Memories of Pegasus returned to me after so many years with the snooping activities of the government. The present Pegasus is however a software that can tap into mobile phone conversations. The BJP government has been using this software to tap into the conversations of its rivals in politics though with what effect we are yet to decide. There has been mayhem in Parliament because of this indiscriminate phone tapping, a blatant breach of privacy being an offence as in mature democracies this offence by the government would have constituted a misuse of office and worthily qualified for dismissal. However, nothing of that sort is likely to happen because the ruling party has enough seats in the Parliament to veto the motion. Besides the eavesdropping will not affect the voters because the moralities are different of the BJP voters and those of the protesting liberals.
Morals uphold the conduct of the society as a collectivity, to go by the simplest Durkheimian premise of social solidarity. Hence, despite the intrusion of privacy is a serious matter with the liberal minded people who uphold the value of the individual, it has no moral connotation for the BJP voter who represents a crowd. Canetti and Le Bon have both insisted that crowds lose values and ethics, and its morality is only the power of the crowd to curb the individual. In this case, the Pegasus, by curbing the freedom of the individual through espionage on privacy is an act of bravado and not shame. The Pegasus is an expression not only of power to control the movements of individuals but also to cower them down, worry them, unsettle them, and make them apprehend an intrusion into their selfdom at any moment, more so scary because it can be at any time, without warning. Hence not only is there an infringement of freedom but also a huge oppression by creating the fear of that infringement. The BJP supporter would clap gleefully at this huge achievement by the government. Hence Modi is likely to make more gains than incur losses of his popularity in the Pegasus scam. It will be another fantasy of the effete liberals to imagine that anything will be otherwise.
Like sex, there are two other things, hugely operative in the Indian society which are regularly pushed under the carpet and those are discussions of social class and communal sentiments. By pushing these out as the untouchables from intellectual discourse, we have forced every perversion into sentiments of the people. No wonder then one repeated phrase that the BJP followers use, “sentiments of the people.” Now what could these sentiments be? It is here that we will observe how fascism is nothing but a more advanced form of democracy itself and not its contradiction. The popular cinema, of all regions and Bollywood (though I think that the term is a perversion) have fought valiantly against this intellectual untouchability only to be brow beaten, hated, leered at by fashionable academia and scholars and as Susan Sontag rightly observes, interpretation has been used as a weapon in the hands of the scholar to attack art. Anyway, the consequence of untouchability is the elimination of chunks of possible talents among those who we push aside, just as unexplored swathes of land buried under sands and soil could yield precious metals and minerals if exploited; no wonder foolish people practice untouchability.
In cinema (though not in our novels), narratives are founded upon class struggle, not between the rich and the poor, nor between the rulers and the ruled but between the entrenched and the aspiring elites. The star is an aspiring person, an aspirant of the position that the entrenched occupies. S/he directs his angst against the incumbent by sometimes agonizing that the person s/he loves have been denied to him/her, or s/he has been abandoned and hence divested of justified legacy and so on. The protagonist weeps, jeers, quarrels, and even fights the incumbents to dislodge from positions which s/he will eventually occupy. Social movements notwithstanding, this has been the formula of our democratic politics as well and perhaps so for every democracy that has been on earth.
The BJP must be seen as the angst of the aspirants against the incumbent and there is nothing new about this except that this time, the aspirants have become the “crowd” who revel at morals of the society being broken as the breaking of the shackles of the bosses on the juniors, not trade unionism exactly but a noisy office meeting. The BJP is not a party; it is an ism, a faith and an ideology that is religion and its supporters are its followers. In such movements, the crowd pulls down the individuals, iconoclasm and idol breaking are part of its grammar. Therefore, any act of abrogating the liberal values can only be greeted with immense glee in its camp.
Otherwise, I associate Pegasus with the Russian fairy tales which the elders would buy for us, lovely coloured illustrations and engrossing tales of poor boy or poor girl being rescued by the white winged horse. It seems that the Pegasus is a mythical figure across central Asia, China, Siberia and even in some lands beyond the Urals. We are not too much into the horse except the Ashwmedha but remembering the stories we heard from our household helps hailing from the villages in Bengal, reading stories from Saradindu Bandopadhyay and a visitation of origin stories of tribes in Chhotanagpur plateau, that a white winged horse is associated with an invader from a distant land, a dark horse is feared as a Turki conqueror and a black horse, is an omen of disaster to come. It is believed that when Durga comes riding a horse, she leaves behind pillage and famines, and if she leaves the earth on a horse, then rebellions threaten the royal throne. The horse is thus intimidating in this part of the country, showing that associating invaders from Central Asia, Aryans, Sakas, Kushans, Huns, Parthians, Pathans, Turks and Mughals is deeply entrenched in our psyche. It is thus the eerie similarity that the BJP uses that of a conqueror into India that the Pegasus becomes its apt mount.