The politician's new clothes
An event this weekend will combine music and comedy to hold up a mirror to our political classes
There is a concept in physics involving subatomic particles, which are so minute in size that when a light photon hits them, they get scattered. This makes it impossible to actually see one when you try to observe it. But you know that the particle is there. And that, in a nutshell, is what "achhe din" is all about.
Similarly, there are these vendors in UP's state transport buses who sell certain juicers made of plastic. They cost `10, and the vendor demonstrates how a single orange yields five cups of juice thanks to that contraption. Impressed, you purchase one and take it back home, only to find that all you get is half a cup of juice. That's the same "juicer" that the nation bought during the 2014 election. And now, there's a chance that we'll buy it a second time in two months, because our attitude is such that we don't feel that the problem lies with the juicer. We feel that the problem lies with us.
These two scenarios presented as thinly-veiled metaphors are part of a show called Aisi Taisi Democracy, starring stand-up artistes Varun Grover and Sanjay Rajoura, and musician Rahul Ram of Indian Ocean, who brings an element of music into the picture. The idea behind the event is simple — to poke fun at the powers that be and expose them for who they are, i.e. people who make half-baked promises that are seldom fulfilled and whose full-time job, it seems, is to take the populace for the ride. But Grover is quick to assert that there is no specific agenda here. The trio paints all political parties with the same brush. "This isn't any sort of rath yatra, and our objective is simply to make money through ticket sales," he says. So, be it the present dispensation, the main opposition party or smaller regional ones, they all fall victim to the comedians' acerbic humour.
That being the case, we ask Grover to identify some issues concerning Indian democracy at that are addressed in the routine. He replies, "One is intolerance — the general intolerance that you see among people in the country right now. The second is TV channels and the crazy jingoistic theories they put forward with no accountability at all. And then there are broader topics like patriarchy, caste, the Indian family structure and our regressive mindsets that we will address."
But Grover adds that some of these issues are not unique only to India, and part of a right-wing wave that's spread across the world. He tells us, "There is nothing wrong with the rise of the right-wing, except that the kind that is prevalent right now doesn't believe in the idea of democracy as it's meant to be. They have their own strong biases and violent methods. See, dissent is one thing. But killing dissent with violence is what's worrying, and that's something artistes everywhere should try and solve together."
But how can we as ordinary, but conscious, members of society contribute to that solution? One way, Grover feels, is to not put our destinies in the hands of politicians, no matter which party they are from. We have to start believing that every individual is an equal shareholder in this democracy. The Constitution that protects us is for everyone, and we thus have to demand our own rights without the intermediary of a politician doing it for us. Grover says, "We need to think beyond electoral politics and focus on day-to-day democracy that the constitution allows us." That, he adds, is the best way forward.
On: March 17, 7.30 pm
AT: Rangsharda Natyamandir, ONGC Colony, Bandra West.
Log on to: insider.in
Cost: Rs 499 to Rs 1,180
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