Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Indian of the Year

Sorry, this is my Tuesday rant, powered by a Wengers pastry and the accompanying sugar high. I really should go easy on the sugar though.
Everybody has an award nowadays, nice marketing gimmick. Get some sucker corporate chap to sponsor it, get clowns to vote on premium messaging services. Have a nice big show with lots of cheap scotch, keep lots of politicians and corporates happy and then claim that you have to let go of several interns because of ‘cost’ issues. Anyway, I don’t want to rant too much in this post. Primarily because I have a lot of work. But here is my ‘Indian of the Year’ 2008 – wait for it – The silent victim of terror attacks. All of them, from the migrant worker who collects the garbage to the executive who was just eating dinner.
You know, the Bombay train blasts of 2006 (one, two, three) were the first terror attacks that actually scared me. I used to travel in those trains everyday and even though I've probably left office that early once or twice in my life, I could have been on those trains. I’m not an overly religious person, but a few days after the blasts I happened to be in Kolkata and dragged my father to Kalighat (peculiarly enough for the first time in his life).
You know something, every single time I get inside my car and drive through Delhi I know that some jackass at a roundabout might scrunch me, even though the likelihood of me running over an idiot Pulsar biker is far higher. I have had more than my fair share of accidents and serious ones at that but (touch-wood) other than a concussion or two nothing major. Heck, I drive quite knowingly on Indian highways and have stared down enough Tata trucks.
I even survived one week of driving on Kerala roads – and those guys are by far and away the maddest bus drivers in all of India. On a plane, and I watch far too much of National Geographic’s Air Crash Investigation to know that every once in a while a plane will fall out of the sky (though like AI 182 often because people want to make a political point). Marna hai to marna hai, Boss. I know I share this manic fatalism of many of my countrymen, but really I live in a country where every office commute is an adventure.
Well, the fact of the matter is that I can die anytime. But I don’t want to die because of someone else trying to make a political point. Whether it is the lunatic wing of the Sangh or crazy Islamic terrorists from UP or illiterate cocaine-fuelled commandos from across the border. That is not the way I want to die, or for that mater that is not the way anybody should die. From business executives doing dinner at an hotel in Mumbai, to Bihari immigrants waiting on a station platform, to lovers walking in a park in Delhi, to women shopping for the festive season in Jaipur or people offering prayers in a mosque in Malegaon.
No blast is bigger than another, no form of terror is bigger than another. Politicians obfuscate the truth. They proclaim something to be the ‘Real India’ (Rahul Gandhi’s Sarah Palin moment - remember her 'Real America' rant, but that is another post for another time) but there is one India and all of it is ‘Real’. And the people who die are also quite real. Celebrate the achievements of the year – we did put a satellite on the moon, we did not come back with no medals from Beijing and we gave the rest of the cricketing world a big middle finger. But far too many of us died because of terror. And let us not forget that, or in rush towards the next eleven months of 2009 forget all their memories.
And as for the Karl Marx quote on the header, and if you get this on a feed...
"Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be nationalized, and the State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism" Karl Marx, Das Kapital. EDIT: It appears I've been hoaxed. As repentance I will now quote from Donald Rumsfeld.
I put that up because it sounds prescient but also because I agree with a line that Newsweek I think carried - to understand how capitalism failed maybe you should study its greatest critic. I don't think capitalism is dead, someone has made a lot of money in this downturn and is keeping very quiet about it, but capitalism as we know it will have to change.

EDIT: ContentSutra's post on Times Internet has some really interesting comments 


essbee said...

You've been hoaxed..


Nikhil Prasad Ojha said...

If you'd just left it to the blog header, I wouldn't have pointed this out - as you mentioned in an old post, there's enough folks who regard as gospel whatever Google or Wikipedia throws up - but then you had to go and point out the Marx pseudo-quote in this post too.
Marx never said any such thing. Not in DK, not in any other of his writings.
This is from NewsMutiny Pat Caufield of the Department of Education in a satyrical United States who started a re-education programme for kids to prepare the transition to communism
Whenever there's such Nostradamus type prescience, always a good idea to check - it doesn't take long to land up here.
Erratum, please.