Stand Up India is good, but Sit Down India would have been better

  • Manas Chakravarty
  • Updated: May 29, 2016 02:16 IST
Bharatiiya Janata Party workers garlanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a rally to mark the second anniversary of the formation of his government at the centre, in Saharanpur, India, on Thursday, May 26, 2016 (ASHOK DUTTA)

(The Wall Street Journal, May 24: Indian Prime Minister Is Planning a Weeks-Long Nationwide Party for His Modiversary Bash)

People across the country have strongly welcomed the government’s decision to celebrate its second anniversary in style. ‘With a third of the nation reeling from a terrible drought, this is the right time to have a gala party to drive away the blues,’ said a refugee from parched Marathwada, adding he hoped they would serve water at the events. But a Jat from Haryana threatened to shut down Karnal again if they served only water, calling for stronger liquids to celebrate the Jat quota. ‘What’s the point of having the Bharatiya Janata Party if the Bharatiya janata don’t get to party,’ asked a political scientist.

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A decadent pseudo-secular historian pointed to the fantastic bashes thrown by the Roman emperor Nero, whose party venue had a ‘ceiling that, when cranked by slaves, rotated like the stars in the heavens while simultaneously flower petals and perfume filled the spacious central room.’ He added such a ceiling could easily be rotated by RSS volunteers. He said wistfully that Emperor Caligula held delightful week-long orgies. But his hopes were dashed when someone pointed out the present government doesn’t like Rome.

‘The idea,’ said a professor, ‘is to showcase the government’s achievements’. He suggested theme parties. ‘For instance,’ he said, ‘the ministers can have a sit-down dinner in which they sit not on chairs but on commodes. That dinner, broadcast by Doordarshan, would send a powerful message about building toilets.’ A film buff suggested videos. ‘We could show the hero weeping bitterly because he is unable to set up an industry as his village doesn’t have electricity. Next we show the village being electrified under the Deendayal Gram Jyoti Yojana so he starts a unit under the Start Up India programme, part of the Make in India scheme, but competition increases because all villages become electrified and industrial units mushroom so he goes bankrupt under the new Bankruptcy Law. He then flees to the UK like Mallya,’ he explained.

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A youngster said he loved the government’s decision to open discos under its Uday (Ujjwal Disco Assurance Yojana) scheme. A farmer in Bundelkhand said he was a great believer in Digital India. A guy standing in a jam-packed Mumbai suburban train said he liked Stand Up India, but Sit Down India was better.

Unfortunately, our brilliant ministers who have accomplished such wondrous things will celebrate the anniversary by holding boring meetings and making tiresome speeches. Contrast the founding fathers of the United States, who, after writing the constitution, had a wild party in Philadelphia in which 55 delegates put away more than 100 bottles of wine, 22 bottles of port, 12 bottles of beer, eight bottles of whisky, eight bottles of cider and seven bowls of punch. What’s more, the innkeeper added a fine for broken bottles, tables and chamber pots. The founding fathers were no doubt assisted in their efforts by the founding hookers, although history is discreetly silent on that point. Their leaders knew how to party; ours do not. We must learn from them.

Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint

The views expressed are personal

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