Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Grin & Bare It


There is a saying in Marathi, ‘अती झालं आणि हसू आलं ’, which means, ‘When pain, suffering or plain bad luck go beyond a point, you begin to laugh’. I have a feeling the saying came into being in the ancient times when our elders observed guys who couldn’t take it any more and started laughing, or to be politically incorrect, went mad.

If that is indeed the origin of this saying then this blog admits to insanity. Because things have come to a pass where the bad news in this country has gone beyond the breaking point and there is not much we can do except take refuge in the ridiculous. So here goes.

1] 45,000 children vanish without a trace in this country every year. That is, 5 children per hour, that is, 1 child every 10 minutes that is, by the time you finish reading this piece, another child would have vanished.
And let’s not even talk about child labour because we will never know the true figures.

2] 78,000 women die every year in this country before, during or in the first few days after child birth.  This is despite the government-run Integrated Mother & Child Development Care Programme since 1975.
And let’s not even talk about female foeticide or infanticide because, again, we will never know the true figures.

3] 1,300,000 tonnes of food grain went rotten in godowns (now you know why they are called go downs), in this country in the last ten years. That’s a figure given, no, not by the out-of-breath TV news reporters, but by government officials. That is, the Government of India has officially admitted that it wasted the food it was supposed to look after.

4] 30 crore people live below the poverty line in this country. That is, there are 30 crore people in this country who earn Rs. 10 or less every day. Of course, the grains had to go waste – close to one-third of the population never had and doesn’t have the money to buy it. This is despite the government-run National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme which under the guise of guaranteeing employment encourages people to sit where there are and not move their butt to save their arse. Obviously the Government hasn’t heard of the saying, ‘God helps those who help themselves’. Or maybe it believes in the modern-day adaptation, ‘God helps those who offer to help others and pocket the help themselves’.

5] 65% of the sewage generated in the city of Mumbai is released untreated into the Arabian Sea. That is because 60 years after independence the city relies largely on drainage and sewage systems built in the British era. So what did we do in these 60 years? One answer could be in these figures: In 1947 when this country achieved independence its population was 35 crore or 350 million. Today it stands at a proud 1.13 billion. Seems like we were playing the game, ‘Let’s pretend we are rabbits’ and were too busy being reproductive instead of productive.

The first fact is despite the city of Mumbai bursting at the seams with a government body (word used to describe a person when he/she is dead. For example, John is dead. Where is the body?), for anything and everything you can imagine. For example, we have BMC, MMRDA, BEST, BRTS, MTNL, SRA, CR, WR, MHADA, ACB, ASS (okay, not this one), the Collector’s office, the Registrar’s office, the Municipal Commissioner’s office and being the state capital, the Government of Maharashtra, the Secretariat, the Mantralaya, the High Court, Civil Court, the Blah and the Blah Blah Blah. In short, we have a body responsible for every little thing that provides an opportunity to take a bribe. Sorry, a body for every little need of the city. Pity, like John, they are all dead.
The second fact is despite having had a state-funded programme for promoting family planning that dates back to just after I was born. Luckily.

Now there is a pattern here: Whenever the government tries to do something, the result is exactly the opposite of what is intended.

But detractors of this blog always complain of its unwarranted (word meaning I can't be arrested for writing this), pessimism, cynicism and sarcasm. To answer them, let’s have some good news:

In 2014, less than 4 years from now, the richest person in the world will be an Indian citizen living in India, says a forecast by Forbes Magazine. No, it will not be Rahul G. or Sharad P. or Jaya L. This person’s net worth will be 62 billion US dollars. (Pity really, because even if he gave all his money away to his fellow citizens, each one would hardly get half a dollar.)

In the same report Forbes has also listed a number of events that could happen over the next 10 years in the field of politics, energy, medicine, finance, society and technology.
But the one forecast I love dearly from this report is, I quote:

Another forecast in the field of finance and economics is of fraudster Bernard Madoff's death in his prison cell in 2011. The convicted Ponzi-scheme perpetrator is found hanging in his cell and "prison officials will not rule out foul play."

(If you were worried that Paul the Octopus had been consigned to barbeque flames, worry not, he lives in a corner office at the Forbes headquarters.)

Now all that makes me laugh out loud - A real full throated laugh that can be heard across the road and not a virtual LOL that can be FB’ed across continents but is heard by no one. But hello, who are you sirs? Why do you want me to put on that jacket? Oh, it is so quiet in here and the walls of this room are so nice and soft…

4 comments:

  1. ASS stands for "Association for Self Service" I guess it is time to form something similar so that the bribe takers have a formal umbrella organization that can be unionized.

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  2. Association for Self Service! That's a good one Sanjay. But they will never make the organisation formal because then it will fail!!!

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