Is "Wafadari" dead?

18 Mar 2008

This post was originally on mouthshut, but I decided to consolidate

The Trigger

I recently watched Jodhaa Akbar. It had various scenes were either "wafadari" or "ghaddari" were bandied about in quite a bit. That got me thinking. What happened to the loyalty to King and Country that were conerstones of feudal societies not so long ago? Great men, both militarily and otherwise were usually so only because their followers were entirely devoted to them or to their cause and were willing to lay down their lives for that cause. Is that sort of loyalty, what is referred to as "wafadari" now dead?


Society and people have transformed quite a bit from medieval days. Nowadays there is almost direct representation for political power and it is not necessarily assumed that the strongest person or richest person would be supported by everyone he has dominion over. Lineage is no longer preeminent in making choices of leaders. Meritocracy is on the rise, at least in developed countries. All of these factors have enormously empowered the normal layman. He is no longer required to be loyal to any person. He cannot be punished by anyone just because he refuses to stand in abeyance.

Also a lot of individualism has crept into humanity. It is no longer us versus them as it was when we were supposedly cave dwellers trying to defend our weak selves from much stronger competition. There must have been something in that system that made it necessary for tribes to bond so closely to each other, to survive. Nowadays that is no longer important. You are only as good as you are. The fact that your father was a great man does not usually give you any headstart and even if it does, the present generation doesn't seem to like it too much! They are eager to come out of the wings of their predecessors and make their own music. Is this why the classics of yesteryears are no longer valued as they once were? Would it be safe to assume that their prices are not due to an appreciation of their intrinsic worth but a new sense of "I" own this?

Militaries, Organizations and the like

There are some arenas though where people to people loyalties (volunteered or forced) still exist. Current militaries function on the listen and obey principle. A break in the chain of command is a sure path to being court-martialed. Insubordinacy is not tolerated even in the most lenient of organizations unless it is for the benefit of the organization which in the end is a profit making and taking organism after all.

Maybe though loyalty towards people has ended (or has it?), it has rather been replaced by wafadari towards "concepts and ideas" like nationalism and dogma. I see no logical reason why I should love the soil on one side of a border and not that on the other side just because someone else governs there? Usually if you are close to an national border, the soil composition, nutritional content, fertility are more or less the same. Perhaps more so than in some remoter areas of your own country. Yet patriotism is highly valued! Do we need to hero worship someone or something? What of "Law"? Is that not written by a human like you and me? Why is that a dogma? Maybe for making sense of it all, I can just imagine the confusion arising if every Tom, Dick and Harry decides to get up and write his own version of the constitution. So we still need role models, people or stuff we do not question, or question only in hushed terms.


Has this limited man's ability to achieve? Over the past few centuries the only thing that has remained a currency is, well, currency. No Zamindars today have the unflinching support of the people who live off their allocated land. No Politicians command idealist support, at least I don't think so. I think everyone supports anyone else for some visible, real or unreal, benefit to oneself. Oneself, mind you, not one's country or the greater good. Has this made everyone an island and as great work is done only by great teams, have we stopped doing great work? When was the last time, someone like a Chengis could dream of conquering the world and actually come close to doing it? When was the last time a Taj Mahal was conceived and made? 22,000 labourers for 20 years! At Rs.50 per day per labour that comes out to be about Rs. 8,83,30,00,000 and that is assuming all 22,000 were labours, no masons, no stone cutters, no sculpters. And all for what? A garden? Was it worth it? Has anyone since attempted it? Look at the world around you. Is there one person or thing on the face of this earth that makes us proud to be humans? Something that testifies to the truth of our having evolved? Are we actually making everyone mediocre by making everyone equal? Do some people deserve to only be menially serving other's of better merit or race so that human race may prosper? Was it such a good idea to get rid of "wafadari"?