New-born patriotism

CultureNew-born patriotism

Our economy has been in a fleapit for more than a few years now, and that’s a rather mild way of putting it; would have wanted to say snake-pit or hell-hole but decided against describing it so, since these phrases hurt the ears and yet as this pen glides by, have done just that! With Covid-19, the economy is in quicksand with Companies and what have you, briskly axing their way through balance sheets, slashing work-force and the employees they thought could carry a donkey’s load, in the buy-one-get-three-free genre, remained unretrenched, with salary that can best be called wages. A pittance, chicken-feed, peanuts, take your pick. Yet one holds on to this shoestring pay with a worryingly low level of hope that by going, `vocal for local’ the clouds will break, and the haemorrhaging economy shall be bright as a clear blue sky. Until then, so many of us borrow from John, and then to return John’s loan, borrow from Tom to do a repeat by taking yet another loan from Jack to return Tom’s pretty packet. While this taking and returning operation is on, our savings have been eaten into and fixed deposits prematurely terminated…it’s not about solely running the kitchen but about electricity bills, monthly instalments of the property which, God-Willing, one day be providing Ownership Papers to the house that roofs you. Same for the car you drive, children’s school fees, medical bills…need I go on?! So, this defunded state is round-the-clock…before heading to where this piece is intended to journey by, must halt for a very brief moment. A dear friend has not received her salary for 12 months—precisely a year—yet each day makes her way to the swanky firm she works for. Commuting 5 and a half days (Saturdays are half days!) by Metro, by not a long shot, an inexpensive fare. She wants to put in her papers but knows that if that route is taken, she’ll be kissing goodbye to the supposed salary ‘that is on its way’. Being financially independent well before she tied the knot, almost 30 long years back, taking pocket-money from her husband, for fare to get to the office, has had a demoralising affect. This, before Covid-19 making us run for cover in more ways than one…would some Economist please explain?! High-time to board the train that takes us through the planned safari but for this sort of a travel, an open jeep would be the right vehicle! So cancel the train reservation, shall we?! Back to the war-cry our Prime Minister instructed us to comply by for us to bounce back, becoming self-reliant in the process, ‘Go Vocal for Local’. Meaning that we should buy only home-grown goods boycotting `phoren maal’. (Reminded me of Gandhi-ji’s Swadeshi Movement and the Manchester Bonfire, where all clothes made in England, were in a collective bid of solidarity, set aflame with only home-spun khadi to be worn!) Now Akshay Kumar has re-eally taken a solemn oath to abide by this slogan through thick and thin—quite unmindful of the elephant in the room! And so, there he is, sprawling all over the telly, tooting away how Dabur Chyawanprash will fortify us from within, abling us to deal with any crafted-in-China plague or shutdown Nature’s nemesis on our maltreatment of the Lord’s bounty bestowed upon Mother Earth’s ungrateful humans. This despite the many Environmental Conventions Davos hosts with celebrity luminaries offering tailor-made remedies to set our globe in order! So there is our Hero singing away to a nuclear family, living in idyllic cottage surroundings, that a spoonful of Dabur Chyawanprash shall not only keep all ailments at bay by life-enhancing boosters such as Ashwagandha, Mulethi, Giloi, Amla and more of more, Ayurvedic herbs, going on to advocate that the farmers of Punjab, whose fields would produce grains worth their weight in ‘Sona’, once their muscles are further strengthened by this miraculous gooey potion. Same goes for construction workers and those ‘jawans’, who in rain or shine, unflinchingly ride the storm, now with our local brand of herbal mixture be better prepared to patrol our borders. Likewise, for our medical care warriors—doctors and nurses now christened ‘warriors’ with this on-going battle. Macho Nannyish nudging, would you not say?! Akshay Kumar doesn’t stop with Dabur—all ‘Fortune’ products are unconditionally championed by him. From cooking oils of various varieties—rice, soya, bran…to ‘Fortune’ rice, besan and god-knows what else. The sky overhead, quite surely, falls short to house the countless `Fortune’ packages. Whatever emerges from the ‘Fortune Stables’ provide a daily dose of sustained nourishment, guaranteeing the warding-off of other Videshi food-stock, ensuring that, `an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ Rather a Slow Safari, if you ask me, so better we hop on to a bullet train to cover the rest of the stretch?! Then nearly five years back, Kareena Kapoor went ultra-vocal regarding her pregnancy, touting how via Prega News her entire life had, in a 5-minute period, become solely about ‘Good News’. A pregnancy kit so quick-as-a-bunny, gifted you with the good news of a stork shortly, yet swiftly, arriving at your doorstep. Prega News, manufactured by home-based ‘Mankind’. Yes, Kareena’s pregnancy was flaunted everywhere courtesy Prega News; more than poutily posing over the red carpet at Cannes in some hideous designer wear. Here, she went all-out displaying her `Baby-Bump’, another Western Import. Remember Angelina Jolie racing through Beverly Hills’, Rodeo Drive, sporting a crop top bearing a full-blown belly to `show-off’ her baby-bump. Pregnancy, a new-born phenomenon, you would think, not kicked-off by Adam and Eve…By the way, Kareena Khan née Kapoor, is, to use an archaic phrase, once again ‘in the family way’. This time round the Prega honours are being done by the manifold younger Anushka Sharma. The more marketable pair—husband, idol cum iconic cricketer, Virat Kohli, the father-to-be and happening megastar Mommy-in-Waiting Anushka. A double whammy, as they would say, in tennis parlance! Is this Patriotism, or actually about accruing a prolifically protruding profit?!

Go Vocal for Local, a rhymable rallying cry. Partially workable too, with a withering wallet, going ‘desi’ in bits and pieces, for our growing children and ageing parents…

Dr Renée Ranchan writes on socio-psychological issues, quasi-political matters and concerns that touch us all.

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