We can make certain assumptions. India is a country on the move. Ok, no surprises there. India has potential. (I love this word ‘potential’. It means any of a number of things, in varying degrees.) So let’s take these little assumptions for granted.
Now before I act as firestarter once more, let me make it clear that what I say is all taken in the present context. We’re not going to delve into India’s history and culture. So bear with me, ok?
In the current situation we are in, in India, we’ve got potential. Oh yes, we do. I love how we all ‘work hard’. Great spirit we Indians have, I tell you. But, we also quietly put up with crumbling infrastructure, exerting even greater effort in order to cope. Productivity is not something we’re concerned with; instead it’s simple quantum of effort. The point is we tried, didn’t we, and for that we deserve credit.
So while we go on slogging our asses off, aspiring to our white good lifestyle, we are automatically tuned out to the larger issues. I’m no communist, and I think socialism is too idealist to ever work in the real world, but then why do we have the situation we do? Why do we have extremes of wealth and poverty? Why do we have a ridiculously indexed scale of measurement for every good or service we require?
In my simplistic mind, we can lay the blame squarely on our political class. And it’s our fault. Yours. Mine. After all, our ‘leaders’ are of us, by us, for us.
For over half a century now we’ve been bled dry by an autocratic and dynastical lot. Politicians - netas or mantris in common parlance. I didn’t do too well in Civic studies in school, but certain things are abundantly clear to me.
I grew up in a sheltered environment in a small town, where I could ride my bicycle and climb trees. I learned to drive while barely 12, and enjoyed an active and healthy childhood. We didn’t have too much, but we had enough. There was good food and a roof over our heads. I had two pairs of shorts and t-shirts and a pair of shoes. I got a new pair every year on my birthday. And it was the same with all my friends. Our cricket set was assembled over a number of years, and the menagerie we comprised took great pride in challenging a similar bunch of scruffy kids from around town. We were the ‘shigwa’ bunch, regularly at loggerheads with the guys from ‘butchery’, so called because they were from the mohalla around the slaughter house. The maidan where we played changed with the seasons; dusty in the summer, hard packed and rocky in winter, and with waist-high, itchy ‘congress grass’ in the monsoon. But we played. From late afternoon till sun down, for more years than I can remember. We even organised our own league, and enjoyed shared lunch under the imli trees in the long summer holidays.
Until one summer, when we were forbidden to play on it any more. A bunch of do-no-gooders, not much more than five years older than us told us it was private land. A builder, the local MLA, had taken it over. A modern complex, a hideous three-storey angular building would come up over the year. The neem, banyan and imli trees were hacked down.
We sulked home.
That evening I raged in self-righteous adolescence about how it was ‘not fair’. My father told me to not make a deal about it and shut up and eat my dinner.
My friends and I were at an age where we’d begun to experience cracked voices, pimples and morning wood, and would be damned if we were going to take this lying down.
Next day, we congregated. Us, the boys from butchery, even the guys from ‘station’. We knocked the stumps in, and the captains did tip-top to determine teams. The seamers stretched and bowled. The batsmen played shots in the air. The game was on.
Three overs into the first innings an Ambassador pulled up. ‘Aaaeee…gandulog…ithe kai kartat?’ screeched one of the goons. To cut a long story short, it got ugly. They were five, we were 23, I think. Carnage.
There were severe reprimands. It was a first experience with a phrase we coined then, and which still stands good – ‘mantri madarchod’. Mantri madarchodo ne is desh ki ma chod daali.
Now, Raj Thakerey is on another short-sighted populist agenda; Lalu and gang have destroyed any hope for the poor Bihari to begin with; Karunanidhi needs to spend crores on a helicopter coz he’s got hernia; Sharad Pawar is too busy milking cricket for all it’s worth, no matter what the poor farmers are doing drinking pesticide and all. And you, and me, and the rest of us of the Great Indian Urban Middle Class are struggling. Sure, we wear Levi’s and eat Macs and a pitcher or two of draught toh banta hai yaar. But we still spend ridiculous amounts of time stuck in traffic, on pathetic roads, with slums overflowing on to the road, all coz we gotta wait for the mantri madarchod and his entourage to pass by. Bas ho gaya yaar.
Let us all pledge to do our two little bits from today. Let’s vote, to begin with. Let’s be anal with the Right To Information act. Let’s constantly voice our displeasure. Let’s question every dumbass rule. Let’s ask the politician who boards a flight an hour late why he was late, politely, and insist on a fair answer. Come on people. This country is as much yours as it’s mine. I love my India, despite the mantri madarchods.
We owe it to us.