It’s just about a month to the one-year anniversary for the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre. So have we reached that critical point where it’s now okay to make fun of the government or even, with trepidation, criticise it without being drowned in a sea of hatred from supporters of Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party? If nothing else, it’s getting a bit tiresome, blaming a former government from a year ago. Plus there are all those state elections which the BJP and its friends have also won...
So, where does one begin, before all the serious commentators put on their teacher hats and mark their one-year report cards? My favourite right now is the “why does no one weep for the tobacco lobby” argument put forward by a couple of BJP MPs. Add to that the view that there is no connection between tobacco and cancer because there is no study done in India which proves the link and you have a winner. Plus, cow urine cures cancer so as one wag on social media put it, pour cow urine on a cigarette and you’re safe.
But that’s far from all. The prime minister suggests that streetlights should be switched off on full moon nights to save electricity. However since he talks a lot (no really, a lot) it’s hard to pick just one statement. This is the current favourite. It will have changed at least six times between the time I write this and you read it. He also likes to announce things. Like a clean India, an India where everything is made in India, an India where it’s easy to do business in India, an India where minorities feel safe and many other such jokes.
There is serious competition though. There’s India’s civil aviation minister who says that he sees nothing wrong in people carrying matchboxes and lighters on their person in aeroplanes. Apparently he does it all the time. Go figure. Perhaps he could explain to the rest of us why shampoo bottles carrying more than 10 ml are banned in hand luggage. Plus there’s the Swiss army knife, nail file and hair pin for my bun that I’ve had confiscated... If the minister really thinks that matchboxes and lighters have nothing to do with flight security, I want that hair thingie back. It was very useful and it harmed no one.
We don’t have to be stuck with the Central government either. There’s good old Maharashtra for you. After banning the slaughter of all cow progeny and the sale and even ownership of beef in the state, the Advocate General of Maharashtra tells the Bombay High Court that this is just the beginning. Banning the slaughter of all animals could be next. A judge jokes that he hopes that fish will be outside the ban. Of course, if we’re going to go vegetarian, then why should only fish be killed? Ban the killing of everything. Sorry all the fisherfolk of Maharashtra. Too bad. Culture wins.
If you live in Maharashtra and want a steak, you could always go next door to BJP-ruled Goa where beef will never be banned, said the chief minister, because it’s part of Goa’s culture. And Goa is also super safe if you always wear a sari and kumkum because as another minister there tells us, his wife has never been “eve-teased” because she’s always worn a sari and kumkum. However, earlier, when Goa was full of Hindu culture, it was even safer. I want to be at that meeting where the chief minister defends the eating of beef because of Goa’s culture and this minister defends the glory of Hindu culture especially kumkum’s deep connection to eve-teasing.
By the way, if you think I’ve run out of things to laugh about and that’s why I’m signing off you would be very wrong. I’ve run out of space. No, not that space that I could travel to in a Vedic craft that flew to planets sideways and backwards, but space on this page. Don’t forget, we’ve got another four years of laughing matter ahead of us.
Yes. Now bring on the trolls. But I’m not worried. I’ve got my kumkum and sari on.
Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist. You can follow her on twitter @ranjona