Animal Farm is one of the most chilling reads that I have come across. And by the word “chilling” I do not mean that it has some horror stories or some gross scenes. What is has is a glaring reminder of what the political situation in majority of the countries in the world is today. The leaders of these countries first write the principles which the population must adhere to and then once they come to power, are the first ones to rewrite them to suit their needs.
George Orwell, known for his critique of the government and its policies, portrays the concept of socialism by using animals instead of humans. This comparison does not escape the notice of the reader, as all men are animals in one way or another.
One night in Manor Farm, the scene for the story, the animals gather to hear what Major Major, one of the most respected animals has seen in his dreams. He tells all those assembled that the treatment meted out to them by Jones, the farmer, is unfair, and it would be better for all of them if they took matters into their own hands. And all the animals relent, since Major Major is respected and revered. There is a revolt and the animals succeed in driving out Jones from his farm. Manor Farm is now renamed as Animal Farm and Seven Commandments are written to govern the conduct of the animals in public and private life.
For a few years after the revolt, everything goes fine. The harvest is plentiful, everyone has food enough to eat and animals are happy. But soon differences in opinions arise between the two pigs, who were seen as successors to Major Major, who died soon after the revolt. Ultimately, one of the pigs is driven away and the other takes command of the entire farm. In time, it seems to the other animals that the Commandments are being violated and in fact, being altered. The animals are made to work harder than ever, with the promises of plentiful food and a quiet retirement not even close to being fulfilled. In the end, the pigs who have come to rule over the farm begin to act and talk and mingle with men, whom they had set out to hate in the first place.
The story, for me, evoked certain parallelisms with the current situation in India. The power hungry politicians make large promises to the people, and when they come to power, think about their own benefits and do nothing for those people who brought them to power in the first place. There are many lessons to be learnt from this narrative. First and foremost, one should be informed enough to choose their leaders wisely. I know it is tough, but it is crucial that this must be achieved. Secondly, as JFK famously said that “the people should not be afraid of the government, rather the government should be afraid of its people.” Those in power should be made cognizant of the fact that if we can make our leaders, so can we break them. Only if this is achieved, then I feel that the world can be made a better place.