We are 69 going on 70

And the gent who runs our country stepped upon the ramparts of the Red Fort on this our 69th anniversary. Of course, there are brand new 2015-2016 promises. Considering that many of the 2014-2015 ‘big ticket’ projects haven’t taken off, some are still works-in-progress, and others have faired averagely at the ‘box office’ I thought that the 56-inch chest would have been reduced, not to 5.6 cms, but a tad. No such luck; the bluster and the ‘big speeches’ continue. Maybe there’s an attempt to keep our hopes up, or maybe he feels nothing is wrong. But I know that every time I hear about a new plan, a new developmental scheme, I believe it less. I’m done with the swagger, I want solutions. On a day-to-day basis, I alternate between annoyance, anger and amusement. And, it isn’t just about hardliners holding a Damocles Sword over the moderate NDA. Or Sushma Swaraj scrapping with Rahul Gandhi, with Lalitgate and Bofors making ugly appearances in Parliament. Ego truly replacing executive decisions.

Illustrations/Uday Mohite
Illustrations/Uday Mohite

I’ve always known we’re corrupt, castetist, and communalist — that’s just the nature of the Indian beast.

But this Independence Day, for the first time, I’m asking, is this country gradually losing control? Cynics will say we never had control. Supporters will celebrate that Google, Bill Gates and Garnier marvel at our GDP, they eulogise the ‘Incredible India’.

I’m wondering will progress in this country always suffer at the pyre of regression.

The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Swachh Bharat, Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, Digital India, Make in India, these are notional plans.

“This nation is about youth and their safety and growth”, we’re told. And then a bunch of younsters have their hotel rooms broken into in Madh Island.

There are ‘bhashans’ about FDI, fiscal matters, farmers, festering communal tensions, and then what I see is the banning of pornography. And when the Internet goes ballistic, giving well thought out arguments, there’s a recant on the ban.

So you’re monitoring what I eat, drink, watch, do, express. I don’t know what you’re going to attempt to ban next. Let me pick an alphabet. Take ‘w’. What’s next on the banning agenda, beginning with the alphabet ‘w’.

A ban on walking, water sports, wanton soup, the weather, Westernisation, Walt Disney, wasabi, Wrangler jeans.

Here’s what I want in the 70th year of Independence speech — I want a ban on empty promises. I want a ban on haphazard diktats masquerading as democratic principles.

I just want a blanket ban on bans.

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62@gmail.com

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