Politics, Business and Reality Shows [#Vedanta and #Niyamgiri]

Posted on September 2, 2010 in YKA Editorials

By Amar Tejaswi:

Are democracies really run by the people and for the people? Yes, of course. For people who have pockets deeper than the deepest oceans on this planet and by people who have a huge inherent appetite for the contents of those pockets. Now all you aam aadmis out there, don’t feel let down because sitting amongst the audience, you can enjoy democracy played out onstage and even get to vote (what an emulation of a reality television show; oops, is it the other way round?). A monarchy – unlike its diametrically opposite cousin democracy – is like an old beaten radio track, there is nothing to watch but there is something for your ears (which most of the times is not likeable) and there’s not much hype involved. So our reality show is doing well, reviving a lot of emotions.

Okay, now let us have a recap of last week’s episode in which Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was seen scurrying (quite contrary to his haggard style) to the Prime Minister’s Office but it was the Ministry of Environment and Forests that sent him and his deep pocketed master packing.

Politics generally involves invisible liaisons built to promote individual interests. Mr. Patnaik and Vedanta might be parties to such cooperation. But, not everything is turning out as Mr. Patnaik thought. Vedanta’s law flouting mining ambitions were thwarted by Mr. Jairam Ramesh who has proved himself to be quite a protagonist of our reality show.  Everyone from the media to the tribal people are hailing him; I suggest they call him ‘the king of the jungles’ (his hairstyle suits the title).

By catching the flight to New Delhi, Mr. Patnaik might have exposed a little too much of his association with the mining giant. The hills which were to fall prey to Vedanta are revered highly by the tribal people inhabiting the area. His trip not only highlights his willingness to sacrifice laws to the avarice of giant companies but also is a tight slap in the face of the tribal people, a small minority of the same people who voted him to power. Did he dash off to the capital with the same intensity when the anti-Christian riots took place a couple of years back? Oh, I am sorry. I think that’s too much to ask from an Indian politician. The only reason why he might be feeling bad about those riots is that the issue is nice juicy fodder for the opposition which can potentially shunt him out of his office.

This throws some light on the fact that our politicians hardly care about the aam aadmi while devoting all their loyalty to the ‘people with deep pockets’, and that’s why we always scorn at them. But why do they do it? Let me try and guess… Maybe the mindset of the average Indian (all our politicians are actually below average but my theory still applies to them) is organised in such a way that instead of serving the man who pays to keep him alive, he works hard to appease the man who keeps him inebriated. Same goes for the manner in which our MPs demanded for a rise in their official salaries when they earn so much with their unofficial salaries.

Now Mr. Patnaik isn’t used to that much attention, so we can do our best by diverting some of it to Mr. Ramesh, who definitely seems to be loving it. The recent activity concerning Vedanta is for some reason stimulating my sixth sense. Because Vedanta’s big spending project wasn’t the only one that mocked the Forest Rights Act, there were several others which surprisingly got the required clearance, while Vedanta was shown the door. By the same ministry with the same minister as its head! In the same period, the government is also devising a plan to stop Vedanta from acquiring oil company Cairn India’s oil assets in Rajasthan. Why is Vedanta being opposed so much? Clearly, there is something stirring out there on our show.

But as suspected there might be a twist in the end, which might never be revealed to us. In that case Mr. Ramesh is doing his job well. Like he said, “There is no emotion, no politics, no prejudice … I have taken the decision in a purely legal approach. That these laws are being violated.” I like him the way he is. It would heart-breaking if our ‘king of the jungles’ turns out to be a pawn of the government’s articulate business moves. But then, democracy and war are similar. Every man for himself!

The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.