Among cynics, HL Mencken (1880-1956) holds pride of place in my opinion. In his judgment, democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage. In India—are you really surprised—the monkeys running the government never cease to astonish. I thought that when it came to the insane depravity of the Indian politician, I had seen it all. But I was sadly mistaken.
A handful of members of parliament (MP) were caught taking bribes in a sting operation by a website called Cobrapost. Report of politicians taking bribes is as astonishingly novel as the news that bears do potty in the woods, or that Michael Jackson is weird. They are a seriously depraved lot (the politcians, not the bears) and it would appear that that level of depravity is not just mandatory but required. In India, real politicians are thugs and crooks. Those who are not are mere amateurs who don’t belong among the professionals. So Cobraposts revelations that MPs have accepted bribes to ask questions in the parliament is not news, merely detail.
What really astonishes is the reaction of the MPs to being caught red-handed. Only in the realm of fiction and satire would you normally expect that sort of reaction. In real life, you would dismiss it entirely out of hand.
Three days ago, the MPs have demanded that the media be investigated to determine what their motive was in exposing the mendacity of the MPs. The members argued that the media had no business to expose the greed of the MPs and thus lower the dignity of the House.
They said that that Cobrapost sold the report exposing the dishonest MPs to TV channels and therefore action must be taken against – and here is the astonishing part – the whistle-blowers. Gives an entirely new meaning to the Hindi saying ulta chor kotwal ko daten (instead the crook reprimands the police). They said that this expose attempts to defame the Parliament. The speaker of the House, Mr Somnath Chatterjee, said that “as the House is the most important body in the whole country … we have to maintain its dignity.”
Mr Chatterjee said that “we must see that the dignity of this House is never affected or prejudiced by anybody whether inside or outside. Therefore, if necessary we should do some self-introspection.”
Good idea even though I am not sure, if “introspection” means what I think it does, what “self-introspection” means.
Now it gets even more bizarre. So far we know that some crooked politicians accepted bribes and were exposed by the media. It takes a peculiar sort of brazenness to then claim that the media is at fault and is responsible for diminishing the stature of the House. And the action to be taken? Why, bar reporters from the Central Hall of the Parliament! That is what one MP recommended. And I suppose if we totally ban the reporting of any crimes committed by politicians in the country, the country will truly prosper.
In the US, I had heard of cases of perverted justice. For instance, a burglar while burgling, fell through the sky-light and hurt himself and then successfully sued the building owner for negligence. Or the drunken driver who went off the street and crashed into a electric-utility pole and sued the county, the city, the utility company, and the car manufacturer. The stuff of urban legends.
But to actually read about something as perverse in the newspapers totally baffles me. Which planet do these monkeys come from? I had heard that the Parliament was a circus but I did not realize that it is also a loony-bin. Have these people no shame?
Some time ago, I had proposed public flogging as a mechanism designed to fix some of the problems that plague India. That needs rethinking because public flogging may be too good for some of these critters.