D for Distractions, D for Development. Choose your D wisely
In these incendiary times in India, when Darwin is being questioned by the lowest minds, you can clearly see a reverse evolution chipping away quietly. In fact, the new Vaanar Sena is already here and they are fondly known as Karni Sena. They love fire, swords, pride, sati, and so on. When they are bored they also consider killing schoolchildren. All in all, they are an insecure group of apes with an appetite for destruction.
The ancestors of the Karni Sena were Rajputs, who were great at losing battles. One needs to be very brave to lose so many battles. Since so much has already been written about them, I won’t add to the debris. Also, since I am a nationalist, it embarrasses me to think that in 2018 there are Indians who use the chastity and pride of an imaginary queen as a cultural crutch.
What I am more interested in is the Oxfam report. I would like to gently entreat the born-again apes to understand that while they were going on a rampage over a film that glorifies them, the richest one percent people of the world were enjoying the show from a luxury yacht somewhere in Monte Carlo or some such place that most of us will never see in our lifetime. While they burnt vehicles, including one of their own, and caused public mayhem, 82 percent of the wealth created worldwide in 2017 was pocketed by that very same one percent.
While we discussed the artistic merit of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s jewellery-laden soulless extravaganza, the ‘one percentage club’ guys like Ambani laughed all the way to the bank with 73 percent of the wealth generated in India last year. While we were arguing on social media timelines on whether the National Anthem should be played in theatres, it came to light that a minimum wage worker in rural India would take about 941 years to earn what the top paid executive at a leading Indian garment firm earns each year.
Here is a random example to help you soak in the shock: Voyager I, which is 21 billion kilometres away from the Sun, was launched in 1977 – that’s just a little over 40 years ago. Now, imagine how far it would be in another 900 years, when the minimum wage worker reaches the financial orbit of the top executive!
While we were ruminating on whether selling pakodas was a real job or not, India’s income inequality touched the ceiling – highest since 1922. That simply means that while most of us kept getting poorer, a handful of people squeezed us out like lemons and made lemonade.
Clearly, unbridled capitalism and the neo-liberal mindset are doing us no good. Instead of acche din and such other clichés, our pockets are just getting lighter every passing day. I can only imagine how that pans out in the home of a daily wage worker, especially if he does not have an Aadhar card (or a faulty card) for rations. The increasing wealth gap points to just one thing: global economic policies have failed the unprivileged.
It’s time we think of a newer model of existence which is egalitarian and humane. Otherwise, distractions like Padmavaat will continue to keep the fact that a large mass of India’s children are malnourished out of our universe. If we do not reprogram the economic machinery that runs the world right now, it will erupt in waves of violence sooner than later. You cannot corner the hungry man forever.
Are you thinking of eating somebody?
With the globe inching closer to the 8 billion population mark (with most people not getting enough nutrition), it saddens me to know that we can’t even be good food. According to a study by James Cole of the University of Brighton, while cannibalism did exist during pre-historic times, it did not make sense to our ancestors for a simple reason: we are just not nutritious enough. It made more sense to hunt a Palaeolithic boar or a beaver, which have a far higher calorie count. Cole says that boars and beavers pack about 1,800 calories into each pound of muscle compared to a pathetic 650 calories from a modern human.
In short, if there is someone you are thinking of eating, don’t. Instead, get yourself some pork or beef. Sorry not beef, just pork. Get beef only where it is legal or the gau rakshaks will hunt you down and won’t even honour you by eating you.
(Santanu Borah writes, paints and procrastinates at leisure. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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