India – Fun Facts


Three bits of news to gladden the hearts of all Indians:

First, the derogatory, insulting and demeaning portrayal of India in Slumdog Millionaire has finally been challenged: some intrepid chappie has taken it upon himself to fight for the honour of all Indians! Jai Ho! Artists, film-makers, authors beware: you don’t mess with us.

And then there is the news that a worker’s union vandalised a hotel in Mumbai – in the presence of the police – to protest the sacking of some colleagues. Way to go, guys! Smash windows and destroy furniture. Do your bit to make India a more vibrant democracy. Let’s hear it for more gratuitous mob violence.

Equally heartening was the news of Sukhbir Singh Badal’s coronation as Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab; his father is Chief Minister and other assorted relatives also hang around the corridors of power, having been bequeathed various official positions. The Badal family accounts for a third of the total cabinet portfolios in the state. But why single out the Badals? They’re merely another addition to the long list headed by the Gandhis (fourth generation and counting), the Abdullahs (third generation and counting), the Pilots, the Pawar-Sules, the Scindias, the Thackerays, the Marans, the Karunanidhi clan, the Deve Gowda family, the Devi Lal bunch, Mulayam Singh & Sons & Co., the Charan Singh parivaar, the NTR family, the Patnaiks of Orissa…..the list, you will be happy to know, goes on and on. And on.

While on the subject of democracies, I am also proud of how our democracy has matured. Most other democracies, besides resisting the concept of dynastic succession in politics, resist the inclusion of criminals as well. We are above such petty traditions that limit the boundaries of individual freedom. We have, to show the world how it should be done, gone ahead and given a standing ovation to a candidate who combines both these qualities: Sanjay Dutt. He has everything we desire in a politician. He’s an actor, his father was an MP and while his sister inherited that particular constituency, that did not stop selfless Sanjay from wanting to help the people as well. He’s also been convicted for illegal possession of an automatic weapon, even though the fact that he was acquitted of charges of terrorism and conspiracy against the state does lessen his appeal somewhat. The people of Lucknow are truly fortunate to have such an illustrious citizen willing to take on the rigours of parliamentary life for them.

Some of you might – quite rightly – point out that the US, for example, might be going the same way when it comes to dynasties, though on a smaller scale. Well, I want India to take credit for that as well. Like we did earlier in our glorious past, 5000 years ago, it is time, again, for India to spread its message and philosophy across the world. Haven’t you heard the (apocryphal) story about Laloo Yadav? Someone once suggested to him that he should hire Japanese consultants who could help change Bihar into something like Japan. Laloo is reputed to have retorted, “Send me to Japan for three months….I’ll make it another Bihar”.

Perhaps that’s the way the world is headed. Our time has come!

Well, it seems that the Communists have got away with it once again. The CRPF officer has been packed off to his HQ, and the Member of Parliament (MP) is trying to see if this “misbehaviour” can be referred to the Privileges Committee. (Please refer to my previous post, The Commies Are At It Again!)

What can one say? Every time some official tries to do his job and refuses to kowtow to an MP, it becomes a matter for the Privileges Committee. Remember the row the Muslim league non-resident-Indian-yet-an-MP from Kerala had with the pilot of his flight? And that’s not the only instance. They get upset when the courts declare certain things unconstitutional. They foam at the mouth when sting operations expose them. They obviously do not want the same rules to apply to them.

So why don’t we formalise this arrangement that MPs (extendable to MLAs/MLCs/Corporators) have into a code of conduct to be followed by us, the less equal citizens of the country? It can be made very simple:

Rule 1. The honourable MP is always right. Always.

Rule 2. In case of doubt, refer to Rule Number 1.

Rule 3. The term MP is defined as the MP, his family, his extended family, his staff & their immediate families and not more than two pets. (Hey, we have to draw the line somewhere. Can’t let them walk all over us!)

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel we are enacting a real-life version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm?

It is amazing how the communists in India, despite the worst transgressions, manage to maintain a squeaky clean image. I am not very clued into the local politics of Kerala, but for years have known that the cadre goons rule West Bengal like a fiefdom. Dissent is not tolerated, and there is no law but party law, no other recourse that the hapless people of West Bengal have but the party, even for trifling family matters.

While the communists came to power there on the basis of broad and popular public support, over the years they have resorted to bullying, intimidation and scare tactics to remain in power. This has been the history of West Bengal for at least two decades now.

Of course, as is wont to happen, they got cocksure and complacent, and Nandigram happened. Nandigram exposed to the world what people’s power in West Bengal was all about. The communists characteristically tried to bluster their way out, and even succeeded to a large extent. But the ghosts of Nandigram refuse to go away. Here’s an article, a first-hand account of a journalist there. And here’s a video of a telephone spat between the local commie MP and the CRPF DIG. The MP apparently tried to intimidate the CRPF DIG into staying in his camp – obviously so as to allow his boys to carry on their bullying tactics unhindered. With the communists in power for decades now, the state administration is obviously a tool to carry out the party’s diktats. A central paramilitary force, however, is another kettle of fish, and far more difficult to intimidate. They still might succeed in intimidating the weak central government, though. Karat and Yechury need to up their histrionics in Delhi and threaten to withdraw support for this to happen. Which they predictably will! And an officer who tried to do his job will probably have his service record blighted and be shunted to some obscure posting.

Now the commies want the CRPF out of the area, saying the CRPF is not needed there. We can be sure that once the CRPF is out of there, the “boys” will resume their looting, pillaging and raping.

And let us not be fooled into thinking that Nandigram is an aberration. No, Nandigram was only the aberration that got caught…….there are thousands of other Nandigrams in West Bengal where the rights of poor, helpless citizens are trampled under the metaphorical jackboots of communist goons.

Yes, it is amazing how the communists have kept their real image hidden from all of us for so long. And how they continue to manage to do so, courtesy a fawning and conniving media, all the while surreptitiously undermining every fundamental right and every liberal tradition worth preserving.

Since writing my last post, The Government as Moral Guardian, which talked about how the government tends to focus on ridiculous stuff, while critical matters are given short shrift, I came across this related bit of information: India has the highest number of children under five years of age who don’t receive proper health care. The annual “state of the world’s mothers” report pegs the figure at 67 million, which adds up to 53 per cent of the total population of under-five children in the country. Read the full article here.

I came across this interesting article in Liju Philip’s blog , which in turn linked to a post on Amit Varma’s. The post was an appeal to abolish victimless crimes (such as consensual sex between two adults of the same sex, prostitution and sports betting, for instance). I completely agree with Amit’s point of view, and believe that such ridiculous laws ought to be scrapped.

Something else Liju wrote in his post got me thinking. He wondered why it is that “the governments are so hell bent on ruling us rather than serving us, which is what they are supposed to do in the first place?”

Good point. Why is it that governments (at all levels) don’t do what they are supposed to do, and seem very good at doing everything that they’re not?

These laws just mentioned are a good example. We are being told what to do and what not to do. Perhaps – and that’s a big perhaps – we wouldn’t mind this almost Big Brother attitude if the government performed in other aspects. Unfortunately, as a perusal of any indicator will show, it has failed miserably. Let’s look at where India stacks up when it comes to some very critical aspects:

Food & Nutrition? (Still alarming, especially in children)

Primary education? (Ha ha)

Universal Healthcare? (You’ve got to be kidding!)

Sanitation? (What’s that?)

Crime? (The cops seem to be committing most of it)

Infrastructure? (Some improvement, but still in a very, very dismal place)

I don’t think India’s performance on each of these indicators is anything to write home about.

There can be only two reasons why governments perform so dismally. (1)They are incompetent and incapable. (2)They are competent and capable but suffer from constraints –for instance, not enough bandwidth, not enough specialised talent, not enough money, not enough time.

The first option is a little scary to contemplate. So I shall pretend to be an ostrich and bury my head in the sand as far as (1) is concerned. (Should any of you feel otherwise, please do leave your comments).

If one takes (2) as the reason, doesn’t it make sense for the government to jettison the unnecessary, focus and apply its limited resources towards these more important aspects of governance? Shouldn’t the government be concentrating on providing at least basic healthcare, facilitating minimum nutrition levels (especially in children), facilitating the provision of basic sanitation, concentrating on making safe drinking water available, and trying to make the ordinary citizen feel safe and secure? I think these are some of the government’s most important jobs – the rest, while important, come after these basic levels of a citizen’s needs are met.

Seems sensible enough, right? Apparently not for our governments, for whom the more critical matters of governance are deciding for us what we should or shouldn’t watch on TV or film, banning dance-bars, banning cheerleaders, banning smoking on screen and banning alcohol on screen.

Call me a quirky Indian, but before being taught how to eat bread, shouldn’t one have the bread to eat?

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