Friday, 4 March 2011

So who's your hero?



A politician’s son got married to a politician’s daughter in Delhi. The whole affair cost Rs. 100 crore out of which 33 crore was spent on buying a 7-seater helicopter for the bridegroom. Needless to say, all the money was spent by the bride’s family.

But the biggest news of the event is the barber from the bride’s side who was paid Rs. 2.5 lakh as a tip. Because the groom deserved a fat wedding and a chopper. The barber just got lucky.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court set aside the appointment of the CVC of India as being illegal on the grounds that he had a case of corruption pending against him. The ruling party says it appointed him because he was a really nice guy and his bio-data didn’t mention the corruption case!!! By the way, CVC stands for Chief Vigilance Commissioner. The newspapers are celebrating the fact that since the appointment of the current Chief Justice cases like these are getting the attention they deserve from the Supreme Court after a lull of three years.

That’s because the earlier Chief Justice was a laidback guy and after his retirement his family is under investigation for having assets disproportionate to their known sources of income.

(As I write this the Prime Minister of India has accepted responsibility for the appointment of the CVC.
“I have already said I respect the judgement of the Supreme Court,” Singh told a televised press conference. “I accept my responsibility.”
So what next? Will he resign? Or will he be sacked? Are you kidding? His party has the majority. He will be allowed to stay on the same grounds as the appointment of the CVC – he is such a nice guy.)

Chew on this too: Out of the 543 members of Lok Sabha, 154 have criminal cases against them.

It is a common thing these days to see a BMW or Mercedes with a red light on top being chaperoned by a bunch of police vehicles. No one pays attention and wonders what the salary of a minister is in this country. Neither does anyone react when a politician puts a few hundred crore against his or her name while declaring assets and goes on to put his or her occupation as ‘farmer’.

Everything is in the open. Like Adarsh or 2G. The building is there for everyone to see. The 2G spectrum was auctioned, that is, the price it was sold for was public knowledge.

No one cares. Ever wonder why?

Is it our ‘chalta hain’ attitude? Let it be yaar. They are politicians and hence they are corrupt. Ditto for cops and bureaucrats.

Or is it?

The capital of this country is the capital of ‘jugad’ – if there is an illegal way of doing it, we will find it or create it and get work done. The means justify the ends. We like success. And everyone knows that you can’t be successful or powerful or wealthy without bending a rule or two, right?

Mumbai’s most famous paani-puriwallah is at Elco Market on Hill Road in Bandra. He started off humbly. He invented cold paani-puri and made a fortune. When I first heard of him, they said, “He is a road-side paani-puriwallah but owns a Mercedes.” It didn’t matter that his stalls were illegal. Or he inconvenienced thousands of pedestrians by encroaching on an entire stretch of pavement. What mattered was, ‘He has a Mercedes.’

Chief Justice Sarosh Homi Kapadia of the Supreme Court started off humbly too. He started as a Class IV employee and has risen to the rank of Chief Justice of the highest court in the country. His father was a poor defence clerk.

But I have yet to meet anyone who speaks about him in the same manner as they speak about the paani-puriwallah. That’s probably because he doesn’t have a Mercedes.

And therein lies the problem.