Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What NOT to see .......डोळे मिटून बसा......

A noticeably non-trivial correlation between television as a medium, and distraction and effect of it on school children has tended to cause bad blood between parents and cable operators. In many households, cable TV subscriptions are simply cancelled during January to March, so that school children can pay more attention to conjugation of verbs, factorization, theorems, latin names of plants and shakespeare , rather than get distracted by motorcycle chases, murders, secret rendezvous, revengeful k-serail mother-in-laws, and advertisements for cellphones.

That leaves them with Doordarshan. If at all it is watched. It used to be that one watched the news every evening . And given whats being shown these days, I really hope no child watches it.

Welcome to the Parliament of India.

Parliament today, can be held up as an example of how a class should NOT function.

No one listening to the teacher, drowning his voice out; when one member is reciting something, others talk loudly and incessantly, drowning out the performance. When the teacher says something unpalatable, you rush to the front of the class and scream at the teacher.

Grown men sitting at desks, laughing at another's misfortune or discomfiture; suddenly elevating themselves full length, to snarl and shake fingers menacingly at someone , all the while trying to make a point; another one droning on and on and on making points across literature, sociology,politics,sanskrit, infrastructure, and even songs from hindi films whose lyrics fit the occasion like a motichoor laddoo fits in the palm of my hand

Meanwhile. the teacher type sitting at a podium, with what looks like a guard by his side, pleads with everyone to sit down. Repeatedly. he is soundly ignored and some peope rush down to the well of the hall, raising their hands and slogans, to make some points which could have been heard even from their seats. Some others start wandering around in between the aisles, some approach the officers , to try and interfere in their work. Meanwhile some three other guys, hitherto unknown for anything else, suddenly open a bag and start throwing around bundles and wads of money, as behind them, an entire group of people rise is support, raucously shoutng and making , what they think , is , their point.

We actually mugged up all kinds of things about Parliament, its functions, and its occupants in our schooldays; we were passed or failed based on our knowledege about it. Civics was an eminently boring subject. And now it appears, that a lot of what we learned, was simply not the case.

Had this happened in my school, the troublemakers would have been caned and made to kneel outside the class, for crimes, much,much less than this. Their parents would have been called. Some kids would have been marked as troublemakers, monitored, and an honest effort made to help them change. Shouting at the teacher was a no-no. You simply didnt rush to his/her desk and stand staring at her/him with a false bravado, mouthing disrespectful words. If your teacher didnt punish you , your parents would. School was sacrosanct.

And today , we read , day in and day out, about people being "bought" for crores of rupees. These are people we voted for , in what is considered the greatest example of a functioning democracy in the world. Issues be damned. Its all about payment. You pay , and they will vote against the Women's Reservation bill, and the women of India can go to hell. (If some of them actually have not already gone much further, if such a thing is possible). You pay and they will vote against a bill that ensures free education for some children upto graduation, and everything else be damned; their children are educated, arent they ? Want them to shout against a particular religion, pay them.

The young of India are learning , and how. Children kidnapping their friends trying to demand fake ransoms to make easy money ; stealing their family jewellery to finance the secret jailed paramour's bail; a youth creating a false correspondence with NASA and almost convincing a state government(Maharsahtra) to fund so called "further studies abroad" ; and of course, stealing credit cards, and splurging on malls , bars and similar stuff before the slow, long , corrupt, long hand of the law, catches up.

We need to fire these MP's and call an election.

Not because so many are itching to go nuclear and so many others cannot bear the thought, and rules demand that there be a count etc.

But because the recent scenes in Parliament, the crowning glory being the going-ons during the trust vote on July 22nd, make every simple minded, middle class , tax-paying, hard working, God-fearing,law-abiding, worried-about-children's-future-and-studies Indian, hold his head down on shame. Our representatives are a bad example .

And just out of typical middle-class curiosity, I have always wondered what happens to those currency notes that sort of flutter around and come to a stop in little known niches and gaps amongst the hallowed benches, when an exercise in undertaken to throw around bundles of currency notes in Parliament. Does someone (who sold his vote to the highest bidder, maybe, five minutes before the trust vote), suddenly get righteous, pick up a 1000 rupee note and take it to the speaker and say "here, see what I found, take it back etc" ? Does someone actually go around sweepping the stuff ? Do they keep track of how much was flung around ?

Is there checking of peoples' bags while entering Parliament? People who sell themselves for money may simply graduate to more. We have hardened criminals serving life terms coming in to vote in these situations.

Will there be a future where MP's will be subject to the same rules as a normal citizen ? Will a security officer of the august body, not allow his eyes to turn after seeing huge stash of currency notes being taken in to the main hall , and stop it forthwith? Is there something like 'contempt of Parliament' (akin to Contempt of Court ), where misbehaving rogue members can be straightened out and taught a lesson , without appointing a committee?

In the meanwhile, while TV channels continue to show the latest in the Saga of the Crores in Parliament, my neighbor, Mrs Sharma, has just packed off her TV in its original box, and had someone put it high up in the loft. Her son has just started 10th grade, and she fears elections late in the year.

Good luck, young man....


  1. It was after a looong time I was seeing the parliament session. In school I used to take civic real seriously and I remember there used to be something called the youth parliament in KV where we use to mock debate, the-parliament-way, on a burning issue. Can't imagine the children doing that now post 22nd July's session.

    If this is democracy, i think we need military rule in the country, atleast we will have discipline in place.

    If bollywood infested speeches and people are "entertaining" the parliament, anybody can see the doomed future of the country!!!

    High time some "sensible" people with atleast average IQ stand on the floor. Wasn't it ridiculous that the ministers couldn't vote the right way even after being trained on the 4-button configuration. Are these buffons worth voting for? If personal vendetta is what guides the ministers to vote for or against a motion, don't we need to look elsewhere for decisions on important national and international issues. They are horses after all who can be traded and horses can't run a contry of men.....Or can they??!!!

  2. I was thinking about the parliament's theatre of the absurd and you have expressed so sharply and satirically exactly what I was feeling. If only we could pack of the MPs in a cardboard box and junk them in the attic of history.
    But no such luck! The people get the politicians they deserve, and somehow, somewhere we deserve the scumbag-moneybag politicians we get. Civics - well, in our country, the elected representatives of civil society have the worst civic (and moral) sense themselves!