Indian Politics: A Critical Deconstruction

Indian PoliticsOnce upon a time, there was a whore who refused to take a bath. She was the biggest whore in all the world. No other member of her profession could match her for size. She could single-handedly take on a gang of twenty men and still beat them all to pulp with brute strength. She was widely known for her prowess and her surprisingly good heart, and everyone respected her. She wanted nothing more than to whore around and make money, something that she’d been doing for almost six decades now. The one thing no one liked about her was the fact that she didn’t take a bath.

She used to take a bath in the past, some fifty years ago, but now, she just couldn’t get herself to do it. She used to carry on her flesh trade using nothing more than deodorant. When she forgot the deo, her stink would announce her arrival five minutes in advance. Yet, she never had a dearth of customers. Buying her services gave people a sense of false pride, something that was an archaic notion in itself. People would line up to wait for her just to be able to spend a few precious moments with her, so that they could be branded with her stinking sigil. They would use it in their résumés, and their families would be proud of their achievement. The fact that they’d just participated in prostitution was never a problem. People didn’t talk about the ethical, legal and moral quandaries in using the services of a whore. These things were swept under the carpets and the mattresses or locked in cabinets, never to be spoken of.

The whore who never took a bath had a certain reputation that she wasn’t proud of: she had been the cause of more deaths in her country than any disease, calamity or natural disaster. She wielded her heavy hand as a weapon and swatted away anyone who dared to come forward to clean her. She used people’s religious beliefs to get under their skin and convinced them to kill other people with different religious beliefs. In fact, her refusal to clean herself up was so notoriously known that even people in other countries were afraid to do anything lest they become scarred and soiled. The whore went on mercilessly killing innocent people in order to satisfy herself of her uncleanliness. A lot of people tried to clean her and were either soiled or killed off as expendables.

Indian politics is, in one word, dirty.

PS: The whore in question has agreed not to sue me for calling her a whore. 

The 46-Rupee Meal

Ten years ago, when the world was a nicer place to live in, I was just getting out of high school, full of misdirected ambitions of making a difference in the world. Of the many things that were ideal back then, I liked the fact that I could have a hearty meal for less than ten rupees. That’s about 5 cents. Maybe not a ‘hearty’ meal, but certainly a couple of idlis and a vada for eight rupees. For the uninitiated, an idli is a white colored, steamed rice cake, about the size and shape of a BlackBerry Curve and a vada is a brown colored doughnut-shaped (and sized), deep-fried eatable that goes perfectly well with an idli. Ten years ago, a pair of idlis and a vada together used to cost eight rupees.

Today, ten years later, I realized that there has been a 475% increase in the cost of the same meal. A pair of idlis and a vada, today, costs 46 rupees.

Idli Vada
Two Idlis and a Vada - The 46-Rupee Meal

That’s still less than a dollar, but for someone who’s spent the better part of his life here in India, that’s daylight robbery. The strangest part of the entire experience today over lunch was not that I was fretting about the astronomical increase in the rate, but the equally enormous decrease in the quantity and taste.

The sizes of the idlis and vadas have reduced so much that its hard to spot them when you put them on a plate. You have to have a pair of really good binoculars to identify where they are and make sure that your spoon hits the mark. No, I’m exaggerating, of course, but you get the idea. And the taste, well, I have eaten pieces of cardboard (for free) that have been tastier.

I hate to call this inflation, because the term ‘inflation’ has a definition, a universally-accepted identity. I would call this phenomenon a gross negligence on the part of the Indian public, who have allowed this kind of injustice to penetrate every aspect of their lives. Our lives. Commonplace examples – a tennis ball that used to cost ten rupees now costs thirty. A piece of chewing gum that was half a rupee is now three rupees. A toothbrush that used to cost around four to five rupees is now thirty-five.

How I wish I were living in the stone ages, where all I had to worry about was the next critter I caught for dinner and the next female I slept with. If wishes were horses, I’d be a very rich, sexually-gratified stable boy.

Hunger Strike!

hunger strikeWe Indians have a peculiarly unique way of demanding justice. We stop eating and call a press conference.

It all started with the great Mahatma Gandhi, who went on a hunger strike to oppose the tyranny of the British Raj, back in the 1930s and 1940s. This habit has not died after we got our independence. Every time the government does something that someone doesn’t approve of, a hunger strike is called along with a press conference.

Recently, Anna Hazare did it to oppose corruption in the government. He was hailed as the present Mahatma and the press jumped to draw parallels with him and the original Mahatma. They called it the new Freedom Struggle. And more recently, a guy who made his living doing yoga, Baba Ramdev, went on a hunger strike and no one knows the reason why. I’m sure he gave a laundry list of reasons for doing what he did, but no one really understood them.

It’s like an infectious disease here in India. If one person goes on a hunger strike, it spreads like a virus on heat and before you know it, your neighbor’s on a hunger strike against the local corporation office demanding better roads and clean water. It’s about time I joined in the fun.

I am going on a hunger strike from today onwards to oppose hunger strikes all over. I will eat obscene amounts of food and go on a strike against hunger until everyone stops their respective hunger strikes and eradicates the country of this ridiculous disease.

My diet, during this hunger strike consists of the following:

Breakfast: 12 eggs, 24 slices of bread, 2 pints of orange juice and a quart of coffee
Lunch: 5 helpings of rice, dal and a 12 rotis with vegetables
Dinner: 16 helpings of rice, dal, 20 few rotis, along with some sweets for dessert

I vow to not go hungry again until my objective is fulfilled. This hunger strike will prove to the whole country that I am quite serious. I will not end this hunger strike until all hunger strikes have ended in this country.

I am ready for my title now. I prefer something cool, and nothing with the word “Mahatma” in it. That’s become cliched.

If I Were A Politician…

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been drawn to showing off my accomplishments to others. I have been inclined to step over others for my successes and I’m very fascinated by money. Not money in the bank, but cold, hard cash. I have very few morals and principles in life and I am easily bored with uninteresting people. I love fame and glory and I revel in other people’s accolades. I have a very huge ego and I think I’m God. I love and hate people fiercely and I hate to lose someone I love. I love to lose someone I hate, and not just lose, but to see them dig their own grave and nail themselves in the coffin.

I am a fantastic orator and I can sway people with my words. I have a knack for convincing people to see things from my point of view and I hate it when it fails. I love doing shady deals for lots of money, though I am yet to do one so far. I love being on television and I love seeing myself being written in the papers.

I think I’d make a fantastic politician. Just what the country needs at this point. Someone with a sense of humor and the ability to make the citizens feel good about being fleeced for their money.

I think I am ready for it. Money Fame Politics, here I come! Or, maybe not. I don’t know if I’m ready to be assassinated yet.

Egypt? Really?

I thought Egypt was one of those chilled-out countries, a distant corner of the world where people were worried more about the sandstorms than politics. All those vague novels about Egypt where the protagonist talks about how he/she walks about in the desert looking for mummies and other scary relics from the past. I never for an instant thought Egypt would be a country like any other – where politics and people don’t mix.

It was quite depressing to see the news the other day with so many people revolting and killing each other, all because of some arcane political rules. This was the one country I was actually looking forward to visiting, but then, I guess I will have to shelve that idea for now.

I do feel for the poor souls who have endured this nightmare for the past few days and I write this post as a mark of respect, condemning the uprising and the inability of the existing political leaders to quell the revolt. If you want to show your support for Egypt, go ahead and ‘like’ this post and leave a comment. What more can we really do but voice our thoughts?

 

Davos: Saving The World In 5 Days

When Klaus Schwab started the World Economic Forum 41 years ago, I’m sure he had a lot of good intentions. I’m sure he saw this as an opportunity for the world leaders to get together and discuss about the more pressing concerns plaguing the planet and to come up with ideas to battle them. However, he did not foresee that in the year 2011, forty-one years after inception, the WEF has served more as a networking platform for the filthy rich to get richer and the filthy poor to deepen their envy.

Some of the more interesting facts about the annual Davos WEF, that you probably didn’t know and might shock you are also some of the most over-looked aspects of these forums each year. The price of admission is as steep as  USD $600,000 for a party of four people, including the cost of travel, accommodation, dinner and drinks. But since the main action happens in private dinners hosted by the influential rich, the cost shoots up into the upper stratosphere.

Everyone who attends the WEF is given a dedicated Mercedes S Class sedan and a driver with door-to-door pick-up facility. Awesome, isn’t it? Mr. Schwab confessed this year that “…he is concerned that governments and international organizations can no longer cope with the capacity and fast pace of this new reality.” This is quite a statement considering the USD $115 million in revenue that Davos 2011 is expected to generate.

I’m confused – can’t some of the more ‘cheaper’ problems be solved with only half that amount? Do the world leaders really need to spend an insane amount of money just to get together in a remote ski-resort and discuss the world’s problems and go “Tut, tut,” and nothing more concrete. Perhaps the most glaring chink in the Davos armor was revealed in 2010, when the WEF discussed all the problems in the world and missed Europe’s sovering debt crisis, which resulted in a lot of criticism and bad press for the leaders.

This year again, one hopes that Davos will prove to be a starting point for something more substantial than weighing chequebooks, but one feels the need to shelve these hopes.

For a detailed account of the moneys being spent at Davos, check this article at NY Times.

PS: This year at Davos, world leaders in business, politics and industry are encouraged to bring a female companion along to increase the diversity of the gathering.

PPS: U2’s Bono is attending this year’s Davos WEF, ostensibly to contemplate on the world’s problems. Ha!

 

Suresh Kalmadi Humiliates India Again, This Time With His Sausage

kalmadi 'pole' vaultingA few months after the worst-ever Commonwealth Games ended in New Delhi, disgraced Chairman of the CWG Committee Suresh Kalmadi found himself entangled in a fresh controversy in a string of never-ending disasters. He woke up yesterday morning cursing the day he ever accepted becoming the CWG Chairman, and perhaps, his own lousy strategies. After all, any Indian politician has to be an expert in making dirty money without getting caught.

I’m sure you all remember the weird, eel-shaped thing floating around in mid-air above the Nehru Stadium during the Games. I’m sure all of you, like me, looked at it and said, “What in God’s sweet name is that eyesore?”  And all of you, like me, tried really really hard not to stare that ‘thing’ directly in the eye. Innovatively called the ‘Aerostat’ (I wonder why), the sausage was supposed to be the main attraction of the Games. Unfortunately, it did nothing but sit (fly?) there and look menacing. And after all that crap about crappy toilets and collapsing infrastructures, the people who actually danced beneath this monstrosity should be given medals of honor for bravery beyond imagination.

Anyway, the reason I mention this and write a post about this is to reflect on all that has gone wrong with the CWG and things that continue to go wrong for Suresh Kalmadi just when he thought the worst was over.

Two days ago, a consortium of Australian logistics companies threatened to sue the CWG Committee and Kalmadi for over $500,000 in unpaid dues and held-up equipment still stuck in New Delhi, which were not returned to them. I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, yell or ignore this ridiculousness. I also do not want to dismiss this as a “typical Indian mentality’, a cliche what I’ve heard many times and disagree with. This is not typical. We don’t hire an agency and not pay it once the service has been rendered. (We usually try to negotiate on the price.)

Yesterday, Suresh Kalmadi faced yet another embarrassment with this Aerostat Sausage Thing. When he was busy skimming off the top and fattening his wallet, neglecting his duties and allowing the Games preparation to dive into the ditch unheeded, the Sausage was taking shape very nicely. Except for actually working like it was supposed to, it did very well. The initial plan was to have athletes dangle from the Sausage and do stunts in mid-air. But then, as everything else, the plan went to utter ruins as there was no time for practicing, and no one seemed to be bold enough to sacrifice their lives for Kalmadi’s Sausage.

The Sausage has created a debt of Rs. 70 crore (almost $1.5 million) and the events company that was supposed to be responsible for the dangling athletes hasn’t been paid over $200,000 in dues for not ‘utilizing the Aerostat’s maximum potential’.

If you don’t say it, I will. “What the fuck.”

Kalmadi is probably better off managing some good-for-nothing department in the government like stone-cutting or past-recollections committees, and never again should he be allowed within a mile of anything that can be skimmed off of. Because if there’s one thing he does not know, its how to make dirty money and get away with it without bring the whole damned country to her knees in shame and humiliation.

Suresh Kalmadi brings shame yet again to his country. This time with his huge Sausage.