(This first appeared in the Sunday Guardian)
In these modern times, there are not a lot of activities that can be classified as a ‘sure thing.’ Heroes have turned into villains. Villains have turned into heroes. Nothing is permanent anymore. Even death and taxes aren’t the pillars of surety that they used to be. However, in this darkness there is one tiny speck of light that is always shining. A small aberration that fills you with hope. Whether it is day or night, rain or shine, you can be confident of one thing: That somewhere in this vast land of ours, there is a minister belonging to the central government who is publicly saying something unintentionally hilarious. This is a bet that comes with its own money-back guarantee. Never before have so many incompetent people been part of the same body. They might have made things worse than they found them and choked the Indian dream even before it began, but when it comes to saying stupid things, they provide us with an embarrassment of riches! Now, as the General Election from Hell creeps upon us, let us take a gander at some of these great men that history will not have kind words for.
Our first contestant is the Minister of Petroleum and the generic south Indian villain from every Ram Gopal Varma movie, Veerapa Moily. He recently took over the news cycle by storm when he declared that the best way to save petrol is to close down petrol pumps at eight p.m. every night. Apparently, that will make sure people will use less petrol because as we all know, when the government makes something illegal in India, there is no way anyone can get access to it! That is why there is no alcohol sold for more than three times the price on dry days. Even though a better way to save petrol would be to try to cut at least one vehicle from every government cavalcade, or, I don’t know, encouraging investment in alternate forms of fuel. But hey, none of these are out-of-the-box non-solutions masquerading as a reasonable idea.
So, after saying something so ridiculous that even Manmohan Singh was pissed off enough to deny that any such proposal existed, Moily said that the suggestion didn’t come from him, it came from the people. Yeah, someone hacked into his brain and made him say things. Previously, when he was law minister, he said that the government was finally closing down the ‘Bofors’ case file since ‘nothing’ turned up after twenty years of investigations and no one wanted to celebrate the golden jubilee of the case. This made lady justice cry like a regular Nirupa Roy.
Our second contestant is our Minister of External Affairs and human bobble-head, Salman Khurshid. He recently dismissed the NSA’s spying on Indian citizens and our embassies as ‘a study of computer patterns.’ All the US is doing is monitoring every activity of every internet user! Nothing to see here! Invading the privacy of citizens of a sovereign nation is not as important as, say, detaining a movie star for questioning for a couple of hours. He also burnished his credentials as a civilized member of society when he threatened Arvind Kejriwal with bodily harm. Back when he was Minister of Corporate Affairs, he warned corporate India against 'vulgar salaries & perks.’ Because if anyone knows about not indulging in vulgar salaries & perks, it’s a professional politician. Maybe he should bring this up the next time his colleagues in Parliament pass another resolution to triple their salaries and benefits?
Our next contestant is Health Minister and the poor man’s Avtar Gill, Ghulam Nabi Azad. This great scholar once suggested that the best form of birth control would be to provide villages with enough electricity so that they can watch late night teevee and stop worrying about making babies. To be fair, watching Indian teevee at any time of the day kills everything from brain activity to hunger. So who needs condoms and birth control pills and education when you can just scare people into limiting their sexual activity to platonic hugging?
However, his pièce de résistance was his ignorant statements calling homosexuality unnatural. Before you get angry at him, remember, it’s not his choice to be daft. He was born this way! He’s just trying very hard not to contemplate what homosexuality means. They told him that it’s wrong. It has to be! Otherwise, his whole life has been a waste. Whenever he sees a happy gay couple, it stirs up certain feelings in his heart. He is reminded of what his life is really missing. He wasn’t always this dead on the inside. Back when he was in school, his heart used to fill with starburst whenever he laid his eyes on Pershad, his best friend. Pershad was the boy who made him a man. All he wanted to do was spend his life staring into those deep blue eyes and caressing that innocent face. But that wasn’t to be! One day Pershad’s Dad caught both Ghulam and Pershad physically expressing their love for each other on the banks of the lake. Instead of trying to understand them and letting them be who they are, Pershad’s dad thrashed both the teenagers. And then he took Pershad and moved to another city. The next time Ghulam saw Pershad, twenty years had passed. That innocent face had all but disappeared, replaced with a constant expression of sadness and despair. They didn’t have to say anything to each other. The look of longing they exchanged said it all. So, no. Homosexuality isn’t natural. If it was, it wouldn’t have caused the most precious gift in his life to be taken away from him. Forever.
(. . . . To be continued)