The Indian loin! I’m frankly a bit amused about all the fuss being made at Heathrow over terrorist plots and such like. Equally amusing is the seriousness with which the US embassy and the British High Commission here in India take themselves and are going about issuing red alerts. They have all misunderstood the average Indian. Much to the dismay of Rotarians, we are all ‘loins’.
We have a certain resilience borne out of karmic belief and a sense of joyous fatality. Look at the lives we lead. We don’t need terrorists to scare us. Natwar Singh may never be allowed into the PM’s residence, but three overjoyed ‘nephews and nieces’ can drive in and drive out as if they were picking up some ice-cream.
We worry from the moment we wake up. Almost a million motorists across India brace themselves for imminent death on our streets thanks to the dignified driving habits of well-behaved Indians. If an errant truck driver doesn’t mow us down, we can always wait for a BMW to do the trick. So real terror is something we’ve grown up with. In fact nowadays, when there are no accidents, the streets look so unfamiliar that we start worrying.
Then for many there is the issue of water — and no I’m not taking about Sunita Narain but the issue of flooding. Every year it rains and every year water enters our homes. In fact, flooding is the only way it enters. Water from taps hardly ever does. So we’ve now become a nation of river-walkers. We know how to walk when everything around us is floating. From rubber slippers to very healthy bacteria.
Take our children: at an early stage they are taught that they have to grow up and become IAS officers so that they can make easy money and get a handsome dowry. For that reason alone we start carrying heavy school bags, which is almost always deathly. Add to the fact that our syllabi are antiquated, and you have death staring you in the face all through your childhood.
Then there is the question of business and industry. Almost every polluting industry in India is widely regarded and respected. More effluents are pumped into our rivers than corpses. So if there is the unlikely chance that you want to sip some pure Ganga jal, chances are you’ll end up staying there as well. If you are religious, you’ll probably end up in a stampede that will once again kill you with benevolent ease. So just look around and death as an Indian opportunity lingers.
As for mobility, more people have died in stationary trains than ones that move. Most of our airplanes today are commandeered by people who speak Polish while our ATC is staffed by people who speak Bhojpuri. So mid-air crashes are something that we should wait for.
Then there is the whole spectrum of going back home after office. If overloaded buses won’t kill you, then the overwhelming stench in them will. As for news, there is still no respite. Our choices are between an intelligent Jaswant Singh and an even more intelligent Natwar Singh. The role-model of governance is Lalu Yadav and the Planning Commission plans for five years at a stretch even though nothing may happen in the next one month.
So we are a country where the best made plans can turn into cinder. Even terrorists can be stupid when it comes to execution. They had a large body of people sitting in Parliament: a catchment area so to speak and they messed up. So why do we need to worry? Let the Londons and the New Yorks of the world worry. We are the loin-hearted. Nothing can shake us. Have a delightful Independence Day!
The writer is Managing Partner, Counselage