Foot-in-the-Mouth

My uncle, Professor Mani, says that the Foot-in-the-Mouth Disease is getting epidemic in India. This is not to be confused with Foot and Mouth Disease that usually affects animals. The new disease does not affect animals at all since they do not exercise their vocal chords like human beings do; it affects only human beings. So, how do we recognize the symptoms? Simple: a person makes an inane attempt to be spectacular and ends up making a spectacle of himself. In fact the symptoms are easily spotted by anyone except the affected party himself/herself! Apparently, Politicians, ‘Liberal’ Intellectuals (how do you enter this club?) and Retired Government Babus are most at risk, especially when they get themselves into certain situations: (1) Politicians of all ages: when they ‘act’ without actually performing (2) Liberal Intellectuals (especially those past their prime): when they mistake ‘theatrics’ for ‘acting’ (3) Retired Government bureaucrats, when they advise the Government to act in a way they themselves had no guts to do when they were in power.
ArundhatiRoyThe latest victim is one Arundhati Roy who used to be a fine artiste in her younger days. I loved her movie “In which Annie gives it those ones”; as a writer, she won a booker prize too. Suddenly she got into situation number (2) described above. She accused Modi of “Brahminism”, meaning perhaps, that he was being elitist and suppressing the hoi-polloi. Few people can just “Tolerate” (Oh, how I fear that ‘T’ word!) Modi — they either love him or hate him: but I don’t want to get caught in the Modi cross-fire. My problem is with the word “Brahminism”. Does it mean elitist or upper class dominance anymore? You could have said “Kshatriyanism”: in vast territories of North India the Village Panchayat is under the stranglehold of Kshatriya castes. The Neo-Kshatriyas— the political-rulers — have the entire government machinery in their grip. Or you can say “Vaishyanism”, because the money power of business exercises undue influence on social and political affairs. Pray, why “Brahminism”? For centuries now, the poor Brahmins have largely been docile chaps performing their duties with nary a murmur or complaint, even when the entire Government Reservation Policy was loaded against them. Some clean toilets and pull rickshaws, without a hint of the Arundhati-esque “Brahminism”. Oh, unlike the others, they never protest or throw chappals at you. Although constituting 11% of India, they will not take to the streets at an imaginary slight. Now you want to change all that? Why fish in troubled waters Lady Arundhati?
The other thing that amazes me is her precise timing. Aamir Khan has clarified that he is not going away. The CM of Maharashtra has said that by overreacting, we are falling into a self created trap. The Congress and the BJP are shaking hands over GST and oozing tolerance. The nation was hoping that the Intolerance drama has subsided. Now, exactly at this juncture, Arundhati is making a spectacle of herself. How narcissistic! Poor thing, she must be suffering from an acute attack of Foot-in-the-Mouth!

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