Whether it’s Santa or Banta, the Christmas spirit inspires the distribution of presents, even if in present circumstances it may have taken on a loaded meaning. Happy Good Governance Day doesn’t convey the same ring as Merry Christmas, but it suggests that the tradition of embracing strangers is alive and ticking — somewhat ominously, as the minority may fear. ‘Oh Come all Ye Faithful’ was being sung in hushed tones. Yet the festive season is all about gifts, so here’s what notable personalities received as presents from Santa. Or Banta.
Narendra Modi: A broom to help him celebrate Good Governance Day on December 25 to ensure that the sweeping changes he has been promising since May may actually become reality. The broom, a shining symbol of ‘Muck in India’, was presented to the Prime Minister by his well-wishers, including Sourav Ganguly, Mumbai’s dabbawallahs, Kiran Bedi, Kapil Sharma and Sonal Mansingh. Incidentally, they had all been nominated by Modi in his latest Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, which has become a contemporary badge of honour, the current equivalent of the Bharat Ratna as it evokes the spirit of ‘Bharat Saaf Rakhna’. The biggest gift he received, however, was from the people of Jammu, also a clean sweep.
Arvind Kejriwal: A new muffler to replace the one that has become an item of ridicule in cartoons and posters, apart from the fact that his voice has been somewhat muffled of late. To balance that out, Kejriwal has adopted a children’s party game, called ‘return present’, where you give him a gift of Rs 20,000 in return for a cup of tea with him. It is meant to confirm that in politics, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but even so, spending Rs 20,000 with no guarantee of a return on investment may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Omar Abdullah: A set of chairs presented by Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah, gaily swaddled in saffron wrapping paper, made of Kashmir willow and crafted by an expert cabinet maker. The number of chairs could change depending on the generosity of the giver, and could even include a seat made in Delhi, just to add some National to the Front. They are also ideal for playing musical chairs, since Jaitley and Shah sent the same gift to Omar’s rival, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. The TV version is called Game of Thrones.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee: The former prime minister, himself a gifted orator, shares a birthday with Jesus, and was rendered speechless with the gifts he received on December 25 — a Bharat Ratna from the current Prime Minister and a bouquet of flowers from the one across the border, Nawaz Sharif, who, believe it or not, also celebrates his birthday on December 25, which would make astrologers go crazy trying to figure out the common Capricorn characteristics. The only one that comes to mind is the heavy cross they had/have to bear.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni: An autographed book on public speaking given to him by fans of Indian cricket, called The Winning Way, co-authored by Harsha Bhogle and his wife. It talks of leadership in cricket and why some get it and some don’t. Dhoni certainly doesn’t, with his talk of ‘unrest’ and someone being stabbed in the back with a knife, but rising again to fight the good fight — a Christmas message if ever there was one, even if convoluted and confusing. Fans would be hoping that The Winning Way would not just help improve his public speaking, but also his team’s chances against Australia.
- Flip side: Parting shots
Now we have to bid goodbye to drama and dramatists, it’s almost like the empty nest syndrome...
- Flip side: Signs of the times
There are some signs that are impossible to ignore since they reflect contemporary mood and trends...
- Book Review: Rooms with a View
The story of Habib Rehman and his role in the success story of one of India’s biggest hospitality chains...