Farce is funny when staged deliberately. It borders on the tragic when it is splashed across the front pages of the nation’s newspapers and is eagerly slurped up by the gullible even in high places.
Just the other day I was taken to task for not high-lighting the successes of Indians and instead focusing on problems that we need to solve to be a real nation of some consequence. Continue reading
Some months ago, I had recorded here the ideas of the Tathagata (It’s the small stuff, stupid) on the importance of taking care of the itsy-bitsy small bits. Today I was struck yet one more time about that truth. I was waiting at the Kandivali local train station when a huge board caught my eye. It was a listing of EMERGENCY and IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS.
During a recent visit to Hyderabad on work, I took some time off on a Sunday to visit the Golconda Fort which dates from the 13th century and is located on the western outskirts of the city. Like most tourist places that I have visited in India, the place is in ruins. It appears to be standard operating procedure that maintenance of these so-called ‘heritage sites’ is pathetic. But then one may argue that India is a poor country and cannot afford to keep these places clean. Perhaps so. But would it really kill the visitors to take their trash with them instead of littering the grounds with their plastic wrappers?
Indian roads reflect the amazing diversity that is India, a mix of the modern and the ancient. It is as if a cross-section of the entire history of transportation were displayed for all to marvel at. A huge mass of humanity using every conceivable mode of transportation — from no-wheelers to two-wheelers (powered and otherwise) to three-wheelers to four-wheelers to sixteen-wheelers — moves along at varying speeds on what apparently are roads. I say moves but at times the whole mass merely sits there for hours. That is what happened during one stage of my journey from Mumbai to Pune last week.
Today’s edition of The Free Press Journal carries on its front page an interesting item, “Carry out attacks in India or perish: ISI to Dawood”.
Dawood Ibrahim has the distinction of being labeled by the US as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT)”. The ISI is the Pakistani intelligence agency which some argue is the primier agency involved in global terrorism. ISI was the midwife involved in the birth of the Taleban, is involved in Al Qaida, nuclear proliferation, attacks in various places in India — particularly the north east states of India such as Assam (via the Islamic Republic of Bangladesh). The ISI has been implicated in scores of terrorist attacks all over India including Mumbai.
To me, one of the hazards of delayed flights is that I tend to read whatever I find lying around. A few days ago I found myself reading a discarded newspaper at an airport. I should not have but morbid curiosity won. A news item proudly reported that the president of India, Mr APJ Abdul Kalam, recommended that children take an oath and forswear corruption.
There you have it. As you are well aware, children indulge in corruption like nobody’s business in India. Scams perpetrated by the scores hit the newspapers with sickening regularity. One day you hear that a bunch of children have accepted kickbacks to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in military equipment purchase. Next day you read about a couple of children who were involved in siphoning a few hundred million dollars’ worth of public monies meant for ‘fodder’. Then you read that some children were caught running a fake stamp-paper racket and the loss to the public purse was of the order of a few billion dollars.
I tell you, the corruption that children are responsible for is a crying shame. It is a matter of great urgency that they stop it immediately and the best way to do so is to force them to take an oath that they will cease and desist from ever indulging in corruption. I am very relieved that this terrible problem has been addressed at last.
Which brings me to conclude that if you figure lecturing innocent children solves the problem of institutionalized corruption by the bureaucracy and practically every politician of every party, then you might be a third world country.
Reading some of the more outlandish claims about how India is an IT superpower is a surreal experience. The chest-thumping, right from the highest offices in India to the lowliest journalistic office, is a sight to behold and marvel at. Don’t know why they have to do it. Perhaps they are plain ignorant or perhaps they feel that if they repeat a lie often enough, it will become true in the real world. Their naivete is touching and pathetic.
If you put on airs about being an information and knowledge superpower when about 351,587,482 (more than the combined populations of US and Canada) of your citizens are illiterate, you might be a third world country.
I have been writing this blog for a year. I have learnt a bit and I hope that it was not a waste a time for those who visit it occassionally. About 100 unique visitors show up every day on the average, and every day a few write in with comments or an email to me. Thank you all.
On reviewing the archives, I note a glaring omission. The blog needs some humor. Sure the topic is extremely serious. But one can definitely make a serious point with humor. So I want to add a bit of humor occassionally.