The year 2008 has come to an end- whew! This was a particularly nasty year, and I'm certain that the world at large did not enjoy it. India suffered a double whammy, the global recession and a series of terrorist attacks-the most horrifying one being the recent Mumbai siege.
This is not a time to celebrate, but nonetheless, I'm going to suggest a few gift ideas for certain
people who need all the help they can get. If you think the ideas are worthwhile, let's start a citizen's group and contribute generously to make India a better and safer place.
To Pakistan, with deep understanding: As I write this, Murdabad (also known as Islamabad) is still hotly denying the fact that the terrorists who attacked Mumbai were born and bred on Pakistani soil. This is despite the fact that the captured terrorist and his daddy are both freely admitting it- and there is loads of other incriminating evidence besides. Pakistan prefers to believe in crackpot conspiracy theories, and sullenly says that it is being falsely implicated. I have a theory too- and I promise you, this one is a little more credible. My theory: the ISI has infiltrated the kitchens of Pakistani officials, and opium (obtained from their loved ones in the Taliban) is liberally added to all edible items. Now this explains why the Pakistani government is hallucinating wildly, doesn't it? How can we expect the poor dears to behave like responsible adults in the sorry mental state they are in?
Presents for the Pakistani Government: Gift coupons for drug rehab centres with the heart-felt message: Get well soon, or else!
To all of India's politicians, with a stern rebuke: We don't need to waste money on a citizen's poll to figure out who the most disrespected Indians of 2008 were? After the Mumbai attacks, we the people have unanimously agreed that our politicians are the biggest terrorists and the most dangerous threat to our lives. No politician was spared- particularly not those from the opposition parties who attempted to shamelessly milk the situation for votes. I have to confess that I frequently flung slippers at my TV screen whenever politicians cut through the coverage of the attacks (rubber slippers, of course- with the sorry state the economy's in, I can't afford to buy a new TV, can I?) I do hope our politicians saw the footage of an Iraqi journalist hurling his shoes at President Bush on TV. It's guaranteed to make them shiver in their shoes.
These are a few of our strident allegations: ‘Inept! Corrupt! Communal! Vote-bank politics!' As a result, our politicians are still whimpering in corners. Good. I hope they stay there and reflect on their lousy behaviour! Have you noticed that when they do dare to venture out these days, they're always in large groups?
Present for politicians: Spittoons, to be placed outside Parliament and state assemblies. They should periodically check the levels to find out what exactly we think of them.
To Narendra Modi, with concern: The startling discovery of the year is that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has an evil twin lurking around! Well, a chap who looked astonishingly like Modi had been going around saying that certain Indian terrorists were wonderful people, and the government must not punish them at all. The evil twin, supported by his Saffron buddies (LK Advani and Bal Thackeray- the usual suspects), went so far as to viciously trash ATS chief Hemant Karkare who sadly was killed in Mumbai's terrorist attack. Miraculously thereafter, the evil twin vanished and the original Modi was back in focus, shedding tears for the slain ATS chief. He generously offered a large sum of money to Karkare's widow too, who firmly told him to stuff it. Huh? Gosh, please don't tell me that there are two Modi's around- one is frightening enough! Ah, I think I've got it- he's schizophrenic.
Present for Modi: 365 sessions with a psychiatrist- one for each day of the year. Who knows, maybe these sessions will help cure him of megalomania too?
To Prakash Karat, with a wrinkled nose: After bowing out of the UPA over the nuke deal (not very gallantly, I might add), CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat first mopped the egg off his face and then decided to befriend a few other parties in the fond hope of getting somewhere- heck, anywhere! I'm astonished that despite the lingering smell of eggs, he's become quite the ladies man. First he flirted with UP Chief Minister Mayawati, who warmly reciprocated. As I've mentioned before, this diamond-worshipping politician was probably dazzled by his surname. Now he's made overtures to the AIADMK head poncho (sorry, honcho) J Jayalalithaa, who has responded with an agreeable simper. However, I must add that Karat has won only cold alliances. The man who won the hearts of almost every Indian was Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee. He will always be affectionately remembered for his integrity. Yes, 2008 was his year!
Present for Karat: A bottle of after shave. Specially formulated with eggs as the base note, to remind him that our eggsperience with him was rotten.
To Mamata Banerjee, with apologies to the postman who delivers it: If there was an award for banshee of the year, Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee would have been the undisputed winner. Her screechy wails drove West Bengal's big business away. Poor Ratan Tata, Chairman of the Tata Group, is a little deaf now. But at least he doesn't have to hear her voice anymore. My advice to the people of West Bengal: Get ear plugs- that woman will never let up!
Present for Mamata Banerjee: A baby's pacifier. And if that doesn't work, industrial-strength tape to keep her lips sealed. Of course, the tape will have to be procured from another state since, thanks to her unrelenting shrieks, West Bengal doesn't have too many industries left.
To Raj Thackeray, with a sneer: The very same bullies who slapped or lynched migrants whenever they felt bored, were too cowardly to do the same to terrorists. Now that the danger is finally over, the MNS is braying for attention once more. They are on a ‘Save Mumbai' drive and are attempting to collect Re 1 from every citizen in Mumbai to provide bullet-proof vests and better weapons for the cops. I have a better idea to save Mumbai: let's each of us give the MNS Rs 100 to stay away from our city!
Present for Raj Thackeray: A one-way ticket to Pakistan- no other state in India will have him.
To America, with respect: Perhaps the only inspiring event of 2008- Barack Obama became President-elect of the USA. It was a sweeping victory, one that all the decent, fair-minded people in the world applauded. Many wrongs were righted with that move, and the promise of equality was finally delivered. Our Indian politicians are so inspired by Obama's victory, that some of them are pinching his key promise to American voters: the word ‘Change'. Don't get excited, though. I think what they mean is, they want change- our loose change, that is! Ah, can we ever trust them?
Present for America: A giant United Colors of Benetton t-shirt.