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Monday, September 21, 2009

Economy class: Teach etiquette first

The Times of India
Wednesday September 16, 2009

Tarun Vijay

I love it. Politicians must travel economy class at least once in their lifetime to understand how Indians below the poverty line live. They can have their birthday bashes in London and Maldives but for the sake of setting an example and having fun in a time when the opposition is simply absent, it's a good game. Collect 500 people to wave at you standing at the gates of a sleeper class compartment for a three-hour journey. For the rest of the part a Mitsubishi Pajero would be waiting with glasses of lassi and nimbu paani. It also gives a different kind of publicity in the media plus posters in the home constituency. After Gandhi, another one. Simple living, high flying and a down to earth approach to get media attention.
The credibility of an average politician, right from the gym-obsessed Sheraton and Taj guests to the statue gazers in Lucknow has gone so low that even if the austerity drive of the neo-Gandhians was a sincere effort to bring down unreasonable expenses, no one believes it is more than a brief fun time intervention for media attention so that while everybody would have been talking about the BJP's recent victories, make chatteratti talk Gandhi, the Sonia and Rahul way. They spend ostentatiously, live luxuriously, show off their wealth in the most stinking way and then garland Gandhi for the happiness of the minions and ordinary mortals.
That's OK if they get a sweet little chance to do that. But what about the ugly bad image of those who represent us in Parliament and assemblies? Isn't it more important than the run-of-the-mill drives that, at best look naïve and shallow? My friends have been calling me to underline through my columns that for God's sake let the politicians travel separately and not barge into the small, unclean and low-level compartments of the common people. They come with hordes of their unhygienic paan chewing swaggers and insensitive black cats and khaki gunmen, occupy the legitimately reserved berths of the passengers and talk nonsensically till late hours in the night putting all the fellow passengers to great discomfort. They get flights delayed and throw tantrums on board. They don't have civilized manners to use toilets and leave washbasins choked. They travel either without ticket or their journeys are paid by us taxpayers which they misuse to the core and fiddle with the law although they are also known as lawmakers.
You too might have had your tales to share. I have two. A month ago I was invited by a literary society to a Lucknow programme. It was fine till I reached my rail compartment, I saw a neta-type person occupying my berth. He felt nothing till I asked: "Bhaisaheb, aapka seat number kya hai (Sir, what's your berth number)? He didn't even look at me and one of his companions, asked: "Aap doosre dibbe mein seat le lelnge kya (Will you take another berth in a different compartment)? I refused and willy-nilly they let me sit on my berth, and it was already 11.30pm. The moment the train left the station they started a conversation that was noisy and filthy followed by opening the corks and having a chicken biryani meal. At 1am, I had to go to a railway officer to complain but he pleaded helplessness. They are all, four, MLAs, sir, I can't do anything. Now it's another matter I changed my berth and reached the destination somehow but they could have been any party's MLAs.
No party can say that it doesn't have its share of ruffians. The other incident occurred at Ghaziabad station where again in a train at 10.30pm a netaji boarded with his guards and kept the entire compartment on tenterhooks till one on one pretext or the other like change the pillows, give berths to his chamchas and then again big laughter's and cracking of jokes without bothering there are other passengers too wanting to have a sleep. Ladies fear them children are not advised to emulate them, people don't trust and movies depict them as evil-incarnate. So what's the point in having an austerity drive among them till the ugly-neta image is also corrected?

That's the scenario depicting the rulers in a country which is facing Red terror, Green terror and all colours of intolerances eating away the vitals of our democratic institutions and lowering public morale. No one takes a stand on the illegal infiltrations from Bangladesh, China's continuous incursions and Pakistan's belligerence on homegrown murderers called jihadis. The value of the rupee is dwindling and cost of living rising proportionately. But the netas keep on increasing their salaries, perks and nastiness without a check. There are a few exceptions like Mamata Banerjee but they remain only honourable exceptions. I am sure if Rahul wills, he can effect a change. The reports emerging from his camp do tell a tale which is different and refreshing. He is enjoying an unenviable position and attracts an audience that can be turned into agents of change.
So, dear Rahul, before you really get cracking on the austerity front, please see there is some action for parliamentarians and MLAs teaching them social behavior. Till then, the drama to further erode a space for common people can wait.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Which change do u want Tarunji?
Rahul and her mother supports christenisation of Hindus. Do you want changes like these?