Sunday, April 27, 2008

How to become a hero?

So, you are a politician and this is election year. You've done nothing towards solving big ticket problems in your constituency, or ministry (if you are a minister) for the last four, and now people want to know why they should elect you.

What do you do? Well, simple. You find a trivial issue, sensationalize it, and pretend to solve it by victimizing someone.

Let's see some examples. Our health system maybe in shambles, we may have 74 children out of 1000 dying below the age of five (27 in China), 0.8 beds for 1000 people (2.38 in China), 47% of our children are underweight (10% in China), only 42% of births are attended to by qualified personnel (70% in China), and...well, you get the picture. But our do-good minister of health affairs is not interested in these numbers. After all, how can you explain to the electorate that the number of hospital beds is now 0.82 per 1000 - how will they understand? Instead, you can wage a jihad on something visible - cigarettes, for instance. Not satisfied with banning smoking in movies, and not satisfied with having large skull-and-bones pictures put on packs, our worthy minister even tried to edit old movies to remove cigarettes from them! Luckily, saner minds prevailed. Next, the minister targetted alcohol - the no.1 cause for malnutrition deaths, high infant mortality, and maternity deaths. Now, he is targetting junk food - your next meal at Mc Donalds might actually come with a lecture on good eating habits! Or, the next time you buy a can of saturated fat, you could be made to attend a refresher course on the evils of cholesterol.

Anyhoo, another candidate in this space is the most cultured home minister of Maharashtra. Now, I don't know much about Marathi culture, but if you believed the minister, it would mean antagonism towards bargirls, towards cheerleaders, and towards "modern" clothing, while turning a blind eye to the violence perpetrated by goons supporting one political family. It would mean supporting weird notions of Marathi pride, including burning books written on Shivaji - who in his time, established a kingdom of tolerance and respect. It means targetting the innocent, and letting the vile go scot-free.

India, my friends - the latest "super-power".


Anonymous said...

Hmm. That Ramadoss chap cares more about my kids than I'm comfortable with.

I for one think that the RC cheerleader-contingent is the one thing that Mallya's got right. The only thing I'm embarrassed about is what the cheerleaders are subjected to, from the crowd.

Perhaps a lot of people are offended because they paid to watch the cricket, and now they have to put up with the cheerleaders. To them, I ask: If it's a package-deal, are you offended enough to stop watching?

What gets my goat is the censor-board's "Jack-the-Ripper meets Edward Scissorhands" approach to their work. Entire sequences from "300"... gone. Hapless victims to their overzealous cutting-blade. I can't pick up a "300" BluRay disk anywhere here, and be happy with it.

Just how do they propose to censor things when movie sales finally move to over the internet?

The censor-board is akin to that lowest breed of low-lives that comment on Youtube... You know, the kind who'd search for cricket-videos, and then post comments about how dumb the game is. (Then why did they bother searching in the first place?)

What I have to say to detractors of IPL-cheerleading is the same as what I say to the pro-censorship crowd: If you don't like it, watch the Discovery Channel. I don't remember outsourcing my conscience to you. "Protect" your own damn children, and leave mine well alone. Now get the hell out of my house, and take your scissors with you.

Gops said...


I totally agree. And regarding censoring things on the Internet, let me assure you, they'll find a way, albeit an inefficient and loop-hole ridden one.

happy quark said...

You write a blog like this in China, It doesn’t get published!! Or even better you get arrested, statistics can be interpreted in a million different ways, most of the times it’s misinterpreted. I can point out at a million flaws in the Chinese administration. Don’t be so proud of another country that we don’t even know of. China to us is what the Chinese government tells us about itself, and moreover don’t ever compare a communist nation with a democratic setup. Why are you so critical about the health minister trying to stop the spread of alcohol and tobacco? In a country obsessed with bollywood, all it takes for a kid to try smoking is his favorite hero puffing one before punching out the villain, yes maybe I’m being too na├»ve but In a country where the per capita income per annum of those below poverty line is not more than Rs 6000, all it takes is a few bottles of beer every weekend to exhaust it all up. Then where will the money come to cover the medical and educational expenses of his children?. Try to do a root cause analysis, all those high infant mortality figures are basically because there is no money to those who suffer, who in turn are addicted to the scourge of liquor and tobacco. Building state of the art hospitals and offering free health care to the poor will not solve the problem, it needs a broader approach, it needs a healthier lifestyle. There needs to be awareness among the citizens about good and healthy practices. India is the diabetic and heart disease capital of the world, thanks to the fact that we blissfully ignore warnings about a high cholesterol rich diet. You don’t need a lecture on good eating habits while having your burger at McD’s, you just need to look at your dying heart. No Chinese doctor will come to save you then..:)
India my friend is not a super power yet, it still has a long way to go.

With Regards

Happy Quark

Gops said...

Happy Quark,

Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

Let me see - your criticism is centered around 3-4 things:
1) China won't let me publish blogs like this
2) Chinese stats are unreliable
3) Ramdoss' fight against alcohol and smoking, and against fatty foods is credible
4) India is not a super power.

On (4), I completely agree. I put super power in quotes for that precise reason.

For (1) well, China wouldn't let me write this blog, and India won't let me celebrate Valentine's day - hmm...not much of a difference, I'm afraid.

For (2), I got my stats from the WHO site. They have independent assessors of all health markers and are the most reliable (AFAIK). I also don't buy the argument that our democracy is in any way a hindrance for improving our HDI. If anything, it should be a plus, because democracies are more aware.

(3) is probably your biggest criticism. I'm not against the minister trying to stop the spread of alcohol and tobacco. I only think there are more pressing issues which he didn't address, and that his failure in those areas prompted him to do these publicity stunts. For instance, 1 in 3 children die in India because of things that the government has "missions" for: clean water, clean air, and basic nutrition, all of which should be free and easily available, but aren't. Further, what he is doing isn't awareness - he's only playing to the gallery.

Finally, as far as my dying heart is concerned :) remember, India is one of the few countries that doesn't even have a trans fat regulation. And then too, why is our minister silent on the vada pav, jalebis and the other dishes that we get on the street?

Happy Quark said...

ah well you are not getting my point. My point is don't be so cynical about our country. "Statistics can be misinterpreted in a million different ways". About China, well just Google "press freedom in china" and you will have your answer. Every word that is written in China is censored, there is complete intolerance towards personal space...and well the list goes on. The grass is always greener on the other side.

Dont quote WHO, wondering why well read this report -
A mathematical comparison between health indices of various countries and demographics is not validated, All I am trying to say is don’t try to be healthy just because the Chinese are healthy. Do it out of your own conscience.

About your criticism of the health minister playing to the gallery, well tell me which other minister had the muscle in him to take on the liquor and tobacco barons, and risk loosing revenues of millions of rupees in the form of tax? And moreover we don’t need awareness, everybody knows tobacco and liquor kill, but who is quitting?

And about your point of India not having trans fat regulation, well on one end you criticize the government for getting in regulations against tobacco and liquor and on the other you want regulations against trans fat content. Its easy to be a critic.

With Regards

Happy Quark