In 2015, the BJP government got rid of the Planning Commission (to jeer at Nehru’s ghost, I gather) and replaced it with another commission called Niti Aayog. The main objective of Niti Aayog is to sing songs of praise for the Dear Leader. It is also supposed to work on other far less important things like development goals and cooperative federalism, but sadly, its CEO, Amitabh, Can’t. Sorry. Amitabh Kant.
Yes, Amitabh Kant really can’t do anything to make us sit up and lustily cheer, ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow.’ All he does is give us a pounding headache when he occasionally shows up on TV to perform his latest bhajans to his masters.
It’s sort of like that oppressive put upon feeling you get when you go to someone’s house for dinner and the host tells his little son/daughter, ‘Beta, sing that “Wheels of the Bus” song for Uncle and Aunty,’ and you have to sit through a ghastly performance on an empty stomach. The difference is, you can shut Kant up by hurriedly switching to another channel. Wildlife used to be the safest bet because almost all Indian channels, entertainment ones as well, squeeze in opportunities to praise the Dear Leader.
Take the Indian version of ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire,’ for example. It’s got another Amitabh at the helm who dutifully throws in sneaky little questions that glorify the ruling party. Better to watch a pack of lions ripping wildebeest apart, even if you’re a queasy vegetarian. Oops sorry—no more wildlife channels either, go to Netflix or Amazon Prime instead. I’ve just remembered that the Dear Leader took ages to respond to the Pulwama massacre because a tourism film on the PM and other animals was being shot at Corbett National Park.
A few days ago, however, Kant gave the nation a severe panic attack instead of the usual headache when he was interviewed by a newspaper. While defending the budget that inspired our stock markets to hurtle down to Mother Earth like Newton’s apple, Kant said, “But if we want to build the infrastructure of the country and reach the ambitious aim of being a $5 trillion economy by 2025 by keeping the growth rate at 9-10%, then we will have to sacrifice a bit. Sacrifice by people like you and me will take the country ahead and bring its multiplier effect. So, every Indian should sacrifice their part to see the rapid growth of their country.” Sacrifice? Uh oh.
Most of us raided our medicine cabinets for anti-depressant pills that were prescribed by frazzled psychiatrists during that Demonetisation trauma.
‘What sacrifice do they want of us now,’ we moaned to each other. Gentle souls tentatively said that perhaps they want to increase taxes, more strident voices said, ‘Aha, they want all the gold jewellery we inherited from our great great great great grandmothers. They will be raiding our bank lockers and Godrej cupboards at home too, wait and see!’
I’m trembling like a leaf in a storm and wondering if I will have to produce my great great great great grandmother’s receipts to keep her wedding jewellery away from the grasping hands of the government. The suspense won’t end till the fat man in the expensive suit sings. He’s going to pop up on our television screens anytime now with a shocker, which is why I have stopped watching news channels. I have a weak heart.
What’s to watch anyway? I’m so tired of those BJP-sponsored reality shows on defections that play out on our screens 24x7. While many of our news anchors are hooting and whistling joyfully at the BJP’s relentless attacks on democracy, there’s a bunch of hardened criminals in New Delhi (known as the ‘note phenk’ gang) who find the defection game inspiring. They operate in much the same way: throw currency notes outside parked cars, wait for the driver’s tongue to hang out like your garden variety MP or MLA in India, nonchalantly wait for him/her to leap out of the car to pick up the notes, then pinch everything worth stealing from the car.
But I’ll say this: if ever my great great great great grandma’s jewellery is showered on greedy turncoat MLAs and MPs, her evil ghost will haunt them forever. From all the family stories I’ve heard, she’s not a gentleman like Nehru