Till 1980s, the popular Hindi filmi villain was the caricatured businessman. Madhuri Dixit’s movies and the 90’s liberalization, killed this stereotype. Possibly, the massacre of politicians in ‘Inquilab’ ( a 1980’s film starring Amitabh Bachchan) initiated the change of villain from the businessman to the politician. Today, a popular profession for villains in Hindi films is politics.
The Neta In Colonial Times
From colonial times, the Indian neta has been a favorite target of smear campaigns, innuendo and propaganda. Colonial administration in India worked hard to undermine the credibility of the Indian ‘neta’ - for obvious reasons. Colonial bureaucrats (and their successors, the IAS) covered their incompetence and corruption with this lopsided image of the neta. Indians politicians are possibly as corrupt as any others in the world.
Ask the Japanese about Kakui Tanaka and Lockheed affair. Or ask the British about Mark Thatcher shenanigans. But don’t ask Americans about the son of bootlegger who flouted the US Constitution many times - John F.Kennedy. After JFK’s killing, 60 years on, there are many suspects who had motives. Mafia tops this list.
IAS - Indian In Name Only
But the English speaking, Indian bureaucracy is another matter. Having dragged India to the bottom of global corruption pervasiveness ratings, they cover their owns misdeeds, under the ‘umbrella’ of the neta.
This is one colonial institution that India has tried digesting, without succes. IAS (ICS during colonial times) a venal, corrupt cadre, has tied up India into knots - which have taken us decades to even start disentangling.
As in colonial era, the IAS lobby works behind the scenes. The IAS lobby continues with this. Indian TV channels routinely conduct sting operations on various institutions - politicians, universities, colleges, film stars, etc. But no one has tried a sting operation on an IAS officer. Is it their propaganda skills that they are able to cover their corruption - and the popular, elected leadership is continually tarred.
Or is it fear?
The NRI Drivel
Lord Meghnad Desai, in Times Of India, made some ’standard’ comments about Indian ‘netas‘. While Desai’s article talks about what India’s netas need to do, it gives them no credit for where India is today.
If India’s netas, are powerful enough to influence the future then does it occur to His Lordship that they may have been (at least partly) influential in India’s post-colonial re-construction. Is it too much to expect even-handedness from His Lordship? Does His Lordship realize that India’s under-rated netas have nurtured the world’s only successful Republican Democracy in the last 200 years. India’s illiterate voters have participated enthusiastically in this success. Westernized Indians (like Lord Meghnad Desai) have seen India through a Western eyes and English language.
His prognosis for the West is even more interesting. It is His Lordship’s belief that possibly only the USA (from the West) will make the cut. The Euro zone, he implies will be irrelevant. How and why is Lord Desai silent about the role of Euro-politicians in the decline and eclipse (His Lorship’s pessimism) of Euro-zone. Is it that His Lordship does not dare criticize Western politicians? Or is that the West can do no wrong? Is Euro-eclipse as much black magic as The Rise Of India?
Behind Indian Success
Is this forward march of India an accident ? Or a happy co-incidence? Black magic, perhaps? Not forgetting credit to The West? After all, the the West is confident that modern Indian success is due to Western contribution? Of course, it begs a question as to why this has not happened in any other country.
Not to forget the NRI contribution - especially the Westernized NRIs (like Lord Meghnad Desai who wants to be an Indian now). Possibly, the only people who should not get any credit is are the desi, home grown Indians.