Who will speak up for the fig trees, which are about to pruned, so they don’t cast their inauspicious shadows on passing pilgrims? Who will speak up for the peacock, deemed for eternity to be an asexual being? Who will speak up for men who cry and sometimes, decide to kill themselves?
If you’ve been reading the news, tragedy comes entwined with comedy, which unfortunately isn’t funny anymore. With all the fake news going around, one wonders at the veracity of these reports, such as reducing the foliage of the hapless fig trees or the Indian Gular, till you read that the order came directly from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. It doesn’t matter that figs contain several vitamins and minerals—it’s fate has been sealed.
And one didn’t expect Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi to come up with this male-bashing statement—”Which men have committed suicide? I have not heard/read of a single case.” A very Pappu thing to do, we would think! It’s no wonder that fake news ends up sounding more real than actual news sometimes.
Political leaders, unfortunately, seem to speak without a sense of real accountability. And sometimes, even though it may be rooted in rationality, such as the proposed momo ban actually being about the dubious ingredient ajinomoto, it doesn’t make sense to throw out the baby with the bathwater. It just spurs citizens to protest before somebody actually makes a law against momos, or chowmein, which according to the Khap panchayat’s bizarre claims a few years ago, led to hormonal imbalance that was responsible for rapes. Maybe they want us to go back to the Eighties, when we just had homemade ‘namkeen’ and other savouries as snacks, besides an occasional idli-dosa treat on Sundays.
While all these reports, which sometimes feels like we get a daily dose of, make for hilarious reading, they also show our leaders as un-intentioned comics, when they should be out there making a difference. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s furtive and urgent videos targeting the Prime Minister are a hit online, not for their serious content, but simply for the comic element. These also show him as a former activist who used to take up larger causes for the benefit of the community, but now only speaks for himself. Our leaders today have feet made of clay and motor-mouths that need zipping more often than not.
Recently, after the Prime Minister aggressively moved to make GST law, the Congress party shared an earlier video of him as Gujarat chief minister tersely dismissing it as impossible. I summoned up some outrage and mentioned it to a friend, who benignly dismissed it with a “All politicians are like that.” That’s that then. Or maybe he meant, it was impossible till he decided to do it? Well, one evolves with time and perhaps this is one of those instances.
Who knows, really? But, in a 2012 interview to Wall Street Journal, when asked about the problem of malnutrition in the state, he decided to speak about young girls who chose to diet and didn’t pay heed to their mothers when asked to drink milk. The demonetisation days are behind us, but they were marked in part by changing goalposts and a constant need to stay in touch with announcements. In fact, it was telling that when Modi made his GST speech recently, he made a grand exit as the Star Wars track for super-villain Darth Vader played on stage, leaving social media wondering if he had made a tryst with the dark side.
All this just makes for a country that’s run by politicians, with no abiding heroes in sight. And that’s no laughing matter!
(The writer is an editorial consultant and co-founder of The Goodwill Project. She tweets @anuvee) Views expressed are personal.