Sunday, April 04, 2010

The White Elephants of Lucknow

Much is said and written about Mayawati's fixation for elephants. The wild life enthusiasts would be elated by the fact that a CM in India is investing so much resources on building statues of this endangered species of the largest terrestrial mammal.
For the last ten years, the only development that U.P. has seen is by way of statues. So, it will not be wrong to say that U.P. is fast becoming a sculptor's paradise. Shravan Prajapati, the man behind most of the statues dotting the skyline of Lucknow cannot be happier. He is by far the most celebrated sculptor of our country , thanks to the megalomania of Mayawati, who has been dubiously titled as Daulat ki Beti by her opponents - for, she has decided to reverse all the excesses done on dalits till date by erecting statues!

Much speculation has been done on the thought pattern of this mania of the U.P. CM. While some say that this is a symbolic gesture to answer back the upper casts in the same coin, others counter that this is nothing but the false ego of Mayawati. But we have to see what really makes the people tick in the entire cow belt, or even better put, the BIMARU states of India. Come election time and you will see even petty level politicians, move around the city canvassing for votes, and surrounding them would be atleast four to five 'gunners', providing 'security'! This security cover would comprise of big mustached burly men, with a 'dunali' strapped on their back. One often wonders, whether these are supposed to provide security, or are just a pretext to move around the town with your goons.
It makes sense to do so, because the more you flaunt your wealth and your power, the more 'respect' you get. It becomes even more important when the majority of the electorate lives below the poverty line and are largely illiterate. One of the biggest flaws of democracy is that every voter has the same right to vote, be it an impoverished starving landless laborer from rural India or an educated and aware urbanite; the Mayawatis and Laloo Yadavs of Indian politics know jolly well that who is the more gullible of the two.
For the rural poor it hardly matters who becomes the CM. This is because their state will always remain the same. But it makes sense to vote for a leader who loves to display her power and wealth brazenly. This atleast lets them dream vicariously about the money and power that  they  will never have for real.

We Indians love to lead our lives vicariously. Bollywood is a glaring example. A large majority of bollywood movies revolve around filthy rich people, leading comfortable lives, eating good food, moving about in swanky cars. Even if the hero comes from a poor family (for a change) he looks good in his smartly tailored clothes and prim & proper hairdo. He not only woos the rich mill owner's daughter but also wows the audience by declaring that he is poor not because of his circumstances but because he chooses to live an honest and simple life! Thus, all the rickshaw pullers and coolies and jobless graduates of the rural hinterland leave the theater with a smug grin on their face. They may be poor, but they still have pride. It is this pride that Mayawati wants to exploit. She tells them, you do not have money, you do not have jobs, nor do you have food to eat, but you know what, all this does not matter! as long as your pride is intact. And she is taking care of that pretty well, looking at the speed in which Lucknow is turning into a city of Statues!

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