2011: Year of Overkill & Overacts!

Right ho! It’s that time of the year again! We’ll now be inundated from all sides with a review of the year 2011.  Right from newspapers to flashing-news-channels; from radios to blogs, Manorama Year books to tacky pamplets shall start circulating their assessment of what the year was about and what the new year shall bring with it.  Given my penchant for being original in my concepts on this space, it was a bygone conclusion that shortly I shall be giving my expert opinions on matters that nobody has asked for!  Well one cannot expect one’s self to withhold only because no one has come to one’s self!! Such is our magnanimity!  All in all, 2011 for me has been a hackneyed year.  From the onset, we have had a flood of rhetorics pumped into our ears – on National & International stages – politics, economics, finance, religion, movies – you name it, and it has bugged and bored.

Corruption & Anna Hazare:  Agreed that we have a banal problem in our administrative institution.  We are stunted in our development – as a nation owing to corruption that has permeated to the lowest levels of bureaucracy nay to the very fabric of the society.  And that includes me and you.  In this set up, throw in a bunch of wannabes who overnight are accorded a heroic status and symbol on par with the freedom fighters of India, and we have a perfect recipe for disaster!  Such is the hunger in our society for idolatory and showmanship, that we ravenously display our contempt and our love unabashedly without even pausing to think, whether or not we are part of the institution we condemn or the principle we adore.  Anna Hazareji, with all due respects, for me has never been equivalent to Gandhi, and this “war” against corruption, despite all the media brouhaha is not a “second” or whatever fight for independence.  In the whole episode of what transpired around the introduction of the Lokpal bill, there has been naked dance of sycophancy (exhibited by both the Government and the Civil(?) society members), hypocrism, cheap publicity and razzle-dazzle strewn generously by everyone involved.  From comic cameos of loonies like Baba Ramdev to cabinet ministers shooting their mouths off, not a single stone was left unturned to churn out the tripe for our channels to flash across its screens and stir up the “Bharat”-ness that was dormant in the average citizen.  They got their TRP ratings for sure and laughed their way to the banks.  As for us, we continue to flout the traffic rules, and abuse the cops when caught. We still try to settle the traffic fines by NOT paying the fine in full but rather settle it for 50 / 100 Rs candestinely tucked into the hands of the constable.  But its the government that is the most corrupt! We have no doubts about it.  Given an opportunity if there wouldn’t be an inspector or a TC checking on our moves, how many of us would wait at the red signal or buy our tickets??  But the corruption that is happening at the center needs to be checked indeed!  And for that we have a coterie of personalities that we regard as being above all blemish.  We find the need for an institution that is squeaky clean in its image, comprising of members who are next to Gods in their character and who can hold to ransom any Government or agency by deciding to not eat.  Surely there are millions going hungry everyday and has been so since years now.  But that has nothing to do with corruption!  Corruption has become visible only now!  For none of those millions ever staged their hunger on a dias!

This is the reason why I can never consider Anna Hazare as being equivalent to Gandhiji.  Successful or not, Gandhiji strived to work at the fabric of the country.  Freedom wasn’t a political agenda for him, it was a spiritual agenda.  He craved to free the Indian mindsight of its slavery to customs, blind practices, casteism, and hatred.  Mere political freedom can never translate itself into development if the society doesn’t free itself of the self-imposed shackles.  To blame the Government point-blank or repeatedly call them ‘corrupt’, ‘Brasht’, ‘lacking in neeyat’, or whatever the abuses one likes, betrays an attitude of a troublemaker.  It is this dis-illusion that set on me as I watched Anna’s crusade.  The media that projected and built the hype around this only sought to bake their pie in the fire it fanned.  This is the media that glorifies “Big Boss”, “Sach Ka Saamna”, “Raakhi Ka Swayamvar”, or shows in broad daylight a profusely bleeding man begging for mercy and life.  If it can encash on the gory of a broad day light murder, no channel would like to be left behind.  And when it comes to whipping up the emotions of a nation, who regard Karan Johar as the best director, its a cake-walk for them.  In a time-tested tradition of over-doing things, the media was always hand-in-glove, but this time indeed it went overboard in equating the crusade with the Freedom struggle.  Any committed individual who has studied the history or the circumstances of Indian Freedom Movement would but scoff at such equations.  Yet, the frenzy has been unabated and has every sign of a 7 day wonder.  If Sri Hazare thinks that Lokpal would be the ideal solution for corruption at administrative levels, he is only treating the symptoms of the problem.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize how well, we have imbibed corruption (in whatever degrees) in our day-to-day lives.  Just as he assumes that whipping a drunkard would cure him/serve as a right punishment to the individual, his one size fits all solution of Lokpal shall prove another mirage, that can only push the dust under carpet, but never rid it.  We shall have another “Animal Farm” in our country. Gandhiji put immense effort at educating the masses and making every individual own the movement as his/her spiritual journey.  As long as Hazareji doesn’t recognize this gap and strive at bridging it between the citizens of this country and its administrators, with all due respect, I cannot consider him to be a Gandhian, let alone a modern Gandhi.

Baba Ramdev:  There was once a forest full of life.  There were many animals and birds and thriving vegetation. Among these was a fox.  Once he strayed into the city and was chased around by a pack of hounds.  While escaping, he happened to fall into a drum containing a blue dye and needless to say the color of his coat changed.  Once he returned to the forest, the animals, surprised by his strange color, regarded him as someone sent to redeem them and held him in high esteem.  In no time, the fox, basking the light of this new found importance, took it upon his high-self to give unsolicited opinions (like me! ;)) on matters that didn’t concern him like homosexuality and made claims of curing such ‘illnesses of the mind’.  Not satisfied, he started leaving landmarks on the political landscape as he found the opportunity to harvest in the troubled waters – thanks to a spineless government and an inefficient administration.  Oh… sorry I guess I had to write about Baba Ramdev!

Mr. Kapil Sibal & plethora of other ‘Mantrijis’:  And I mean amongst both the ruling as well as the (so called) opposition parties. If ever there were to be a more shameless washing of dirty linen in public, I am yet to see it.  Whether it was the bill for 33% reservation for women, or CWG/2G scandal, or the Lokpal bill, the ruling as well as the opposition party members and speakers have bared their teeth, fangs and anyother displayable anatomy of their body.  Not a pretty sight.  The cake ofcourse is taken by Mr. Kapil Sibal, who I had always considered a sane man! But yet, off the board he did go, and just how!! Issuing an ultimatum to the WWW!  Well Sibalji, this isn’t South Park being played on doordarshan to have every effin’ word <bleeped>.  If that were to be the case, I’d suggest you start with your own house (Congress) and also help the opposition parties to take a leaf out of your book (i.e., if you succeed).

The ‘Nataka’ of Karnataka: I had always begged to differ with people who considered politics to be the storehouse of scoundrels. (Sibalji… yes.. I said it! So what?!).  One where, day light enemies become nightlife buddies! 😛 But even so, it was always my belief that it would happen in other states like UP & Bihar, for in those states castes rule the roost.  But however, we have a new contender to that genre and its my own state!  The party that opposes the Government in the center is the government in the state! And lo! behold! How the equations change! We have a caught red-handed CM doling out warnings to the party high command that would whimper like a beaten dog.  And when it bites, things do get worse! Ministers are caught in sexual scandals, mining scandals, property scandals, horse-trading scandals, and so on and so forth.  They dole out crores of rupees to get the opposition party MLAs to switch to ruling party, and cry their throats hoarse over the ruling government in the center giving cash to get some votes!  They beat their chests and moan the corruption ruling in the center, while turning a blind eye to the rampant destruction of National resources happening in the state.  So we have a tie-up that just can’t be broken.  We have a spineless Central Government that can’t control its alliance partners from amassing wealth unjudiciously or holding a gun to its brains and stop reforms from happening. On the other hand we have a hypocrite Opposition that cries foul over reservation policies but inducts a bloody criminal to its hold to win the elections! Vote India! Vote!

Economy: Hickory Dickory Dock! The rupee went up the bloc! USA Struck cold, and the rupee fell thud! Hickory Dickory Dock! So, the world economy was down! Indeed? There was rampant unemployment around the world! Although things seemed to improve around the end of the year! But by then, people around the world (which means guys in US of A!) had been through the worst!  Their Nobel prize winner President (talk about throwing the baby with the water!) had shattered their hopes.  And Indian Government sounded alarms! Everyone was on an austerity drive! Suddenly cattle class became a buzz word and a <bleep> word.  Yeah! We are on an austerity drive indeed! But its still a nightmare crowd at the malls!  McDonald’s is still flourishing dishing out a bun and patty for Rs. 55/-. We have ‘Goli’ vada pavs for 40 bucks, and a gold foiled dosa for Rs. 1000/- selling like hot cakes! Am all for fun and enjoyment! But One grand for an effin’ Masala Dosa covered with gold foil is way over my digestive capacity.  And am happy it is that way.  And while we are at it, let’s do some more leader bashing for there are poor people in this country and that’s solely the mistake of our politicians.

Bolly-wood/Shollywood: Death seemed to have been on a glee-spree swiping off many key personalities who were the links to the soulful 70s such as Shammi Kapoor & Dev Anandji.  We lost stalwarts in music such as Jagjit Singh & Bhupen Hazarika. We had hard-hitting movies with fresh ideas like Peepli Live, Delhi Belly, No one killed Jessica, Dhobi Ghat, Memories in March to list a few. But then again we had Ra-One, Rockstar, Don2, Ready which assailed every known aesthetic sense.  But what takes the leaf? Its a stupid song from somewhere down under that for its sheer idiocy appealed and was downloaded world over.  So far so good.  But instantly there spawned versions and sub-versions of it – from Pakistan’s government to lingual versions from around the world. And then ofcourse all of these had to be shared on FB, and liked and commented upon! (Or in my space criticized). And the protagonist overnight becomes a sensation and this is the front page news! Well but ofcourse I am now legally qualified to be called an unpatriot, turncoat, a show spoiler! But honestly, we seem to be at a juncture where we are desperately craving for role models because we always need someone to worship and adore?!  As a generation we have now come to be addicted to a sense of low self-esteem that needs a constant reassurance by following on the foot steps of anyone fit enough to get our least bit of attention.  And once found, we pour it all on this idea or personality and soon go bust!  Feel dejected, depressed and cynical. From traveling pantless in metro (to beat the montony of traveling!) to rolling around in tomato (Bangalore college hosts tomatina fest and claims to help the farmers), we imitate and mimic and sheepishly follow another tradition.  Am not a hindutva lauding, fanatic of my ‘Bharat’ness.  But aren’t we the same who also take the liberty to spit on the streets? Throw the garbage along and vandalize our public property?  We exhibit our coolness by jumping the signals and flashing our fingers and using the cuss words just for the heck of it!  Shall we dare do this in the cultures and countries that we emulate everything else from?  I am waiting to see an Indian, who can spit the pan in the subway of New Jersey!  Or pee on the streets of New York.  If anything, the year 2011 showed how pseudo intellectual we have become as a generation.  We take pride in pointing fingers and shifting the blame.  But when it comes to action, its always the guy next to us, who should’ve done something about things we comment upon.

I only hope 2012 shall bring in more sanity with it.  Afterall, let’s die sane if it really were to be the case!  Else we shall have yet another year to pepper with our unsolicited criticisms and reviews!  🙂 In the meanwhile, its just so easy to complain than stick to my resolutions of not doing it!  This apart from resolving to work out regularly! Yeah Right! If only rants could reduce the calories! So long 2011!

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