My children missed school today. Unlike some parents, I’m not particular they should attend school every day. And I was happy that I did not have to write leave letters requesting they be excused for not attending school.
But what forced the school to make attendance optional is a matter of concern. Goons have been let loose in different parts of north India by a few people who claim royal lineage to burn vehicles, malls and other public and private properties because they are supposedly unhappy over permission granted for exhibition of a movie that depicts a legendary queen in a manner they find unacceptable. A few of them attacked a school bus in Manohar Lal’s kingdom yesterday, forcing schools in the national capital region to take precautionary measures.
It doesn’t surprise anyone that incidences of violence have been restricted to BJP-ruled Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. So, do we presume there are no Rajputs in Congress-ruled Punjab or Nitish Kumar ruled Bihar or Mamata Banerjee ruled West Bengal?
It is clear that BJP is being indulgent to unruly elements who have threatened to vote against it in the forthcoming assembly elections in Rajasthan, where the Rajput population can tilt the balance against it.
So, who cares if the Central Board of Film Certification has cleared the movie? Who cares if arson and violence terrorises children? The queen of Rajasthan has to be re-elected to help the emperor win Delhi in 2019.
PR Didn’t Help
According to those who previewed Padmaavat, the movie glorifies Rajputs while blacking out their internecine wars. Alauddin Khilji, on the other hand, is portrayed as such a beast that even junior HRD Minister Satyapal Singh would withdraw his remark that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution should be removed from the curriculum. Sanjay Leela Bansali has more than one reason to be bewildered.
Why have the respective state administrations not cracked down on protesters after the Supreme Court directed them to ensure law and order to allow screening of Padmaavat? If the BJP administrations would not obey court orders to maintain law and order, why has the Supreme Court not yet warned Chief Secretaries of concerned states that they would be jailed for contempt of court?
Ideal For Investment
While the drama over a movie was playing out in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was rolling out a red carpet for foreign investors in snow-covered Davos. Wonder what makes him think that corporates would invest in a place where violation of law and order happens regularly with state connivance.
Isn’t it a poor joke for the PM to project India as a destination for investment but not order his Chief Ministers to crack down on Karni Sena and other outfits that send arsonists to the streets with torches and stones?
Modi was in Davos for hardly 24 hours, but that did not stop social media from creating multiple memes on him. Given Modi’s proclivity for posing for the camera, one of the memes had several people fooled as it looked very real. Many made memes from the original, believing it was a real photo.
The giveaway perhaps may have been that it looked like Modi was waiting for a bus at a snow-covered station. Unlike American President Donald Trump who made fake Time magazine covers of himself several years ago, Modi certainly would not want to preserve this fake picture because the pose reminded one of Gregory Peck in ‘Spellbound’, although look-wise he resembled former railway minister Jaffer Sharif.
Modi was by no stretch of imagination a poor man who eked out a living by selling tea, but thanks to spin maestros and some help from Mani Shankar Aiyar, he now plays the ‘chaiwala card’ during election meetings in rural areas.
Founders of Starbucks may even wonder what all the fuss is about of one being a ‘chaiwala’. Two of the three founders were teachers (Jerry Baldwin and Zev Siegl) and the third, Gordon Bowker, a writer. Ideally, one should excel in what one does: If one is not a great teacher but good at selling coffee better give it a try. It could make one a billionaire.
But the problem with Modi is that even though several years have passed since he supervised his father’s tea stall, his domain knowledge interferes in his functioning as the PM. Why else would the PM of India say that someone earning Rs 200 a day by selling pakoras must be considered as gainfully employed?
It also indicates Modi has not spent money from his pocket for meeting his daily expenses since a very long time. That is why he should listen to Hardik Patel’s reality byte: “An economist would never ask unemployed youth to sell pakoras, only a tea seller can do that.”
Twitter has it that one of those who heard Modi’s speech in Davos decided to play a prank on his colleagues who go gaga over the very mention of ‘Narendra Modi’. He told them: “Folks, here is the latest from Rahul Gandhi. He has tweeted ‘in 1997, a bird tweeted and if you typed amazon, you would get pictures of a river, forests and animals’. What is he trying to say?”
The response was spontaneous laughter, followed by comments that Rahul Gandhi should have his brain checked. After the Modi fan club had their say, the prankster solemnly announced: “Well that was part of Modi’s speech in Davos, actually. I just wanted to see how you would react if I attributed the quote to someone you despise.” The story goes that the prankster’s colleagues did a brazen turnaround to say that the PM’s speech must have had a context.
But I wonder how any speechwriter could be so foolish as to overlook the fact that in 1997, the internet was still a child. Google was founded only a year later. Its image searching began only in the new millennium. Yahoo had a search engine since 1994 but worked as a directory for finding websites. The first images on the Amazon River or rain forest would have been up on search engines only around the time Modi became Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Remember, the PM’s speechwriters are no ordinary folks. They are the same guys whose ‘brain waves’ lead to preparation of vision documents for the country.
Almost 85 crore Indians were eligible to vote in 2014. Only 65% of them voted. Over 30% of these voted for NDA. But Modi told a meeting in Davos that 600 crore voted for BJP. Too bad tele-prompters cannot indicate that covered 6/7th of world population.
(Published on 29th January 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 05)