Image courtesy of USA Today
'What about 70 years?' has become the most common and potent political catchphrase in India, hurled at lighting speed by ardent govt supporters at those who don't share the faithful bonhomie.
It's declaimed with utmost certitude, and as a rueful alibi for everything: miserable health infrastructure, policy failure, decrepitude, complacency, squalor and to cover up incompetence, criminal negligence, and craven, self-indulgent denial.
Did anyone ever think that folks who shoulder-fire this phrase as a verbal stinger missile, are actually being generous, considerate and respectful when they go ballistic? Is it not fidelity to logic and a sense of belonging that only 70 years are invoked when via painstaking research of 700 years can be willfully corralled?
Truth is the real issue traces back to primordial times, but they don't broach it to not dismay compatriots and show their less appreciated, generously bipartisan side.
Nemesis Nehru inherited all the sinews and trappings of the Raj, including the steel frame of bureaucracy and army, the agrarian system, locomotives, postal department, telegraph, education, caramel custard, whisky with soda, railway mutton, 555 cigarette, Dickens, Wordsworth and English taverna chatter.
Hastings and Auckland, Cornwallis and Wavell, Dalhousie and Curzon, along with the dreaded deracinator duo Hunter and McCauley, are responsible for what's happening today. Hold these haughty colonial overlords accountable rather than lazy-ass criticism of the nation's pride, destiny's child.
But wait a minute! The Colonials kept the system of land revenue, zamindari and ryotwari, local administration, largely as it was under the Mughals.
Despoliation harks back to them.
Intrepid Central Asian
A randy boy raider from Ferghana and his dissolute progeny down to that mournful poet and Rangoon's dervish is culpable for all that's wrong with the government today. It is because of them that two extraordinarily gallant gentlemen at helm unnecessarily get the blame for everything.
But does the buck stop here?
Not yet. There's more. A lot has to be unearthed to restore the pristine pre-Covid Age of Innocence.
Turkic eccentrics and Afghan weirdo mercenaries who sat on Delhi's throne, or reclined on the silky cushion, billowing plumes of hookah smoke – with their odalisques and dark knight Abyssinian minders and bodyguards in sight – were obsessed with centralism, weird endeavors, dilly-dallying, quixotic projects, and fool's errands.
It is because of the folly of a certain Mr. Tughlaq who ordered shifting the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad in Deccan, then at the last moment again changed his mind. What fickleness of mind and indecisive character submerged in luxuriousness?
It is because of him and the historical memory of that disastrous mission that the leader's ambitious Central Vista gets a bad name by Tolo TV watchers and Turkish tobacco smokers. All closet Janissaries and wannabe praetorian guards in Ottoman seraglio I say.
Else, all sane-minded, balanced and rational folks know if Mobutu and Boigny, Nazarbayev and Niyazov, can build sprawling, monumental architectures and engrave their stamps on time, why shouldn't our man from Ahmedabad do it? Hindu phobia and classism much?
'Can the Subaltern speak’? They can snarl and build like Bob the Builder too.
Are we finally at the last piece of this great jigsaw puzzle – who's really responsible for what goes wrong with the government?
A few pieces more.
Piping Hot Nostalgia
The boy raider from Ferghana, who established himself in Kabul first, was fond of hashish, grapes and watermelons. In his tell-all salacious memoir, he mentioned missing the cool breeze and fountains of his hometown. He wept with nostalgia at the sight of a fresh, juicy melon from across the Hindu Kush range.
What anguished the boy raider who had hit a jackpot after cannon blowing spree – the original fireball hurling before Katy Perry?
Debilitating heat & dust, sweltering sun rays and desiccating summer climate of the subcontinent.
Ravishing Raj Rigamarole
Functionaries of the Raj – the highlanders and the Irish – also found the heat unbearable. But they soon came up with a solution: a 'no entry' winter resort capital in the foothills of the Himalayas with emporiums, champagne, club soirées, ballrooms, billiards and bridge. A redoubt from where they could chill and pretend to be engrossed in the affairs of the state.
'Those were the best days of my life, in the summer of 69', crooned Bryan Adams. But for these folks the prolonged summer went on like an extended honeymoon spring reverie until it was abruptly winded up in 1947. Alas! The fall from Eden!
Lending a rather quirky perspective to the Aryan immigration-invasion debate, NC Chaudhary, Indian writer and critic, wrote in 'Continent of Circe' that Aryans, the prototype pastoral nomads from steppes and taigas, who descended down till the Gangetic plains, eventually got drained, degraded, and etiolated, due to the agonizing and ferocious Indian summer and soaring mercury.
By now, I am sure you must have got the drift and can join all the pieces of the puzzle for a panoramic view and holistic appraisal?
Good, if you can.
The fault, dear leader, is neither in you, nor in your stars, but in our climate.
The inquisitive minded, who aren't deracinated and want to achieve a Sonar Alchemic AatmaNirbhar Bharat, must be wondering what's to be done? How to solve this intractable problem and put an end – once and for all – to all this negativity nattering and outrage outbursts.
I would say, part of the answer lies in France.
On the lines of Frédéric Bastiat's 'Candle Maker's Petition', pen an open letter and frame a petition on Change.org titled 'Petition against Sizzling Hot Percolation'. It should cover all essential points about how there's an unfair leadership advantage and disincentive due to summer ordeal and explore all options from Vedic science to carbon sequestering to Co2 envelopes, to Budyko's planet.
Another answer lies in Portugal, but more on that later.