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THE NEW MILLENNIUM: a re-play of the old one?
By Rizwan Ullah

There is no certainty yet about when and where the much hyped new millennium dawns upon the planet earth. However, a new millennium dawns every morning imperceptibly and unhindered by any bug or problem like Y2K, propagated and hyped beyond all proportions by the computer industry and trade just as our business community chooses, at an opportune time, a common commodity like onion or salt and leaves the rest with the whirl wind of media; the commodity vanishes, the scarcity scare grips the consumer, especially the housewives. By the time the subservient media gives a wake up call to somnolent authorities a huge amount of money melts away from the hands of poor masses to make up for the big donations by the business community to the party funds for pre or post election expenses since the elections are befalling them and the people quite frequently.

However, despite the din foreboding the probable events in the new millennium it may be predicted with a bit of certainty that the most comprehensive organization of men so far, that is, the United Nations Organization, would not have made the First Declaration of the Millennium by the time it dawns: "HUMAN LIFE IS THE MOST SACRED TRUST" which enjoins upon all UN members of save and secure human life by all means. This is not likely to happen as the wisest amongst us, the infallible, believe that the population, if allowed to grow at the present rate, is likely to exceed the amount of burden this planet and its resources can afford to bear, and the surest way to control its growth would be proliferation of arms and increasing human capacity to commit suicide, and at the same time granting license to big powers to rain fire over the smaller and the weaker peoples. So the process is, in all probability, going to continue. 

The recent happenings in the Balkans and the goings on in the Caucasus are mere shadows of the coming events - the bigger powers will continue their efforts to eliminate what nature took millennia to evolve and civilization took centuries to develop, although in the process the big ones will not only loose face but their names and forms also just as happened in the case of the erstwhile Soviet Union as a consequence of its debacle in Afghanistan. But alas! Fools do not learn lessons from their past blunders.

In the meanwhile, as wisdom has migrated from East to West and proceeding farther westwards, the wise in the west would be busy in finding the arena for the third, and most probably the last, world war far away from their lands as they have already suffered the devastations of two great wars fought with conventional weapons in their own lands and they are not prepared to provide battlefields for the third and the final war.

The testing ground for a nuclear holocaust must be found in South Asia where one third of the population is already suffering a miserable life below the poverty line which means that they are dying anyway rather a slow and painful death; they must welcome a war which could be a great leveller in eliminating all indiscriminately. The conscience of the wise and the humanist will also not prick at such an eventuality as the final war must wipe out the people who failed to educate almost half of their cohabitants and treated their women as fuel. They deserved the punishment. This probability could be a test for the vestigial wisdom of the East in its ability to avoid that eventuality at every cost.

Farmers’ agitation in Paris, or a spate of suicides by their co-professionals in Indian states, are not likely to stir any conscience, far from heralding a revolution, as the prerogative to usher in a revolution has shifted from the masses to the armed forces. The protestations of the younger generations against social injustices will continue to be interpreted in terms of terrorism and this will be attributed unabashedly to a faith of peace and tranquility, that is, Islam.
Let the West, having settled its score with the protagonists of Communism, continue its shadow boxing against Islam, but one wishes that the East realizes the far-reaching consequences of an unnecessary and uncalled for confrontation with a faith of peace and understanding, as such a state of continued suspicion must squeeze and siphon away the resources, much needed for improving living conditions, in order to be used to pay for a vast array of western arms manufactured, tested, advertised, publicized, bargained and offered for sale.

Nearer home, by the time the new millennium arrives, people living below the poverty line would have become numerically almost equal to the total population at the dawn of independence. No one can say for certain if the pace of those going downwards was faster than the fortunate ones going upwards. Unfortunately, we are going to be counted among the most corrupt people on earth with the only solace that our neighbours fare worse on that count and the corrupt amongst us are really fortunate to be able to enjoy VIP status and various grades of security at the cost of public funds. However, unless you catch a thief you cannot tell between the thief and his victim.

We are told that by the time the new millennium overtakes us we will have the largest number of illiterate among us, we will also have the largest number of handicapped, mentally retarded, deaf and dumb, blind, poor, TB patients and malnourished, and might be proceeding towards the highest score of HIV+ patients.

No less horrifying is the fact that the unbridled and growing unemployment will continue to haunt like a big spectre. It must be seen in the context of the statement of the then Finance Minister while launching the first five-year plan in 1952. He had said that unemployment would be wiped out by the end of the second plan. Now, after almost half a century and eight plans behind us, the unemployed are counted in terms of crores (tens of millions) while they were enumerated in terms of lakhs (hundreds of thousands) at the launch of the planned ‘development.’ What a great march forward! The symbiotic growth of population and unemployment is certain to create many more problems.

As for the running controversies likely to be dragged into the new millennium, one can only say that human society will never be free from conflicts, only orientations and interpretations will differ with variations of time and place. As for a confrontation between ‘Islamists’ and ‘non-Islamists,’ it is not likely to occur on our land, and it has never been in the past. The struggle for independence which integrated all of us is a witness to this fact. What has been recorded by historians and misinterpreted by people working at cross purposes were confrontations between outside invaders and the local rulers who happened to have varying faiths and beliefs. That phase of history is over. What is apprehended are the confrontations caused by the deification of ill-defined and misconstrued nationalism. Had it not been true how could one interpret devastating wars between Christian peoples of Europe, Muslim peoples of Asia and Hindu rulers of yester centuries in India?

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