Thursday, June 19, 2008

Power Equations

How often have we paused to think about the kind of persons we need to bow down to? Whether we like it or not, the prominent ones are always the politicians, high-ranking officials, celebrities, the rich and the famous…for they are the ones who wield ‘power’. The rich and ‘powerful’ relative [powerful because he is rich] is the one likely to draw greatest chunk/number of visitors to the home…whether people do so out of respect or otherwise becomes inconsequential. The other day my uncle was ruing the fact that the same people who, in his heydays as a top ranking government official used to throng his office/home, laden with smiles hardly ever came to meet him, now that he was a retired personnel. Often people’s leaders undergo transformation once they enter the corridors of power…Or to generalize through a mathematical analogy, people alter once they reach the other side of the power equation.
Power equation thus rules the complex web of human relationships. Arundhati Roy, in The God of Small Things, illustrates powerfully how the complex power equations rule societal structure. Patriarchy, casteism, the Church (that represents religion), the police (which represents, in this novel the state) and politics (in the novel, again it is presented as Marxism) are all agents of repression—powerful agents that seek to contain the 'powerless’—often forging alliances for their personal aggrandizement… patriarchy is a show of power of gender upon gender while the casteist equation has caste as constituent element. This however is just one facet of the bigger picture…Eons ago, in his Oedipus Rex, Homer had presented the triumvirate of Oedipus(the son),Jocasta(Oedipus’ mother whom he unknowingly married later) and Laius(Oedipus’ father)-- which, much later formed the basis for Sigmund Freud’s concept of Oedipus Complex; in the demand for attention of the mother between the husband and the son, the power equation is precariously poised…
In the animal world, whether in the predator-prey equation (inter-specific) or in the competition among members of the same species for the basic requirements like food and mating partners(inter-specific)—the power equation throws up many a possibility of interpretation.
This power equation is however never is reversible and constantly changing. This is influenced by various factors. While man’s superior technological advances enable him to harness nature in the direction of his self-interests, a moment comes when Nature asserts her supremacy in turn—and this is through natural calamities. The power equation reverts in the opposite direction in such circumstances. In the human world, at least in the Indian context, politics is a beautiful example of this shifting nature of power equations…pre-poll/post-poll/poll-time alliances and loyalties are as unstable as a volatile chemical reaction. In the global political firmament as well, each move (intra-national or inter-national) is a reflection of clever understanding of this power equation—where politics becomes the source of power and power the bone of contention of politics.
In a way, thus, the power equation is at the core of existence in this existential world.

Stuti Goswami

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