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Country of a Billion Fools?

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Most of us believe (or rather made to believe) that the 4 pillars of our democracy stands on Legislature, Executive, Judiciary and Press. However, in reality they are just watchdogs of the actual pillars that have overtaken the nation

The 4 pillars of our country are actually Politics, Religion, Bollywood and Cricket. They have mesmerized our nation and acted as the opium of the masses. Let me explain;

1.    Politics: For decades, politics and the control of politicians ( note, I am not using the term Government) over natural resources and scarce utilities have ensured that the public are at their mercy to get day-to-day work done.  While Government has slowly been working towards decentralizing/ privatizing several offerings, the shrewd politician has always found a way to work around new challenges and get a share in all transactions. For a country going through a major transition, from being conservative to accepting modern outlook, they has successfully contaminated the country through successive Reservation policies and Religious identities to  increase the insecurities of the people and create vote banks. Thus, if religion, caste and creed issues arise, the country burns, but if an economic breakdowns happens, its left to be tackled another day. Ironically, they continue to succeed, as the insecurities created by them has now manifested into corruption, intolerance and selfishness.
{Possible Solution: Medium Term solution is to vote for party focusing on development (possibly further privatization), while keeping issues related to reservations/ religious identity at check. Long Term solution: Vote for a party purely focused on economic development (including poverty elevation) and eliminate reservations/ religious identity. Truly, we need to work towards the birth of a new nation]

2.    Religion: Undeniably, we are the product of our religious identity. The way we think, act and socialize depends on this identity. However, so deeply misconceived has the ideology of religion spanned out, that it is laughable and disturbing to see people of ‘repute’ going to several lengths to  showcase ( or fool the people) their faith.  Some incidents include:
•    A prominent liquor baron, who also owns an defunct airlines, making offerings worth crores to a prominent religious shrine while, thousands of his employees are reeling under debt as salaries, due to them, have not been released.
•    A prominent ex- Chief Minister making monetary grants to religious shines to conduct ceremonies to appease the lords and provide rain in return.  Of course, no rain came. On the other hand, slapping his helpless driver is his mantra for anger management  
•    Storylines be damned, but if the prints of the new movies have not been circulated around the country to seek the blessings of the divine deities, producers know who to blame if the movie flops.
                    {On the subject of religion, I was pleasantly surprised to (finally!) see a recent bollywood   movie taking this subject head on. The movie, OMG (Oh My God), has managed to break the shackles surrounding the misconceived practices of religion and highlighted the critical point that ‘Respecting and caring of your fellow being is the only way to worship the lord’. Of course, the movie is a typical bollywood potboiler with all the melodrama included, but, has managed to strike a cord with the audience as it has been a success at box-office} 

3.    Bollywood:  It is said, that for a country going through decades of corruption, inefficiency and misgovernance, if bollywood did not exist, people did not have a reason to live.  For a country in a constant state of turmoil (scams, rapes, corruption, etc) and lack of role models, bollywood (along with the recent rise of television operas) has provided the much needed solace and shaped our thinking and the way we act. For a country which has more television sets than children attending school, it is undeniable that movies and serials play a critical role in shaping our outlook towards society. It is therefore disturbing to see the following recent trends;
•    Rise in ‘item’ songs of movies. While there is no aesthetics or link to the story line, these songs portray women in negative light and are a sign of degradation. While filmmakers hide behind the reasoning that they are always targeted, one cannot fathom the impact of such songs on the youth who link movies to real life.  The scenario is more scarier, as one looks at the story lines of several regional movies made across the country
•    Popular senior Bollywood actor, who continues to command a huge fan following amongst all generations, endorses an unhealthy and preservatives filled Instant Noodle brand. People should know that these instant noodles have zero nutrition and harmful preservatives. Otherwise they could have been easily deployed for ‘mid-day meal’ schemes.    
•    An upcoming popular actor, who is the child of the most loved bollywood couple, endorses  a soft drink brand and acts in commercial  which encourages youth ‘ to care a damn’  about what others say when one is watching cricket. Makes one wonder since when consuming aerated drinks and foul mouthing people became cool… One shivers to think that our youth will have such role models.
•    On a positive side, there are the rare exceptional film personalities who genuinely understand the impact of films on society and leverage their branding to highlight and act on social issues.  However, their numbers do not exceed the count of fingers on one’s hand.

4.  Cricket:  It is said, India is cricket and cricket is India.  So mesmerized is the country with this sport, that it is a wonder it has still not been crowned the official sport of India.  The country has higher penetration of television and radio than newspapers. Thus, if you cannot watch the Live cricket telecast, you can atleast hear the commentary over radio.  The two people who understood the magic of cricket over the masses have maximized this to their advantage, viz,
•    This prominent Maratha politician did a coup d’état and overthrew the old BCCI chairman out. He now has his own men control one of the most watched sports in the world. Using his immense political clout, he has ensured that the cricketing body remains a monopoly, unaccountable for funds received and gives minimum tax despite being the richest sports body in the world.
•    This amazing rags-to-riches conglomerate company, whose phenomenal rise has always been under scrutiny, has been successively endorsing the cricketing team by branding the team under its flagship name.  It has been said that people in the rural areas who have no savings and investment knowledge and have been alienated by the growing mainstream banking sector, have blind faith in the company due to its association with the ‘national’ sports. These people (who number in millions) have saved and invested in several schemes floated by the company.  What one knows is that that this company has ‘lakhs’ of agents who personally visit the customers and collect part of the daily wages from customers under the ‘savings’ scheme. One has no idea if these people have ever received their money back or have filed a case with any concerned authorities for any dispute( in an unorganized sector, there is hardly anyone you can complain to). Recently, the Supreme Court has direct the SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) to attach the properties of this group for not refunding Rs 24,000 crores which was illegally collected.  Despite all this, the group still continues to be the poster brand of our cricketing body.
•    It is ironical to see that a sport with a huge youth following, hardly has any player who has been in the forefront of any burning social issue.  This irony only magnifies when we see news of our leading cricketing rivals, the Australians, visiting orphanages and the poorest slums on their trips to India.

Truly, for this country to elevate and to move collectively forward the rot, misgivings and indifference of people constituting the four pillars needs to be cleansed.

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