Outraged at your outrage

Jan 14, 2012, 08:41 IST | Rohan Joshi
In case you've missed the news recently, a recap; the Trinamool Congress Party in West Bengal (or Posco Bingo, or whatever it is they're calling it this week) wants to take a building called 'Indira Bhavan' and rename it.

(I'm thinking 'Prakash') This has caused outrage in the ranks of the other Congress Party, you know, the Big Congress, the Real Congress, The One With Sonia Gandhi And Half Of Tihar In It Congress.

They are outraged because the building will no longer have 'Indira' in its name, and as a result, there will only be 2,34,578 buildings in India named after a Gandhi/Nehru, and not 2,34,579.

Holy cow: We're so protective of our cows in India that we don't let
anyone do anything to them -- eat them, milk them, or even touch them

In unrelated news, the Indian High Commission in the United Kingdom has lodged an official protest with the BBC because it is outraged at an India-centric episode of Top Gear, the motoring show. The High Commission says the episode is "replete with cheap jibes and tasteless humour and lacks cultural sensitivity", a sentence that could live in every review of every Govinda movie ever. That's right, the fabric of India's reputation is under enormous threat from three middle-aged men who set cars on fire for a living.

Which begs just one important question; what exactly is the point of pigeons? I jest. Why is our country so obsessed with petty outrage? I'd understand it if we didn't have real problems like female foeticide, unhygienic food in schools, and Anil Kapoor's Hollywood career. But in India we fixate on any perceived desecration of hollow symbols or stereotypes. We're outraged by building names and TV shows. We're the guys that worry that the couch looks weird because it's one inch too far to the right, but ignore the fact that the roof of the house is about to collapse.

One of the things that has upset sentiments is apparently the fact that one of the cars was modified to add a toilet in the boot because, in Jeremy Clarkson's words, "everyone who comes here gets the trots." Yes, now Delhi Belly is offensive. When it's the name of one of the biggest hits of the year, and when it causes fast bowlers from visiting teams to lie low, we like it just fine.
A quick search online also indicates that we're upset at the show's relentless depiction of India's slums, poverty, and cows in the street. Yes, that is outrageous and deeply offensive to me. If you're going to show videos about our slums, the least you can do is get A R Rahman to give it a background score and then give us an Oscar or three. To me, the only thing offensive about Top Gear's (or anyone's) depiction of our slums, cows and filth is the lack of imagination and originality.

Speaking of cows, why are we so obsessed with protecting them? I understand their mythological and religious significance, but I'm pretty certain our religious literature had a lot of other important animals in them, like rats.
And elephants. And oh, human beings, and we let those die six times an hour. We're so protective of our cows in India that we don't let anyone do anything to them. Don't eat them, don't milk them, and don't touch them. Surely it must get lonely, living like that. In fact, I have a theory that cows come stand in the street and block traffic just so somebody talks to them.

It'd be nice if we stopped the petty outrage to focus on real issues. And it'd be nice if we stopped taking issue with what three British men said because let's face it, we've won that battle; we are one of the fastest growing economies on the planet. Statistically speaking, one in every seven people on this planet is us. 

Jeremy Clarkson came to India and drove one Jaguar. We bloody well own all of Jaguar. I'm pretty certain that trumps a tasteless joke by a man with a commode in his boot and the cultural sensitivity of a Texan preacher. So stop. Please. And worry about a real issue for once. Might I recommend pigeons?

Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo

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