India and its Mad-Men

Once there was a guy who grew a long beard and sat all day breathing in and out, teaching people how to do the same. It wasn’t bad business and made the bearded guy a ton of money too. One day he decided to take a deep breath, pull his stomach in and hoped that as he exhaled he could somehow force the govt to pull out their magic wand to instantly get back all the black money back to India, and if the Government didn’t agree then he threatened to hold his breath. His actions bore striking similarity to the mythical Don Quixote, who attacked the windmills – both schemes being hair-brained and futile which could at best have resulted in some mild irritation all around. But instead for being merely tolerated for his absurdity, he was attacked back by the government, violently, and treated like a petty criminal. Why would a government get so rattled by this absurd though innocent action of this bearded man?

Government of India hitting backThe governments over-reaction has woken up the country to the new hard reality, that maybe, the idea of a free democratic India nothing more than mass hallucination. Maybe we all been living under the illusion of freedom while we have been taken over by institutions that have grown so adept at manipulating us that we are now hostages to it against our own will. These institutions seem to exists for themselves and seem to have no other raison d’être. India may actually be no better than a dictatorship, where the state power has been usurped by the ruling elite to serve their needs only, even if they have to resort to violence.

Indian government is busy concocting arbitrary arguments to justify its heavy handedness to attack its own citizens in the name of ‘broken promise on a negotiation’, or of some imagined ‘conspiracy for creating riots like situation’. If any individual were to give such arguments justifying beating up a fellow human being, he or she would have been committed to a mental asylum. The insanity of the government become even more apparent with the ruling politicians refusing to participate in a negotiation with civil society on the ongoing lokpal bill formulations, and absurdly deciding to draft it on their own – a bill that is supposed to hold them accountable in the first place! Its like telling the thief to write the justice system that will punish him.

In all this mess, Manmohan singh is missing (#findingmanmohan was a trending topic on twitter a couple of days back) – really, where the F@#$ is my Prime-minister? The sinking feeling in my stomach is that they will all get away, and that we are all fucked. The institution of governance, democracy and accountability have rotted away so deep, that today we are on the verge of a breakdown and are waiting for our last straw, with no hope in sight.

Political parties have all mastered the game of manipulating the common Indian through the so called ‘independent media’. Articulate spokesmen of each parties who are hired for their oratory skills, ability to muster good sounding arguments and loud voices are sent into the press rooms every night with quotable quotes, spouting inflammatory oneliners that will make it to the headline and distract from the issue (calling the crack down as ‘jalian waala bagh’ to ride on our deep seated disgust at the original sin, or calling an innocent dance of Sushma as some sort of immoral act which somehow disqualifies her to lead her party or even question the government, or questioning the motivations of anyone who questions the government by calling it ‘front for a political conspiracy’, etc etc). These spokespeople are all well trained to sidestep the indefensible actions by offering some coherent sounding explanations which will manipulate people by appealing to their fears and insecurities.

The shrillness of such primetime debates lull all of us to sleep as it all seems so democratic- if a news anchor can humiliate a ruling party spokesperson, then surely we are a well functioning democracy. The exchange smiles and exchanges of allegations with other panelists or with the news anchors make it seem all so civilized, while the victims of the day lie bleeding and paralyzed in the hospitals. The new dawn will being in more bodies, and more empty vacuous debates. These debates have become the lullabies of a democracy – promising an improved world, but all a pack of lies.

Today it feels like we are being governed by mad men (not the mad-men of HBO), and there are only mad-men to choose from. I don’t want to see a country run by a Congress which is a ‘the headless chicken’ party, or the BJP ‘the party of dancers’ which has no vision for a secular and growing India, or by anna hazaare ‘the gandhian’ who seems to have come to the 21st century from some period in the past in some time capsule with his repulsive righteousness, or some madcap deep breathing saadhu who knows nothing of issues he wants to fight.

Will anyone non-shady, non-creepy, non-corrupt, non-mad, non-dumb, non-religious, non-populists, non-regressive, non-old please stand up…

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