April 14, 2014

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Won't get phooled again



That's it. I am now officially tired of this shit. To be honest, I thought I had got most of the rage out of my system with a previous post, but apparently, there was one more kind of advertising that I was grossly overlooking.

A few days back, on my way to office, I noticed several new banners on 100 Feet Road, lovingly stapled to every tree on that stretch, that read: "Thanks to our Hon'ble MLA for asphalting(tarring) work from Old Airport road to Old Madras Road". Quite a few things wrong with that, I thought to myself.

1. That's my fuckin' money
2. That's exactly what you were supposed to use it for
3. Why do you have shady photos of 2 dozen party workers on your posters?
4. Why do you have photos of retired leaders on your posters?

Anger managed for the time being, I continue further, along Inner Ring Road, where, all the banners seem to be projecting India's oldest surviving dynasty as India's only hope. RaGa smiles proudly from all the party banners, and the "hand" pokes me from every direction. Women's empowerment, some billboards scream. Main nahin, hum(not me, but we), others proclaim. Stability and Integrity, they suggest. We gave you RTI, others say.

Listen, don't try to sell me Fanta in a Dom Perignon bottle.

You are a disgrace to your founders and everything that they stood for. You are a disgrace to everyone who fought to drive the white man back, because you have only managed to replace the white man with a white woman. This accomplished puppet master may think that you will make a great leader someday, but the rest of the country is no longer interested in your political Mom&Me store. Sure, you might meet sixteen year old girls who might be impressed by your family name, and sixteen year old boys who might think your sister is cute, but trust me, the rest of the country has moved on. We no longer care who your dad was, who your mom is or who your grandmother was; we do care about how your brother-in-law seems to be getting so many favours. Your concerns about large-scale corruption in the past 10 years have been about as strong as Sunny Leone's concerns about her chastity. You have governed us for way longer than any other party, and yet, we haven't seen the slightest signs of improvement. Therefore, asking for 5 more years in power, to fix basic issues seems to me like Steven Seagal asking for the lead in Legally Blonde 3, to prove he can act.

Meanwhile, not too far away, I can sense a massive wave rising. India Shining, he says. Volunteer for India272+, Google ads say. Abki baar, NaMo Sarkaar, his workers say. All of his karyakartas swear by him, and he promises an unprecedented kind of rule, with more governance and less government. He has overseen a relatively stable government in Gujarat for more than a decade. Under him, Gujarat has become the leading solar power producer in India. During his tenure, the Tata Nano production plant was started in Gujarat. All of this is fine, but there are some major issues I must raise.

In an effort to win the elections, look at the boys he has been tying up with--a who's who of India's most powerful criminals, shady capitalists, backward thinking moral police, petty communal forces and utterly corrupt. Most of his communication is one way. "Mitron...", he starts, and most of his fanboys wet themselves. Even before the elections, he feels that he is answerable to no one. What are we to expect, post elections? The man still has a lot to answer for, but his silence on these issues is only revealing the orange Tantex banyan and khaki shorts he's hiding. The agenda of constructing a temple in Ayodhya sounds like something most rational Indians don't care about anymore. So what are the real issues and do we really need such a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist to address these issues?

The core issue is that after 67 years of independence, we are still a mismanaged country. Infrastructure isn't where it should be. Population is beyond where it should be. Government Systems do not work as they were intended to, and undue complexity is added at every step of public service, to ensure that most of us remain clueless and foster corruption. We have thousands of such "leaky taps" all over the country.

Every 5 years, we have been calling in the experts to help fix this leak. This time, its no different. One candidate has a look at the leak, concludes that the tap is broken and needs to be replaced. He brings out a sparkling new tap called WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT & RTI TAP. Another candidate arrives on the scene, has a look at the leak and concludes that the tap has to be replaced with a glossy new one called GUJARAT MODEL TAP. He assures us that this one tap can fix every kind of leak across the country, regardless of local plumbing issues. A third guy arrives on the scene---educated, middle-class, rational, who says, "Boss, I am not a plumber. But scientific temper dictates that each of these leaks is different, and require a unique local solution. However, logical reasoning also tells me that the root of the problem is a damaged spindle. Now, I have no experience in fixing this kind of thing, and  I can't fix it myself. But let us buy a new spindle, and we can work together to fix it. How hard can it be?"

But his biggest problem, is us. "Do it yourself!" we say, "we have office from 10 to 4, and weekends are for family."

Isn't this maybe the root of our problems? Aren't we just waiting to make new political gods all the time? Do we really think that all the problems of our country can be fixed by one saviour with a catchy two-syllable nickname? Do we not see the need for a revolution(political or otherwise)? Do we not feel that we need to be a part of this revolution? Are we just a bunch of armchair intellectuals who are only bothered about raking in the dollars? Or are we just a bunch of status quoists who have identified a problem, but instead of fixing it, are trying to work our way around it?

In the meantime, some of you are saying: "Look at this so-called rational guy. He started fixing one tap but before it was complete, he quit the job to pursue a larger national contract. How can we trust him with bigger issues?" Of course, this was disappointing. Many people were surprised by his decision. It is definitely overambitious. Maybe as an engineer, he got accustomed to changing jobs every few months. But is it not a refreshing change from coalitions that remain in power even though they have no ideology in common? Is it not a refreshing change from corrupt mofos who refuse to step down in spite of having serious charges against them? Isn't issue-based support in politics a step in the right direction?

Yet others say, "What about the Ugandan women, boss?" That was a violation of minority rights and women's rights. Agreed. It was not India's proudest moment. It should never happen again. But what we do have to realise, is that no revolution has ever been perfect. We cannot go from where we are to a perfect utopia, in one perfect motion. There will be steps and mistakes. The French revolution had the guillotines. The American search for democracy had to address slavery. Europe still struggles with racism.

A third group says, "What is this guy's problem? Why can't he just govern quietly? Why does he have to sit on dharnas for every issue? Why can't he just play by the rules? Does he not respect the Constitution?"

Listen, boss. The Constitution was not written by a higher power. It does not contain any references to gravity, laws of motion, relativity, particle physics or other principles that bind our existence. It was written with the best intentions, but it has become an over-elaborate document that is symbolic of the unnecessary complexities in our system. And when our leaders and their decisions start to hide behind this document, it becomes a problem. Any effort to fix these problems may inconvenience us sometimes. After all, if you want a leaky tap fixed, you should be ready to go without water for a while. If you want to get a tetanus shot, you should be ready to let a chechi touch your bum.

So, on April 17th, when the chechi is ready, I will vote on issues and not dynasties or personalities. I will vote for inconvenient change over convenient stability. I will vote against 500 Crore Rupee makeovers. I will vote against fat capitalists and their political pawns. I will vote for the educated and against the corrupt. I will vote for grassroots development. I will think for myself and not be misled by propaganda. I will vote for substance over style. I will vote for an alternative, not a replacement. I will vote for Svaraj(self-rule). I will vote for the underdog. I will be optimistic, but not naive. Hand symbol? Sick my duck. Lotus symbol? Sorry, we won't get phooled again.

P.S.: Since it's gonna be a dry day, it would be nice if someone could arrange for a little Dom Perignon in a Fanta bottle.

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