After all what does it mean when government resorts to radical discourse about progress and development? It obviously means more money to contractors, more corruption, more inequity and more frustration within disadvantaged sections. This prop-culture hoists a nouveau-riche section of people over the masses that have always remained at the bottom of the development pyramid. These pampered social upstarts vie for positions in power and jockey for bigger share in the state wealth; they get licenses, they get permits, they get lands, shops and other incentives. The masses are made to live on the mercy of these social biggies who have access to and stakes in the state power. Such a system cannot generate moral values even if we keep crying in mosques.
Amidst this organic tie up between the state and the selfish layers of our society, a son murdering his father to lavish family fortunes on a rave party or a lovesick youth from moneyed family knocking the cute and innocent Romana to death should not surprise us.
If we are content with this mad rush for money, we better not bother about “social waywardness”. Some of the largest pay premiums, says Adam Smith, go to highly qualified people who are willing to do morally questionable work.
Let’s confess that we have serious moral issues and let’s admit that invoking religious traditions won’t help. We need a creative response to the aforementioned prop culture, which is spawning newer social diseases.
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, James Gatz believes that his humble lifestyle makes him a mismatch for his coveted Daisy. So he renames himself as Jay Gatsby and labours to achieve material success on the grandest scale possible. Fitzgerald never reveals how Gatsby amassed his fortune. But he leaves little doubt that Gatsby’s work was not just morally suspect but well outside the law. In fact, a Gatsby killed Romana and other Gatsbys feel offended!
(The writer reports for BBC Urdu Service and is also the Executive Editor of Daily Rising Kashmir.)