Debating India


The great Indian game show

Vikas Singh

Monday 18 August 2003

Article paru dans le Times of India, ?dition du 18 ao?t 2003.

NEW DELHI: In California, there’s already a television game show called Who Wants to be Governor? In India, we haven’t launched a political game show yet, but maybe we don’t really need to. We have something far more entertaining - the televised no-confidence motion which has audiences rooted to their sofa-cum-beds.

Rhetoric, histrionics, playacting, poetry, farce - our legislators lay on the melodrama thick and fast.

The only element missing this time is suspense: Everyone knows beforehand that nothing is going to happen in the end.

The PM commands too much of a majority. After the sound and fury is vented, it’ll be back to business. The government will continue pretending to govern, and everyone else will continue trying to ensure that it doesn’t prevent them from actually getting anything done. But that still won’t stop couch potatoes from following every thrust and counter-thrust.

Of course, Vajpayee might still get nightmares about the way his previous government fell - ironically, on a confidence motion - by one vote in April 1999. However, it seems safe to predict no confidence tricks will be played on him this time. Which raises the obvious question, why has the Opposition moved the motion? May be they missed hearing the sound of their own voices. Or maybe they suddenly decided that life was getting too monotonous and it was time for some hungama.

Either way, Monday and Tuesday promise to bear out Frank Zappa’s observation that the government is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex. In the days when all roads led to Rome, non-performing Caesars diverted the attention of the restless janta by staging elaborate gladiatorial competitions. In these more inflationary, do-it-yourself times, our netas have to be the entertainers themselves.

OK, so maybe Sansad Bhavan isn’t quite the Colosseum, and maybe Atal in short skirt and sandals wouldn’t be anywhere near as drool-worthy as Russel Crowe. Even so, don’t be too surprised if - after verbally decapitating yet another opponent - he wearily lifts his face to the camera, looks you squarely in the eye and demands, "Are you not entertained?"

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