By Nandini Mazumdar:
While we Indians fill our days being offended about beef and university students, serious issues like money laundering and tax evasions continue to be brushed under the carpet.
The angry Indian channelises his energy against what people eat, and the ‘jhola-bag carrying students’ and teachers of Arts and Social Science Universities like, FTII, JNU, JU, and AMU (to list a few). We are, all of us, mighty righteous when it comes to paying taxes, and carry out the March ritual with rare devotion; even expecting the same of our fellow citizens. We are extremely mindful of where the tax money goes and how each penny is spent too. Thus, when news breaks about big shots allegedly hoarding away their money to evade paying taxes – the reaction of the angry Indian can be described as mysterious in the sheer lack of it.
This is curious indeed, especially, since two years ago a man with a ’56-inch chest’ promised to seize all the black money and fill up our bank accounts with the mythical creature. However, the Indian patience and optimism are one of a kind, and we are still waiting for the promise of fifteen lakhs rupees and achhe din to come our way. In the meantime, we make do by haggling for fifteen rupees with the sabjiwala/autowala/rickshawala and munch on some good-day biscuits with tea (for everyone knows how important tea is in the lives of Indians, probably the earliest connection to China that strengthened the hindi-chini bhai/ben-hood).
Spicing up the day by screaming hoarse and beating up students who dare raise issues of poverty and inequity among the most marginalized sections of society. Running amok with vigilante mobs, lynch to death those who eat beef and not once thinking that it was just dinner for someone. Not even considering that it might be the same mutton that even the most devout of us indulge in from time to time, especially, when we hide from our families and go for some drinks in our beloved ‘car-o-bars’. These are the favorite pass times of the pissed off Indian.
These days we have a new hobby, we love to chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and hate those who refuse to. Our beloved yoga dev baba, who also peddles noodles and diet food as a side business, has said that if not for the debilitating, stupid Indian laws that are stopping him from beheading those who won’t chant the above mantra, he would have gone ahead and become killer-baba. My bad that I mistook yoga to be a form of physical and mental meditation supposed to calm us. Baba is not calm at all and the bunch of do-no-good anti-nationals refusing to hail Bharat Mata, fit for Saudi-style executions, are being protected by the law instead.
Fuming at such injustice, we Indians do our bit and resume buying his Patanjali products hoping that the profit turnover will appease the angry baba and help calm him down.
Coming back to the issue of the truly baffling great Indian complacency and one of our twisted modern day mysteries – Recently, when the universities were attacked (and still are being attacked), there was a hue and cry about tax money being wasted. People were furious that their hard-earned money was spent nurturing useless students who attacked the very country that does their nurturing. As much as that might be far from the truth and even if we momentarily suspend our senses and disallow its ability for cognitive thought, we can still not fathom the absence of any hue and cry post the Panama Papers!
In Iceland, citizens started protesting almost as soon as the news came in, forcing their Prime Minister to step down; his is one of the world’s most influential and powerful names to be included in the list along with other alleged black money hoarders and tax evaders. Where is the rage in India now?
Two of our iconic celebrities have found their names on the list, along with several other influential and powerful Indians. Not surprising. The recent proximity to the saffron brigade; a host of incredible Gujarat advertisements; ousting Aamir Khan to become the next Incredible India mascot, and being named as a potential Presidential candidate – indicate Big B’s connections and proximity with the high and the mighty. And Lotus or Palm, they are all the same. No wonder he got away with saying what he did after Indira Gandhi’s death. Cases filed against him for inflaming rioters to massacre Sikhs still run in foreign courts (Australia and the US), but not a word against him in India.
Incidentally, the other influential celebrity happens to be his daughter-in-law. Guess they are taking ‘keeping it in the family,’ rather seriously and to the next level. Known for her good looks, the Miss World crown and being a successful actress without any acting ability, makes Aishwarya Rai a favorite of the masses. There is an absolute sinister quiet over her involvement in the Panama Papers is disturbing to say the least.
Probably we will never get angry because we are so eternally optimistic and patient and forgiving, especially, when there is no beef, universities, students, Dalits or Adivasis involved. Most certainly the next Bachchan movie will again see a queue of people waiting to watch him on the big screen (let us give credit where we should, in his old-age he does once again select some intelligible and watchable movies unlike his jhumma-chumma phase).
We will probably even go on to cheer for him as the president, a possibility given the company he keeps among the kings and kingmakers; safely assured that no action will be taken against him in India either for the 1984 riots or the Panama Papers. The same will happen to his daughter-in-law who will continue to charm us with her expressionless, beautiful face, acting in unintelligible and unbearable movies that we will queue up to watch. She will peddle five solutions in one bottle and bat her eyelids and the fake eyelashes and convince us of the effectiveness of the products they peddle individually and as a family – from makeup to pressure cookers.
I am not even going to talk about the Adanis and the others named there because they are the kings and kingmakers themselves. They are safe for eternity or as long as we have this crony capitalistic government system in place. We are such a loyal and loving nation that we turn blind or look away even in the face of heinous crimes such as fraudulent money laundering and environmental rampage for which we even give out the tallest awards available in the country. For homophobia and death threats given out in the guise of yoga, we continue to buy their products, their sham with a renewed vigor. We are complicit in their crimes against the nation in our silence and apathy, cowardly choosing to look away. What does that say about us as a nation, a society, and the individual?
I wonder where those Indians are now who, desperate to save their tax money, demanded the closing down of universities. Where is the anger, the rage and the hue and cry against bleeding the country dry and not giving back anything to Bharat ‘Mata’? Somebody, please find these innocent bunch and tell them a lot more of India’s tax money is sitting in foreign vaults, an amount much more than the budgets of all universities combined. We can seek help from CBI, or even bring in foreign intelligence agencies, such as FBI, Scotland Yard or even those from Pakistan that AAP leaders are so sore about – because we need to be angry now and we need to act. We need to be offended at the audacity and the smugness of these hugely popular, well-connected public figures involved in dastardly activities to avoid paying taxes to the very country that made them the demi-gods that they are. We must get angry over this act of theft and show outrage where it is required; take a lesson or two from Iceland maybe?