Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Homo electus

(Published in Business Standard on May 17, 2014)

Good morning India! So… It’s over. They counted! It took two excruciating months to hold elections, during which the country split neatly down the middle between those who hate the opposing camp, those who hate everyone, and those who don’t care one way or the other (electoral math works differently than regular math); and then on counting day it only took them until 9.30am to call a result. But they still wouldn’t let us buy booze the whole day. Now we’re finally reunified as one nation that drank so much of its previously stashed booze on counting day that it isn’t sure which way is up.

Anyway, we have a result! As the exit polls unanimously predicted, the winner is Manmohan Singh, who has had it with this shit and is getting the hell out of Dodge. This may be the first day that he smiles broadly enough that his lips part.

No, just kidding. The winner is actually Arnab Goswami, who scolded the Congress party’s spokespeople so vigorously that he almost dislodged his scalp. Make fun of him all you like, but he called out their weak-kneed drivel and told them where they could get off, on behalf of millions of viewers all over the country who were attempting to throttle said spokespeople by thrusting their hands through their television screens.

No, just kidding. The winner is the Sensex, which has lost all contact with reality and, in fact, with earth, and is now in orbit amid space junk, wondering whether there’s a good IPO happening on Saturn.

No, just kidding. Here’s my scenario for what might be happening in the winning camp today.

Homo electus wakes up at 5am, and does yoga and meditation. He eats breakfast as he does all his meals, we’re told: always alone, always. His first task today is to read, with a small smile playing on his lips, the several hundred open letters that have been written to him by critics since the start of the election, which began roughly around the dawn of recorded time. Then he practices showing up as a hologram, so that he can make addresses to the nation on news channels not only in the present but also well back in time, all the way back to the golden period of Hindu culture when our values were intact and the Mughals hadn’t ruined everything.

Then he walks out of a small outhouse at 7 Racecourse Road—into which he moved several days ago because, really, there was no doubt, and why trouble with a commute?—into the main building. His party workers changed the curtains a week ago, stepping around the serving Prime Minister who insisted on continuing to work there and who is only leaving for real around noon today. Now everything is a lovely bright colour.

By mid-morning, Homo electus saddles up his white horse and rides down to the Yamuna, where he conducts a victory float on a giant lotus. Around lunchtime he fixes the economy (the Sensex, though, has well and truly shuffled off this mortal coil and is now distributing offer documents in the Horsehead Nebula). Then, to stave off boredom, he puts the entire government on a fantastic website that responds faster than you can type. After consuming a small fruit, he ends corruption. By teatime, poverty is just a bad memory.

And because it’s been such a good day, in the evening he breaks his lonely-meals rule to take a loyal lieutenant out to dinner—candles and flowers and everything. They hold hands, look deep into each other’s eyes and know, each, what the other is thinking: What can we not do, together?

The nation is wondering the same thing.

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