Monday, June 04, 2012

India's need of the hour: The Ministry of Protests

(Published in Sify.com on 4 June, 2012, retrieved from http://www.sify.com/news/india-s-need-of-the-hour-the-ministry-of-protests-news-columns-mgebiKdbfic.html?ref=false)





“Dude, there are times when I don’t feel like I’m living in India at all! What Bharat Bandh? Life went on in Madras as usual. I even caught a press screening of Rowdy Rathore, and that made me want to smash things up.”
“Well, it wasn’t that big a deal in Delhi either. Except people got stuck in traffic, but that happens anyway.”
“I saw pictures with shutters down in CP.”
“Could be. But I was in office all day. My only encounter with the bandh was when the pizza place told me they were closed and refused to deliver.”
“They picked up the phone, and said they were closed?”
“I guess.”
“Isn’t that ironic? Or impossible? Or something?”
“Sarkari, I guess. Turning up for work, and doing nothing.”
“Are you sure it was a person, and not an automated voice?”
“You can never tell with these people. They sound like automatons. Everyone speaks with that Sanskritic incantation-like tone they use on flights.”
“Oh, tell me about it! When I flew Emirates, I thought they were praying when they started making announcements!”
“But I doubt the pizza place took the trouble of recording a message saying they were closed for the bandh.”
“It would be too apologetic, you mean?”
“Too efficient, more like.”
“Tangential, I know, but are you allowed to be apologetic about protests if you’re part of it?”
“I suppose it depends on what you’re protesting against.”
“What were they protesting against? It’s a bit late in the day to howl about the price of petrol, no?”
“I suppose it took the BJP a while to sort out the infighting and pull together a protest. And the Left was involved too. That always takes a while. I suppose they could have organised a yatra faster, but that would be self-defeating, given that they’d be supporting the hike by buying petrol for it. Anyway, what else could they be protesting against?”
“In Madras, the big problem was the unavailability of petrol. I was stuck in a queue for an hour, and then I could only get enough petrol to go back home and return the next day.”
“There’s something to be said for the lack of productivity in your life.”
“On the subject, I saw this page by some Anonymous India on Facebook. Something that’s managed to plagiarise both the Occupy movement and V for Vendetta, while remaining anonymous and claiming the internet.”
“I haven’t seen that. But I’m beginning to think India needs a Department for Protests.”
“A Ministry would work better. I’d imagine the first thing the Minister would have to fight is his own nomination.”
“That would make Anna Hazare the ideal candidate. He’s a veteran of fasts, and now the government knows how to make him break them.”
“Because mangoes are in season?”
“That too. But I think he and the government have mastered their political dance. Would make him an ideal candidate to work the system from inside.”
“But he has no political ambitions. Maybe Baba Ramdev could take over. He’s constantly searching for a cause for protest.”
“Nah, no one takes him seriously. Maybe Arundhati Roy could be in charge. The foreign press loves her.”
“Yeah, but I think she’s a stateless actor now. Didn’t she declare independence from India a while ago, and write an eighty-page essay on it or something?”
“Not sure. But that would be a pity. Because she would have gone all meta, and protested against the protests.”
“That’s okay. Mamata Banerjee is doing exactly that, so she ended up cancelling out the bandh. I think she’d make an excellent Minister for Protests.”
“No, yaar, she has a city to rule. Wait, technically, it’s a state.”
“But she doesn’t look comfortable unless she’s in opposition. She’s taken over the anti-establishmentarian stance in the Centre anyway.”
“See, that anti-establishmentarian attitude will be her undoing. We’ll need a bureaucratic procedure in place for this Ministry of Protests, no?”
“Would the Minister have to approve all the protests, or design them, or think them up?”
“I suppose all three, and a few more.”
“Bureaucratic hurdles?”
“Exactly.”
“I think we just hit upon the perfect solution to overcoming bandhs for good – put a government ministry in charge of organising them.”

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