Why So Serious?

23 Jul

I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.

But really, what the hell is the matter with people? To read some of the reactions in the Indian press today, you’d think the world had ended. They’re all “OMG!! Bribery!! Horsetrading!! Lying!! Scandal!!”

Damn, I didn’t see any of that coming, did you? Especially when an embattled Congress minority government was seeking a trust vote that was forced upon them by their erstwhile allies over an issue of national interest. I mean, no such thing has ever happened in the world’s largest, most vibrant, most functioning, most inclusive, most amazing, most fantabulousest, most fantasticingest democracy ever! Gadzooks, I’m shocked!


Remember the time when the Madras Assembly erupted in chaos and somebody ripped Jayalalitha’s saree while Karunanidhi got his spectacles broken? How about the time when the Uttar Pradesh Assembly had a free for all? Take a good look at the lovely footage above if you want a little reminder. In fact, I’m pretty sure I remember something from the late 80s/early 90s, probably during one of those short lived VP Singh – Chandrashekhar governments, about chairs being thrown in the Parliament itself. Definitely, there are instances even in recent days when members across the political spectrum have just about restrained themselves from committing physical violence (example one, two and three for your edification).

As for horsetrading and bribery – wow, who’d have thunk it? I guess all those occasions when party leaders whisk their members off to a secluded spot only to “parade” them in front of a governor or the President, was just the figment of some reporter’s fancy. Why, everybody knows Indian politicians can’t be bought! They have Gandhi in one ear and God in the other – they’ll never stray! Nuh-uh. Or if they do, then only The Other Party does it, where TOP = Party You Don’t Belong To.

And don’t even get me started on criminal politicians! No such thing has ever existed. Every politician who has ever been arrested, charged or convicted was obviously a victim of bas and political chicanery… sorry, was that too much for you? A little less denial would be welcome?

Well, imagine what the people who these shining examples of leadership represent feel about the situation if you’re this exercised. So why isn’t anybody putting any pressure on Parliament to pass a law that says you can’t stand for elections if you’ve been convicted of a crime? How about some of that celebrated (by itself) Press action here? I guess it’s one thing to hound ordinary citizens and then congratulate yourself about a much needed job well done, but entirely another to actually drum up support for things that are deeply relevant to all of us but runs the risk of pissing off those in power.

I’m all for better standards in public life and aspiring to something better than what we’ve got in the past, but let’s leave disingenuous posturing of this kind behind. This is the kind of “black day” and “immorality” and “murder of democratic process” that dawns every few months in Indian democracy and there isn’t a single party that is above it when it plays to their own advantage. It wasn’t invented this July 22nd.

If you genuinely have a problem with the way things are going, then take a break from holding impromptu press conferences and do things differently, no matter how much it hurts your interests. You can’t play in the same mud pool as everybody else of your own free will and then say you’re only doing it because your friends and enemies refuse to come out. That kind of excuse didn’t work when you were a child and it sure as hell won’t fly now when you’re playing around with the lives and fates of millions of people.

Like every other Indian, I’ve seen this song and dance before and it really doesn’t impress me. But I am glad to see two positive things emerge from this fracas:

One, my dad found a substitute for IPL on TV. He’s very picky about his trash TV and until this came along, he was slowly slipping back into his workaholic ways. But now he can finally relax. Thank you, neta-log!

Two, I’m glad we’re slowly evolving to a point where people have finally realized that they can’t govern a country by throwing chairs at each other. Or at least evolving to a point where we don’t throw chairs at the least provocation. Thank you, God.

Because really, Bharat bhagya vidhaata is as true today as it’s ever been.


Posted by on July 23, 2008 in News, Politics, Video


9 responses to “Why So Serious?

  1. prasun

    July 23, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Wow, this is so parliamentary and totally precedented!
    News channels seem to be having a good time with all this nonsense going on. Yesterday IBN 7 was playing Mika’s Bas Ek King while they splashed the screen a Manmohan cartoon in blue pagdi with the headline screaming in Hindi : Singh is King.

    I saw bits of the (Le Kharash) Advani speech and read the first two paragraphs of the Manmohan speech – total entertainment value! We badly need a desi version of The Daily Show – it’s sad we’re stuck with Shekhar Suman/Cyrus Broacha types.

  2. Overated Outcast

    July 23, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    I know!! Really, I for one cannot understand why people are so shocked.

    So MP’s are bought and sold. No shit, sherlock!!

    The BJP opposed the deal just for the sake of opposing it, the left is just doing it’s duty looking out for the Chinese national interest and Mayawati is just being Mayawati.

    And even the Vidhata is going like Jesus, WTF do I do with this country!!

  3. Ramsu

    July 23, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    Lovely post! The title is especially brilliant.

    The entire episode (and episode is all it is) reminded me of this scene in Casablanca where Renault comes in with the Nazi officers to Rick’s cafe to close it down. Rick asks why, so Renault looks around and replies, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

    If they had a 24 hour news channel that just covered Parliament and the various Assemblies, I think your dad could retire.


  4. narendra shenoy

    July 24, 2008 at 12:41 am

    Amrita, you excel yourself! Brilliant post! And yet, all that it inspires is a kind of dull frustration over our inability to do anything about it. The whole system is so skewed in favor of those who can mobilize mobs that thinking citizens have to passively watch and wring their hands.

    We need accountability. The principle that someone in power has a responsibility and if he or she fails to do the job, for whatever reason, he or she gets punished. By dismissal or impeachment or whatever. Prison, even. But the people who can bring about this change are the people who will suffer most from it. Ergo, it will never happen. Catch 22. In the immortal words of Jim Hacker, it’s like asking an alcoholic to blow up a distillery.

  5. Sudeep

    July 24, 2008 at 2:27 am

    Yesterday night I read an article on movies with the same title in Indian Express and a look in my reader I was like Whoa! he he..

    Poly-ticks *sigh*
    I sincerely watch extreme videos on AXN to show the UP assembly fracas but all they show is flying bikes, cars & people n Japanese ministers slapping *long sigh*

  6. harini calamur

    July 24, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    🙂 I used that line on someone yesterday:)

    and only one crore?Are, the MP’s really worth so little. and are the bribers so stupid as to declare names….
    i don’t have a doubt that horses (rather mules) were traded. but, i don’t think that it was this unsubtle….

  7. prasanth

    July 25, 2008 at 2:47 am

    Bravo! A most sober analysis. It was both amusing and annoying to see people commenting on the debate within ours with stuff like “This is the darkest hour of India democracy”. Of course the main culprits are the news channels which seem to hire anchors on the basis of specific shrillness quotient and a penchant for assuming apocalyptic expressions at least twice a day.

    But these incidents are also a commentary on the tendency of a lot of people to completely de-historicise and thus de-politicise politics itself. This tendency(besides giving the individual a sense of self-importance..) breeds a view of politics as a street-side tamashaa, alienating the individual and enabling him/her to position himself/herself above politics and ultimately opens the door for forces which use this sense of revulsion to enact totalitarian policies.

    Aoww..did i just write all that? I think I was just appreciating your historical references. 🙂
    For some tongue-in-cheek, semi-live posts on the confidence go here

  8. Amey

    July 25, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Seriously, I will never hear “Why so serious?” the same way again 😀

    I am quite surprised if people didn’t see this coming, given how things are normally carried out to form “alliances”.

  9. Amrita

    July 26, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Prasun – I’m imagining Dr. Singh rocking out in a pink turban and laughing my ass off! 😀

    OO – I might have more sympathy for the BJP’s position if any one of them was actually able to articulate it rather than saying, Oh Noes, Is too Bad. Of course, it’s not like the Congress can say anything for the deal other than We Worked Hard On This which isn’t exactly convincing me to agree to anything. I would really like a big debate or an interview or a parliamentary hearing with some of the diplomats who worked on this deal because I want to know more.

    Ramsu – ha! TDK lovers unite! A Casablanca reference for the sad tragicomic show that is the Indian Parliament! Love.

    NS – You’re like the third person to bring this up with me this week 🙂 Which is a good thing because I used to think this was some kind of lonely mid 20s thing and the world had always been this fucked up and rudderless and you know what, that’s not true. It’s mob rule controlled by greed and the fact that it keeps ticking on is more of a testament to our will to survive than anything else.

    Sudeep – polyticks = multiple ticks? I’m on board with that!

    harini – it’s irresistable! 😀 Me too, one crore is ridiculous. And it’s even more ridiculous that we’re saying this 😀

    Prasanth – yes you did! 😀 thanks for the link. That rahul gandhi thing is hilarious because how often have I felt the same way?!

    Amey – It’s for all occasions! 😀 I dont think anyone was genuinely surprised. It’s one of those, kuch to log kahenge things where they had to say SOMETHINg and chose to make fools of themselves all over again.

    Amey –

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