Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The ubiquity of pandering brownnosers

Starting in 1996, first one, then another state government in Maharashtra state, decided to pander to its regionally jingoistic Marathi voter base by changing the name of every place, thing, animal, vegetable and mineral in Mumbai city to the "Chhatrapati Shivaji" place, thing, animal, vegetable and mineral. All this useless charade was pretty much hogwash in the eyes of many Maharashtrians, who believed the government would have been better off utilizing it's time and resources in pursuing policies that would actually have some tangible benefits. The government, as a result, became, and quite rightly so, an object of ridicule. This is the joke that was circulating around at that time :

I wake up everyday at 6:30 am (Chhatrapati Standard Time) to go to my school: Chhatrapati Shivaji Vidyalaya. It was a little confusing getting there at first, because all schools in the city have the same name. But once I got directions, it was fine. All I have to do is go down Chhatrapati Shivaji Road, make a left turn at Chhatrapati Shivaji Chowk, go straight till Chhatrapati Shivaji Marg, until I reach Chhatrapati Shivaji Road. Then I go straight till I come to Chhatrapati Shivaji Chowk. Once I got lost and found myself at Chhatrapati Shivaji Road instead of Chhatrapati Shivaji Road. Silly mistake, when I think about it.

Fast forward to the present and to the Western hemisphere in a supposedly developed country called the United States of America. Here, you would probably think the situation would be different, but you would be wrong. The national party in power, the Republican party, is up to the same tricks that the misguided Maharashtra state government was up to. Right now, the Republican party is hell bent upon renaming everything in the capital, Washington DC, by attaching the prefix "Ronald Reagan" to it. And today, in the US, this is the joke circulating around the block.

One can only imagine what it must be like every morning in the Bonilla household...

MRS. BONILLA: Good morning dear. I've cooked you some Ronald Reagans for breakfast.

Thanks honey, I'll eat them while I read the Ronald Reagan.

Would you like me to turn on the Ronald Reagan?

No thanks - now I come to think of it I really need to take a Ronald Reagan. I'll read the Ronald Reagan while I'm in there.

(15 minutes later)

HENRY BONILLA: I wouldn't go in there for a while if I were you.

Notice any similarities? If you wanted to be a sentimental pile of horse manure, you could take the viewpoint that this just goes to show that deep inside our outer layers of religion, class, caste, gender, nationality and everything else that divides us, we are all the same at the core. On the other hand, if you wanted to be a cynical bastard and chuck the sentimentality, you could say that this just proves that wherever you go on this planet of ours, you will always find a bunch of politicians willing to shed every bit of dignity and common sense in order to pander to the masses for political gain.

I choose to be a cynical bastard.


Patrix said...

A thought to ponder on: What was Chhatrapati Shivaji's name before they changed it?

gawker said...

So you are saying Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus should have been renamed Shivajirao Bhonsale terminus? Nah it doesn't have the pizzaz of "Chhatrapati".