One of my MBA professors once said, ‘If I have to talk sense, I can make it even in five minutes; I don’t need a whole hour.’ Animal Farm by George Orwell is small book (a novella – 95 pages in Penguin Book that I read) that makes a lot of sense even though seventy years have passed since it was first published. The author wrote this fable/ allegory or fairy tale with Soviet Union under Stalin in mind and yet a vast majority of the situations and observations are applicable even today’s world, even to democracies like India.
Such is the brilliance of Orwell that while reading some of the lines in the book, I was reminded about news items that I have read in the recent past. Take for example this line from the book: ‘Two cows, enjoying a drink at the pool, would exclaim, “Thanks to the leadership of Comrade Napoleon, how excellent this water tastes!”’ On reading this line I was reminded of the umpteen number of times how the success of government schemes are attributed directly to the efforts of only the Chief Minister/ Prime Minister. Another one: ‘Squealer always spoke of it as a “readjustment,” never as a “reduction.” On reading this one I got reminded of how Hillary Clinton claimed on TV during a prime time interview that FBI Investigation against her is just a “Security Review” and “not an investigation.”’ Not to forget the barrage of ‘my statement was taken out of context’ or ‘my tweet was taken out of context’ statement that you get to hear these days.
Another brilliant line from the book, ‘Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves richer – except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs.’ This line could just be an apt criticism against today’s Capitalism and Globalization. I was also reminded of the growing income inequality and the recent Bernie Sanders campaign which focused a lot on the income and wealth of the richest one-tenth of one percent of Americans.
A gem of a statement from the book, ‘All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.’ On reading this I was reminded of how a loan defaulter billionaire was allowed to leave this country, how the hit and run case of a Bollywood super star has progressed nowhere in over a decade and how even a retired judge was also in favor of clemency for a Bollywood actor convicted of possessing a gun.
Or this wonderful line: ‘Throughout the whole period of his seeming friendship with Pilkington, Napoleon had been in secret agreement with Frederick.’ This line reminded me of how parties that competed against each other in assembly elections become allies by the time the Lok Sabha elections are around the corner, within just a few months.
In the end Animal Farm is about a few simple truths:
- No sooner than the objectives of a movement are achieved, the ideals behind the crusade are forgotten
- The leaders of the movement who get elevated to power centers soon forget the people and enforce policies that are beneficial only to themselves, which would aid in extend their reign.
- Without proper checks and balance any system would fail in the long run
- Blind faith and apathy of the people are as dangerous to the people and the country as nepotism, corruption or tyranny.
Animal Farm is a must read for anyone irrespective of their political ideology. It is a short but brilliant book. Hats Off to George Orwell for writing this timeless Classic.