For just those few seconds we were collectively transported to the rarefied high table of international missile launchers. Enterprising members of the media showed us what the scientists with their freshly vermillion-smeared foreheads had actually done. Why, we could land a nuclear warhead bang in the middle of Beijing. The razzle-dazzle at Wheeler Island was followed by an equally high-decibel debate. Arguments flowed furiously as Agni-V graphically nuked Beijing. A particularly creative image showed its pictorial journey as far west as Paris.
Of course, the fact that Mumbai was paralysed the same day because of a fire in Kurla station received token mention because we were busy transporting missiles.
Mercifully, the Chinese did not recall our “Mumbai into Shanghai” spiel in one of their contemptuous dismissals of our achievement and oblique reminder about the idiocy of spending millions on a missile when millions of Indians still go to bed hungry. The revered DRDO has since clarified that the missile cannot actually destroy continents other than ours. Private relief at this particular pronouncement naturally merits no articulation.
But something has been unmistakably familiar in the increasingly surreal discourse. What is being globally sprayed in industrial quantities is our truly indigenous hysteria and 24/ 7 chest-thumping.
Come to think of it, isn’t this is the singular trait consistent with our national character? Excess, exaggeration, overstatement qualify for quintessential Indian expression. An indigenous missile is, of course, provocation enough for the whole nation to go ballistic. But mostly, we need very little or nothing so profound to start beating the drums.
Yuvraj Singh’s unfortunate ailment is cause for national mourning. His return after the treatment is occasion enough to start lighting the lamps. Vidya Balan has only to perform calisthenics, admittedly extraordinary for someone of her girth, to be unleashed full scale on the unsuspecting millions as the next big thing.
Army Chief V. K. Singh is simultaneously a villain and a hero for pointing out the obvious – that there is corruption in the Armed Forces. Scientists gloating about missiles tell us nothing about why we cannot manufacture and still have to import something like trucks for the Army. And that is not saying anything about the alleged millions that were made in under-the-table deals for buying these trucks.
Chief Economic Advisor Kaushik Basu is being hauled over the coals for saying what anyone with peripheral intelligence would have gathered some years back. That the reforms process is stuck. The industry bodies have abused the government and the opposition has naturally started a fresh rant about policy paralysis. Never mind the pension bill, the FDI in multi-brand retail and many more policy initiatives that the principal opposition party started when in power and is now opposing for the sake of being in opposition.
Amid this cacophony, another traumatic spectre looms large. Anna Hazare has just forgiven Baba Ramdev for donning women’s clothing despite being morally opposed to cross-dressing. They have hugged, kissed (metaphorically) and announced another movement against corruption.
Not that one disbelieves Anna or doubts the DRDO’s abilities. All right, may be just a little. But is it too much to ask them to stop saying Jan Lokpal bill will eradicate corruption? And the next time the DRDO forecasts a nuclear winter for the beautiful Paris or the bountiful Beijing, could we please not have these musings depicted graphically? Some of us would still like to, at least occasionally, sip French wine. And hope to befriend Beijing. What one means is: really befriend Beijing without being called anti- national.
-via India Today.