Archive | April 2011

Purging at the alter of Anna

As Heidi Klum puts it… “either you’re in or you’re out”.

While some throng the refuse laden waters of the Ganges or the Sangam at Allahabad and others sit in confessionals before tainted priests in an attempt to cleanse their souls, a new breed of Indians have found another mode of dry-cleaning their conscience and it costs… nothing. It doesn’t matter what your sin…. come one, come all…for one week only, or at least till our Chantilli soaked brains can sustain it… Jump on to the bandwagon, the circus is in town.

Don’t get me wrong and it doesn’t matter even if you do but I like Anna Hazare and I’m all for people’s movements just as I’m okay with vigilantism at times if that’s what it takes to make a difference, even though we try and sanitise it by calling it citizen justice…. Boo hah! Which brings me to intent and I ask myself whether it’s okay today to cheat, defraud, defame someone we don’t like, squirrel away all that cash we tried so hard to hide from the IT department and ask for favours from this ‘Uncle’ or that, as long as after we’re done, we can sit back, knock down a few, glue together our Gandhi caps made from today’s edition of the Times, and haul our beery or wine soaked butts on to the street to rabble rouse. Newsprint has suddenly got a new purpose…the rad-rag, if you must….we want to read it and wear it, but only the glossy pages please… I just conditioned my hair. And since Bollywood just jumped on the bandwagon, albeit after the main show was over, we’ll soon see Manish Malhotra’s line of newsprinted pretty boys hit the runway… Remember… You got it from here dude! So out we go, distributing the tricolour to bemused urchins who dump it in the gutter, because they’d rather have a tenner, lustily belt out anti-corruption slogans and songs and suddenly we’re in.

A friend showed me photographs over the weekend, posted on someone’s facebook page of one of those slogan ranting, newsprint topi wearing rallies. Regular pictures taken on one of those little Kodak digital cameras, of a motley bunch, mostly friends of the organisers I guess, all tagged just in case you couldn’t recognise them in their conscientious avatars, and among them a picture of two women standing on the sidelines, passers-by, watching the procession. One of them taking a picture on her cellphone while the other looked on confused… but hey what the heck, it’s her face and her prerogative and I thought we were a democracy… and the photo was captioned… “Politicians! These ladies stood by and took photos on their mobile fones (sic)”.

Which brings me right back to Heidi….”Auf Wiedersehen!”

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Candles and Consciousness

I respect Anna Hazare and I wish I had half or perhaps just an iota of the courage, fortitude and drive he possesses.

I’m a good citizen. I love my country despite its corrupt politicians, quite a few of who rise from rags to riches on the strength of the brute force of threat votes and a television set or two thrown in for good measure. I’m patriotic. I cheer at cricket matches and curse and swear at the opposition especially if it’s Pakistan or Australia. But I’m a bit thrown, confused at this sudden consciousness that my fellow countrymen and women have developed almost overnight.

Oh yeah I saw the police out in full force today, the traffic cops pulling people over, then haggling and smiling and… “hey” I’m tempted to shout “you forgot to kiss him goodbye when you left, you seemed like such old pals… what with all that surreptitious hand holding”.

Perhaps I’m naïve because I’m no saint. I have bribed a cop… once… many years ago. My first car and perhaps I had stepped too hard on the accelerator and I thought the light was orange. Seriously! But he was there, the Pandu at the signal, hiding behind a truck like they used to in the old days. And the haggling started… New car… Young girl. Two hundred he said, we settled on fifty. That was it, never again. Not because I’m a good person but inflation hits us all and I have better use for that note.

So what’s with this sudden conscience that people seem to have developed and their eagerness to jump on the anti-corruption bandwagon. A friend called me yesterday to say that today is “wear black for Anna day” and then I get a message from another that to wear white. Another wants me to light a candle… and I’ve lost count of the protest marches and discussions  groups sprouting everywhere.

I suppose its a good thing that we’re all so interested in the rooting out corruption and that we want to be partake in framing the Lokpal bill and see it come to light. That we want to take a stand for something good for once in our lives. I agree with that cause… even though I do know that some of the most vociferous of them who are heading off sprinting to Cotton World and FabIndia as I type, to stock up on their Black n Whites, won’t give a damn once the government agrees to some of the good man’s demands.

It will all be forgotten.

To all these good people everywhere all I want to say is… take a moment… take a stand against atrocities and corruption every day…Don’t bribe the cop who catches you when you break a light and for starters don’t break the light. Don’t pay the guy at the MHADA office when you want your form pushed up and on second thought don’t you have two flats in your name already and these were low income units… But I suppose your one crore a month take home, perquisites extra, kinda puts you right there doesn’t it?

So yeah I’m a bit overwhelmed and I’m a bit irritated too at this pseudo consciousness that’s doing the rounds. Right now I’m not buying too much of it except from those who are at the front-line of struggles against injustice, inequality and corruption everyday.

So power to Anna and I’m glad the government relented so he can break his fast.

But on second thought a fortnight of attempting to show the world how honest we all are won’t really hurt. Will it?

Perhaps I should just wear purple for Anna.