Mo...da...da..di...di, DD goes gaga over cash relief

All’s right with the world, if you watch the public broadcaster. Positivity must triumph over negativity, you see

Mo...da...da..di...di, DD goes gaga over cash relief

Rupa Gulab

I saw disturbing video footage of underprivileged women lining up outside a bank in Bulandshahr on a private news channel. They were waiting to collect the money our dear leader had generously flung from his ivory tower to help them tide over the COVID-19 lockdown: a staggering sum of Rs 500 every month for three months.

The dear man must have broken at least three of his piggy banks to help the poor. He’s set a great example for the likes of Warren Buffet and George Soros to follow, and I do hope we see him right at the top of the list of the world’s greatest philanthropists in Forbes! When reporters questioned the women, they sounded tired and defeated, instead of gushing with gratitude. Most said that all that this pittance would buy them was a bottle of oil or a spot of sugar: certainly not enough to feed their families for a month.

It was desperation at their loss of livelihood that drove them to clutch at straws, they added. Dystopia at its worst, in short. Government news channel Door Darshan (DD) was very disappointed by this display of ingratitude. Never bite the hand that feeds you a laddoo once a month, they strongly felt, and sprang into action immediately.

Cameras started rolling, and testimonials from alleged recipients of this act of charity took social media by storm. These excessively grateful testimonial ladies behaved like they had hit the jackpot at Vegas and could now spend their summers sunning themselves at Cannes, and winters skiing down on the slopes of the Alps. I saw at least four testimonials, and none of these lovely ladies looked anything like the harassed, depressed ones I saw on the private news channels.

They had evidently used the 500 Rupees on themselves alone and stretched it like a rubber band to get the most out of it. A trip to a beauty parlour first (waxing, threading, manicure, pedicure, blackhead removal, blow dry, etc), then shopping for nice clothes and a spot of gold jewellery. Who can blame them—after all, they were going to be on television and they absolutely had to sparkle! They all thanked “Modiji” so effusively, tears sprang to their eyes with the effort.

There were so many video clips from different sources circulating on Twitter, I did a double take when I saw one of Bollywood star Kareena Kapoor wiping down a coffee table. At first, I thought dear generous “Modiji” had thoughtfully put 500 Rupees in her bank account too since the film industry is in lockdown mode as well, but it turned out that this was just a public service advertisement urging people to disinfect surfaces.

You can’t blame me for being confused—the background decor in some of the DD testimonials was not exactly what you would find in urban slums and village homes either. It was such a farce. DD should have just got “Modiji’s” favourite Bollywood stars to dress up like village belles and/or domestic help instead. I can see Priyanka Chopra, in a pretty ghagra choli playing the role, running around a tree with her benefactor’s picture stuck on the trunk, and singing a happy song to it. Maybe even devoutly circling his picture with an aarti tray.

Ah well, the nation had a good laugh. Some of us did wonder how much DD put into the bank accounts of these lovely models—far more than 500 rupees, I’m sure. As for the strategy, perhaps some bright spark thought it would be like a classic ‘Before and After’ ad: sort of, see how shabby and depressed they were before they got the money, and how glossy and happy they were after they received it.

After that testimonial treat, I decided to actually watch DD for a bit, and it was vastly entertaining. They showed model hospitals where doctors and nurses gurgled with joy and proudly displayed an abundance of PPE (in different sizes too, gosh). We were taken to a model migrant camp where the residents were so ecstatic, it could have been mistaken for a holiday camp. DD truly is like a desi version of ‘The Truman Show’ with “Modji” as the swashbuckling hero. If you ever want to see what Utopia looks like, do watch it!

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