The biggest reality show

Watching what one could truly call the biggest reality show on the planet a.k.a the Elections leaves me bewildered and saddened. No matter which way you look at it, it all seems wrong as no one is willing to address the real questions that plague our country: malnutrition, education, health and most of all the poor. One of the candidates for what may be called a 5* constituency as it has returned a Prime Minister and now has an aspiring one in the fray, stated that no development is  visible and the people feel betrayed. Logic would make us believe that a high profile constituency should be made a model for development, but this is not the case. Here, just like everywhere else, you see the candidate once in 5 years and hear promises forgotten before the dust of his departing cavalcade has settled.

For the past weeks we have been 'treated' to a script worthy of the best soap opera script writer as is proved by the twists and turns in the plot. Beats the Hunger Games. You have the case of the forgotten wife and her reappearance after half a century, the episode where you are told that boys are boys and can rape with impunity, followed by the one who prescribes death for anyone who has had consensual relationships outside marriage reminding me of the Bob Dylan lyrics: every body must get stoned! What about the slaps, punches, ink and egg throwing? The slandering matches are priceless and often absurd. It almost seems like all our aspiring Parliamentarians are simply interested in oneupmanship of the wrong kind. And what about the advertising campaign: the posters, the songs, the TV clips, the caps and God knows what else. Even the simple and normally pleasing act of reading your morning newspaper has become polluted by the aggressive PR campaign on each and every page. And then the TV debates, the India wants to know, the can I get a minute to answer. These prolonged and seemingly never ending elections makes one want to hibernate. I miss the days when elections were wrapped up in a day and then the results took two days of viewing Hindi films on TV with news flashes in between. Those were happy days!

But what truly upsets me is the lack of connect between this election soap and reality. Having spend almost a decade and a half in the field, for want of another word, I have seen reality. I am not talking of faraway villages or disturbed tribal belts but of slums in the nation's capital city, just a stone's throw away from where we live our privileged life. I recently visited the house of the husband's acquaintance and have no words to describe it. Let me simply say I wished I had sunglasses on to protect me from the glare. Every item in  the house comes from Italy or some other hallowed land and the only words in my lexicon to describe the place is gaudy, over the top and nauseating. More so as the family lives most of the year abroad. Now for the show stopper that says it all. The house is replete with surveillance cameras right down to the kitchen and viewed from the master bedroom.

Barely 2 km away little Radha - the girl in the picture -, her brittle bones and her family of five live in a sunken dark hole that can barely hold a bed. This is how most of the pwhy children live. And what is galling is that in every election political parties promise them regularisation of their homes if they vote them in. Needless to say this saga has been going on for decades. I would like to ask these politicians if they can live one day in these conditions. Need I say more. This is India.

So what went wrong. A recent article aptly entitled Decolonisation of the Mind make interesting reading. The article begins with these words: Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the least independent of us all? Or, to put it in more familiar terms, Macaulay ke asli aulad kaun hain (Who are Macaulay’s real children)? To find out read the article as somewhat we all stand guilty. Homosexuality is still a crime, we still have or had till recent days criminal tribes and our Penal Code relies on anachronistic Victorian values and legislation. And yet no political party has the b**** to change things. Both our minds and our politics remain in thrall to colonialism. The article shows us what the parties in the fray stand for. It is scary, particularly if you have your heart in the right place.

Who will bell the cat?

I will end by simply quoting the concluding words of the said article: Now is a good time to reflect on the colonial racism which infects mainstream India’s view of Adivasis as primitive savages who can be deprived of land and livelihood with impunity. Dalit and Adivasi perspectives should not be footnotes to envisioning a decolonised India free of hunger, disease, environmental degradation and deprivation: they should be central to it. Only then will we have a truly independent country with no family resemblances to the late Lord Macaulay’s vision.