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Mainstream, VOL LI, No 1, December 22, 2012 [Annual 2012]

Thoughts at 25

Thursday 3 January 2013, by Nikhil Chakravartty


From N.C.’s Writings

As, Mainstream completes fifty years, we reproduce N.C.’s ‘Editor’s Notebook’ that appeared in this journal’s Twentyfifth Annual Special on October 10, 1987 as it brings out the purpose believed the publication of this periodical.

Thoughts at 25

Twentyfive years ago, on a September morning, when Mainstream was born, many thought it was too ambitious a venture and were nearly convinced that it would not live beyond a couple of winters. Only after it survived many a summer that the concerned public began to take notice of its existence.

But its ardent band of well-wishers from diverse walks of life have remained steadfast in their support and encouragement. They, not one of them, have ever flinched. This has throughout been the incentive that has kept Mainstream moving. It has been a wonderful experience, this fund of sustenance, which could help this modest journal to carry on with its integrity intact and head held high.

What was the purpose behind the starting and running of Mainstream and what is the objective towards which it looks forward to? In the lacerated politics of our great country, walls have come up, barriers that block communication even among the like-minded forces.

Since the beginning of this nation’s eventful career as an independent republic, the goal held out by the political leadership has been the attainment of a socio-economic order in which poverty would have no room and iniquity minimised if not eliminated. It is but natural that such a goal should be held out before a people, who during the freedom struggle were roused in their millions to force the foreign ruler to quit. And the awakening that came to the millions of our countrymen and women by participating in the massive struggles that ended up in the liquidation of the foreign rule, demanded as its inevitable corollary the right to participate in the setting up of the power structure, as also the right to have a better order of life and living. The first was sought to be met by the introduction of universal adult suffrage for election to Parliament and legislatures, while the second has been left as just a pious wish to set up a just and equitable social order.

It is precisely this objective that alone could bind a large body of opinion in the country, the objective that shall ensure that not only every person living in this Republic shall be equal but that all shall have an equitable share of the wealth and prosperity of this great country.

The crusade for such an order has to be as arduous and difficult as was the struggle for independence. There is no lack of soldiers ready to fight this battle, but where are the captains and the commanders to lead them all through difficult terrain and formidable obstacles until victory is reached? Looking round, twentyfive years ago, one could not help being dismayed at the acrimony and antipathy, squabbles and disputations that kept apart those whose credentials enjoined upon them to provide the leadership for the struggle for strengthening our political democracy and for ensuring economic democracy, for the liquidation of all vestiges of obscurantism and conservatism that divide our society and obstruct the free flow of ideas that could help to build a new social order of equity and justice.

It is to awaken such elements in one massive movement of social advance that Mainstream from the very beginning has dedicated itself. It has no illusion about the strength of its appeal, but it has never faltered in its steps towards realising that objective of bringing together all those elements, who can and must build an edifice of equity and justice for the seven hundred million of this great land.
When Mainstream made its debut twentyfive years ago, there were already signs of decay and disorder in the affairs of our nation. The values and expectations that had inspired our people on the morrow of independence were already weakened, if not corroded, by the onset of the sixties. Memories of the halcyon days of the freedom struggle were already getting dimmed.

Today, twentyfive years later, there has been a precipitate decline, there has been no pulling back, no reversing of gear. Values of yesterday have collapsed, but no new set of values has taken their place. Ideas have become phoney or befuddled. No conscience is left in political life while economic iniquity and the ready acceptance of this iniquity by the affluent, have become a grotesque feature of our life today. Philistinism is enthroned, while turbulence is on the upswing, threatening the very fabric of our national life. To speak out the truth, to show up the face of the reality no matter how disturbing that may be, and to bestir the conscience of the concerned—that has been the role which Mainstream has in all modesty striven to play all these years.

After twentyfive years, as one looks back, it has been a rewarding experience. The wealth of goodwill that has come in the way of Mainstream in these twentyfive years is its proud possession. It is on the strength of this goodwill that it looks forward to the future.

The journey ahead is going to be not only arduous but forbidding at times. But there can be no going back for this nation sustained by a great and continuing civilisation. The ascent of a nation to great heights is not one straight line. It has its ups and downs. It has to cross spurs and ridges, valleys and crevices until it reaches the point where breathtaking grandeur overwhelms one.

Towards that journey for our nation, Mainstream re-dedicates itself as it steps on to the twenty-sixth year of its modest but purposeful career. 

(Mainstream, Annual 1987)

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