If ever an icon has united this vast and complex land of ours (way more than cricket or Bollywood), it must be the slightly podgy 'Amul girl' in a polka-dotted dress, focused on her buttered slices of bread but an earnest observer and commentator on all things Indian. Also known as the 'Amul baby', for once, she seems to have found herself more at the centre of news than the sidelines from where she usually supplies her witty observations. The controversy is as ancient and elemental as humanity itself: the clash between the conflicting egos of youth and old age, how age actually withers and if the old order should yield place for the new.
The battleground, in this case, has been the verdant fields of Kerala, where the 87-year-old chief minister VS Achuthanandan is in running for a further five-year term in office. Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi is reported to have mentioned that Mr Achuthanandan, in case he wins, will be 93 around the time of the next elections. Miffed at the arithmetic, the latter has called Mr Gandhi an 'Amul baby'. The comparison is baffling, considering Mr Gandhi is 40 years old; interesting, though of lesser consequence, is the fact that the iconic Amul ad representation itself was created 45 years ago.
We, who never like to miss out on the fine print, already see how Mr Achuthanandan has cleverly supplanted the 'Glaxo baby', representative of multinational interests and, therefore, anathema to an old guard Communist, with the 'Amul baby', the epitome of grass-root level cooperative success. Nor do we discount the possibility of that eternal cultural disconnect among regions north and south of the Vindhyas, whereby the 'babalogs' of the north transmute into the 'baby' of the south. In all this baby talk, one would have loved to hear what the girl in the polka-dotted dress might have to say.