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.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander


(Published in Hardnews, August 2012)

A few days before the Higgs boson aka God Particle experiment at CERN threw up exciting results and made the world cheer, I posted the following comment on Twitter: ‘Tsk, why are scientists looking for the god particle in Switzerland? It’s here in India – ask any Indian mum who has a son.’  Incidentally, I was dead serious. Most Indian men (not all, thankfully) are treated like incarnations of God from the time they’re born. And while they are aware that they can’t get away with murder, they’re pretty sure that they can get away with eve teasing, molestation and rape. It’s so easy, isn’t it? They just have to blame the victim for dressing provocatively and our unenlightened patriarchal society heartily agrees with them.

What is even more alarming is the behavior of the National Commission for Women (NCW) after the Guwahati molestation case. First, a panel member, Alka Lamba, blithely revealed the name of the victim instead of doing her job – i.e. protecting her.  Thereafter, the NCW chairperson Mamta Sharma said that women should be “careful about the way they dress because such incidents are a result of blindly aping the West". I must add here that I think Ms Sharma is a very reasonable person, and I’m hugely relieved that she didn’t suggest we should wear burkhas - thank god. However, comments like these make me wonder if the NCW has been infiltrated by female imposters in pretty sarees and bindis. I find it impossible to believe that modern educated Indian women would make insensitive statements like that.  Hello, are we supposed to change the way we dress because some Indian men have absolutely no self-control and behave worse than animals? Why can’t men be ordered to change the way they think instead?

Meanwhile in Uttar Pradesh, a khap panchayat has laid down a list of things that women below the age of forty cannot do. It’s the usual Talibanesque rubbish: they can’t use mobile phones, wear jeans, wander around alone after dark et cetera. The Taliban, sorry, the khap panchayat frowns on love marriages and solely blames denim jeans for men going astray.  Now I know why that phrase ‘village idiot’ came into being. By the way, as a woman over forty I am planning to sue that khap panchayat for the sexist undertones: How dare they imply that forty-plus women are unattractive? I’m also planning to set up a Women Only panchayat to lay down a set of strict rules for men across the nation. Hey, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Here are a few of the rules I have in mind:

  1. Indian men are not allowed to go to pubs. That way, pubs will be safer for Indian women. Also, we’re treated so cruelly by our society, we’re the ones who need to swallow gallons of alcohol to drown our sorrows.
  2. Indian men are not allowed to wear jeans or trousers. Dhotis or kurta-pajamas must be their dress code. How dare they stain our wonderful ancient culture by wearing vulgar western clothes?
  3. Indian men are not allowed to step out of their homes/offices after dark. That’s the only way we can ensure that our streets are rape-free.
  4. Indian men are not allowed to use mobile phones. Particularly not mobile phones with cameras because some of the perverts tend to film the women they rape / molest and circulate the footage or use it as a blackmail tool.
  5. Indian men are not allowed to harass women they don’t know on Facebook with friendship requests. Having been at the receiving end of many persistent friendship requests from absolute strangers, I know exactly how annoying it can be.
  6. Indian men are not allowed to treat public spaces like roads, railway station platforms et cetera as their personal bathrooms. We find it extremely vulgar and smelly besides.
  7. Random Indian men with pre-historic mindsets are prohibited from laying out codes of conduct for Indian women. The Indian constitution clearly states that we’re equals. If you can’t respect that, you deserve to be behind bars.
  8. And finally, Indian politicians who support anti-women diktats of khap panchayats should be made to break rocks in jail too. I look forward to seeing the son of the Union minister of civil aviation in starched jail-wear, together with several other politicians. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Random thoughts on the Presidential Race

Angst in My Pants
(Published in Hardnews, July 2012)

Before UPA 2 formally announced Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as their presidential candidate, I was very worried. There was talk about producing not a cute rabbit but a dark horse out of a hat, and we know what happened the last time round: Pratibha Patil, for heaven’s sake! The only inspiration I’ve drawn from her is an idea for a book which I shall call, ‘Around the World on Tax-payers Money’.  So yes, I was hugely relieved when Mukherjee’s name was announced, despite the fact that the charming Arvind Kejriwal who is so keen on the BJP winning the next general elections grabbed the mike and belligerently started demanding a probe into Mukherjee’s past. I must add here that several people I respect have also murmured mildly about Mukherjee’s not so illustrious past but I don’t care. The man has worked hard for years, he’s not a slacker and if he wants to retire in a fabulous house with fragrant Mughal Gardens attached, well, he’s earned it. Much more than the likes of Pratibha Patil, at any rate.

And now on to the BJP: Poor LK Advani must be torn in two: half of him is still hoping that he’ll become prime minister in 2014 despite the fact that his party seems dead against the idea, and the other half is probably shattered that no one in his party recommended his name for president at the very least. His name will not feature in history text books (with or without cartoons) and for that I am grateful. In my books, he is not a nice man. Even the gallivanting Pratibha Patil is better than him.

Former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma disgraced himself by shamelessly going around the country with a begging bowl, pleading “Vote for me! Please! Please! Please!” And if the Opposition (this includes a troublesome UPA 2 ally as well, of course) does put him up as their candidate and he eventually wins, I think I’ll be sick. We’ve already started disrespecting him - and if and when he’s sworn in, rest assured he’ll be sworn at on twitter. Maaf karo!

And now on to the troublesome UPA 2 ally, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. What can I say about Mamatadi that I haven’t said before? Let me put it this way, if she starts a blog, it really should be called www.ramblingsofaseverelydelusionalmind.bongspot.ugh or www.arroganthumourlessdictator.bongspot.ugh or www.regressivesubversivewailingbanshee.bongspot.ugh – well, something along those lines. She wanted to humiliate the sitting prime minister by naming him as one of her recommendations for presidential candidate – the cheek! In the end, it was lovely to see her getting her comeuppance – the slippery Mulayam Singh Yadav slimed out of the deal and Mamatadi was left screeching with egg splattered on her face, hooray! Even her Facebook page solemnly telling us why we should support former president APJ Abdul Kalam left us unimpressed– hello, we can’t vote in these elections, so what was she hoping for - a revolution on social networking sites? Come on, we regard her as a joke, there’s no way we’ll take her seriously. One thing, however, is clear. If, thanks to Mamatadi’s populist policies people in West Bengal can’t afford to buy soap, at least they get soap operas for free! Oh, and another thing is clear too: If Mamatadi doesn’t ditch the histrionics and start improving the economy of West Bengal, fragrant garlands will be prepared for the Left parties during the next state elections. Admittedly, we aren’t fond of the Left – but we’re growing less fond of Mamatadi every second. And it’s all her fault!

Now on to former president APJ Abdul Kalam: I cannot understand why such a big deal is being made of him, but I suspect his rockstar status is mainly because he’s a scientist and has never been a politician. Frankly, the only thing he inspired me to do during his tenure as president was to find a good barber for him. He seriously needs a decent haircut. Interestingly, Kalam has dashed Mamatadi’s hopes by bowing out of the race – and now she’s got enough egg on her face to make a masala omelette for the entire city of Kolkata.

As I write this, there is still a week to go before the president is elected. Anything can happen between now and then, absolutely anything - so get ready for more laughs!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Not Funny!

(Published in Hardnews, June 2012)

At the cinema today, I saw the trailer of a movie that made tears well up in my eyes. It wasn’t the footage of the movie that made me feel upset and weepy however - it was merely the provocative title, which was Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  All of a sudden, I felt terribly envious of all the lovely freedoms that are available in the Western world. Think about this:  if someone in India had the courage to call a movie something like Indira Gandhi: Zombie Slayer or Atal Bihari Vajpayee: Werewolf Stalker, all the folks in Parliament would stop screaming and shouting and throwing flower pots at each other like they usually do to kill time, and direct their rage at the film maker, actors, make up men and spot boys instead. Even worse, an extremely rare thing would happen - there would be consensus across party lines and, inevitably a ban would follow, sigh.

In other countries, parliaments usually pass laws. Of late in our parliament however, more bans are passed than laws. Take the current hysteria over on an ancient 1949 cartoon of Dr. BR Ambedkar and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in a text book: Dalit parties suddenly woke up, warmly wished each other a very good morning, and decided to object to it.  Our current crop of highly esteemed, most honourable, living gods on earth parliamentarians unanimously agreed to ban it, but of course. It doesn’t end there – all cartoons in textbooks are to be banned as well, for good measure.  Now if only the British had given us their marvelous self-deprecatory sense of humour, perhaps Indian citizens wouldn’t mutter darkly about our beloved Kohinoor diamond in their crown jewels. It would have been fair trade because humour is as precious as gigantic diamonds, after all. Oh well, if ever I bump into Nobel prize winner Amartya Sen I’m going to suggest The Humourless Indian as a title for his next book.  He has a great sense of humour – I’m sure he’ll agree!

And what on earth do we do about Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal? Don’t get me wrong, I love her dearly - she’s a living, breathing cartoon character, what with her banshee-like wails, her megalomania, extreme paranoia and her relentless passion for flushing out reds from under beds and from innocuous news channel debates as well! While I can’t draw to save my life, the lovely lady has inspired me to create very many comic sketches of her in my head, like say, Sigmund Freud on his knees begging God to send him back to earth just for a day so he can decipher one of the most interesting personalities in the history of mankind. I’m longing to join an art school so that I can put my cartoons of Mamata down on paper but fear of being clapped in jail is what’s holding me back.  Heck, she got a professor roughed up and arrested for merely forwarding a cartoon of her on a social networking site.  On behalf of the Terribly Frightened and Trembling Cartoon Association of India (TFTCAI), I appeal to scientists across the world to discover the humour gene asap – we desperately need to inject gigantic doses into Mamata and other honourable Indian politicians so they can allow us to create our masterpieces in peace.

Till then, I have to content myself with doodling furiously. I cannot suppress the urge to add some life to photographs of almost every Indian politician I catch sight of in newspapers and mags. So far, I have childishly scribbled bushy moustaches on mug shots of all our female politicians, given our prime minister astronomically high stiletto-heeled shoes so he can tower menacingly over his party president, but my favourite work of art was my touch up of the Gujarat Chief Minister’s photograph: I used a thick black marker pen and wiped out Modi’s entire face which not just made him look much better but it made me feel much better too.

Finally, I appeal to all school teachers in India who passionately believe in freedom of speech to organise cartoon contests in schools. The subject will be our beloved netas, of course.  After all, if we don’t speak out right now, we may forever have to hold our peace. And Amartya Sen will have yet another title for a book: The Silent Indian.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The positive side of India’s politicians

(Published in Hardnews in April 2012)

 I’m beginning to feel really and truly sorry for India’s politicians. Thanks to social media, Indian citizens have been emboldened to say such deplorable things about them in public. The shrill ‘India against Corruption’ team took the anti-neta tirade several notches higher last year, despite the fact that many of the team leaders do not have spotlessly clean records themselves – heck, I’m absolutely certain that some of Team Anna’s holier-than-thou tribe will not go to heaven and play the harp for God when they die.

 To make matters worse, India’s Wannabe Gandhi Anna Hazare and yoga guru Baba Ramdev are so starved of publicity these days that they’re threatening to dominate prime time news slots once again by lovingly holding hands and fasting in a public place. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely cannot take their ridiculous posturing and hysteria anymore. Which is why I think we should ignore them and dwell on the positive side of our politicians as well. Let’s look at how some of today’s netas inspire our children to become hugely successful, wealthy and happy adults.

 1. Be open-minded: Many BJP MLAs across the country have taught us that watching porn is not a bad thing. Furthermore, you must never feel guilty if you’re caught drooling over it and you can rest assured that you will never ever be rapped on the knuckles for it – not even if you’re watching it during class. If, however, some idiotic prudish person attempts to punish you for it, do dash off a letter of complaint to BJP Party President Nitin Gadkari, okay? You can take it for granted that he will come rushing to your rescue – he’s had a lot of practice .Till then, happy viewing.

 2. Believe in yourself: Don’t waste your time reading excruciatingly dull ‘think positive’ books by Deepak Chopra, Shiv Khera and Rhonda Byrne for God’s sake, when you’ve got a living breathing example in front of you. Look at how strong former UP Chief Minister Mayawati is. Whenever she faced criticism during her term, she never hit the bottle, swallowed anti-depressants or read any of the self-help authors mentioned above. She did something seriously constructive about that criticism instead - she got statues made of herself and installed them in parks all over Uttar Pradesh. The more the criticism, the more the statues. So please do the same if ever you feel your confidence levels sag. If your building society won’t give you permission to install statues of yourself in the park or lobby, put them in your living room or outside your front door. Trust me, you’ll feel much better this way – and if you’re sweet to your mum, she’ll probably place fresh marigold garlands on it daily. Also, this is way cooler than going to Kodak and getting your photograph printed on coffee mugs and t-shirts – that’s so last century.

 3. Use the right word: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has taught us that babies should be encouraged to utter the word “Conspiracy” before they say Mum or Dad. Teach your baby well, because that word is very valuable. It can get your child out of any mess through life, from being caught cheating in a school exam to doing a terrible job as a chief minister. A word of warning though: explain to your child that he/she must not use that word too often or else he/she will be cruelly labelled as paranoid and be the muse of cartoonists and satirists across the nation.

 4. Get a good PR agency: Don’t squander your money on education or waste your time teaching your children to be good human beings. Invest in their future by hiring a really good PR agency so they can be featured in international magazines like Time or Newsweek. Heck, even mass murders and inept politicians have got glowing reports in those mags.

 5. Specialise in something different: Politicians across all parties have encouraged us to go beyond standard MBBS/MBA degrees by turning a hitherto unfashionable subject into a thrilling and lucrative profession. I’m talking about geology what with illegal mining being the rage across the country.

 These are just a few examples to show you how politicians have opened not just our minds but doors to the future too. So don’t trash them that quickly. Give them a chance!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

PMs in Waiting

(Published in Hardnews, April 2012)

(724 words)
I always fall about laughing when dead serious talk of a Third Front emerges. This time I did my hyena imitation to perfection as well, despite the dismal failure of our two national parties in the Uttar Pradesh and Punjab elections. The grim future outlined by our perennially hysterical TV anchors did not stop my smirks. And, unlike the Congress, I didn’t even flinch when UPA allies were invited to the swearing in of the chief ministers of UP and Punjab. “Oh let the regional parties dream”, I said to my friends with an indulgent smile, “they can’t harm the country that way”.

But suppose, just suppose, a Third Front does happen and lasts longer than a few hours when they all fight over the primus inter pares chair (and fight they will, particularly the egoistical Mamata Banerjee) and then break up bitterly, let’s briefly see how each of the regional party leaders would fare as the prime minister of India.

SADs Parkash Singh Badal as PM: Huh? Parkash Singh Badal who? Does the rest of India really know him? We may just believe that Manmohan Singh drank tonic on the sly and became taller and louder.

SPs Mulayam Singh Yadav as PM: Get this right first – do not imagine for a second that if the Samajwadi Party gets to form the government at the Centre, Mulayam will lovingly hand the PMs chair to his son. In the case of UP, it was a ‘Been there, done that’ decision. Also, it must have felt so good to say “Nyaah nyaah nyaah, my son won the war” to Sonia Gandhi. Akhilesh as Chief Minister will be a constant reminder to the Congress.

And now on to Mulayam as PM: Honestly, he’s not a bad choice if (and this is a big if) Rick Santorum becomes US President. Both are virulently against educating the masses and they can have so many cosy chats on why illiteracy is such a wonderful idea. If, however, an intelligent person becomes US president, Mulayam will just become a source of great entertainment to the world. And I’m saying this positively, because the mafia will flourish like never before and Hollywood may be inspired to create a never-ending series of Godfather-type movies that will captivate the world. The series could be called The Oddfather or even The Codfather, considering that there’s something fishy about Mulayam.

Also, India will be in a stronger position than ever before because journalists from foreign publications will not dare to write anything negative about our beloved nation for fear of being gheraoed, beaten black and blue or even fed to the crocodiles that Mulayam’s cuddly friend Raja Bhaiyya owns.

JD(U)s Nitish Kumar as PM: While the rest of the nation will fervently hope that he does for India what the media gushingly tells us he did for Bihar, Biharis will be terribly upset and confused. Heck, where can they run to now that Nitish is in charge of the whole country?

NCPs Sharad Pawar as PM: Cricket clubs will be set up everywhere. Alcohol will be banned or taxed heavily – only wine from Maharashtra will flow freely. And of course, his family will become rich enough to buy a country – I’m not talking small fry, I’m talking about the USA.

AIADMKs Jayalalithaa as PM: Ponchos will be the rage. That’s about it, really.

TMCs Mamata Banerjee as PM: First, she will make the nation go bankrupt by price roll-backs on everything possible while refusing to allow FDI in anything. The heavily taxed rich will hastily migrate to other countries, but of course. Thereafter, she will hold wealthy nations to ransom by demanding money for votes or walkouts at the UN and other very very very important global meetings. The rest of the world will eventually gang up against India and our nation will vanish in a pretty mushroom cloud.
On the other hand, she may be wonderful in her dealings with Pakistan. They really won’t know what hit them when she starts airing her conspiracy theories. Hers are far more paranoid and imaginative than theirs.

BJDs Naveen Patnaik as PM: Um, that polished English-speaking dude who heads a government in some state that Maoists practically run, right? Naah. Too mild-mannered.

CPI(M)s Prakash Karat as PM: Ha ha ha ha ha hah! What more can I say?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

No Molesting, Please

An article I'd written in 2008 on how to deal with rapists. Still relevant today, sadly. Here goes:

The sudden rash of rapes and molestation incidents in India has brought to mind a line from my favourite book of insults: ‘He’s tall, dark and hands!’ Trust me, that’s what women all over the world will soon witheringly describe Indian men as. Of course, not all Indian men fall into this bracket -there are lots of permutations and combinations to play around with. For example, some could be defined as ‘medium-height, fair and hands’, others as ‘short, wheat-complexioned and hands’... Okay, okay, I’m not being fair here, I have to admit that after the recent Juhu molestation incident, a number of Indian men too have strongly condemned their own sex. Hoorah for them, but that’s not good enough. Why, I’ve just read on the net that a nasty man was thrown off a Mumbai-Jaipur flight (not while air-borne unfortunately) for patting a flight attendant’s posterior. He got off very lightly indeed- a fine for a mere Rs. 1,200- when what he truly deserved was a pat on his posterior too. With a whip!

Of course, when these cases hit the headlines, our ever-alert moral police brigade rush to the offender’s defence with the usual self-righteous sneer, ‘Her skimpy clothes made him do it.’ Really? Have 7 yards of modestly-draped fabric ever made a rapist sweetly change his mind? Spare us this rubbish please!

We need to take concrete steps to ensure that this stops (after all, we don’t want our men to have a lousy reputation abroad, do we now?), and while Renuka Chowdhury, Union Minister for Women & Child Development, has sworn to do something about it, the wheels of legislation move so slowly that our granddaughters will be doddering grandmothers before positive steps are implemented. Which is why I’ve thought of a few things we could easily do right away to keep women safe.

1. Instead of teaching girls to cook chicken, teach them how to cook a predator’s goose. Self-defence classes are a must, preferably karate with kicks aimed at mid-level. Also, with women out of the kitchen, predatory Indian males will probably be too weak with hunger to get into attack mode.

2. The corporate world can pitch in too. Some of them donate artificial limbs as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility programmes, and that’s all very well, but how about life-size silicone dolls for Roadside Romeos too? This suggestion has immense possibilities, keeping in mind our new friendly trade agreement with China. If we give them the contract to manufacture billions of dolls, China will be happy and may not molest parts of India, and Roadside Romeos will be happy and way too busy to molest women.

3. Get a bunch of sex offenders together and ply them with alcohol, then fling chilli powder into their eyes and make them fight each other. Why, since the Supreme Court has lifted the ban on this revoltingly barbaric bullfight ritual in Tamil Nadu, we can safely use this method to punish sex offenders. After all, they’re animals too, and in their case, even PETA won’t raise any objections.

4. But surgery, really, is the best option. Let’s turn sex offenders into eunuchs, and put them back on the streets in pretty saris. Women won’t be frightened of them anymore-it’s other men who will tremble with fear. And when men are scared of men, we may finally see some action, right?
More suggestions, anyone?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How do you solve a problem like Mamata?


(Published in Hard News, March 2012)

We’re all agreed that scams hit the UPA where it hurts since last year. But Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee hit the UPA even harder. And she hasn’t stopped kicking and screaming yet, like a spoilt brat determined to get a pony for Christmas instead of a Lego set. My heart goes out to senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee, who has the unenviable task of attempting to mollify her. I’m pretty certain that he sings a different song in private, though. I’m thinking of that song in The Sound of Music, the one that goes,” How do you solve a problem like Maria”. Since I’m rather fond of Pranabda, I’ve adapted the lyrics to help him let off steam. Here goes:
How do you solve a problem like Mamata,
How do catch a cyclone cloud and pin it down?
How do you find the word that means Mamata,
A whimsical despot, a paranoid schizophrenic, a clown?”
Gosh, I can hear him singing it in the shower in his deep baritone!

Frivolity aside, I really do feel tremendously sorry for people who have to deal with Mamatadi. Much as I appreciate her for getting rid of the Left, I’d appreciate her even more if she saw a good doctor and sorted out her problems that, as far as I can see, include paranoia, bipolar issues and megalomania - to name just a few.

Now, I know that there are a fair number of Mamataphiles out there and to them I say, love her by all means, but do get her treated first! Let’s start with the paranoia: When Mamata was Union Railways Minister, she blamed every single accident or attack on a conspiracy. That’s much easier than actually taking responsibility for it, isn’t it? A few months ago she blamed the Left for infant deaths that occurred during her reign because the babies were conceived while the Left was in power. Ridiculous! And recently, when a mother of two was raped in Kolkata and had the courage to report it, Mamata called her a liar and accused her of being used by political forces to malign her government. It didn’t help that one of her favourite ministers (evidently on hire from the Taliban) made several nasty insinuations about the victim’s morality. According to the cave man, good mummies don’t drink and visit nightclubs. I’m hugely grateful that the cops finally solved the rape case – and shocked at the same time because the media has reported that the cops were pulled up for finally doing a great job and making Mamata look like an insensitive jerk.

Let me make it clear that I do not know Mamata personally and if I do get to meet her, I’m open to the idea of being charmed by her. But even if we get along like a house on fire, I will never allow myself to be her best friend. That’s because of the new twist on an old saying that’s doing the rounds: “With friends like these, who needs Mamatadi?” I have spent hours explaining to my young nephews and nieces that they must not treat their friends in the shabby way Mamata treats her allies. They are hopelessly confused because her attitude is just like the footwear she favours: flip-flops.

But I must give the devil her due: As an agitator and popular singer of West Bengal’s beloved song “We shall overcome” she has always been brilliant and will continue to be so. In fact, she’s inspired so many leading washing machine manufacturers to make their agitronic-soak function more dynamic. The time for agitation, however, is over and we need efficient administration to right the wrongs of the Left. Nothing so far, sigh. The jungle tom toms remain eerily silent on this point. She refuses to do anything because everything is “anti-people”. If she carries on like this, at the end of her reign she will be branded as being “anti-people” herself. History will remember her not as a heroic game changer but a petty name changer - that’s all she’s actively done to date. And even there she has failed to impress. Can another secular political party step in to save West Bengal please? Hurry, because we may be forced to take back the (gulp) Left parties!