Yup, still in the mood some top-quality pseudo-leftist bullshit.
Open magazine had an article last week on our revolutionary anti-corruption revolution that eventually turned into something much like a Monty Python script. It was written by Manu Joseph, who apparently riles up a lot of people with his unabashedly opinionated words. Irrespective of his writing, I’d say that’s 20 points in his favour to begin with.
In the article, he writes that the resident Indian middle-class loves to stuff its face with the fruits of the corrupt system, and the inequalities it has created. It’s not just that we’re pampered by servants and maids and drivers who cost next to nothing (although it doesn’t keep us from outraging about their temerity to ask for more (“My God, do you know the maid even has a washing machine in her jhuggi!”)), but we’re privileged in almost every aspect of life.
If you’re born in a non-poor, upper-caste Hindu family, it’s the equivalent of the “I’m too young to die” difficulty level in Doom. (Double ammo, half damage, wasn’t it?). You can fuck about all your life and still manage just alright. It’s what gives the whole country a glib satisfaction with its mediocrity, which is momentarily shattered only at times like the Olympics, or when S&P or someone downgrades us to a pile of steaming junk.
This is not news, of course, though not many like to admit it. But he goes on to relate this privilege to the reasons why all non-resident middle-class Indians seem to become overly patriotic and nostalgic for India. Because in the first-world caste system, we’re not on top any more. If anything, we’re close to the bottom. We actually have to earn our privileges. People don’t call you ‘saab’ and open the doors to the Adidas showroom so you can walk in with a an entitled swagger, as if the door opened itself on seeing the Honda key-chain dangling from your front pocket.
“Nations that are filled with the poor are feudal in nature, and therefore excellent homes for the middle class. India is probably the best.”
You can read it here, if you’d like to.
In the middle of a hot, still night some years ago, I was standing at the window and smoking, as I do. Across the park, there was the boundary wall of another apartment block, and I noticed a man perched on it, trying to lift a bicycle across. He was obviously a thief (he looked poor, you know). I called the police. I was surprised when, not two minutes had passed, I heard a siren approaching. The man had almost heaved the cycle out, but he left it and ran. He was caught just as he was climbing over the park fence. I saw the policeman who called to inform me, and said they don’t need anything else from me. From my dark window, I saw the thief-(not)-to-be, scared to death in the back of a Delhi Police gypsy.
Even as I had made the call, the panicked thought had started shaping up in my head.
I thought about the bicycle I used to have. It spent a few years chained to a pillar in the parking lot, along with several others like it, all covered in dust, their tires flat and half-buried in the mud. Eventually, it was sold to the kabaadi for the price of a modest dinner.
The one he was stealing was probably just like mine, probably belonged to some kid who was now a fat bastard who couldn’t pedal to save his worthless life. Between him and this guy, this scrawny little man, whom would you choose if you had to give out a bike? There was no contest. A poor man was getting his soles smashed in while some middle-class asshole was feeling smug for a being a model fucking citizen.
One of these mornings, the people left outside the walls will lose their patience. It won’t be a good day for the cycle-owners.
But until then, some people will never know what if feels to live life on the high difficulty settings. Stepping over the denial, however, can be a start.