December 29, 2009

Break It Like AP

The morning of Christmas. It was a day after crores volunteered to stay at home glued to their TVs watching in awe the hundreds of heroic students, with apparently the right mixture of guiding rowdy sheeters, displaying the power of students and the prowess of youth and the chilling desire of the new generation for freedom and development, through a thorough and detached destruction of public and private property alike. They had already begun feeling victorious and experienced having burnt hundreds of buses and crores worth film sets, having stoned malls and many shops, having patiently asked passing civilians to step out and then tore apart their cars. They always knew that their leaders could get their examinations postponed and annulled and they cannot be blamed for believing that the government and banks and insurance companies will take care of the collateral damage.

Most of us will not forget the generosity of the samaritans for calling off their bandhs on Christmas eve despite the caustic fire in their bellies. Divined with omen, we all thankful souls rushed to the roads not to let go of this opportunity, to get some extra cash from the ATMs, to stock all essential grocery items, and to fill our vehicles with fuel.

I was waiting in a long queue at a fuel station. The fuel station was modestly secured by policemen to the best of their capability. The IG (Vigilance) A R Anuradha had earlier said that while they are doing their best to maintain law and order, they keep away from places like railway stations (the stations where rail rokos happen) because there are too many rocks in such areas. Fuel stations being inflammable are equally difficult to manage, I guess.

It was a double queue, the evolution and servicing models of which I will spare you. Adjacent to our car was a shiny black Maruti Alto Lxi with two men in the front and a woman and a toddler in the back. The dark handsome man sitting at the driver's seat rolled down his window and whistled at the man servicing the two queues, and when he came nearer said, "అన్న, ఈ లైనె కరెక్ట్ గ ఉన్నది. ఇలానే పోనీ. వేరేవాళ్ళెల్తే అద్దాలు పలుగుతై." (Brother, this line is correct. Let those in this line go. If others go, glasses will break.") He then gave us his best smile and rolled up the window. He was wearing a black tee-shirt and black sun glasses and had every look of an aging youth hero.

That dialogue, that cool claim that "glasses will break", chillingly captured the campaign in a single sentence for me. Let there be what I want, or be ready to face dire consequences!

That is the confidence of an ardent pro-democrat who has realized his all-important rights. That for his rights he is not only willing but ready to destroy anyone else's. No wonder we hear about studies which predict that India will be the greatest superpower of the world. With such aggression, that day is not distant.

But I am strangely reminded of a cabinet minister bemoaning the lack of Nobel prize winners from this country. Yes, it truly is inexplicable.

Come to think about it, the leaders expertly manoeuvring their respective fronts deserve the Peace prize. The writers eagerly penning new state songs deserve the Literature prize. The student leaders deserve the Economics prize for promoting the marvelous idea of destroying public property so that new employment opportunities can be created through destroying, repairing and recreating the same things iteratively without the need for new industries. That this iterative process is a natural cure for the boredom of TV viewers and reality show participants alike and thus a great bonus to the National Happiness Index is a finding deserving the Physiology or Medicine prize. I am sure we can find something appropriate for the Physics and Chemistry prizes as well. A clean sweep.

In a country with one-sixth of the world's population, where people are known for their unusually high aptitudes compared to developed nations in the West, that there are hardly any Nobel prize winners is unfathomable. It is possibly a conspiracy of the Swedish, and may be our benevolent souls should also give a thought about expressing their democratic rights in Stockholm, may be picket in front of the Stockholm Concert Hall and the Stockholm City Hall. Or am I still behaving in a naïve materialistic manner?