Sunday, November 02, 2008

Run away?

Too many books, too many movies. Well, actually only about a half dozen movies in three weeks, but that’s about 5 more than I would have watched in the normal course.

And some Conversations. Including one with The Mentor, long distance. I said I’m increasingly pessimistic about this country as a place to bring up my daughter, we should probably emigrate in 5 years. Which prompted a couple of choice expletives and a list of reasons for hope. Orissa, and some response by the Govt. to the issue of mayhem on grounds of religion. The arrests in the Malegaon bombing case, which may show that Muslims don’t hold a monopoly on senseless murder OR that the Indian State is impartial. The poor show by secessionists in every poll in Kashmir, indeed the very fact that polls are held in Kashmir. Instances of public outcry speeding up justice. The fact that despite the woolly-minded yearnings of a section of the Indian middle class, the armed forces have never even attempted to take over power in this country. Even in my own State, some response to the issue of air pollution.

Yes, well, that’s good. And the consideration that if one is to avoid corruption, the only viable option seems to be Scandinavia. Weighed against the suicide rate there (and the certainty of my being about a foot shorter than the average woman), it really wouldn’t make much sense.

About corruption. The Greatest Country in the World makes a lot of hoo-haa about the annual report on corruption. Some of our more “enlightened” countrymen then make despairing noises about “the state of this country”. Which is ridiculous when you consider that the Vice-President of the Greatest Country has an open deal with a firm called Halliburton. And that - coincidentally, of course – in 2006 Halliburton were awarded 45 BILLION dollars worth of contracts in Iraq without any process of tender. To put that in perspective, Indian government rules do not permit purchase of more than Rs. 20,000/- without quotations, and any transaction of Rs. 2 lakh or more requires a process of open tender. Even if you use Purchasing Power Parity instead of simple currency conversion, the difference is huge.

And let’s not even get into the question of fair elections. The Chief Executive is elected on a recount in a state where the highest government executive - in charge of running elections too – is his own brother. And when it comes to a recount, guess who’s in charge? A lady who was on his campaign team. Even after 8 years, the level of moronicity bothers me.

Something else that bothers me. The lack of an effective Opposition in my own state. The one person who has been the face of the Opposition for more than 10 years now has never articulated any agenda other than opposition. Even during a tenure as a Union Minister, she staged a sit-in in the well of Parliament. Opposition for its own sake? Seems to me the story of the Great Dane and the yellow Beetle [1] is sadly apt here.

There’s a slew of other things that bother me – reality shows, SMS greetings, taxis parked at corners, misplaced apostrophes, Shilpa Shetty’s grin – but I’d be the first to admit that they’re not good enough reasons to emigrate. I probably wouldn’t be able to avoid them even if I did emigrate. Hell, not even La Shetty’s grin.

[1] The story? Well, this suburban guy bought a bright yellow Beetle. First day he took it out of the driveway to get to office, the neighbour’s Great Dane jumped the hedge and chased the car all the way down the lane, barking loudly all the way. This happened the second day too. AND the day after.
On Day 4, the guy finally lost his patience. As the huge hound lolloped after him, he stepped on the brakes, screeched to a halt, rolled the window down an inch and shouted “OK, you’ve GOT it! What are you going to DO with it now?!” Result, one very sheepish Great Dane.


Anonymous said...

Finally somebody said it about the Shilpa grin!
Don't move please! We need all hands here. ;p

Rimi said...

This mentor of yours, Uncle J, please pass on my deepest expression of gratitude to him. If it is a her, my apologies, too.

This is not enlightenment that has occurred post geographical reorientation, but moving has confirmed some of my previously somewhat nebulous and uncertain notions, and I would not suggest moving away if you wish to relocate within the first-l.-English world.

Uh-huh, Uncle J. Don't do it.

Unknown said...

JAP-da: Bamse wants me to tell you that he doesn't quite appreciate the fact that you misrepresent his part of the world. In fact, he says, it is one of the happiest places in the world (In summertime, I concur). He also wants me to point you to this (he swears that he did not edit the page)

km said...

Misplaced apostrophes? Well, my countrymen can't seem to distinguish between "you are" and "your". They "jumbo-size" their fries and popcorn. And they watch Michael Bay movies.

It is hard but we get by.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Nal, where exactly would you put your hands?

Rimi, I did say 5 years.

Veena, Wikipedia says the article needs verification. As for Bamse, he ain't brought ME no brandy.

KM, me heart bleeds fer yer, me hearty. No, reelly.


Rimi said...

Which alters the context significantly how?

Gamesmaster G9 said...

Oh come on. Dick Cheney and hanging chads are equivalent to systemic rot and large-scale booth-capturing? A bit of a stretch, you don't think?

There are many perfectly good reasons to remain in India, and a similar number of reasons to leave the US. But pulling the "we may suck, but they are far worse"-card is just disingenuous.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Ani, mailed you an article on the apple-pie version of rigging. And I didn't say the US is better OR worse, I just pointed out that the human race is much the same across the globe.


Falstaff said...

you know, I know nothing about bringing up daughters, but I'm not sure why the levels of government corruption and / or the efficacy of the democratic process are the most salient criteria to judge a good place to bring up children. I would think quality of education, multicultural context, access to resources, public infrastructure and safety would all be far more important. I'm not saying the US is better than India on those criteria (though I could see that argument being made), I'm just not sure why levels of public corruption are relevant.

And what's wrong with living in a place with a high suicide rate? It shows that people there have perspective.

Anonymous said...

If you find that utopia to raise daughters, please let me know. I am trying to raise one!

Progga said...

JAP: strange request. Do you know the full form of the Rabindranath poem about glycerine soap? Could you PLEASE post it / mail it to me (progga [at] hotmail). puhlease! I can't remember all of it, and it's been driving me effing crazy.

Vida Peepul said...

if you think about it, the phrase "Incredible India" is aptly chosen by the tourism ministry, or the agency thereof. That adjective, after all, is the only word that comes to mind when confronted by our corruption, apathy and intolerance.

Australopithecus said...

you know something interesting. i just was part of a conversation where people wanted to go back to india, becasue they didn't want to bring their daughets up here.

Gamesmaster G9 said...

Let me guess - did it involve any of the following words - "respect", "values", "clothes", "culture", "permissiveness"?

Australopithecus said...

@gamesmaster: bingo!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you know your dog and Beetle story has another version that's slightly pejorative to men. 'Why do men run after women they have no intention of marrying? The same reason dogs run after cars they have no intention of driving'. Heh heh.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Falstaff, corruption hinders development of the individual as much as the society. I am actually more concerned about issues like tolerance, a divided society, rights for women, public safety.

Mita, daughters create their own little bit of utopia.


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