is no tomorrow.

Our instant switch from irrational pessimism to exuberance has no explanations, but such extreme swings seem very normal.

Reservation Bill for Women:

This is classic. One section behaved as if this was manna from heaven and would have us believe that womenfolk was on the verge of deliverance. All the oppression, prejudice and age-old rigidities seemed to have vanished like clouds on a windy day. That this enabling platform would deliver us women confident of taking the bull by horns overnight.

The other extreme were the menfolk who felt threatened by this expected onslaught and were compelled to resort to theatrics.

Tokenism...zindabad!!! Tapping potential gene pool ...zindabad!!!


Let us look at cricket. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the perfect cool headed captain who could do no wrong. He was the best in the world and the T-20 world cup was as good as bagged.

What a fall from grace in just two weeks....I understand his effigy was burnt today and the media lampooned him for his "mistakes".

It is plain that none of the positions we took or none of our reactions were based in reality nor were they representing a sense of proportion.

Are we a nation of "extremists". I am amazed at our continued tendency to take extreme positions. We seem to have forgotten that there exists a middle path. Irrationality takes over and we react emotionally to all matters of social and national importance. There is then no hope for a proper debate.

Is it a trick to throw the real issues off-balance? or are we just hard wired in this fashion?

Either way, I note this characteristic with a sense of amusement and just wave it away. Should I also adopt the maxim - "If you can't convince them, confuse them" and add to the chaos. A tempting thought......I must say.


Vinod_Sharma said...

Nation of extremists? Of course, without the guns and bullets, and limited to short-lived reactions alone!

The election results surprised everyone. It probably was an outcome of some unexpected reactions. What better proof than the latest development in UP: Congress is thinking of not contesting many seats in the upcoming Assembly by-polls...there is a fear that its performance in the Lok Sabha will not be replicated and Rahul will be reverted to being the dud he was pre-May 16.

Thank God for that reaction in the stock market. It was unnaturally suppressed before the election due the fear factor and now is climbing unnaturally due to is absence. Yes, prices may have climbed steeply in percentage terms but in real terms most are still way below where they were a year and a half back.

To me Dhoni's collapse has not come a surprise at all.

BK Chowla said...

We seem to over-react to a situation,especially politics.Everyone including those who fought elections did not imagine such results.But,is there anything to be happy about in the Congress.No.They did not win..BJP lost like idiots.Then we all seem to tag on to stupid terminology of the media and start following it.We all know that it is not the same credible media anymore.Look at the attack on Dhoni by some of the TV channels...all of usalso join the chorus without even understanding the subject.Has the media exposed the lobby behind Dhoni bashing or is it the media game plan.?

SP said...

i am not sure if we are a country of extremes but we are of course of extreme opinions .. no wonder we have so many gods .. and our penchant of finding virtues in everything like we suddenly found a strategist is Rahul..

Sharad Yadav resorting to crudest form of opposition with 'quality' adjectives

Sports : again our reaction to cricket has always been very very passionate .. but i think some of the local effigy burning of Dhony is politically motivated.

Stock Market is best: just to confess i used to love Satyam stocks as that always used to be between 400 to 525 .. it used to follow its own cycle.. and i cud make small profits at times as i had spotted this cycle so buy at 400 sell at 500 .. now i think i know the reason of that cycle as well .. some of those still be at work in this recent spike

Mavin said...

You have said it, albeit, in different terms and tones.

We always react / respond to any situation or event with extremes. Either it is extreme happiness or euphoria or pessimism or anger or prejudice.

The result is disappointment and a sense of being cheated.

manju said...

Nice summary of the highs and lows during the last month!

In politics, I think the reactions seemed even more extreme than they actually were because of the media frenzy. And how immaturely the BJP leaders are reacting to their defeat!

The stock market reaction was perhaps logical keeping in mind that everything in Indian society depends on the political mood.

I don't follow cricket, so can't comment on that...:)

Indyeah said...

thats a really nice summing up Mavin SIr :)
I agree with all the points specially the first one :)

Rahul G is apparently just next to god for the Congressis :D

this cricket mania in our crazy nation is along expected lines:)
We are a nation of extremes:)
no doubts about it:)

Dhoni?murphy's law seems to have caught up with him:)

Mavin said...


These are just some illustrative instances which have been mentioned.

The key point is not an analysis of the event in itself but a look at the way we (here I mean the Indian society) react / respond to that event.

Our swings from extreme hopefullness / optimism / confidence to extreme pessimism is inexplicable, immature and to an extent quite amusing.

Anrosh said...

the way you put forward your opinions on reservation on women --it definitely is theatrics. Politics is a well versed theatre, with a heavy price for the governed !

manju said...

Mavin, you are tagged- see

Anonymous said...

Very well summed up Mavin - the attitude of the Indian people... we do tend to go overboard.

I particularly feel bad for M S Dhoni, but then this attitude of the people is what makes them such heroes also !

And the elections results were definitely and completely unexpected, true!.

Vikram said...

I actually think otherwise. I think most Indians seek and have always sought the middle path. That is why inspite of an oppressive social order, a pluralistic society could be built, much before the newly 'multicultural' west discovered that term.

I think the media has a vested interest in presenting and highlighting extremes. I dont think they realize what great damage they are doing to their own credibility in the long run.

Mavin said...

IHM - Thanks


Re: Middle Path may be in a few isolated cases. Apart from the media one has to see violent reactions to books, plays, movies or opinions expressed which are thought to be too radical or insulting of a culture religion or personality.

These are people reactions.

You have to read / experience Dalit literature or is full of anger and call to violent action. Understandable but something that does not yield results.