You know what’s wrong with that placard? It’s in English.
How many people in India can talk in English let alone read it. Yet, the hoity-toity South Mumbai crowd had its banners in English to insult politicians—politicians who are elected by a set very different from the demographics of this crowd.
Symbolism of the language apart, it’s mildly amusing to see someone like Shobha De (if you’ve read her articles in the ToI or seen her blowing air kisses on TV) work herself into an apoplectic rage over these attacks. In fact, the whole of middle class India has worked itself into a rage and it has only one target in its crosshairs—the Indian politician. I get E-mails every day comparing Abhinav Bindra with NSG commandos, SMSes telling me about arcane provisions in the Indian constitution which allow me to register my vote for “nobody” and such.
But tell me, dear E-mail sender, what use is it to castigate all politicians? What does it even mean? What use will it be if we go to the polling booths and don’t return a legislator? Will a Parliament with 200 members instead of 545 be a huge improvement? If we get rid of all politicians, who will rule? The Army? Ah! Yes, now there’s a good choice. The Pakistani Army destroyed Pakistan. Why stop the Indian Army from doing the same to India?
I, personally, don’t see any changes in our system coming out of this attack. Yes, E-mails will be sent and apocryphal constitutional provisions discussed, but when the dust settles, the System will remain the same as before. To change the System we need to change the people who make up the System.
However, with the level of poverty and illiteracy present in India, people identify more with ancient codes of caste and religion rather than what’s going on in the Wasabi in South Mumbai.
Maybe the day there is a power station supplying power to Balia, Uttar Pradesh so that an E-mail about overpaid Olympic shooters can reach a reader there, we will see some progress. Till then, I doubt it.
P.S: I wonder if Bindra has got one of those E-mails.