India That Is Bharat
Once upon a time, when Satiricus was a school-going kid, his language textbook had a poem on, believe it or not, a public meeting of animals in the jungle. Naturally enough, the lion was in the chair. With one paw gripping the mike and the other raised like every political leader does, he addressed the gathering. There was a press enclosure, but it had only one reporter—a donkey. It was diligently taking down the lion’s speech. Well, now, Satiricus has devoted donkey’s years to journalism and had his share of reporting meetings, so he can claim from professional experience that an ass is the right report for many an asinine speech made from the political pulpit. On the other hand, as even horses have more horse-sense than people, Satiricus expects the meeting in the jungle to have been much more sensible. So had Satiricus been sitting with his fellow-donkey, his report would have been as follows :
After the chairman concluded his opening remarks and threw the meeting open for lesser creatures, the first to trot to the stage was a dog. “Ladies, gentlemen and fellow-animals,” he said, “man says the dog is his best friend, but actually he wants the dog to be his best servant. Take this dog in China, whose picture in the papers showed him cleaning the street with a broom between his teeth. He reportedly said, he did it just for the fun of it, but what if this gives incredible India an incredible idea? It may well happen, for instance, that in metro Mumbai, currently famous for its path-breaking potholes and gorgeous garbage, all stray dogs may be rounded up and recruited as street-sweepers. This would be a canine calamity; at the same time there is no doubt that if Mumbai’s cleanliness goes to the dogs, it would be a much cleaner city. One cannot say, if, the canines of the capital will take to the streets, but currently parliamentarians and politicians are busy with such fierce dogfights that dirty politics has become more important than clean streets.
After the dog a rat scampered to the podium and pointed out that the world was indeed going to the dogs, in the sense that it is going to sniffer-dogs, who help humans hunt inhuman terrorists, but it is most objectionable that in Britain sniffer-rats are being trained for smelling terrorist bombs. The rat lamented this exploitation and said, as it is, the figurative connection between men and mice is notorious, as it is widely held that the Government of India is made up not of men but of mice. At this pejorative remark a cat in the audience nimbly sprang on to the stage and side, “I’m not sure if this comparison is an insult to the Government or an insult to the mice, but the shameful fact is that timidly is now not limited to mice and governments, we actually have timid tigers too.” Believe it or not, recently, when a Malaysian living in a forest settlement was attacked by a tiger and screamed, his wife rushed out of the house and hit the tiger on the head with a wooden soup spoon—and the scared tiger ran away. I was so mortified that I made it clear to this nephew of mine that even in such a dangerous situation a self-respecting tiger should run away only if the spoon was made of steel, not of mere wood.
Shame! shame! Disgusted animals in the audience shouted—but not the wolf. The wolf sheepishly said, wolves are getting worse than tigers in timidity. The other day a 13-year-old boy in a village in Norway was returning home from school, when he was suddenly surrounded by a pack of four snarling wolves. The boy was petrified, but he had been told that in such a situation he should not run away but do something to scare them away. So what did the boy do? He took out his mobile phone and played on it some very loud “rock” music. The result: The unbearable noise so scared the wolves that they took to their heels (read paws) See? It takes real courage to face the music.
Living as he does in hi-tech times, Satiricus is all for the triumph of technology. But does that mean somebody can just put on glasses and “look” at his retarded mind and “see” the simpleton that he is? Of course not. So he was far from happy to learn that the famous MIT of USA has invented glasses that can do just that. Called “social x-ray glasses”, they can monitor facial expressions, match them with 24 pre-programmed emotions, and thus help the wearer read other people’s mind. This is dangerous, for these actually anti-social x-ray glasses would reveal that people don’t mean what they say and don’t say what they mean, and the world is full of “true lies”, as an American film was titled—like the promises in an Indian political party’s election manifesto.