Chetan Bhagat, Chetan Bhagat's ToI Column, Chetan Bhagat's writing criticism, Colonial mentality, Indian mentality, The kings in our minds by Chetan Bhagat, The underage optimist, VIP Movement in India
I don’t take active likes and dislikes easily. For most part, I’m a fairly laid back person who will not bother to like or dislike someone or something. Contrary to popular belief, even disliking someone involves a considerable expenditure of one’s time and energy. And I prefer to conserve my energy even if I do nothing better than twiddle my thumbs. But CBZ, i.e. Chetan Bhagat Ji, really gets me going and not in a good way. I think it’s some sort of a masochistic tendency that I subject myself to repeated torture by reading what he writes. So there was some ‘gyaan’ on admissions in DU; then there was some stuff about Mr Modi and Indian economy, both of which at present it seems, are the favourite topics of discussion for our intelligentsia. Being an ignoramus, I let it all pass while keeping myself occupied with mundane things- IPKKND, groceries, kid – life in general. Seriously, not a peep from me! But then he goes and touches a sensitive nerve, sensitive for all us lesser mortals who have to brave life in India as a commoner- the traffic snarls caused by “VIP Movement” (http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/The-underage-optimist/entry/the-kings-in-our-minds)
This time, it seems poor Mr CBZ was inconvenienced by this movement- had to wait for over an hour, almost missed his flight and that in turn would have meant that some mega event, where he had to speak, would have been cancelled. Hence this rumination. Since “VIP movement” is something we all are inconvenienced by on a routine basis, I decided to read his take on it, hoping rather naively that he may have some earth shattering insights or solutions. After all, there must be a reason for his popularity and his influence, I reasoned. But silly me- like the vast majority of India’s population, I never learn!
First of all he dramatically recreates the scene where he was stranded with an overview of the discomfiture everyone was subjected to- not only those stuck in the jam but the national ramifications thereof- the snowball effect of one flight delayed. Then comes the part as to how he deftly handled the situation. Thereafter this neta’s supposed itinerary is spelt out for us as is his comfort at the cost of others and then CBZ’s rage on a city coming to a standstill over this elected representative. He then gives us a crash course in history tracing the origins and continuation of such colonial mindsets. How does one change this mindset? By talking about it, telling everyone on social networking sites ! I mean now really! Thankfully, by then his piece had finished. There is only so much of inane ramblings that one can take at a stretch.
So, Mr. CBZ identifies himself with the common man of India. I think that in itself should put an end to all discussion. How does one make him understand that he is nowhere near that? He may have got stuck due to VIP movement but a common man endures much more than that daily, something that is beyond Mr CBZ’s understanding. Has he ever stood in a line at a gas agency or to pay an electricity bill or at a government office? I don’t think so. Like it or not, he belongs to the privileged few for whom life is very easy in India. Just his bad luck that the cop he addressed did not recognise him or else Mr CBZ too would have got an easy pass. And the colonial, herd mentality he so rants against? It’s thanks to this herd mentality that he is a success and his life easy. Sadly, the same population that sees the netas as “kings” sees CBZ also in a similar light. His word for many is sacrosanct. How else does one explain him being called one of world’s 100 most influential people? The biggest howler of all? His solution- awareness through social networking site.
If Mr CBZ had any idea whatsoever about the reality of our country, he would not even come up with such a hilarious solution. “How do you change mindsets across the country ? Well, start with yourself, and then try to change as many others as possible. If you suffered, talk about it. Text friends, talk about it on social networks and to your colleagues.” Does India thrive on Facebook or Twitter? If he is to be believed, it does. In a country where vast majority do not have access to basic amenities of life, he wants to break a colonial mindset by spreading awareness through texts and social networking sites!! Wow!! I’m speechless – which is something he should seriously consider being.
It is one thing to sit in AC cars and conference rooms and talk about changing the country and an entirely different ball game to actually do something about it. To be able to change a country, it’s people and their mindsets needs more than high sounding words. Or if Mr CBZ thinks texting and social network sites offer the answer, he should give it a try. Divorced as he is from India’s reality, he does have a strong presence on social network sites, whatever that is worth.