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Goodbye 2018!

By Anil dharker

01st January 2019

How do you define a year? A good way is to look at the buzz words that dominated conversation over its 12 months.

The buzziest word was Disruption. We saw it in the three elections which BJP didn`t win. After Modi and Amit Shah`s ascension in the political scene from 2014 onwards, the RSS`s favourite duo (one with a 56 inch chest, the other with a 56 inch waist), was thought to be invincible. Raga, which is Rahul Gandhi`s more polite name, was always thought to sing in a minor key, and it didn`t make a difference whether it was a morning or evening raga. So there was supposed to be no contest. Yet the results were irrefutable and now we have Congress governments in three Hindi-speaking states, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

This is surprising for many reasons. For one, Modi-Shah were considered invincible. For another, Narendra Modi had campaigned vigorously, and we know what that means (it was all Nehru`s fault). Thirdly, Ajay Singh Bisht had also been unleashed on the country as Modi-Shah`s star campaigner. Bisht is better known by his pen name of Yogi Adityanath, who with one stroke of his pen achieved the biggest triumph of governance in India`s most populous state, namely renaming Allahbad as Prayagraj, Faizabad as Ayodhya and Mugal Sarai as Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhayay Nagar. While campaigning in Telangana, he promised that if BJP were elected, it would bring its formula for good governance there as well by renaming Hyderabad as Bhagyanagar, but the natives seemed to have other priorities. Nevertheless, Renaming is another buzz word.

Yet another is, Statues. First off the mark is the Statue of Unity in Gujarat, honouring Sardar Vallabhai Patel. This is no ordinary statue but the tallest. Not just in India, but in the world! It`s 182 metres (597 feet) of reinforced concrete with steel framing and bronze cladding. Add the base, and that takes it to 240 metres (790 ft). It`s called the Statue of Unity for multiple reasons. Firstly because the Sardar unified India`s 554 princely states; secondly because, as Home Minister, Sardar Patel had banned the RSS, which shows how broad-minded the PM is and thirdly because the bronze cladding was cast in China, which shows how liberal the Make in India campaign is.

As we all know, when Gujarat sneezes, all the other BJP-ruled states catch a cold, so it is that UP will have a Lord Ram statue in Ayodhya. It will be 221 metres tall. Not to be outdone, the BJP-ruled state of Maharashtra will have a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji  Maharaj of 212 metres. However, this was the planned height when the statue was first mooted, which was way before the Yogi`s. It is now proposed to increase the Shivaji statue`s height to overtake the Ram statue`s. Will the Yogi observe this upmanship in silence, or will he raise the Ram statue further? Will CM Fadnavis then not retaliate? Will the Yogi then not re-retaliate? Finally, will both statues not end up being taller than the Statue of Unity? Will the First Pracharak then not rere-retaliate?

Talking of tallest, we have the longest, so our next buzz word is Record-breaking. The ‘longest’ is the 5 km rail-cum-road bridge linking Assam to Arunachal Pradesh. The Bogibeel Bridge cuts the journey by 170 km, which apart from the obvious advantages to everyone who travels there, is said to be vital to India`s defence sector, especially because the Arunachal border with China is involved. In fact, so vital is it for our defence preparedness that it took only 21 years to build while the Statue of Unity took as long as 5 whole years for completion. You can`t dispute the fact that as a nation we have our priorities right.

There`s obviously a race on between our rate of infrastructure construction and our rate of judicial resolution which gives us the buzz-phrase Judicial Delays. A case in point, and quite a case it has been too, is of the 1984 anti-Sikh progrom (‘riots’, normally used, is the wrong word for it, as it is for the 2002 anti-Muslim progrom in Gujarat). Sajjan Kumar, Congress leader, in 1984 a young man of 39, now after living in liberty for 34 years, has been convicted by the High Court to spend the rest of his life in jail at the age of 73. His lawyer has said they will appeal to the Supreme Court, which should take care of the rest of his days.

This will confirm once again, if it ever needed confirming, that in India political genocide only has victims, no perpetrators. In an ordinary murder, there is a murderer; in political genocide, the victims, usually belonging to a minority, just lie down and hack themselves to death. Dalits, though not a minority, are also prone to similar hara-kiri. In our beloved nation, the victims are to blame for the atrocities they commit on themselves.

That said, the judiciary has been our saving grace. In spite of the ‘revolt’ against Chief Justice Dipak Misra by the four senior most Supreme Court judges, the government did the honourable thing by appointing the seniormost, Ranjan Gogoi (Chelameswar had retired) as Chief Justice. Misra went out in an unexpected blaze of glory with landmark decisions in the Cauvery river case, Section 377 which decriminalised homosexuality, allowing entry of women into Sabarimala temple and decriminalising adultery.

Which leads us to the other popular buzz word of 2018: Lynching. This word was associated with white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan of the American Deep South, people who lynched African-Americans, then called Negroes. Members of the Klan wore long conical white robes with holes for eyes, which was a useful uniform to hide their identities. Over the years the Klan is a diminished force, and its entire membership is now said to be between only 3,000 and 6,000.

Our lynchers are more numerous in number, difficult to quantify because anyone can be a member, since there`s no membership fee or minimum qualification. All you need is the ability to lynch cow smugglers/killers/ kidnappers on mere suspicion. These Cow Vigilantes (another buzz word) also do not need to disguise themselves as the KKK did because they are safe from the police or any prosecution. Thus Indian lynchers have improved vastly upon American pioneers, which makes us world class.

WorldClass could well be a buzz word waiting to be created. It`s for the women who have set off the #MeToo movement in India. Hopefully, the film industry`s ubiquitous (and obnoxious) ‘casting couch’ will be a thing of the past, and men in all areas of life will treat women as equals, not objects.  Even more than that, women have shown that they have left behind men in other ways, especially in the world of sport. Take badminton, archery, gymnastics, wrestling, shooting… Who knew that in just a few years we would compete with, and even beat, the world`s best? Just a little more funding, and one-millionth of the attention reserved for men`s cricket, and our women will leave men far behind.

That`s a pleasant kind of Disruption. The opposite kind, the man with the blonde peak cap made of his own hair, is the Disruptor-in-Chief sitting in the White House in the US of A. What will Donald Trump do next? What tweet will he punch out now, sacking which cabinet member? Will he love Russia more or China less? Will his itching fingers reach for the nuclear button? Or have they hidden it from him? It was good to know, by his own admission, that he spent a lonely Christmas, all by himself in the White House. May he soon be completely caged in, and may they throw away the key.

As a finale, let`s take other buzz words in quick succession. Rafale Row: Simple question. Are 126 aircraft, with transfer of technology attached (as negotiated in 2012) better than 36 fully-equipped ones with no transfer of technology (negotiated in 2018)? Whatever the correct answer, will the process of acquiring defence equipment be speeded up from the agonising pace set by the UPA government? Corruption should be eliminated, or at least reduced, but fear of corruption shouldn`t lead to paralysis.

Is Aadhar our Gateway to Heaven, or everyone`s Gateway to our Data? Was Demonetisation good for us? Or was Goods and Services Tax only good for tax? After Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and co, are diamonds still a girl`s best friend? Or are they bfs of Scamsters? Speaking of which, or whom, isn`t it ungrateful of Vijay Mallaya not to accept the invitation of Arthur Road Jail, when they have gone to all the trouble of providing a cell for him with the best mod cons?

Finally, will Acche Din still be a buzz word in 2019, or will it go the way of India Shining? And finally finally, is the Big Fat Indian Wedding a buzz word, phrase or sentence or is it just a Big Fat Indian word for simple folk who want to share their joy with everyone?