Thursday, July 17, 2008


You guys don't know Manjeet. He's the head waiter at Aura, The Claridges. He might even be Manager -- am not sure, known him for a while, not sure how the promotions have gone. Often, because he knows a good chunk of out "gol-chakar" circle (oh the irony)... we end up having a great conversations. Sometimes its about who hasn't paid the bill in a few weeks. Others, its about whats happening with the world. Now, Manjeet is the proud father of two -- savvy, because he sees a very rich crowd come in and out of his 'office' -- and everyone wants to be his best friend. "Manjeet, a few extra shots...", "Manjeet, get us in... oh TEN of us".. It's a process. But as his kids approach school going age, he's less interested in talking about social deviants, and more about what school they can go to.

In Delhi, as you all know, its tough. He's figured Sanskriti (a government officials school for the most part) is his first choice. Some others follow. I've told him to take a look at Shivniketan (or Mrs Gauba's School -- great legacy, Rajiv Gandhi went there, but now it's expanded beyond nursery). It's tough for Manjeet, he doesn't quite know it yet, because he hasn't done the drill, but schools don't come cheap. But he's from Himachal, he tells us proudly, and even on his 80,000 salary (a wife and two kids) he finds time to give an occasional 500 rupess and the odd blanket to the 80 year old mochi in his neighborhood.

I asked Manjeet if he knew what was happening with the government right now. A little amused, he asked me if I was pro-Congress. He had been listening to a friend and I talking at the bar all evening about big business, how much they were worth, and how some of the richest people in town (I don't mean rich.. I mean richEST) were the simplest. He figured we were pro-government. In this case, I was. I said, yes, Manjeet, I don't want his government to fall. Not over the nuclear deal.

Manjeet told me how the Congress was pathetic. Vajpayee, he said, was the best PM we've had. And, if you think about it, the partition of the country -- fault of the Congress. Terrorism -- their fault. Today? Look at inflation.. sugar.. rice... that's my concern. I tried to tell Manjeet that inflation happens with every party at the helm. Sure, there are policies, but gas, its a worldwide phenomenon. Not limited to the Congress. Right now, have you heard of the nuclear deal? Of the Left?

He shrugged. He'd never heard of the Left. This man who works on Aurangzeb Road. A road here, a gol-chakar there, and he'd be at Congress headquaters, at BJP headquaters, at CPM headquaters, hell, at Parliament if he wanted to! But he did have family in the army.

A jawan is paid, what, 10,000? 8,000? Some, when they come home, after saving and saving, come home with 60,000. Is that anything? What have they done? I'm from Himachal, he said. My people joint the army for honor. What did Indira Gandhi do? I don't know if this is a fact but, he said, she once said that the army would only be paid for 26 days in the month. So the General at the time told her, fine, but the other 4 days, if there is a problem, don't expect us to be there. "Uski phat gayee", he told me, giggling.

He hadn't even heard about the protest on India Gate, when ex-officers tried to ask the government for better pay. It was ten minutes from where he works, about fifteen from where he stays (somewhere behind Lodhi Colony).

It made me wonder. His faith might be misplaced, but where exactly should it be placed? This is not rhetorical. Give me an answer.


IR said...

manjeet is the average indian voter - his views are an indication of what is in store for the next general elections ,

not knowing about the left-perhaps one of the qualifications for a bartender at a glitzy pub of a five star hotel in central delhi !

mahima said...

Yup, he said the BJP did way more for the poor. They have his vote.

IR said...

i am not too sure about the bjp having its own way this time , as far as securing a majority is concerned , the "suitcase" parties will rule the day ?

are you still planning on starting the online magazine ?

mahima said...

yeah i am, we actually started emailing each other with our idea for the magazine and momentum got lost.. i was out shooting.. but im going to start off again.. for starters i think we should jump right in and start posting on a blog together and see how it flows? you interested? drop me a line on my yahoo email and i'll put you with the group..

IR said...

email send on, let me know

egg style said...

Amriki Rashtrapatiji: "Vats, itni rajnaitik tapasya?"

Kendriya Sarkar: "Ji Maharaj, parmanu bijli udyog ka vardaan prapt ho jaye toh..."

Amriki Rashtrapatiji: "Tathastu."


Yeh kya mazaak hai? Sach toh yeh hai ki yahaan rajniti ek haasya sammelan se kuchh kam nahin. Dekhiye, parmaanu yantra ki tulna computer se bhi ki gayi hai, maano ki bas, keval ek Bill Gates ki prateeksha hai joh "har ghar mein paramaanu-yantra" kaa naara uthha kar iss naye ujjwal yug kaa adhyayan kare. Parmaanu shakti mein kitna khatra hai, iss pe dhyaan kyon vyast karein bhala? Satya yeh hai ki computer yug "free market" kaa chamatkaar hai, lekin afsose parmaanu udyog khule-bazaar ke aadhar par nahin khada hua -- iss par Amrika ka kathore niyantran hai.

Arthaat, parmaanu padarth evam technology videshi tattvon se prapt karne ke liye, Bharat ne samjhauta kiya hai jiss se antaraashtriya starr par Bharat ko baraabari ka darja nahin diya jaa raha hai. Joh pratyek insaan ko ek baraabar maante hain, unke hisaab mein yeh deshvaasiyon ka ghor apmaan hai. (Iss aashanka ko 'minority' yaa 'communal' thehraana anyay hai, dharma-nirpekh drishtikon se)

Kaha jata hai ki abh uchh-udeshon ka zamaana nahin raha, paise ka hai. Tab bhi, samjhaute ka taatparya jaanchne waalon ke anusaar, parmaanu udyog par lagaam Amrika kaa hoga, aur Amriki Hyde Act ke tehat, Amriki rashtrapati (he antaryaami, jinka saadar charan sparsh karna naa pade, ha ha ha) ko apne sansad ko salaana aashwasan dena hoga ki Bharatiya videsh niti Amriki niti ke rooprekha se anukool hai.

Yeh mazaak nahin toh kya?

Kendriya sarkaar ki yeh safai hai ki antraashtriya Vienna Convention ke anusaar, bakaida Amriki Hyde Act, ek niji kanoon hone ke naate, iss samjhaute par kissi bhi haalat mein lagoo nahin ho sakti.

But, parantu, kintu... Amrika ke antaraashtriye kaayde-kanoonon ke prati vyavhaar ko maddhe-nazar rakhte huay, prashan yeh ubhar ke aata hai ki bharatiya bijli vyavasthha par lagaam kiska hoga -- aur parmaanu samjhaute ke liye aakhir kya mulya chukaana padega?

Uchit yahi hoga ki Hyde Act ka khandan ek Bharatiye niji kanoon se kiya jaye. Aur iss ke ilaawa, saabit karne ke liye ki videshi netritva se Dilli nahin chal rahi, IPI pipeline ki sthaapna sheegra hi ki jaye. Anyathha... swatantrata par parchhai lambi hoti dikhayi degi, aur naasamajh-anpadh-gavaaron ke aarope mein satya ki jhalak dikhne lagegi aam aadmi ko.

Yeh haadsa nahin toh kya hai?

Anonymous said...

People of India have been misled on true implications of the nuclear deal to Indian independence. Mayawati has the courage to speak openly without fear of foreign powers who are watching. The deal is bad for freedom, the benefits are all vague projections on paper based on "world's goodwill" if Indians behave as they seek. Having continued confidence in the govt, still doing verbal tricks about Hyde etc, is then difficult

Dantedownunder said...

Egg Style: I wish I had your eloquence in Hindi. Your logic, however fails me completely. I'll skip the initial attempt at humour.
1. You point out that while computers are freely available on the free market, raw materials for a nuclear programme are not. America, according to you, has monopoly power over the latter. The OECD countries, may I inform you, behave as a cartel, and therefore have the same power as a monopoly. The present inflation is a direct consequence of this same monopoly power. So if monopoly power is your greatest nightmare, you may suggest wind energy as the solution to India's fuel needs.
2. You speak of equality, and the fact that India is not being treated "equally" in the international arena by the U.S. A very interesting observation indeed. Yet, you have a lot of faith in the IPI pipeline. I assume that you are under the impression that Pakistan has been treating us as their "equals" all these years and share much love with us. The other members of the security council aren't that keen on giving India the same status either, so maybe we should stop all trade with them as well?
3. How Bush justifies the nuclear deal to the U.S. senate is hardly our problem. Moreover it does make you wonder that if this was all an evil U.S. plan clearly they should have no reason to discuss it. More so since they evidently lack the "remarkable left party" which our country is blessed with.
4. Is this a joke? you mean your arguments or the deal?
5.You ask a number of rhetorical questions....if you know the answer s then they may be the valid criticism the deal should face. If you don't know them then I suggest you find out. The present government may even fund you to do the same. However, just stating those questions may scare a few people...but thankfully not all.
6. Finally it is time that the "naasamajh-anpadh-gavaaron" of our country be given reasons and logic rather than theatrics. While they evidently lack your superior sense of understanding and love of dramatics, they are people who fall under the same umbrella of equality you are so fond of.... and yes, they do matter.