This appeared in The Asian Age....
Three Ring Circus
Surely, it can’t get any funnier! It’s a good thing Indians have a sense of humour or else by now we’d have gone through several bloody revolutions! We laugh at ourselves, we laugh at our leaders, we laugh at our fate. We laugh for no reason. This amazing ability to keep laughing saves us from going insane. But it also saves the big, fat butts of our leaders. This is when the joke ceases to be funny. We are at such a moment right now. The international community must be having the last laugh as we fumble and mumble our way through a script that would do Charlie Chaplin proud. We have messed up big time on virtually everything. Starting with the ludicrous Italian Job. Though, one also suspects there is more to this story than meets the eye. What appears to be a comedy of errors may well turn out to be a very deviously constructed script! Perhaps, the idea was to make it look like a series of goof ups. But the possibility that this approach was a part of a super smart strategy cannot be ruled out. Surprise! Surprise! The main players , those dishy Italian Marines, are back in India after they were assured their necks will be spared. Incredulous India watchers have monitored the pantomime over the past three weeks, and waited for a resolution to what could have turned into an unprecedented International diplomatic crisis. It is entirely possible that taking advantage of the general chaos prevailing in the country right now, some really sharp and astute players may have come up with the entire charade involving those naughty Marines and their Ambassador. Check out the timing: There is a brand new Pope at the Vatican. All eyes are on Rome and all things Italian. This includes our own very special and very personal connection to Italy. Who is to say what political arrangements were made to enable the Marines to first slip out of India and then to slip back in so easily? Who can tell whether the drama around the Ambassador was not being stage managed at the highest level? Tricking and deceiving a trusting, gullible public comes easily to both - Italians and Indians. In that sense, we have much in common. Corruption on a mega scale at every level, included. Like they say, there is a code of honour that binds the Mafia. Perhaps we too have forged a similar understanding with the Italian government… after all, there is a long and complicated history of other notorious Italians ( Ottavio Quattorocci) fleeing India after a scandal.And we are still waiting for OQ to do the honourable thing by coming back to India to face a trial. Ha! Joke!
Where have we not messed up? The brand new Chinese honcho ( President Xi Jinping) has shown us our place ( bottom of the heap) in unambiguous terms. Snub after snub has demonstrated where we stand in his scheme of things. We are virtually gheraoed by the Chinese now. And we have still not woken up. Our neighbours on every front hate us. The Chinese in turn, love our neighbours and declare their love publicly, just in case we have not noticed the cosy relationships. Even our old ally, Bhutan, is disillusioned and angry. The Sri Lanka problem is deteriorating by the micro-second. Jayalalitha has upped the stakes and is now asking for an economic embargo, no less.While IPL fans are distraught that Sri Lankan players will skip the Chennai match, Jayalalitha is crowing. Pakistan remains as hostile as ever. Bangladesh is reliving the trauma of the old war they blame India for. We have systematically alienated the Maldivians. Let’s see…. who does that leave? The Generals in Myanmar are flirting with their Chinese suitors (Err…who isn’t?), and whatever little good will we may still have with those we call ‘friends’ is getting rapidly eroded. Despite these bummers, we carry on muddling our way through assorted crises in a manner so idiotic, It is stupefying, if not downright alarming!
But, we are not so easily shamed or daunted! We carry on with our Keystone Cops style of functioning. Our short sightedness prevents us from seeing the writing on the wall. And that writing does not go beyond Elections 2014. We are obsessed by Narendra Modi – will he make it as P.M. or won’t he? If not NaMo , then who? Note: nobody says ‘Rahul Gandhi’ on auto pilot any more. Nitish Kumar is saying ( indirectly, of course) , “Why not me?” Mulayam Singh is not saying a thing! He’s too smart. He’s waiting. For the others to get exhausted. The rest don’t really count. Till such time as the heat gets to us and we also collapse… all we can do is laugh! But hey, for the first time in decades, we finally got one thing (almost) right – the National Film Awards ( let me qualify: this year was a small improvement on the lop sidedness of several previous years) . What does that prove? If the intentions are honest , merit does get its due recognition. Here’s an idea, Sirji : Why not induct the jury members of those movie awards into the government and get them to fix the mess? Perhaps if that happens, we’ll get to witness an entirely new star cast at the helm of affairs. And the underdog will finally get a come uppance. Please note: the underdog here does not refer to Sanjay Dutt! Let’s hope all these troubling issues will get sorted out quickly. Or else, ‘Maa ki Kasam’, we’ll have to take serious action. Don’t laugh!