Guess, who’s losing the demonetisation politics battle?

You know who’s the biggest loser in the whole demonetisation politics?

I don’t think it’s the BJP or the Congress.

The answer is Arvind Kejriwal.

Politics is a game of numbers. Those numbers are essentially votes casted on the basis of performance and perceptions. And Kejriwal right now is losing the battle of perception.

It’s ironic that a man who co-organised the India Against Corruption movement is now opposing PM Narendra Modi’s clampdown on black money.

The demonetisation, with all its flaws, is embraced by the public. By opposing it vehemently, Kejriwal has dented his own image as a crusader against corruption.

There are many critics of this Modi scheme but very few or none, including the Congress, have questioned the intent. But the Delhi CM is the only one who smells something fishy.

To oppose an issue as emotive as the black money and cast aspersions on Modi without any evidence harms Kejriwal more than doing him any good politically.

Moreover, the BJP must have loved the sight of the Delhi CM sharing a dais with Mamata Banerjee and even awkwardly lifting her hands. This awkward moment is a deja vu moment for Kejriwal, bringing back memories of another awkward moment last year when he hugged Lalu Yadav.

Kejriwal before joining politics had censured all the political parties with no exceptions, painting all of them as corrupt. But his affability with the West Bengal CM (whose party MLA was arrested in the Saradha scam) and Lalu (who was himself jailed for corruption) is extremely embarrassing for the AAP leader and his followers.

It’s a fall for the man who had promised a political revolution.

Worse, it will be difficult for the Indian public to embarrass anyone in future who arrives with a broom in their hand, promising to sweep away corruption.


Remembering Nehru

Ahead of his time with a scientific temper, he knew only pragmatism was the solution to hunger in Gandhi’s spiritual India.

An atheist leading a religious country.

Building world-class institutes when neighbouring countries were destroying them.

He loved aspects of Soviet governance but not all their policies.

Some of his foreign policies were embarrassing. Disastrous, if viewed with the unfair lens of hindsight.

He had his flaws. Many perhaps…

Yet Indians of his time fondly called him Panditji; for children, a Chacha.

Call him what you may, remember, the founding stones of this country will always have his fingerprints.

Standing in a queue

We were standing in a queue at a bank to exchange many of our older 500 Rupee notes.

The queue was moving at a snail’s pace since morning. Every half an hour, the many steps in the entire line were trudging along a few steps.

The sun was as relentless as ever. A few tree branches intermediately interrupted the sun to provide us some desperate shelter.

I appreciate the Art of Living volunteers who were providing people in the queue with water and biscuits. I gather there are volunteers of other organisations too acting like good Samaritans.

Those supporting the demonetisation move are asking others to accept this tedious process “in the nation’s interest”. I agree with that on principle. But there are practical inconveniences one can’t ignore.

The bank executives too seemed frustrated. After all, the poor souls were made to work on a weekend.

Anyways. We stood in the immovable queue, joking and chit-chatting to lighten up our mood.

Just as we gathered hope with the line making progress slowly but surely, a traffic cop bypassed all of us, entered the branch like he was walking into a park.

A few minutes later, he emerged outside, strutting like a peacock and disappeared with a grin. People started protesting.

The security guard told us he can’t stop “an authority”. That made people angrier. It was as if there was no meaning in our labour.

The guard was given an earful. “If people like Rahul Gandhi can stand with us in the queue, who the hell was that guy?” a young man fired at him who even threatened to move in similarly. He was obviously stopped.

More voices expressed their shock at what was witnessed but it was of no use. The robbery was successful in full public view.

We were ultimately asked to shut up. In the nation’s interest.

When Obama mocked Trump

Donald Trump is all smiles today and why not. But he wasn’t one evening in 2011. For he was roasted ruthlessly then by none other than the United States of America Barack Obama.

The event was the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner wherein according to The New Yorker, Obama had loads of fun at Trump’s expense.

Obama initially took a jibe at Trump’s presidential ambitions followed by jokes on the tycoon’s act in the reality TV show Celebrity Apprentice.

The US president had an axe to grind with Trump then as the latter had constantly raised questions over Obama’s birth place.

As Obama cracked joke after joke, the room burst into laughter but the real estate magnate was not impressed who kept a straight face throughout the event.

Not the one to pull any punches himself, Trump that night was unappreciative of the jokes directed at him, looking stoic and even possibly feeling humiliated.

Some believe that night was perhaps a major triggering point for Trump. His desire to run for presidency dates back to 1988. Many times, till 2015 he only flirted with running for White House without any fruitful attempt. May be Obama gave him that extra dose of motivation this time.

In days to come, Obama will go to sleep reminiscing his better days at the White House. Now a president-elect, Trump will retire to bed thinking of Obama’s comments five years ago, smirking the way only he can.

Unfair to target PM each time but it’s not new

They say it’s become a fashion to target Modi for everything under the sun.

But that has been the voters-cum-opposition’s mindset since the independence.

Go back to the early days of free India. Nehru’s critics often decried his foreign policies. They frowned upon his wining-and-dining lifestyle. They highlighted his atheism as being an unfit virtue for a leader of a country as religious as India.

In the recent times, Manmohan Singh had been under the constant microscopic scrutiny for ten years. Rightly or wrongly, he was denounced as a helpless PM and even horribly caricatured as effeminate. Worse was when one BJP minister from Rajasthan went to the extent of abusing the former PM, calling him ‘saala’.

So while I agree targeting today’s PM for issues, even the municipal issues, is a mindless fashion. But let’s not forget who started this fashion and who continued it.

Time for all the parties to end this ugly trend.

Are you friends with the ‘whyners’?

This is my observation. Ever since the social media revolution began, people have found a platform to express, vent and even abuse.

But there is one category of people in particular I have found to be very intriguing. I call them the social media whyners.

They constantly poke their nose into everything, asking why this, why not that. The quintessential naysayers.

You: I believe in God.

Whyner: Why? Where’s the proof he exists?

You: I don’t believe in God. There is no such thing as God.

Whyner: Why do you say that? There are people who believe in God. Don’t hurt their feelings.

You: I believe in vegetarianism.

Whyner: Eh, ghaas-phus khane wala. Why can’t you eat meat like us?

You: I think war is now inevitable.

Whyner: Yaar, this is war mongering.

You: I love my country.

Whyner: What’s so special about your country?

You: But it’s your country too.

Whyner: Why are you forcing patriotism down my throat?

It’s almost like these people were created with a software in them that negates each opinion that’s put in front of them. If a flowchart were to be drawn for their response patterns, there would probably be no ‘If yes’ condition.

These are the people who suck innocence out of everything by their perennial whyning. They just can’t see anything good happening around them.

You tell them you’re happy that India won the match. They will ask you why the hell are you happy? How many runs did you score in that victory will be their intelligent counter to us.

According to these people, one can’t be happy about anything, one can’t take pride in anything, one can’t be optimist about anything, etc. Basically, one can’t be human.

The cry-baby whyners just want everyone and everything around them to be dull, boring and ordinary rocks like, well, themselves.

These are the kind of people who would be happy to watch Tom & Jerry only if it had a social message in it.

When the world is celebrating a festival, they are busy scanning the Wikipedia page of that festival to spot anything misogynistic, casteist, repulsive that can there be about that occasion. And then of course copy-paste the same on their wall, proving to the world how ‘aware’ they are.

These sadists browse the IMDB for a movie not only to check its ratings but also to see how many goof ups it has. So that they can brag about it in a post or in comments section to show what smarty pants they are. Probably, it’s people like these who fill the Goofs section on the IMDB.

The worst part about hobnobbing with such people on Twitter and Facebook is sometimes one gets carried away by their vehement pessimism and one starts speaking like them.

To be fair, I sometimes wonder in the hindsight, how did I speak so moronically that day? Then I see a post by a known whyner which makes me think- was it because of this whyner’s influence on me? Have I myself become a whyner? Yikes!

It’s for moments like those, I turn to the sky and question the existence of such people…such ‘whyners’. “Why God, why?” I ask. “Why do these people even exist?” The world would be a better place if there was a separate platform like Facebook for the whyners. Say a Whynebook?

MS Dhoni’s biopic not exactly an untold story

I couldn’t bear to watch a single ball of the Indian innings in the 2011 World Cup final after Sachin Tendulkar was dismissed. I spent much of those three hours roaming on the empty streets, pretending there is no match happening.

But then watching those moments on the large screen in the MS Dhoni biopic gave me goose bumps and pinched me to remind how I missed history being made on that famous night.

‘MS Dhoni: The Untold Story’ is a well-made movie with all its facts in place. But it is disappointing in a way because it’s not exactly an ‘untold story’.

Aficionados of the game would be aware of almost everything about the cricketing superstar and perhaps much more without watching the movie.

Inspecting railway tickets at the Kharagpur station, a penchant for bikes, goalkeeping in school being the first love for Dhoni before cricket – all these things are known to anyone who has followed the cricketer for the past decade.

What about his cricketing journey as the Indian captain? The fiasco in 2011-12 Test series in England and Australia? What about the IPL fixing scandal which Dhoni watched unfold from a very close quarter? What about his said friction with Yuvraj Singh? An even more honest biopic would have perhaps attempted to answer these questions.

To be fair, there were a few unknown things, at least to me, revealed in the biopic. The revelation of his relationship with ex-girlfriend Priyanka, the way she died tragically in a road accident. Funnily, the revelation about how the famous helicopter shot was born takes the credit away from Dhoni as its inventor. But that’s an honest revelation to make in a movie that borders on being a hagiography.

Sushant Singh Rajput did his homework very well – especially in replicating Dhoni’s mannerisms, gait, etc. He looked Dhoni-ish in many scenes with or without a bat in the hand.

Besides, Anupam Kher, as Dhoni’s father and Kiara Advani as Sakshi looked convincing.

Despite Sushant’s notable effort to imitate Dhoni, the doppelganger of the movie award undoubtedly goes to Herry Tangiri who played Yuvraj Singh.

Boy, one could easily confuse Tangiri for the real Yuvraj. The attitude, the swagger, the bowling action – everything was so like the stylish southpaw, that one can consider him to be an easy choice for Yuvraj’s biopic, if they think of one.

The movie ended with what some would say an apt scene – Dhoni hitting the most famous six ever by an Indian cricketer, in the World Cup final.

There was a lot of focus on the build-up to Dhoni’s heroic act in the final. Again, many of us who follow cricket, know why he promoted himself in the batting order on that famous night which is highlighted in the last scene.

But then, watching those glorious moments again won’t bore us cricket-mad Indians. Fittingly, that’s a perfect end to the movie, like a Dhoni-ending to a cricket match.