Sunday, August 23, 2009
India - From Midnight to the Millennium and Beyond !
The doorbell rang once and I knew it was our Doodhwalah, the villain in my life and my dreams. I woke up (or should I say, was forced to) and reached for my cellphone (as I instinctively do everyday) that was not willing to part with its better half, the charger it so tightly clung to. The screen read 6.15 am and the door to the room with my three nocturnal friends, who were in their respective CEO seats deep asleep totally oblivious to the "ding-dong" my ear drums were subjected to everyday, the Doodhwalah or even the doodh/milk, for that matter for that short period in the morning when one could see their eyeballs moving to and fro with their eyes closed indicating indeed they were in their respective CEO seats in their respective dreams, was closed. After a prolonged stretch of the body and bending to form an arch, I went to the door to fetch the packet of milk, put it inside the fridge and rushed to the toilet to do stuff people do in the morning (or any other time during the course of the day to honour their natural call(s), on their discretion !). I, then, browsed through the pages of the latest edition of Frontline only to find the sad, crying faces bereft of hope that formed a part of a piece on "Honour Killings" in certain districts of the country with names never heard before. I switched on the TV while waiting for the Akhbaarwalah, clicked the MENU button and selected NEWS and selected NDTV 24*7. They showed all kinds of news ranging from the Big English Ashes (2-1) win to a piece on farmers' plight due to criminally weak irrigation network. Much to my relief and pleasure came, then, three beauty queens with camera flashing all around; results for the Miss Universe contest at Bahamas were declared a night before and it was Miss Venezuela yet again. The indigenous Ekta Chaudhary could not make it to the top 15. Give me a break! What! Top 15! only up to a couple of years earlier or a few here and there, we had India ruling all over in contests like these be it Miss Asia Pacific, Miss World, Miss Universe, Mrs. World, Miss Solar System or whatever. Okay, I got it then. One more realm for India to witness the 'extremes' (Remember Women's Lawn Tennis......Sania Mirza...winner once...or twice...or may be thrice...and then making a steep fall(in WTA singles ranking) from No. 27 to No. 71...this is strictly not to slight her wonderful contribution to the Indian Women's Lawn Tennis)! Then we (NDTV 24*7 and I) moved on to "fake currency" circulation; two jawans were caught with fake currency in J&K. This 'fake currency' issue has been gaining much attnetion lately, I said to myself. So probably, someone somewhere up above in the political heirarchy must be putting his/her/their brain(s) to the same. Anticipating some good trailers (by 'good', I mean refreshing, with nice girls, nice music, nice feel), I, then, put on the ETC channel only to witness (on screen) a crying Anupam Kher saying,"Achchhai ki ummeed rakhna bahut zaroori hai" in the film titled YMI (the makers, I believe, could have easily done without the abbrevaition which gave such a sorry feel to the poster of the otherwise okay 'Yeh Mera India'). I clicked the 'back' button. And then, I laughed...I laughed at an entity that boasted of (not long ago) having the capability to run a gigantic nation like ours. Yes, you guessed it right. I laughed at the Bhartiya Janta Party on the future of which I am as lost as the party leaders. I laughed at India. And then, I laughed at myself! Disputes creeping in the party (remember the Arun Jaitley-Rajnath Singh episode?) followed by its great debacle in the Lok Sabha elections......the Vasundhara Raje episode......the Jaswant Jinnah Singh fiasco......the Chintan Baithak......the fresh BJP-Chautala rift in Haryana......and now, the grand leakage of the Bal Apte committee report contaning an in-depth analysis of what went wrong with the party during the recently held elections. It all sounded like some part of a legend......once upon a time there was this group, this party of like minded (you've got to be kidding me!) individuals.....etc etc etc......Then, we had news on the Buta Singh controversy and on some judge (in Chennai) finally giving it to the core ideology of the RTI (Right to Information) Act, 2005 and willing to declare assets. I was beginning to lose it by then because the Akhbaarwalah had not come and I was not able to insert my eyes deep into the beautiful, refreshing pictures(I know you could guess that one too) that formed a part of some gossip covered in Bombay Times that I so religiously did every morning. And then I heard a man speaking...his name was Sukant and he was an ex-BSF soldier...he had lost his upper limbs during some border operation(firing-counter firing with the terrorists or something)...he was being asked to vacate his Amritsar BSF flat/quarter(as some of our Bihari friends would identify with)...his family comprised two daughters(whom he wanted to send to school and then to college too so that they give themselves a chance or two to get independent) and wife who was begging for a job on compassionate grounds, which our governments (both at the centre and the states) have been reluctant to honor(on a generic basis), lately. The question is can we be so inhuman to someone (our own men who stay awake late into the darkest hours at night so that you and I can sleep)?......should we? can't we have a system ( a regulatory mechanism) in place to look after issues concerning offering jobs on compassionate grounds to family members of people who die or become paralysed or anything which is severe enough to instigate a sense of compassion, a feeling of empathy?......shouldn't we? I thought I was getting emotional but then, it struck my mind- I was only acting (or reacting) human. I, then, brushed my teeth thinking, for a while, about the BSF man and his crying family members, went to the bed and then picked the book (from half under the pillow) I had bought yesterday and looked at the farmer with the dhoti on the front cover……………………It read...India-From Midnight to the Millennium and Beyond (authored by Mr. Shashi Tharoor, the Union Minister of state for External Affairs)!!!