When I reached the United States in 1986, I had a chance to stay at Michigan State University with some of my old class fellows. There I observed and came across the interesting subject of packaging engineering – how to package products to enhance their consumer acceptance and market appeal. The product within might remain the same for years, but this subject taught that the packaging was of the greatest matter. The reason I am sharing this is as I have travelled along on my life journey, I have tried to correlate this packaging subject in a different manner. The world is largely an accumulated conflict of identities where monolithic identity is a casualty. The world at present too has its own packaging, where a small number of individuals impose a pre-packaged thinking on captive segments of society. Unpackaged thinking and untarnished individuality has become a scarcity. This has led to a dearth of public domain role models and led us in to a deficit of trust.
As the packaging industry has developed in the last fifty years, so has the pre-packaged system of governance. Governments may change but this change is only the packaging of a political party, whether it is Conservative or Labour in the UK and Republican or Democrats in the US. In India for so long there was only one packaging, that of the Congress party; now with the onset of commercial liberalisation, packaging has set in too. New slogans with new packaging are propagated but the trust deficit between common people and the governing class has increased many fold. Gone are the pre packaging eras of America’s Washington and Jefferson, the same way in England of the era of Churchill and others. In India, the era of Gandhian legacy too has passed on with the colonial rule and has been replaced with the era of packaged thinking and policies to lead or make populations believe that they are one and the same – but better packaging is of no matter when the end product is the same. In this age, young minds are fed the old way of governance in a better package with promises of better salary and added benefits to enhance their individual comforts, whilst disregarding surroundings and lacking awareness or concern.
The state of Punjab which is the area of main concern to many of us reading this blog has been packaged in a different manner in recent years. Being an agricultural state, the packaging of the green revolution has led farmers to enhance their crop productions and attain uplifting in economic terms. But the packaging of the green revolution concept was so neat and presentable that the long term effects were camouflaged to all but a few and today Punjab is reeling under its impact. Farmers have to sell ancestral land and prized equipment like tractors, all to gift their progeny with a presentable qualification, only for them to look for ways not only to leave the countryside and villages, but even the country after graduation. So many leave for good to find sustenance in the western world.
The recent award of the Nobel Peace award to three African women has generated a hope that the prepackaged era still exists in a limited way and people without packaging can get noticed and celebrated. I have nothing against packaging as it can enhance the self for good and protect many things. But packaging should not be a tool to wrap rotten ideas and failed structures, making fools of the people and hiding a real agenda.