Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Republic Day Special

Watching the republic day parade and looking at those cultural promotions a thought crossed my mind. Since every government comes for a term of five years – the ministers and bureaucrats, by the end of the fifth year must be tired watching the same parade for all these years. Isn’t it time that we should give a break to the entire culture cavalcade and the army procession that just goes on till the end of time on the television and that too on a holiday? Instead at the end of every fifth year – the Republic Day parade should be a kind of check on the various government strategies and programs that they had implemented throughout their term.

Delhi’s Rajpath should have the same demonstration of different kinds of people from different regions but with a little twist. The parade should consist of people who need all the attention, which they have been denied for all that four years when the government had been ruling. Even the spectators comprising of our cabinet ministers and their bureaucrats should make space for corporate leaders and business honchos, and if they don’t come drag them, tax them. Thus instead of the regular traditional dancers and the Indian Defense stage show there should be a kind of reality check. So the setting and the commentary for that day would be something like this:

“From the far end of the Presidential palace I can see the Bhopal Gas tragedy victims coming. After all these years – they still continue to come with their deformed bodies, their severe blood problems, and their affected nervous systems. They are the first ones in today’s ceremony as they are one of the most highly affected and also happen to be the most experienced of the lot that is going to come in this parade. Look what a defining picture they create…!”

The camera turns to corporate honchos sitting over there and the officials of Health Ministry and the state government employees of Madhya Pradesh. They all are nodding in agreement. Infact I can see the Madhya Pradesh CM telling his colleagues that there are more to come from his state. This is just the beginning.

The commentary continues:

“The next contingent is of fully naked women covering themselves with only a long white cloth – they have been shouting slogans for the abolishment or the change in the Armed Forces Act in Manipur. Well, well, well…they have some unique ideas to garner attention”

The camera turns to the Army Chief, the Defense Minister and the officials of North-East India. They are posing with a fake smile. How ruthless. But the show must go on.

“Up next are the farmers and residents of a Kerala village, Plachimada - who have been opposing the establishment of the Coca Cola plant in their village. They have banners with them and are shouting in their language – to which our officials in Delhi are not able to neither read nor listen. They will just pass through this Rajpath as they have been doing every year”

The camera now turns to the Environment Minister who is shown sipping a Cola, before we make out what brand it is – the switcher switches back to the camera on the group on Rajpath – a few moments later – the Environment Minister is shown now standing and showing his “Thumbs Up” to these farmers from Plachimada. I guess what he means is that he supports their “Movement”. Now they have moved out of their way.

“And here we have the spectacularly looking victims from Godhra, Ahmedabad and other smaller towns of Gujarat. Look at those beautiful permanent wounds – oh I guess the physical wounds are healed but if you see closely – (camera goes closer) they are bleeding internally. What a pretty sight of our democracy. All of them are saluting to the Prime Minister”
The camera now shows the crowd cheering them. The CM of Gujarat is whispering something into the ears of the corporate leaders and they are smiling. Everyone’s happy. It s such a beautiful atmosphere here at India Gate, Delhi. There are many more groups coming.

The commentator continues:

“Ladies and Gentleman, You have to be here to experience the Real India. The Incredible India! Up next are the miners, the minorities, the farmers of Orissa, they are here to demand their labour rights, their religion and their land back respectively. Orissa has been one of the most interesting states of India. It has had a tradition of giving up their lands and making itself feel proud. On the States poll – it has ranked number one in the “Most Plundered” category. Whatever that means – I am sure – it’s a great sacrifice in the development of the country. We salute them today”

The camera pans to the Governor of Orissa, who is sitting inside a bullet proof cabinet and he is waving to his people. I guess he has recognized a few faces. His bodyguards with their machine guns are also smiling towards them.

“And now next…Oh my god! This is unbelievable! Our audience will be amazed to see this. On the roads of Rajpath, Delhi we are watching a Mumbai local train coming in. Although it is slower than its normal speed, as it is brought for the show but I can see there are at least 7000 people inside this local train, which has a capacity of around 1500. People are pouring out from every door, a few of them are risking their lives by sitting on the rooftop, we can see the bags hanging on the windows as there is no space for humans inside the compartment, leave the bags aside. I can even see the Handicapped Coach also full. Well, Well – I can see our foreign delegates clapping in awe. As the train picks up some speed, a few of them fall out of the door, the audience cheers them. It’s all a circus out here. I tell you India is a land of magicians. People inside the train resemble the Rooster Coup as described by Arvinda Adiga in his latest Man Booker Winner book – The White Tiger. I hope the audience knows that he too is an Indian to win this coveted prize.”

The commentator now concludes.

So this was our wonderful parade this year Live from New Delhi. Hope you all enjoyed the show and will get back to your regular lives from tomorrow. We will be back with our regular parade from next year. Good bye and needless to say in times like these my last two words should be “ Jai ho!”. This is your dear commentator Hardik Mehta signing off!

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