Friday, April 29, 2011

OUR ROYAL WEDDING

As you may have heard Prince William waited for the my arrival in London to announce his engagement to Kate Middleton. They had a nine year relationship, and when William called me for advice, I told him ‘Go for it. England needs a big tamasha.’ When I got to London I called to congratulate William on his decision, as we knew he was doing it for the flag, The Queen and the British economy. Kate, or the future Queen Kate as she is now known, is a beautiful woman and the media just can’t get enough of her. We’re told she is middle class, whatever that may mean in the British class system.
The whole media rejoiced when they heard the news and bells rang out across the length and breadth of this emerald Isle. The British PM interrupted a discussion on the ailing economy to let allow three cheers in the cabinet room. In print, television and the radio, every pundit who could be hauled out of the pub, discussed the engagement and the coming marriage today. They all agreed that the wedding, like the one between Prince Charles and Diana, will bring in millions of tourists to witness this splendid spectacle. And millions of tourists mean many more million pounds spent on hotels, hot dogs, flags, souvenir mugs and quaff beer. The sagging economy and the sagging spirits of the British empire, or what’s left of it, will be uplifted by the sight of the young handsome couple sitting in a golden carriage and accompanied by the horseguards with their golden helmets and breast plates. The last royal wedding also took place when the British spirits and the economy was on a low, and we all know what happened to tha marriage.
I have to admit the British are very good at mounting spectacles. They have that down to a fine art – colourful horsemen, soldiers with bearskin hats and marching bands. We learned from them on how to mount colourful spectacles but we only do that on Republic Day. I do believe we have the untapped potential to make better use of our splendid army uniforms, bands, camel corps, elephant parades and our natural love of a big tamasha.
Now, what we need to bring this together is a royal wedding. I know there was one recently when a Rajasthan royal married another royal and it was covered by the world media as Mick Jagger and Bono were in the guest list. I doubt those two spent the millions that the British hope their royal wedding will generate.
We do have a much more important royal family – an Indo-Italian one – and what we need is a grand wedding for the young, or not so young, prince who still remains single. Prince William found his Kate and I am praying that Rahul will find his mate soon. Once he does, we can then learn from the Brits how to stage a royal wedding. They have Westminister Abbey and BuckinghamPalace we have the Raj Bhavan and that awe inspiring sweep up to it. We too have carriages, now only used for the President to travel in, and it can be the wedding carriage. So the couple start their regal drive from there and end up in the Red Fort which now is wasted with boring speeches by a PM on Indpendence Day. They’ll wave from the rampants to the adoring masses. I am certain once the wedding is announced, our media, especially TV, will make it an event that will put President Obama’s visit in the shade. There will be hysteria and second by second updates of the happy couple.
And, ofcourse, millions of tourists will line the drive to wave Indian flags, spend millions of rupees, buy souvernirs of the happy couple on lotas, and drink as much Black Label as they can.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

PERNICIOUS INFLUENCE

Influence distorts our daily lives. It demeans and belittles our efforts. It’s not insidious but blatant. The laws are bent and twisted so as to allow our polticians to get away with murder, rape and extortion; our industrialists to scamming thousands of crores out of our pockets, with the connivance of the concerned ministries.
Influence gets you what you do not deserve. It gravitates, like water down a hill, to the rich. Political influence is of course the most powerful and the most coveted of all influences. We see it at work daily. It distorts, twists and mangles all the laws of our land, making them meaningless. Influence helps the politicians to escape retribution for their, to put it mildly, misdeeds. We see it at work in the Prime Ministers office and all the way down to the Panchayat level. Ministers, with FIRs against them and court judgements hanging over them are forgiven and embraced like naughty children. No matter that men have died in the course of the minister’s transgression and the nation’s future placed in jeopardy.
We all know that the guilty minister will threaten to resign. This is to impress his gullible public that he is a man or honour and high morality. Of course he knows, and we know, that if he has the right influence with those in power, his resignation will not be accepted. In Japan, when a minister is disgraced, being honourable men, they may occasionally commit hara-kiri. It’s fortunate that such an extreme form of self punishment does not exist in our country. If it did, most of our politicians would dead and gone.
Some ministers commit murder and that it’s just by sheer chance, because their party lost power, they are investigated. We’re fortunate they have reached the investigation stage at all. We all know, without any doubt, there will not be a prosecution, a trail and a guilty verdict. The course of justice doesn’t flow that smoothly if you have influence, it gets lost somewhere in the alleys and by-ways of lethargy. It’s only a matter of time before his party wins back power, the case is closed and the minister reinstated with all his pomp and glory. If his party had not lost power there wouldn’t have even be this minor hiccup in his life.
Of course, we’re all guilty of trying to use our influence with those who hold such influence in our lives. We actively conspire with them to change the course of our social and legal system for our benefit. We believe our laws are elastic; they can be stretched for our special sakes. If we drive through a red light and the police book us, we try to intimidate him through our influence with the local MLA, an assistant commissioner of police or the Chief Minister. If the names fail to impress him we always resort to the bribe, which usually does. We use influence to get our child into school or university, we use influence to get a job, and we use influence to evade taxes. We also use influence in a court of law to get a judgement that was against us over-turned. That’s if we’re fortunate enough to be in the position to influence the right people.
The poor, of course, have no such influence. For them, the law is the law, no matter how twisted out of shape it has become for them. They don’t even have the influence to get their daily necessities of food and clean water. They don’t have the influence to escape their poverty, they don’t have the influence to free themselves from the humiliation of bonded labour, and they don’t have the influence to squeeze justice out of a system far from their reach.
We all hear our politicians pronounce that ‘the law will take its course’. They don’t tell us which course. That depends on their influence.