One of the toughest things, I discovered once I had committed myself to shooting my mouth off at least thrice a week, is selecting the topic. It’s not a problem of want – but, au contraire, it’s a problem of one subject too many. There is the tsunami, an obvious choice to write about, and there is the Kanchi mess (or should I call it the Tamil Nadu police’s mess?) a subject so controversial I have to check twice to make sure that I’ve crossed all my t’s and dotted all my i’s. There is the talk of an SNDP-NSS merger of sorts in the offing, which, according to the same so-called secularists who nary have an opinion on the en-bloc voting commandments of the church or of the mosque – or of any other community for that matter – and there is the talk – the pride, rather – of India now being a donor instead of being the beggar.
Then there is the education sector to talk about, and how not a single Indian institution is on UNESCO’s top 100 institutions of the world. No big surprise there, though, but quite a lot of food for thought.
As for movies, entertainment and the media… in that order… we have some of the worst apes in the world. We’ve got people who’ve modeled themselves on the Trump-model of show-biz, others who sneer behind their supposedly impartial veneers, hypocrites and hotheaded icons for the youth, women and men who don’t mind taking off the shirts off their back if it will help establish them as a potential force in an industry that is as fickle as a politician’s vows – though, to be fair, we’ll have to consider their side of the story as well, of the passion that drives them from the warm safety of their homes into the concrete jungle that is known as Mumbai.
We could talk about what it is that drives rich men to their doom. Why it is that a trusted confidante would betray that trust by usurping, a la retro-movie style, another family’s wealth, or why two brothers-in-arms are now up-in-arms against each other?
We could talk about how the UPA, held – or led, depending on your point of view – together by a listless Manmohan Singh who has to submit all his files to, should she so wish, an extra-constitutional authority not bound by the oaths of official secrecy. Not that, given our MP’s fairness in dealing only with the highest bidders, the oath makes much of a difference, but at least it is grounds for prosecution.
We could continue discussing why this country is still a house of closed rooms. We can try to analyse why it is that, despite hammering into our educated youngsters that divisiveness is bad, we – the educated lot just as guilty as the uneducated one – still think within the narrow limits of us and them.
We could, to take a brief respite from such issues, also discuss why we Indians are always the bridesmaids, never the brides, when it comes to international competitions. Sure, there are exceptions. Chess, and… okay, chess. Any other sport in which an Indian-resident, Indian-citizen, Indian is the Number 1? If you can think of one, (other than kabaddi, kalaripayittu and alcohol-drinking) in a game the civilized world plays, let me know. I am at a loss on that count here…
Therefore, at the end of it all, I decided that henceforth, these columns will also carry forth a State of the Nation Address every week. Hey, if Bush can do it, I suppose I can too… though, I know, that is by no stretch of imagination a compliment. In addition to the regular features.
And to the two serious readers out there (I s’pose I am being a little optimistic there) I will also enlighten you with a series of suggestions which I believe may solve such problems as migrant populations, unscientific development, immature sports management and on the whole, take us a step closer to that much publicised fantasy of India 2020.