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Eat the poor

Can there be bad people among the poor? Or to put it more bluntly, can poor people be bad? asks Indrajit Hazra.

india Updated: Oct 24, 2009 23:48 IST
Indrajit Hazra

Can there be bad people among the poor? Or to put it more bluntly, can poor people be bad?

We instinctively know, of course, as readers of this publication, that rich people — by which one means anybody who can afford two square meals a week and can pronounce the English word ‘bastard’ properly — are by nature bastards. Even a rich person like myself who fulfils both criteria mentioned above knows this and the height of my sad condition is signified by the fact that I want all poor people to be like me: rich.

Poor people, of course, are less narcissistic: they want to be rich people. But thankfully, there’s always that old ruse of finding ‘dignity in poverty’ to keep the mob at bay.

When I’m in a certain frame of mind, however, perhaps pretending to be the youngest son of a zamindar with a gajra twirled around my lean wrist, whose fondness for the Reagan-Thatcher couple is only matched by his desire to half-eat a packed meal from a very nice restaurant in front of a mother-infant beggar duo and take the uneaten half home to conduct experiments in rotting food, I realise that it’s so much easier to make poor people, well, just disappear.

Considering that we live in 21st century India, a democratic, socialist yadayadayada republic where one disappearance, especially of a poor person, brings on the full wrath of the mai-baap State, the options available are severely limited. Even if I somehow manage (with a little help from my richer friends) to bankroll a few gents in positions of parliamentary power to introduce and pass the Prevention of the Re-appearance of the Non-rich (PoRN) Bill, standard procedures of ‘spontaneous riots’ that used to take care of at least some from this target group can no longer apply. The State and, more importantly, the police thanas across the land simply won’t allow it.

So we’re left with some outside-of-the-box thinking. Something that will simultaneously allow us to get rid of poor people and allow us to feel mighty upset about conducting such an operation. This requires us, rich folks, to split up into two teams.

One team, with the requisite training — which will include the mandatory reading of Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, going to summer camps to districts that have recorded hunger deaths, and participating in a simulation of being thrown out of your land/property/street kerb — will be able to feel the anguish of the poor faster than they can say, ‘Lalgarh ke Sholay’.

This feeling of ‘being one’ with the dispossessed and poor will be so internalised, that genuine guilt will push this team to feel genuine sympathy for poor people. The genuinely poor, who treat their kind in a horrible manner, may actually be shocked and galvanised (or what the Fanon-reading rich people will call ‘radicalised’) into treating their fellow people better when they see these rich people caring. Havaldars will no longer drive out beggars who come to the police station to report a case of molestation or attack.

The poor people-loving rich folks will, in fact, tell the poor to fight the rich and coin anti-rich slogans whose essential message will be: ‘It’s payback time, piggies!’

In the meantime, the other team of rich folks, till now waiting patiently for their undercover partners to have completed galvanising the poor people into action, will finally have the excuse to implement the dormant PoRN Act. Thus, in the necessary reaction against the rogue poor people-loving rich people, poor people will finally be liquidated.

I mean, freed of their miseries.