Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Who wants to be a Brahmarshi?

Here are some of the news items you get on the internet related to the Oscar winning movie Slum Dog Millionaire (SDM).

  • Slum dwellers burnt effigies of Danny Boyle and others, at Kamla Nehru slum to show their protest against 'Slum Dog Millionaire'.
  • "It is against the basic human values and violate human rights of poorest of the poor living in slums across India".
  • The slum dwellers objected to the word "dog" in the title of the film.
  • Defamation cases against film's music composer A.R. Rahman and one of its stars Anil Kapoor are filed for "depicting slum dwellers in a bad light" and "violating their human rights".
According to some of these ‘patriotic’ Indians, this was an attempt by a westerner to sell India’s poverty and misery to the west.

As arguments like
  • Majority of India is still poor according to generally accepted living standards,
  • More than 50% of the population of some of India’s metros live in slums,
  • It is the director’s prerogative to choose the story he wants and to decide what is to be shown in the movie and what not to be shown,
  • It might not be practical to have a mandate which states any foreigner who takes a movie on or based on India should dedicate the first 15 minutes of the movie to show glimpses of the rich and varied Indian culture and should not show anything which portrays India in a bad light
do not hold much water with these people, here is my attempt at foretelling a future India which will live up to these ‘patriots’ expectations.


Fast forward to AD 2029:
India is the current super power of the world. It’s a country of Millionaires and Billionaires now. No more workers and slum dwellers. All Indians are CEO’s of their own companies, all of which are completely automated (to avoid manual labor and thus the chance of poverty, slums etc). The entire population (of 2 billion people, considering current population growth rate) wakes up every morning from their huge-round-plush-silky-puffy-beds, slipping their feet into velvety slippers, grabbing their tall-orange-juice-glass offered on a silver-platter by a robot dressed like Air-India-Maharaja (no more human servants, you see, all human Indians are CEOs), walking into their imported Jacuzzi for a hot bath and water massage (Don’t blame me if you are reminded of Shah Rukh Khan’s dream morning in Ohm Shanti Ohm here, its just a coincidence). Then all of them proceed to their high-rise-high-tech-glass-walled offices in imported custom made Audis and Ferraris, to sign checks and multi-billion-Rupee (Dollar is devalued by now, a Rupee is close to 51 Dollars these days, which is a scenario every self respecting Indian used to dream of back in 2009) contracts and play billiards every once in a while. All of them also play Golf on Sunday mornings.

There aren’t any more slums to be found anywhere in India. Slums were banned somewhere in 2012. The closest form of what used to be slums are what are now sprouted at every nook and corner of all the big cities, which are called 25-Star-Hotels. These are the ultimate centers of luxury and fine living (as the name suggests, just compare them to the old 5 star hotels and see the difference) where 60% of urban population lives. Some of the CEOs who moved into the metros were too busy signing multi-billion-Rupee contracts for earning their daily manna (bread, nan, roti etc are outdated) that they often forgot to buy a house for themselves or some others were not even bothered to waste precious time to deal with such trivial nuances of day-to-day life. Instead, all those who didn’t have a house started renting out rooms in these 25-Star-Hotels and used to stay together. These 25-Star-Hotels grow organically, as in, when a new occupant joins, they just add a new make-shift room with walls made of gold plates, thatched with platinum sheets, and floor covered with silver-dust. The living conditions in these 25-Star-Hotels are so good that even people who have their own palaces dream of getting into one of these. When the super rich CEO dads and moms from these 25-Star-Hotels go to work, their children assemble in the huge indoor stadiums attached to the 25-Star-Hotels to play snooker (billiards is reserved for their dads), poker, basketball, baseball etc. Cricket, which used to be dubbed as a poor Indian game is completely wiped out. So are a set of other games like Khabadi, Gilli Danda, Kho-kho and so on. Their places are taken up by baseball and basketball which are considered ‘western’ games. Birth control tactics are not so prevalent in these 25-Star-Hotels and kids are born dime a dozen and all of them are born Millionaires/Billionaires. People who are born and live in a 25-Star-Hotel are mocked at as ‘Rich Dad’s as each of them inherit a huge fortune. (Compare this term with ‘Slum Dog’ which used to create quite a stir in the olden days. By the way, the word ‘Slum Dog’ is banned in India now)

Since Indians have already reached the pinnacles of luxury and materialism, there is a new trend spreading like wild-fire among them. They all have started donating whatever they have and set out to attain nirvana. Those who can shed substantial portions of their wealth and manage to travel in the path of Nirvana are called as Sanyasis. If you manage to climb even further up in the Nirvana ladder and throw away all the money you have, you become a Brahmarshi. In Hinduism, a Brahmarshi is a member of the highest class of Rishis (the Hindu sages), one who has understood the meaning of Brahman or has attained the highest divine knowledge Brahmajnana. Being a Millionaire/Billionaire is outdated and being a Brahmarshi is the new in thing. The only flip side of the story is, you can no longer become poor that easily as there is nobody to accept your donations as every other Tom, Dick and Harry you meet on the street is also a ‘poor’ Millionaire/Billionaire who is burdened by huge sums in his Patiala bank accounts (Swizz banks are outdated). You literally have to chase people, hunt them down and beg them to accept your millions. You find Millionaires (in Armani suites and Oakley sunglasses) roaming around streets and waiting in traffic signals to beg and force you to accept their wealth and thus help them out.

Since all are Millionaires, there are no thefts, burglary and dacoity anymore. There are no law and order issues also. So the main task of Police and Judiciary is to settle money ownership disputes. These are different from the traditional money quarrels, as in, both the parties will be trying to prove that the money in question belongs to the other party, as both are in search of Nirvana. You find young 25-Star-Hotel kids trying to dupe old ladies, who come for a stroll in the park, to trick them to accept their money (Old people are easy targets for anybody to dump their money on). Big corporate sue each other to put the burden of handling the extra profit they earned on each other. People break into stranger’s houses and deposit suite cases full of cash, kilos of jewelry etc there and run away. Police has to investigate, find out the culprits and hand them back their money. Culprits are awarded fines as a form of punishment. Fines often run into millions of Rupees. These are not traditional fines where the culprit has to cough up the money. The state forcefully handles over the fine amount to the culprit and he has to keep it.

People abhor traditional reality shows like “Who wants to be a Millionaire”. In its place, there are a new breed of shows like “Who wants to be a Brahmarshi?” Format is similar, the participant will be asked multiple choice questions and if they answer correctly, the show organizers will accept a part of the participant’s money. The money that the participant can donate increases exponentially with each question and the bumper prize will be a chance to donate all he has and become a Brahmarshi. You often find young corporate leaders weeping uncontrollably when they are eliminated after a couple of rounds, for giving a wrong answer, and who managed to shed only a couple of thousand Rupees.

As in the previous decades, there are child traffickers who abduct kids and make them beg on their behalf. Begging in this case is to force people to accept a part of the abductor’s wealth. Thease kids are called child-proxy-nirvana-beggars as these children are doing proxy begging for the abductor's Nirvana. Every morning, the abductor hands a part of his share documents and other assets to these kids, and they have to go around streets begging people to accept them. If they are not able to finish off what is given to them by the evening, they are tortured. Child torture methods in developed India include forcing them to have double their usual honey/milk/chocolate ration, depositing a couple of million Rupees in their bank accounts, forcing them to play with their imported toys for double the usual time etc. To increase the income potential of child-proxy-nirvana-beggars, some abductors force the kids to put on natural-organic-eco-friendly makeup, give them prettier and more expensive dresses and gift them all the latest gadgets.

Hope I have made the 'patriotic' Indians proud with a pink... oops... rosy description of a developed India.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Don't you have anything better to do?

I have been watching the developments of the Pink Love campaign. I am interested in this campaign because this is one of the rare occasions in the recent times wherein the women and men of the usually aloof Indian middle class and upper class have risen against the atrocities committed by a hooligan group in the name of religion/custom.

Most of the posts on that blog have attracted comments from some brain dead morons in the general direction of what my title suggests, ie, don't these women have any better work to do? Some of the critics of the campaign have listed out other social evils happening around us, including dowry deaths, female feticide, poverty etc. According to them, organizers of this campaign should be catering to the so called 'graver' issues of the society rather than taking up this 'relatively trivial' issue.

This is an argument which is deemed to be a 'no-argument' in most of the rational discussion forums, i.e., it is no more accepted as an argument point. The fact of the matter is, you can never start working on the resolution of an issue if you first set out to make a list of all the available issues, sort them in the order of importance, start attacking the most deadliest ones first and so on. It doesn't work that way.

It is illogical to come up with the argument that the work somebody else is doing is not important, or there are more important issues elsewhere. If you think so, you are welcome to do whatever you feel like doing about those neglected issues. Nobody is stopping you. Just don't waste everybody else's time.

Given the sparse time and resources at the disposal of each of us, there is a definite limit to the things we can do. We will not be able to solve all the issues of the world, and to be very honest, we might not even be interested in solving all the issues of the world. But we might be able to at least start solving one issue at a time. When we pick an issue, its usually something we strongly feel for. All those people who feel there are better issues to be solved, should stop wasting their time and start solving one of those 'graver' issues. The point in short is, as long as I am not forcing you to join my cause, don't criticize the relevance of my cause.

We have a lot of preachers and very few workers. If you attach any importance to yourself, then its your duty to prove that you don’t stop with just plain talk and you plan to actionize on the talk. So come on, all of you armchair critics, find something to work on, and start working on that.