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Thursday, October 20, 2011

(Published in on 20 October, 2011, retrieved from

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“What do you think of this Occupy Wall Street movement?”
“The one that’s gone everywhere from Alaska to Australia, but skipped India?”
“Yeah. Why do you sound cynical? Are you against it? I mean, I do think it’s a little ironic that people like Kanye West and Michael Moore and their fellow multi-millionaires are speaking out against social inequality. Hey, is Oprah pro-Occupy?”
“She’s been out of my radar since she stopped making the women of my household cry every afternoon. But the thing with Occupy Wall Street is, I can’t figure out why they’re complaining when we’re not. I mean, we don’t even have free education or free health care that meets basic standards in India!”
“So, you think Occupy Dalal Street is on the cards?”
“I’m not sure Dalal Street is the problem. Sometimes, it seems our industry captains are the only ones doing anything for India. I mean, the Ministry of Culture depends on Vijay Mallya to buy up national memorabilia every time it gets auctioned.”
“Is he buying Rajendra Prasad’s watch too?”
“I don’t know. But my point is, except for signing a bunch of petitions, no one’s done anything to get back the jewels that were stolen from us by the British. Not even the Koh-i-Noor. And I don’t think they’re auctioning that off any time soon. And these are the inept elected representatives who get fivefold hikes, while I haven’t had a raise in three years.”
“In all fairness, you’ve not done much about the Koh-i-Noor diamond either. Hey, but isn’t Vijay Mallya an MP? Do you think he got the hike too?”
“I don’t think his MP salary is his primary source of income. Anyway, I’m saying we shouldn’t be pissed off at Dalal Street so much as at Parliament Street.”
“And we know just how well Occupy Parliament Street – or whatever’s closest – has gone. A 51-year-old woman beaten to death by cops.”
“Are you talking about Baba Ramdev’s commune?”
“Yeah, the sit-in against black money. My opinion of Baba Ramdev and his integrity notwithstanding, I’m not sure breaking a woman’s spine is the ideal way to handle a situation.”
“Neither was arresting Anna Hazare before he could start his sit-in. That happened to play right into his hands, but nevertheless. What annoys me is that my salary goes to fund the people who order crackdowns like this.”
“Well, I freelance, and I’m not spared TDS either. Ten percent flat, and I think I spend more on photocopies of tax returns and what not to get that money back, at the government’s own pace, and without interest either.”
“And when it’s not funding MPs, it’s channelled away for aid in Africa and spirituality in Sri Lanka.”
“God forbid that we should need any of that money when we’re driving up food inflation by eating too much.”
“Well, the people who don’t eat too much aren’t spared either. Remember how the Income Tax department raided Priyanka Chopra and Katrina Kaif’s houses?”
“Strange how they stormed all the flats those two girls own, when the Marans’ watchman could make the CBI wait for half an hour, eh?”
“Unrelated question – how long does it take to dismantle a telephone exchange?”
“Is this one of those racist, communalist, religionist or vocationalist jokes?”
“Like ‘how many doctors does it take to change a light bulb’?”
“Never mind. To get back to my list of complaints, the petrol price has doubled since Manmohan Singh took over, and his government decides to deregulate prices.”
“On the subject of fuel, there’s the nuke plants. We must be the only country that’s got its tongue hanging out for nuclear power right after Fukushima.”
“What about Iran?”
“I think Ahmadinejad thinks the sole purpose of nuclear power is to wipe Israel off the map, so not sure they’re in that much of a hurry to tie up with the US. And I’m rather sure the feeling’s mutual.”
“What does Manmohan think nuclear power is for?”
“Well, Iran and India don’t see eye to eye on most subjects, right? They accuse hikers and photographers of spying. We secretly fly out CEOs of chemical plants that have violated safety norms and ruined the health and livelihood of more than one entire generation, and then we pass the Nuclear Liability Bill right after the court comes up with a laughable verdict, 25 years after the accident.”
“At least Warren Anderson didn’t have an escort. We practically saw off the terrorists we freed after Kandahar.”
“That’s hardly surprising when you consider that two State Assemblies are fighting for the lives of terrorists on death row, and all because it took too long to consider their mercy petitions.”
“I find the appeal for sparing the lives of terrorists ridiculous too, but why does it take so long to hang them? I mean, I honestly think Kasab is going to die of high cholesterol from all the biriyani before they get to his case.”
“Cut Madam President some slack. Maybe it’s just slipped her mind. You know, like saluting the Indian flag in Mexico in 2008.”
“I think she was just making up for forgetting to salute the Mexican flag just before.”
“We’ll psychoanalyse her later. But in this country, I think the rich and the middle-class take some pretty bad blows. Only the poor get anything free.”
“But they’re poor only if they make less than Rs. 32 a day, isn’t it? And I’m not sure taking anything free is a good idea. I think the number of people who don’t go blind after free cataract operations is less than the number who do.”
“That may have less to do with the cost of the operation than the competence of the doctors performing it. India’s solution to halve the 1:2000 ratio, of doctors to people, is to lower the bar.”
“The bar’s been lowered already with reservation, anyway. If there’s a chance that you’ve inherited intelligence from educated parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, or any ancestor, there’s no place in college for you. Go to Silicon Valley while we all take a few hundred steps back so everyone’s on an imagined equal footing.”
“Yeah, but we’ve always been happy to lower the bar – school syllabi are constantly dumbed down, and engineering admission cut-offs have been lowered practically to the pass mark. But now, the government wants to tackle the brain drain problem by cutting off the escape route – have you read that they’re trying to make it more difficult for doctors to leave the country? Doesn’t the irony of imprisoning citizens strike them?”
“I think the government’s just trying to come up with conversation starters for the G20. You know, ‘So, Dave, we’ve made it more difficult for our doctors to go to your country.’ ‘Oh, Manu, that’s fantastic! We’ve just made it more difficult for your doctors to come to our country.’ ‘High-five!’ ‘Umm, that’s too American for me, you know, Manu. How about cheers?’”


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