Monday, April 11, 2011

55. Lok Pal, need one for each neighbourhood

So goes the adage, one is honest as long as not proven corrupt. Isn't it a fact that each one in a billion-plus country knows who the corrupt are: in the neighbourhood, at their respective workplaces, amongst the public servants and amidst the high and the mighty? Then why is it that the system, made up of these people, remains oblivious to the devil within?

Not only is it insipid and innocuous, corruption remains a faceless reference in most drawing room conversations. A traffic constable, a ticket collector, a tax officer, a municipal staff and a local legislature are part of a middle class script on corruption in public life, which conveniently misses out on the disproportionate assets amassed by a neighbour or the nefarious deeds of a close relation. Why should we, let someone catch them first!

Notwithstanding the legacy of failed public institutions to root out corruption in this country, hope has been pinned yet again on another institution to catch them. The child within us is ecstatic with the promise of a new toy, a Lok Pal. Curiously, neither does one know how the toy may look like nor is there any clue on how it may work! Till the toy arrives, corruption around us flourishes with impunity.

Unbelievable though it may sound, a forest range officer minced no words recently to tell the wife of his senior colleague that `the shopping bags she was carrying were the outcome of her husband's illicit income'. Courageous and fearless, this young hero has evoked the `lok pal' in him to expose and isolate the enemy within. After all, public knows more than what a Lok Pal might know - yeh to public hai ye sab janti hai!

(the picture above is from a popular Bollywood film of the 70's Roti starring Rajesh Khanna (right) and Jeevan (left)

Monday, April 4, 2011

54. Anybody for the other cup!

The frenzy will subside and so will the inflated nationalism! But the intrusive, invasive and insidious flogging of the star cricketers will continue relentless till money poured onto them sloshes out and spills over to the hoardings on the streets. Over weeks and months ahead, the star cricketers will return the favours to their innumerable fans by selling them anything from toothpaste to mobiles.

Such vulgar transformation of cricketing heroes doesn't off-put the fans, else how could it have grown and continue to expand in time. Between the spectators and the commentators, the game of cricket has been lost to the market. Unstoppable electronic media will continue to break more `broken stories', milking every conceivable sponsorship to lift its sagging `television rating points'.

Without doubt, the Cricket World Cup is the Cup that matters for a billion-plus even when their own `cup' of woes is brimming with growing unrest, unending scams and a listless leadership. On the eve of the final, Gautam Gambhir had remarked: `There will be frenzy but I hope that people do not lose perspective. Yes, it is the World Cup but then bigger issues in our country like population, crime and corruption have yet to be resolved'.

Much before the painted tricolor of token nationalism on human skins washes away, the challenge before the cricketing heroes is to capitalise on their new found status to strike fours and sixes on the compelling issues before the nation. Is anyone willing to take `guard'?