Dubious Distinction Awards for 2013

Rupa Gulab

This was the most entertaining year ever – so many of our politicians made us laugh till our sides ached. Which is why I bid goodbye to 2013 with a tinge of sorrow – and, of course, my annual unofficial awards ceremony! 

Stalker of the year (oops, sorry, Stalker of 2009): This award goes to wannabe PM Narendra Modi’s fixer, Amit Shah. An exposé revealed that in 2009 Saheb aka Modi ordered him to stalk a young architect using the, gosh, anti-terrorism squad instead of Globe Detective Agency! Cops followed her to hotels, malls, cinema halls, airports, hospitals and restaurants (note: if in Ahmedabad, eat at Havmor – the victim’s frequent visits imply that she really enjoyed the food there). Not only was her phone tapped, the phones of her entire family and friends were tapped as well (question: if Daddy had asked Saheb to keep an eye on her, why was his phone tapped too?). Oh and Saheb was most interested in all the men she was meeting, hmm.

When the story broke, the BJP got into their usual ‘Operation Fool the Public’ mode and hastily got a letter from her daddy (at gunpoint, probably) saying he had asked Modi to stalk his daughter. This, they believed, would make a nation packed with nasty khap panchayat mummies and daddies smile fondly and ruffle Modi’s thinning hair for torturing their children.

Interestingly, the mainstream electronic media blanked it out for two days. Barkha Dutt was probably worried that she’d be stalked by Saheb, too, for daring to discuss this in public. Arnab Goswami, the man who is not afraid of taking on evil Pakistani Generals, was strangely silent too – it appears the Saheb got his tongue. And Rajdeep Sardesai was probably cowering under his bed. Odd, since the yowling TV-wallahs see themselves as the conscience-keepers of the nation. Fortunately, the press picked it up and what do you know – social media does work! People on Twitter embarrassed news channels to have
discussions on it – the wimps eventually did it, with kid gloves on, though.

The story isn’t over yet. As I write this, I’m waiting for the BJP to get hold of the girl herself and make her inform the media that she had begged Saheb to protect her with tears in her eyes. Even so, that spin won’t work. If she had asked for protection, the cops wouldn’t have had to follow her – they’d have walked beside her, innit? So yeah, the BJP thinks a creepy stalker would be an ideal prime minister for India. Don’t they have better human beings in their party – just asking?

 

Spammer of the year: I blame Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Admi Party for banishing generous people and corporations from my life. They’ve flooded my spam box with so many emails that there’s absolutely no room left to accommodate people from African nations who’d frequently inform me that a lovely stranger had left zillions of dollars to my great-great-great grandfather, and they’d be willing to hand it over to me for a small fee to cover bank transactions. And how about those fake Coca-Cola and BMW officials who’d tell me in gushing tones that I’d won a lottery (no matter if I did not recall buying a ticket – amnesia is as common as common cold) and I was going to be richer than Bill
Gates, woohoo!

All I’m left with now are boring, lengthy letters from AAP-wallahs informing me how absobloominutely marvellous they are. Yawn. Even worse, they never offer me dollars, not a cent. Au contraire – they want me to give them money because they’re so marvellous!

It doesn’t stop there. Every other day, I get a phone call from Arvind Kejriwal telling me how fantastically fabulous he is and could I please vote for his party. Is it possible to persuade the AAP that we’re not singing ABBA’s “Ring ring why don’t you give me a call” to them? Wish we could do this as a team. I’m scared to pick up the phone these days – seriously. I’m getting the feeling that the man has started haunting me and I will eventually have to part with some cash – no, not to be given to his party, but to an exorcist to get him off my back!

Shortest leader of the year: BJP leader LK Advani’s public tantrum over Narendra Modi being appointed to some silly post in the party led to him being cut down to the size of a jack ass–sorry, I meant jack fruit. He proved to the nation that he truly is suffering from senile dementia – come on, no one in his right mind refuses to go on an all-expenses paid holiday in Goa! To make matters worse (for himself, not the nation – just to be clear), his posturing and passionate blog posts with mythological references were firmly dealt with by a bunch of ugly, scary people screaming nasty slogans outside his house. Incidentally, those same people euphemistically call themselves Modi’s Army (Sanghis always like to pretend they’re made of better stuff, sigh). Then came the climax with his resignation letter and the anti-climax when he meekly took it back without scoring any points in return. However, senior BJP leaders insisted before rolling cameras that Advani was their tallest leader. Yeah, right – but in the real world, Barbie is taller!

 

Most immature person of the year: When internationally acclaimed economist Amartya Sen said (in his usual polite and mild-mannered way) that he personally disapproves of Narendra Modi as a PM candidate, Chandan Mitra of the BJP threw hissy fits on TV shows and demanded that Sen return the Bharat Ratna since it was given to him during the NDA regime. Reminds me of an old saying we used to taunt each other with when we were in kindergarten: ‘Give a thing, take it back, go around the Devil’s back nyaah, nyaah, nyaah’.  Grow up, Mr Mitra, instead of growing just horizontally, okay? 

Best-looking Indian of the year: Women across the nation (particularly middle-aged women who shoot the breeze on social media sites) have sighed deeply over Raghuram Rajan, the new RBI governor. Not because he really is India’s hottest hunk, but because we’ve never seen such a decent-looking and well-dressed bloke who (gasps) works for the fuddy duddy Government of India! Cut us some slack – after decades of seeing pompous, paunchy men in dull beige or gray safari suits, we couldn’t help but squeal our appreciation. As the Joker said to Batman, “Nice outfit!” 

Worst student of the year: I’m not going to bore you by recounting all the historical boo boos Narendra Modi has made about Chandragupta Maurya, Alexander the Great, Sardar Patel and, gosh, even the founder of his own party – it can’t get worse than this, can it? Hmm – public opinion says, “Yes, it can!” I expect him to defiantly inform us some day that the owner of Gupta Sweets is a descendant of Chandragupta Maurya. And social media sites are buzzing with other boo boos he is capable of. I’ve picked one of the finest from a hilarious parody account (@MarendraNodi): “Mitron! Come 2014, I’ll march to Delhi just like Napoleon went to Waterloo. Yes.”

So I think we can safely say that Modi isn’t the right participant for a quiz contest. Or a UN meeting. Or, well, anything. Chances of Modi meeting a leader from Europe and asking him if kangaroos stroll down the streets (like cows do in India) are very high. We also suspect he thinks Disneyland is an independent country. Even his political rivals are so horrified at the thought of him embarrassing India, that the Mumbai Youth Congress sent him a parcel of history textbooks. Now our only hope is that he can actually read.    

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: DECEMBER 2013