Saturday, January 29, 2011


Dear Congress Party,
I don’t know whether you’ve been following the international news recently. Probably not as you’ve enough problems with domestic politics and your multi-scams. Just to bring you up to speed, a couple of weeks ago the Tunisians, who had had enough of their president, Zine al-Abidin Ben Ali, revolted against his 30-odd year rule. Apart from rising prices and repression, they were also fed up with his corruption. Now, something like this had never happened before and old Ben Ali was in a state of shock. His police shot a few people to keep them quiet and when that didn’t work, he took the hint and skipped the country. His wife too skipped away, taking along with her about 30 billion dollars worth of gold bars in her private ‘shopping’ jet.
Every dictator in the Middle East held their collective, corrupt breaths. They were sure that this sort of disruptive behaviour by the people against their leader would not cross the borders into their countries. Unfortunately, anger is contagious. No one ever expected the Egyptians, a most placid people, would also revolt against their president Hosni Mubarak. He too has been in power for 30 years and is as corrupt as Ben Ali. The Egyptians, to everyone’s surprise, took to the streets, demanding the end of the 82-year-old President’s repressive rule. Posters of Mubarak and his son, Gamel, the heir apparent, were burned. Every corner of Egypt, it seems, has risen up to cast off their iron chains.
No doubt, this contagious idea of overthrowing dictatorships will soon spread to the other Middle East nations. We’re going to soon see many leaders skipping their countries in their private jets for safer locations, along with as much gold as they can carry, and their Swiss Bank accounts as a cushion against future hardship.
Now, you may think what have all these revolutions in foreign countries to do with us here in India? There are very close similarities. One family ruled those countries for 30 years; one family has ruled your party for over 60 years. Isn’t it about time that the peasants in the Congress Party rebelled against this one family’s rule? For a party that preaches democracy, you certainly don’t practice it within the party and have allowed one family to dictate who rules it. And through your obedience to this family, they rule a nation. A good revolution within will purge your party of the family and open it up for younger, hopefully not so corrupt, brighter minds than those in power at this time. You will be rejuvenated as a party by getting rid of all those ancient, brain-dead people and their chamchas, and find a new, exciting role for yourself in the country.
You will worry that, with this revolution, what will happen to your ruling family if it has to skip the country, like Ben Ali and his. Believe me, they’ll be just fine. I read recently that a serious Swiss magazine reported back in 1991 that your crown prince, Rahul, had 2.5 billion dollars in his bank account there. With interest over the last 20 years, he’ll be worth about nine or ten billion dollars. I know this doesn’t match the Ben Ali’s fortune but the family will still live very comfortably for a few generations on this amount. And, the best part, they won’t have to find shelter in Saudi or any of these other Gulf States. They could buy a villa on Lake Como, next to the American movie Star, George Clooney, and his pals. Or even a palazzo in Venice, if they prefer a sea facing palace or an apartment on Park Avenue. Maybe, they already own such real estates but I’m not aware of this.
Once you free yourself from this one family rule, this internal revolution will inspire the Indian people to take your party more seriously. We may even vote for you again.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Old Rajah

Old Rajah
Once upon a time (this means it isn’t true) there was a Rajah who wanted to live happily ever after. He had been ruler of his state for decades, but not continuously. Every few years a usurper would attack his kingdom, wrestle him off the gadi and send him into exile. Then, he girded his loins, gathered his army and marched back into the capital to reclaim his gadi, sending the usurper into exile. This happened quite frequently and confused his subjects who only wanted to get on with their lives without these constant wars for the gadi. However, they knew that whichever person sat on the gadi, their lives would not change. They would be thrown a few scraps (called sops) to keep them quiet, while the one on the gadi enjoyed life to the fullest, along with their many courtiers.
As it was the custom in those days, the Rajah had a few wives. No one knew how many exactly as this was a palace secret. Of course, the wives had children as wives are bound to do. So he had a few sons and daughters to look after, apart from the wives and his courtiers. But the Rajah was getting older and older, and he began to worry about how he was going to care for his progeny who were demanding that they too rule the state.
The Rajah loved power very much and was reluctant to share it with anyone, even his kids. When they grew more insistent, as they knew that one day the old Rajah could again lose the gadi, he agreed to divide up his kingdom. He appointed one son as the Prince Regent who sat on his right side wherever he went so that the citizens could see whom he favoured to take his place, should he die. He didn’t believe this would happen to him for, as he grew older, he felt stronger and stronger. To another son, he granted a portion of his kingdom far from the capital. The sons were half brothers and their mothers were very possessive and jealous ladies. Each one wanted their child to have the whole kingdom to himself instead of sharing.
The Rajah, being a wise man, knew half a kingdom was better than no kingdom at all. This made sure that the two sons had a goodly income to support them in the lifestyles they had grown accustomed to when their father was on the gadi. The Rajah also had a daughter whom he loved very much and seeing her half brothers getting halves of the kingdom, she wanted her share too. His favourite cousins also wanted a piece of the half. But there were no halves left to give them so the Rajah sent them all as his ambassador to the Maharajah’s court very far away in the hope they would be happy. And keep quiet.
In the Maharajah’s court there would be even more pomp, ceremony and riches for any ambassador. Having disposed of his quarrelsome progeny the Rajah thought he could now live a quiet and peaceful life on his gadi. So, for a while, the family was at peace too. The kids enjoyed their bounty to the fullest and so did their courtiers. The son who was Crown Prince went everywhere with his father in his chariot and the citizens saw how devoted he was to the old Rajah.
However, sons being sons and daughters being daughters the children were not happy with their presents. They were like any family’s typical kids. They were greedy and they wanted what the other one had. They began to quarrel among themselves first and then with the old Rajah, demanding he get rid of the other kids. And so the old Rajah’s peace and quiet was shattered and he couldn’t live happily ever after.