Tag Archives: Anti-Corruption

The Art of Not Giving a Fuck

The Students Union in the University of Hyderabad is formed after yearly elections. The major players in the game are SFI (Communist Party of India), the ABVP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and the Ambedkar Students Union.

The SFI-ASA coalition won the elections for a second consecutive term this year and formed the Students Union. Where do I fit into the picture?

I live in ‘A’ hostel. As the chronological naming goes, it’s the oldest hostel in the University, and has been chugging along in the age of modern buildings and wi-fi internet. The shitty condition that the hostel is in, provoked me to put up the following poster at different places in the University like Gops (the Food Court), the Students Canteen, and ShopCom (the amazing place with the amazing men’s saloon called Gaylords).

I spoke to a few people in the hostel itself about this issue, and asked them if something could be done, and here are the responses that I faced:

“Chhod na bhai, aur ek maheena baaki hai. Kyun jhamela kar raha hai?”

“What can we do? It has been in this condition for a long time now.”

“I know this is the condition, but I don’t know what to do about it.”

Nobody so much as bothers to call the hostel incharge, or even lodge a complaint. We’d rather live with water leaking from the tank than do something about it. Rather rely on your imagination than do something about the internet problem.

And that is when it struck me, that as a nation, we have carefully cultivated the Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

Image showing an Indian man not giving a fuck.

We are a country of vegetarians, but we love our scapegoats.

Whenever there is a scam, the amount of rupees is passed around, looked at voyeuristically, and passed around. A few jokes are made on Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, and images are ‘shared’ on Facebook, and that’s it.

Most of the people I know dont vote. Funnily, in the largest democracy in the world, to vote is seen as a sign of the poor. The images we are shown of elections is a 90 year old woman being carried to a polling booth, or villagers who have turned up in huge numbers to the polling booth.

Look up the ‘About Me’ of anyone, and in the ‘Politics’ section, you will see a response like ‘I hate politics’, or ‘Politics and Politicians Suck’. This pisses me off a great deal.

But then, as a nation, we have mastered the Art.

Now, there are many advantages in the Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

This man stopped giving a fuck 14 years ago.

It is a constant state of Nirvana – nothing bothers you, because nothing really matters. We are taught values like hardwork, honesty, and sincerity. But never to raise our voices – to be heard, to speak. No.

Mastering the Art also makes it easier for you to fit in. Most people don’t give a fuck, so you will fit in seamlessly into a group of whining people who derive pleasure in talking about the great evil called ‘the system’. This hydra-headed, poison-spewing monster called ‘The System’ is responsible for all our problems. We need something like The Matrix, to deal with The System.

This was precisely the reason why I wasn’t orgasming when Anna Hazare was giving us our Second independence movement.

If you remember, it was the time of revolution – nations were rising up against decade-old regimes and fighting for their rights. The protests, both in the Middle East, as well as in India, were by the middle class – by urban, educated, youth who were sending out a message that something needed to change.

The result is out for all to see. Governments have been overthrown in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Jordan. Emergency laws which were in place for about three decades, have been lifted in Syria and Algeria. New laws have been formed and old regimes toppled.

What do we have in India? Nitpicking, mud-slinging, hateful personal remarks, and a lot of jingoistic bullshit flying around. The result being that the Anti-Corruption movement seems like a superhit film of the last year that has passed.

If only Anna Hazare asked each and every one of the protesters to file a complaint, request for an enquiry, or file an RTI application, we could have done something about corruption

What is sad is that the whole thing fizzled out. And we Indians are a funny lot. We can believe that a group of monkeys created a bridge by floating stones from India to Sri Lanka. But we cannot believe that we can do something to solve our own problems.

So if there is talk of a nation-wide movement once again, people will be cynical to even step out of their homes. What could have been the most important piece of modern legislation, lies tattered, like the blouse of the hero’s sister in a B-grade film.

But sometimes, just filing a complaint, asking for information, or writing a simple letter is enough. It hardly takes ten minutes.

But then, do you give a fuck??

Baba Black Sheep

Today, one of my greatest fears over the last few years came true. After flirting with political aspirations for a while now, Baba Ramdev jumped into the Anti-Corruption brigade, and has gone on a fast unto death for the cause.

It’s not long before he’ll announce a political party, and it would be a sad day for Indian politics.

My first brush with Baba Ramdev happened a few years back. When I am bored and have nothing to do, I flip through the devotional channels and trip on the babas on them. That was when I first saw Baba Ramdev, and he was giving a pravachan on Ramayan.

“……but Ram is Purushottam.” Wink.

“And every action of Ram’s is for the welfare of the people.” Wink.

I thought he was a cynic who was looking at the funny side of things. It was only when I noticed that he had a twitch in his left eye, I switched the channel.

Gradually, from our bedrooms, Baba Ramdev began to make appearances on news channels. Once he claimed a cure for cancer, and at other times spoke against cola companies. The truly absurd moment was when he said that homosexuality was a disease and there was a cure for it. Where could the cure be found? Why Baba himself has invented a medicine to cure it, of course!

This is precisely why his joining politics is a scary affair. In a country where media channels cannot even use the word ‘Muslim’ and have to resort to words like ‘minority’, the thought of Baba Ramdev entering politics is equal to an oil tanker leaking on Diwali night.

It is high time we did something about the quality of people who enter politics. Just last week, there was a report in the papers about the Information Technology Minister of Orissa passing his +2 exams with first division. The effing Information Technology minister. While his courage is admirable, the question is how could he have been made a minister? That too, an IT minister??

I wonder why there is no requisite educational degree or work experience for anyone entering politics. Probably a course in Public Affairs/ Public Administration. Though it sounds like a long shot, it does make perfect sense.

Doctors and engineers need to earn degrees to begin working. In every field, one has to go through a professional course, and gain work experience. Then how come, to become a political leader, a career that needs more responsibility that all the above put together, a person need not be qualified?

I know people will say that not everyone is bestowed with a good educational background, and cite the state of our schools and primary education system. But then, after a minister is elected, doesn’t he/she have to read reports, analyse results, plan policies, and manage funds? Dont all these require a high level of skillsets?

Another positive from a minimum benchmark would be that we wouldn’t have bogus politicians. Like a Govinda who takes ample time off from the Assembly to shoot for cinematic masterpieces like ‘Life Partner’. Or children of political leaders continuing the family legacy like it just a halwai ka dukaan. Or spiritual babas who masquerade as the panacea to all the problems of the country, like Baba Ramdev.

Seriously, can you imagine Baba Ramdev in his office, reading reports? How much administrative experience does he have?

While some might accuse me of taking potshots at the crusade against corruption, I would like to point out here that Baba Ramdev is a pathetic torchbearer for such a worthy cause. He has simply jumped on the public anger against politicians and seems to be adding a new issue to his list of demands every hour.

If you have been following him on the news channels, he has listed in his demands that minimum support prices be revised, currencies of large denominations be banned to avoid corruption. Right, baba. So if we buy arms from the US, we should ship them cargo ships of ten rupee notes. Baba also wants that all engineering and medical colleges teach in Hindi, rather than English.

But the present movement has given him the ideal platform to announce his debut into politics. Ironically, a few weeks back, the same Baba who cries hoarse about illegal money stashed abroad, bought an island in the UK. Why, baba? Surely you could have set up the same ashram here in India? Or, like Anna Hazare, with whom you are ‘fast’ friends, probably adopted a village and transformed its fortunes?

Why get your hands dirty in politics, baba? You are in the best career one could think of. No targets, no results, unlimited income, and tax benefits. What more do you want?

You should continue educating the country on the benefits of Yoga. The only time the common man does pranayam is when he enters a Sulabh Shauchalaya. Why not work on that? Or may be work on the cure for AIDS that you claimed to have found??

Why I was not a part of the Anna Hazare campaign

Just a few months back, my country was about to be changed. It was going to changed through viral campaigns on Facebook, and missed call campaigns. Sadly, my country missed out.

The worst thing about the campaign was that there was no scope for any argument when the campaign was going on. No counter logics were accepted, and anyone who found any flaw with the campaign, was branded as someone against the idea of a corrupt-free nation. That was the first reason for me to get disillusioned with the campaign.

The second reason was the brouhaha over the fast unto death. All across the nation, students, professionals, and others went on a hunger strike to show their solidarity towards Anna Hazare. My problem was with the modus operandi of the campaign.

Has the situation in our country become so desperate that we need to have fast-unto-deaths to prove a point? Isn’t this technique tantamount to political blackmail? Had the government succumbed to the demands of Anna and his brethren, what precedent would we be setting for the future? If tomorrow a group of people go on a fast demanding a separate state, or for special privileges, what reason would the government cite, for not fulfilling their demands? Would it then be, that Anna’s fast has more truth in it that someone else’s fast??

What disappointed me the most was that it was more or less an urban campaign. Even though India won the World Cup, the best timing was by Anna Hazare. Just when our news channels had tired of showing how Lord Shiva was helpful in winning the World Cup and how Shanidev had blessed Dhoni and hence he had shaved off his hair, they had something else to stun us with – the campaign.

India was done with the celebrating a cricket victory. Check. What next? Hey, lets kick some politicians’ ass! And lo and behold, within days, a tasty, simmering nationwide frenzy was waiting to be devoured. And how we devoured it!

I was truly in awe of the power of Facebook. Within days, walls began to be filled up talking about Anna Hazare and his mission. Emotional mails with statistics about the amount of wealth stacked up in foreign banks welcomed your morning log in. PicBadges became the most common thing, after LOLs and :P’s. Urban, educated India had found its enemy – corruption.

And the technique that was selected to fight it? Fast-unto-death? Really, guys??

By selecting the fast-unto-death mode of fighting, we were belittling the cause, equating it with any other campaign that strives for the attention of the government by resorting to scare tactics. We were no different from the organisers of the bandhs in the country. The leitmotif was the same – We have something to say. You better listen to us.

Seriously, I was disappointed.

But above all, what disappointed me the most was the tone of the campaign. Slogans were written against corrupt ministers. Nobody bothered to point out that corruption is what makes our lives easy. Corruption is truly the greatest offshoot of a democratic system. It has ensured a system where one can get away with a little rap on the knuckle, and the officer with a little tap on the shoulder, and everything works as it was.

Corruption is such a successful institution because it has got its funda right. The beneficiaries love it, it is mutually beneficial, and like an overpriced Amway product, it is chain-marketed to more people.

My main grudge against the people who were part of the campaign was that the targets were the politicians. Now, politicians are just people who are doing their work, no? You think it’s easy? Running from this mantri to that mantri, organising rallies in the hot sun, shouting your voice hoarse? They are just going about their job, ensuring some bread for their family and butter for their seniors. What harm did they do to anyone?

What about us? You and me?? What about when we get caught by a cop and flash a smile and slip our hands into our pockets? What about when we ask the peon to get some ‘chai-pani’ for the sahib? Corruption is not the luxury of the rich. It is the refuge of the middle class.

But sadly, all we could come up with, was a fast-unto-death. Ironically, the method in itself seems corrupt.