Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Donate generously to the rich.

By Rupa Gulab
(Published in Bengal Post, 31st August 2010)

If you have loose cash to spare, I have a hot tip for you: invest it in companies that manufacture antacids and you may become as gloriously rich as the members of India’s Commonwealth Games organising committee. Sales of antacids have been going through the roof ever since members of parliament proposed a massive, massive, massive wage hike for themselves. These days, ordinary tax-paying citizens like me are way too bilious for a morning cuppa – most of us morosely glug Digene or Gelucil while reading the newspapers instead. I must say that I’ve grown rather fond of the orange flavour– it tastes a tad less chalky than the rest.

But tell me again, why do our MPs need a wage hike? Honestly, I wouldn’t be up in arms about this if their salaries were all they earned. But as even innocent little children know, many of them (apart from an honourable handful, admittedly) liberally help themselves to everything they can grab: disaster aid, food for the poor, cattle-feed etc. Many have become obscenely wealthy despite their shocking lack of education because they’ve sneakily gained control of India’s biggest money spinners: real estate, mines and cricket, to name a few. Every week we hear of a new scam being exposed. Heck, corrupt MPs could always afford the exclusive Suresh Kalmadi brand of CWG toilet paper at Rs. 4000 grand a roll!

Gosh, the thought of much more of my hard-earned money going into, say, Suresh Kalmadi’s crisply starched khadi pocket is making my bile rise again. Perhaps we should organise a national citizen strike the day the bill is slated to be passed to register our protest against corrupt MPs getting more cash. We must keep in mind, however, that the tone of the strike is all important and must be debated seriously on Twitter or Facebook. Here are a few options we could consider:

1. We could wear black arm-bands and perform a silent march from India Gate to Parliament bearing lit candles. Very beautiful and dignified indeed but the only hitch is, it’s way too subtle for them. Remember, some of our MPs are not particularly bright and they’ll probably assume that we’re celebrating Diwali earlier this year. Also, dripping wax can cause severe burns.

2. We could do to corrupt MPs what their party goons do to us: scream slogans, burn effigies, bar their entry, torch their cars etc. We can also do what they enjoy doing to each other: hurl shoes (only old torn ones, mind you – why waste good things on those rotters) and shatter flower pots. Don’t worry, we won’t be arrested for this – well, not for over a few hours at any rate. All we have to do is solemnly give the judge the regular goonda political party spiel: say (in an aggrieved tone of voice, of course) that it was a spontaneous reaction and we did it because our sentiments were severely wounded. Add the bit about inflation as well (in thundering, self-righteous tones this time). And bingo, we’ll be scot free and home in time for dinner and champagne!

3. Alternatively, we could speak to corrupt MPs in the only language they understand: Rupees. Suppose, just suppose we refuse to pay our taxes till all the tainted MPs are axed? It could spark off another freedom struggle with jails bursting at the seams, and culture reaching new heights with fiery songs of revolution replacing rubbishy Bollywood hits. Oh, the works! Better still, at the end of it all, at least a dozen statues of UP Chief Minister Mayawati determinedly clutching a handbag may be demolished to make way for ours!

4. What may really work, however, is if we forget the strike (too tedious) and concentrate on shaming them into doing their jobs conscientiously. For starters, identify corrupt MPs and organise a film show in their individual constituencies. On D-Day we tie the corrupt MPs to chairs and make them watch Peepli Live (Anusha Rizvi’s fantastic film that exposes India’s sickeningly slimy politicians and supremely indifferent bureaucrats) with their voters. A Q&A session must follow, with the voters grilling them in the manner of CNN-IBNs Karan Thapar: very ,very grimly, through gritted teeth. Of course, this may not work either, but the joy – oh the joy of watching them squirm! I’m willing to pay their hefty salaries just for that.

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