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!