This appeared in Sunday Times today...
Attn: Neelam, Saira Politically Incorrect 10th May 2013
How much thicker can our skin get….?
Two rhinos down! More to go! Forget the Bengal tiger,the great Indian Rhino ( rhinoceros unicornis) ought to be declared our national animal. And we needn’t go into the swampy basin of the Brahmaputra to look for these lumbering, ungainly creatures. We have the world’s most impressive collection of human rhinos in Delhi. Most of them make their clumsy way through the corridors of power pretty effortlessly. And both houses of parliament are overflowing with their kind. It’s come to a point when from being declared an endangered species, ruthlessly hunted for the phallic horn, the asli rhino is now much in demand for its thick skin. The rhino hide has gained in value during the past few years.The slimiest muck slides off without leaving a trace.We have so many of them… bureaucrats, cops,clerks, fixers, wheelers and dealers, middlemen - we are in the fortunate position to offer our hardy, tough , sasta and tikao political rhinos for export to the rest of the world.India breeds human rhinos faster than any other country. And with each new generation, the hide gets thicker. Nothing penetrates that tagda layer. Nothing sticks. Everything bounces off. Our rhinos are unique and priceless.
Last week’s Railgate / Coalgate developments threw up some more members of this extraordinary species. This was an interesting development as some of these bulky creatures had effectively disguised themselves as lions and other noble animals in the past. Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar emerged as the most impressive rhino. Along with the Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal ( so what if both were compelled to resign – rhinos they remain). Ranjit Sinha, CBI Director is another jabardast rhino. The slightly dodgier rhino in this mess is the Indian government’s top law officer, Attorney General G.E. Vahanvaty, who emphatically distanced himself from everything by cleverly stating, “People have lost sight of the fact that I am not a political executive.” (In that case, Sir, kindly refrain from conducting yourself as one.) But the rhino of rhinos is undoubtedly our Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, who left it to poor Renuka Choudhary to field questions about the imminent sacking of Ashwani Kumar ( “… you have to wait before you jump the gun.”) and to provide a weak alibis for her leader (“ The P.M. has said he is aware of full facts of the case and that he will find a solution.”).Like he has to a myriad other blights plaguing the country, Ms. Choudhary?
There must be several shadowy human rhino spirits in heaven looking out for the Congress party, or else it would have been khel khatam after what the learned bench of the Supreme Court had to say to the CBI in the Coalgate case ( “ You should make yourself solid as the rock, but you are like the sand…”). Unfortunately, this pointed indictment got diluted before the message could sink in. The Congress win in Karnataka temporarily took care of the heat generated by the burning coals in the country’s furnace. Many fortuitous factors kicked in all at once… and those hides got thicker. This suited all the rhinos just fine. While the Indian people were fed parables and fables involving goats and parrots. Even after the two high profile resignations, the big question remains unanswered : Where is the looted money? Who is going to get it back?
Our Delhi rhinos need not worry. They are a protected species. Nothing and no one can touch them. Their population is growing steadily and rather than being considered an endangered lot, their burgeoning numbers are actually posing a danger to other animals and life forms. Survival of the fittest being the rule of the jungle, chances are these formidable beasts will continue to roam unhindered throughout India, secure in the knowledge there is zero challenge or adversary in sight. This is what happens when there is no Lion King in a jungle. Hyenas, jackals, even vultures and similar scavengers assume control. Anarchy prevails. Unprovoked attacks occur. Bloodshed takes place. Smaller critters scamper for cover.The abject helplessness of the weak is taken advantage of by stronger animals, who think nothing of trampling over those who stand in their path. For now, the rhino is calling the shots in India. The worm has still to turn. But watch out when it does. Rhinos are gigantic… but slow.Their size is both an advantage and a liability.Where and how can a humungous rhino hide? When the time comes to run, rhinos falter. And they fall.
The CBI will do well to pay attention to Justice R.M. Lodha. The Bench has asked a pertinent question : “Is the job of the CBI to interact or interrogate? Is this a collaborative action going on?”
The Chief Rhino must answer. Or go.