Sunday, June 12, 2016

When Narendra met Barack

Amma or Didi as the next Prime Minister?


Rupa Gulab
You want facts – I’ll give you facts! On March 5, 2014, BJP leader Nitin Gadkari said that if his party was voted to power at the Centre, it would try to abolish most of the direct and indirect taxes to generate more revenue and reduce inflation. Well, the BJP won that election and by now most of us know that all they have generated so far is hot air, photoshopped images, and doctored tapes (apart from divisive Hindutva sloganeering, lying shamelessly appears to be a big part of the party’s warped ideology too). Inflation has shot up and so have taxes. To add to our burden, the BJP has slapped the Swachh Bharat cess and Krishi Kalyan cess (it kicks in from June 2016) on service tax as well. To be fair to Nitin Gadkari and the rest of the BJP’s large number of bariatric surgery patients, it’s pretty obvious that ‘less is more’ is not part of the party’s philosophy. I do have a question for the Dear Leader though: why torture us with heavy taxation when all he has to do is tell his wealthy friends to add to India’s coffers with cash instead of giving him extravagant presents like ridiculous monogrammed suits and joy rides in their private jets? Hello, he said ‘India First,’ didn’t he?
So yes, perhaps it’s a good thing that two powerful ladies who generously dish out freebies in the name of social welfare have retained their seats as Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Here’s to J Jayalalithaa aka Amma and Mamata Banerjee aka Didi – two big cheers, please! So what if we have no idea where they’re getting the money to give marginalised citizens, cycles, dowries, subsidised groceries, idlis, etc. That’s their problem, not ours. Since they’re both chummy with the Dear Leader, I’m guessing that the Centre may eventually have to foot the bills in return for the ladies allowing the passage of contentious Bills in Parliament.
But, hey, I’m not trashing Amma and Didi for two very good reasons. For one, with inflation and high taxation slashing my meagre savings, I may have to prostrate myself at Amma’s feet like her party members frequently do (which is perhaps why they don’t go in for bariatric surgery like BJP party members) and beg for affordable idlis and sambar too. She’s lovely to people who bow and scrape. Ingratiating myself with Didi won’t be so easy, though. I’d have to burn a CPI(M) office or two or even beat up a few Lefties to prove that I’m not a Maoist, and I don’t think I can stomach violence of any kind. 
The other reason is that there’s a good chance either of them may become India’s next prime minister, and I say this with feeling: any party is a better option than the BJP!  That both Amma and Didi are authoritarian does not put me off one bit: the Dear Leader has already given us a dose of the repressive Gujarat model, and after that anything in comparison would feel like freedom. It would be fantastic to see the ABVP (BJP’s young bigots-in-waiting wing) get a taste of their own ghastly medicine.
As for secularism and pluralism (the BJP’s least favourite words), I don’t know too much about Amma, but Didi certainly makes a grand show of delivering. Well, she’s learnt that it is her only strong card – after she left the NDA many years ago, of course (oh dear, I’ve let out another of her little secrets).Given a choice between the two as India’s next prime minister, I’d probably choose Didi. Mainly because I would love to hear the strains of Rabindra Sangeet drown out the sounds of YoYo Honey Singh on Delhi’s streets. It’s settled then. Didi for next prime minister, okay?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Leddies Only

Two middle-aged leddies going to the Dalli to do middle-aged leddies things. Pick up husband's jacket, buy practical undies, and other mind-numbingly boring chores. I never thought it would come to this.*Blush*
Well, on the upside, at least we can see for ourselves how Kejriwal's odd-even plan is doing. I'm beginning to admire Kejriwal's balls. Not just the odd-even thingie but his ads. He's found a way around the SC's ruling that chief ministers cannot feature in ads -- the sneaky guy has got himself shot from the back so there is no face, just his trademark muffler and pullover.
Ballsy, out-of-the-box thinking, dude!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Zuckerberg, I'm not Suckerberg

Hello, hello Blog -- I'm back. My fling with Facebook is over. I'm rather looking forward to life without a 'like' button. And yeah, I can live without pictures of food, cats, dogs, etc. I will miss my friends, though.
The thing is, I've had it up to here with Facebook. First the sneaky way they block articles that criticise the government, and now the way they're peddling Free Basics like they're doing social service -- my foot! Tell it like it is, Zuck. Spare us the old fashioned UNICEF ads -- too phoney for the internet. Hell, we stopped being third world years ago. More important, don't mess with the net!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Two divorces & much laughter


(Published in Hardnews, October 2012)

I’m hugely glad that TMC chief Mamata Banerjee has parted ways with UPA 2 – though I must confess that I secretly believe they are the ones who eased her out of the alliance in their smooth ‘Ve haf our vays’ style! Theirs was a marriage made in hell, with Mamata Banerjee imperiously behaving as though she were Prime Minister of India instead of Chief Minister of West Bengal. I resent her for trying to foist her populist policies on the nation at large – hey, the rest of us didn’t vote for her, why should we be punished cruelly?

Mamatadi, as usual, is spewing fire and brimstone, hitting the Congress party below the belt and raising her standard war cries: “conspiracy,” “phone-tapping’ et cetera. Soon she’ll graduate to her favourite insult, calling them “maoists!” Yes, I know what you’re thinking, under the leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh they’re capitalists, not even socialists, but remember that Mamatadi doesn’t really know the difference. Anyone who doesn’t agree with her point of view or dares to question her is a maoist. And who can try to reason with a chief minister who thinks dengue is caused by dieting?

As a result of Mamatadi’s impulsive actions, that much coveted rescue/relief package for West Bengal is not coming anytime soon, sigh. But I urge the people of Kolkata to take heart. T-shirt manufacturers may be able to fill the empty coffers of West Bengal – but only if they keep their target audience clearly in mind. I have identified two:
Kolkata’s Intelligentsia: A fair number of people who voted for Mamata Banerjee hoping for change are seething with rage at her autocratic behavior and regressive policies. They’re madder at themselves though, for squandering their precious votes on her. Help them vent with the following t-shirts: “Forgive me, I voted for Mamata” for the older, more genteel voters, and “Kick me, I voted for Mamata” for the younger lot. Trust me, they’ll sell like hot-cakes! Pity they’ll have to furtively wear those t-shirts under their clothes or else they’ll probably be arrested on some false charge, but don’t let that stop you. Hey, they still want them!

Members of the TMC: Would you decorate your office cabin or your living room/bedroom with a photograph of your boss? After you stop gagging, read on. Most of the TMC party members do that. In TV interviews and debates, their “Beloved Leader’s” photo/painting is strategically placed behind them. This includes Amit Mitra as well, gasp! How about making t-shirts for them with Mamata’s mug shot and the message: “We swear fealty to our beloved leader”? She’ll love it and they’ll stay in favour.

And now on to the second painful divorce that has left a grown man sobbing. Yes, I’m talking about ‘India against Corruption’ leader Arvind Kejriwal. His mascot, Anna Hazare, has deserted him, refusing to support Kejriwal’s desire to float a political party. He has also made it clear that Kejriwal cannot use his name or photograph to promote his party. Bravely blinking back his tears, Kejriwal mournfully announced that he would always carry Anna Hazare’s photograph in his heart.

This parting has left the entire nation gobsmacked. Heck, we had absolutely no idea that Arvind Kejriwal had a heart! How come TV channels didn’t carry news of a transplant, is what the nation really wants to know! Meanwhile, we’re still watching agog as the drama unfolds. There’s bound to be a bitter custody battle over their joint movement, ‘India against Corruption’, and it may be as thrilling as ‘Jaws’ – that gory movie about multiple shark attacks. Skeletons have already started tumbling out of closets: there’s a strong rumour that Anna Hazare has the backing of the RSS (I take great pleasure in pointing out that this magazine has always maintained that) and that the BJP has promised to make Kiran Bedi Chief Minister of Delhi if they come to power. Oooh, you have absolutely no idea how lovely it feels to say, “We told you so”!

However, the thing that bothers me most is, what is Kejriwal going to do with the truckloads of “I am Anna” caps and t-shirts he has in his possession? I mean, he can run a pen through Anna’s name on the t-shirts and replace it with ‘Kejriwal’ if he wishes, but then no one would buy them apart from his mum.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Potential World Champions

(Published in Hardnews, September 2012)

I must begin by congratulating all the fabulous Indians who shone at the Olympics. I have to throw in warm hugs for our two favourite women, Mary Kom and Saina Nehwal! Okay, so we didn’t do as wonderfully well as we hoped we would, but on the brighter side, our sportspeople didn’t have to pay exorbitant excess baggage fees on the way back home. Also, we needn’t despair because India has so many people who are world-class at other more important things than sweaty sports. Take a look at just a few:

The world’s most honest politician: Shivpal Yadav, the young Uttar Pradesh chief minister’s uncle has got to be the most refreshingly honest politician in the history of the world. Recently, he gladdened the hearts of bureaucrats by warmly assuring them that it’s okay to steal –but just a little bit, mind you. I cheered madly because I thought his restraint was admirable. I was shocked, though, by the reaction of the mediawallahs who were present when Yadav made that heart-warming speech. They gasped in an outraged manner and behaved like my absolutely favourite TV hero, Arnab Goswami, on steroids. Hello, shouldn’t we be grateful that Shivpal Yadav is not a sleazy hypocrite like the rest of his breed? I predict that Shivpal Yadav has a brilliant future ahead of him. Team Anna’s hunt for an honest politician ends in Uttar Pradesh, hooray! Perhaps Team Anna can also use Yadav as the mascot of the new party they’re planning to set up?

The world’s most enlightened feminist: Kiran Bedi, former cop and current wailing banshee, made me sit up when she said that the India media focuses too much on “small rape.” Till she made this enlightening comment, I had absolutely no idea that rape came in different sizes like you get at clothing stores: extra small, small, medium, large, extra large, extra extra large, extra extra extra large et cetera. I do hope international agencies for women’s rights interview her and kilos of valuable research come out of this. She must be felicitated for this insight – and I absolutely insist that she should be appointed to a global panel of feminists of the stature of Germaine Greer! Meanwhile, I’m busy making pretty garlands for her out of brand new, made-in-China army boots – hey, a woman like her deserves only the best!

The world’s most outraged person: TV anchor Arnab Goswami wins this contest effortlessly. He deserves not just one shiny gold medal, but three golds for the brilliant performance he delivers every week night. He frightens sly old Pakistani army chaps and evil retired ISI honchos more than the United States of America ever can. Seriously. I wish I was related to him, because this is the man to go to if your waiter doesn’t look suitably apologetic when you find a fly in your soup, if your tardy plumber doesn’t arrive at the appointed time to fix a leaky cistern, if the pizza delivery boy forgets to get sachets of oregano, et cetera. He can make anyone shiver in their shoes.

The world’s most forgiving people: In most civilized democratic nations, when political parties don’t deliver, voters make chutney out of them by showing them the door. In India however, when politicians don’t deliver, they placate angry voters by giving them free household appliances with which to make chutneys. Honestly, mixers and grinders are what Indians really, really, really want.  This practice is mainly prevalent in the state of Tamil Nadu, perhaps because they do make a lot of delicious chutneys to go with their dishes. Offhand, I can name coconut, coriander, garlic, tomato and ginger. You can’t really blame them, can you?

The world’s most confused homophobe: How on earth can we take yoga guru Baba Ramdev aka Baba Black Money seriously? I mean, on the one hand he/she makes ugly speeches about homosexuality and while you’re gasping for breath and trying to recover from the vitriol overdose, he/she swiftly slips into pretty, feminine salwar kameezes. Huh? A very special medal must be made for someone as special him/her: sky blue on one side and baby pink on the other. And wouldn’t it just be too fabulous for words if he/she won it at the 2016 Olympics, considering that it’s in Rio, the world’s favourite lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) destination?  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

India's Thackerays have more brawn than brain

As the Shiv Sena & MNS Thackeray's flex their muscles once again, I remembered an article I wrote a couple of years ago. Nothing has changed, sigh. Have attached the link
 & pasted the article below as well

The Sena-MNS charm works best for kids

(Published in DNA, Feb 2010)

The strange reluctance of Maharashtra’s ruling alliance to deal firmly with the incorrigible Shiv Sena and MNS over the years has led me to believe that the Thackerays have photographs of state Congress and NCP leaders doing very, very naughty things. God, I’d give anything to see those photographs!
Currently, after being sharply prodded by the Centre, the state government is making a huge pretence of doing something about it: home minister RR Patil aka Mr. Squeaky Clean Morals, is skimming through articles in Saamna, the Sena mouthpiece, in search of inflammatory remarks. How astonishing that he isn’t already aware that the two parties promote hatred. Besides, as we all know, the only issue that makes Patil’s blood vessels burst are bar dancers. I doubt he’ll find references to dancing girls in Saamna. It’s a pointless exercise, really.
I’m beginning to believe that Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan should be chief minister of Mumbai — at least he has the guts to stand up to the Shiv Sena. And, if we go by a recent TV poll, the nation is behind him, even if most of the other cowardly A-list Bollywood stars are silent. Let’s not forget the most lily-livered of the lot — the man who warmly assured the nation in his blog that the Shiv Sena supremo is in the pink of health. What was that all about? Only to ensure that you stay healthy as well, Mr Non-heroic Hero?
Shah Rukh Khan said he’s not apologising for saying what he believes in because he wishes to set a good example for his children. That got me pondering deeply about the example that parties like the Shiv Sena and MNS set for our children. I met a few parents (their names have been changed on request because they don’t wish to eat liquidised food for the rest of their lives) and this is what they had to say:
Thirty-six-year old Mrs Sen was the most pragmatic of the lot. A harassed mother of two naughty little boys, she’s grateful that the Shiv Sena is around. “I tell my boys that if you don’t drink your milk, I’ll call the Shiv Sena and they’ll fix you good and proper. It works like a charm — now they even drink karela juice without a whimper,” she beams.
Mr Bhide, a banker, was a little less cheerful. He shook his head sadly as he related an incident that occurred soon after the MNS took a Bollywood producer to task for referring to Mumbai as Bombay. “One evening I accompanied my son to the garden, and was shocked to see the new game he was playing.The children divided themselves into two teams. One team was called ‘Citizens’. The other was called ‘MNS’. The game works like this: The Citizens scream ‘Bombay’ repeatedly, and the MNS gang chases them and breaks their toys. My son’s cycle has been smashed. I told him I’m not going to get him a replacement if he plays that disgusting game ever again!” Mr Bhide went on to add with a shudder, “And you know what he had to say about that? He wept bitterly and begged me to let him play the game one last time because it was his turn to be an MNS man! I’ve grounded him for life.”
“My nine-year-old daughter asked me a very disturbing question the other day,” Mrs Sayed informed me. “She said, ‘Mummy, are the Thackerays Australian?’ I patiently explained that oddly enough, they just prefer to spell their names the anglicised way — their surname is Thakre, actually, and then she threw another question at me — ‘If they’re really Indians then why do they attack other Indians?’”
Personally, I hold TV channels to blame. The next time they have breaking news on the Shiv Sena or MNS, they should do it after 10pm when children are in bed. Or else they should put a warning sign on the screen that reads: Watching this can be injurious to your child’s mental health.