Swarg me charcha: How independent India looks like from really high up
When Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Subhas Chandra Bose saw the independent India on the 69th anniversary of Independence Day, here’s how the conversation went:columns Updated: Aug 13, 2016 19:37 IST
Lal Bahadur Shastri: It’s absolutely wonderful to see the old country from up here, what?
Mahatma Gandhi: Yes, after all these years, it’s great to watch the 69th anniversary of Independence from so high up.
Sardar Patel: You’re the father of the nation. You’ve got roads all over the country named after you.
Jawaharlal Nehru: You aren’t doing too badly yourself Sardar, what with having the world’s tallest statue.
Patel: Oh yes, completely forgot that. Anyway, we’re in a movie called ‘Gandhi’ they screen every year on Independence Day.
See in pics| Readying for Independence Day parade
Subhash Bose: It won eight Oscars. So did Slumdog Millionaire.
Shastri: Don’t squabble, it’s great meeting you all again. Subhash, I’m so glad you’re here. There was some confusion about you being alive or dead. Where’s Jinnah?
Nehru: He’s in the other place, the very hot one.
Patel: Deservedly so. Where’s Bhagat Singh?
Bose: He said he’s not interested in bourgeois ceremonies.
Gandhi: I can see the entire country from up here. Everything is so different. I seem to be father of a nation of lunatics — why is everybody talking to himself?
Patel: No, no, they’re talking into things called smartphones.
Gandhi: Is that Bombay? It’s become huge.
Nehru: Best call it Mumbai, one never knows if some Shiv Sena chaps are up here.
Patel: They also have Google, Facebook, Twitter. I tweeted, ‘Nehru is a pseudo-secular socialist’ last evening and got 10,000 retweets.
Gandhi: Stop twittering, Patel. I can’t see a single charkha.
Nehru: Thank God. Instead, we’re making smartphones in my temples of modern India.
Shastri: Actually, they’re being made in the sweatshops of modern China.
Nehru: China beat us again? What do we do?
Patel: We’re an information technology superpower. It enables our boys and girls to go in droves to the West.
Gandhi: Good God. Has nobody told them the Quit India Movement is over?
Shastri: Those shiny shopping malls down there are the temples of modern India. You loved curd, Bapu? You can get 30 varieties of flavoured yogurt down there.
Gandhi: You forget one eats to live. What do the headlines say?
Nehru: The front pages are all about things called Amazon and Flipkart.
Shastri: Those are ads. Amazon and Flipkart are modern deities.
Patel: The headlines are mostly about cows and atrocities against Dalits.
Ambedkar: Told you so.
Patel: There’s trouble in Kashmir and the northeast and upper castes trying to get reservations. A war of words with Pakistan.
Nehru: Some things never change.
Gandhi: How are my precious Indian villages doing?
Nehru: Distressed farmers committing suicide. Mass migration to urban slums.
Bose: Look on the bright side, Bapu. If we kicked the British out, fixing all this is child’s play. Chin up, I hear they might name their next missile the Mahatma Gandhi Intercontinental Ballistic Destroyer, in your honour.
Gandhi: Hey Ram.
Manas Chakravarty is consulting editor, Mint. The views expressed are personal