A coaching class for politicians

Go slow on nationalism. Don’t make us hang our heads in shame.

Written by Keki N. Daruwalla | Updated: October 21, 2016 5:44 pm
nationalism, politicians in india, indian politicians, cricket, sunil gavaskar, IPL, fifties crickleters, mid wicket, jack hobbs, bert sutcliffe, cricket coach, maneka gandhi, life coach, politician coaching, tamil nadu politics, amma politics, congressm BJP, badal, punjab elections, up elections, mewat, modi politics, indian express news, indian express opinion, Keki N. Daruwalla All walks of life need a coach.(Illustration by: C R Sasikumar)

We all need coaching. When I bowled the outswing, I and others of my vintage who played cricket in the fifties kept the shining side of the ball facing the slips. Now, I am told, it is the other way around. That’s how you get reverse swing. No one told us. If you want to play the IPL, you better forget about the incline of the left elbow. You can’t hit towards mid-wicket or long-on if you are gonna be thinking of your left elbow, buddy — my apologies to Jack Hobbs, Bert Sutcliffe and Sunil Gavaskar.

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All walks of life need a coach. You must move with the times. If you drive a tonga, you need to be told you can’t whip your underfed nag the way you used to. Maneka Gandhi’s followers will get you. If you are in accounting, the coach will tell you that you better take a crash course in double book-keeping, or none of our big industrial houses will employ you. Going into banking, are you? Take a lesson in geography, kid. Know where the Channel Islands are, and the Bahamas, and of course, the Alps. If into importing, you must know how to juggle invoices. (Why ain’t there outvoices in this lucrative import-export business, I’d like to know?)

Listen guys, I am going to enter this bijness of opening a coaching class for politicians. Hope it brings me money. The coaching will be on the following lines:

Rule 1: Read, but decent stuff. Avoid the party line like the plague — Amma-worship in Tamil Nadu, 10 Janpath-worship in Congress, bowing to the Badals in the cloud cuckoo land that is Punjab, Modi-worship in the BJP — the youth is getting as addicted to it as the Punjabi is getting hooked on cannabis. No one is infallible.

Rule 2: Don’t get swayed by slogans: Garibi hatao of the original Mrs Gandhi, reform, perform and transform, sabka saath, sabka vikas of the present day. Sabka saath? You can inspect biryanis, but can you inspect a prasad? And don’t forget that the holy grail of the “socialistic pattern of society” only succeeded in bringing the middle class closer to the poverty line. If you fall prey to slogans, it shows there is no depth to you. Look at a slogan as if it was the pitch of an insurance agent or a conman selling potency drugs.

Rule 3: If you have nothing better to read, browse through a party manifesto, but never believe in it. Can you ever renege on Article 370? It is a constitutional impossibility.

Rule 4: Know your limits, you can’t flout the courts. If you do, there will be anarchy. Give the water to the lower riparian. Study the international laws that govern water rights of riparian states. The foremost duty of the state is to keep anarchy away.

Rule 5: Don’t drive out Pakistani actors each time there is a bomb blast in our streets or an attack on Pathankot.

Rule 6: Don’t waste your time changing names. Let Delhi be Delhi and not Moti Lal Nehru Nagar or Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Nagar or Indraprastha. But let me backtrack a bit. Change the names of Indira Chowk and Rajiv Chowk. CP is a circle, not a square, which is what a chowk is. Let’s get back to CP.

Rule 7: Don’t lead self-styled “backward” communities up the garden path. Don’t, for God’s sake, tell the Jats in Haryana, Gujjars in Rajasthan, Patidars in Gujarat and now Marathas in Maharashtra that you will give them reservation. You know you can’t. The courts will strike down your duplicitous bill passed by the assembly. You can’t have more than 50 per cent reservation — thank God. And how about doing away with reservations — especially for the backwards? Seventy years of independence and they are still backward? Think about it.

Rule 8: Be gentle with hide-flayers. In Banaskantha, they are beaten up for not removing a cow carcass. In Una, they are flogged on the spurious charge that they killed a cow to skin it, when actually a lioness had killed the cow. Check your hooligans — that is what the prime minister called them.

Rule 9: Now we come to the serious stuff. We talked of slogans, remember? Nationalism is our war cry these days. “Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mein hai”. Go slow on nationalism — it is not a much valued concept anymore. Go slow on Ram Prasad Bismil. To quote Charles de Gaulle: “Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.” Nationalism is no big deal, remember.

Rule 10: And move away from your patriarchal complacency. Change your practices. No touching the feet of your male chauvinist husband on Karwa Chauth. Why not a kick on the fellow’s behind instead? And don’t make stupid statements about women’s attire or make-up to justify rape. Politicians, so-called long-robed “saints” and police chiefs do that all the time. Lately, the chief minister of Haryana stated that the murder and rape of two girls in Mewat (Muslim girls, mind you) was a trivial matter. The real big thing in the offing was the swarn jayanti (golden jubilee) of Haryana as a state. Don’t embarrass us citizens of India, Mr Khattar. Don’t make us hang our heads in shame.

Daruwalla is a poet and writer