If you are an Indian politician, it is critical that you come across as naturally insensitive or inconsiderate. The ability to swiftly make crass and regressive statements is now a vital and indispensable skill every Indian politician must strive to master through an unwavering level of commitment and practice.
And if you are one of those empathetic politicians who feels the need to act on feelings, show concern or support and you aren’t doing all of this for the “photo opportunity”, then god save you. You are setting yourself up to fail. It’ll be a surprise if you even win a gram panchayat election. You might as well join a foreign-funded NGO. Nitwit.
Why won’t you consider being insensitive? Are you afraid of getting a dressing down from our righteous Prime Minister? Clearly, you are a political novice. Our Prime Minister has a 56-inch chest and a strong heart.
When the Foreign Minister and Chief Minister of Rajasthan were facing serious charges of corruption and conflict of interest, notice how he tactfully ignored that subject in his Mann Ki Baat and instead spoke about the benefits of rain water harvesting. Isn’t that just genius? And when all these Rajdeep-type “vigorous and passionate Leftists” were demanding a statement from the Prime Minister condemning the Dadri lynching incident, his lack of response was just textbook insensitivity brilliance.
Instead, in what should be seen as a masterstroke, he chose to wish Navjot Singh Sidhu a speedy recovery. Sidhu was admitted to a hospital after complaining of chest pain. Now, I don’t expect you to be that accomplished from the word go.
Such prowess can come only with experience. Not only was he able to deflect Dadri strategically by wishing Sidhu a speedy recovery, he was also able to indirectly convey that he genuinely cared about what was truly bothering most Indians i.e. with all that chest pain, would Sidhu continue to laugh just as loud on Comedy Nights with Kapil?
Tell me one politician you know who has been pulled up by the party leadership for his insensitive comments? Yes, I won’t deny that if the issue goes a little out of hand, then the party might have to leak a few reports in the media that you are being summoned to meet the party president. Let that not dishearten you.
On the contrary, it is a wonderful opportunity for you to get some face time with the party president and make an elevator pitch of all the communal violence incidents you might have orchestrated in your constituency. If you haven’t orchestrated any, then at least overwhelm him with numbers of how many ghar waapsi and love-jihad campaigns you have organised. Speak with passion and fervour.
Your leadership must shine through. If you are from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana or Bihar, then pray that gau-mataluck is on your side. The pressure to perform will be high, as your predecessors have already set the bar so high.
Also, a word of caution. If the President throws a googly at you and asks you a profound public policy question on how you think Indian minorities should be dealt with, for heaven’s sake, please don’t say “send them to Pakistan!” That is an out-dated, stale, monotonous, clichéd and unimaginative answer! Arnab is so bored of that answer, that he doesn’t even put his trademark “burning question” flames on them anymore. The party president himself might have already used it a number of times.
If you do end up saying that, you can kiss a goodbye to your Rajya Sabha ambitions. That is a trick question, my friend! A fine and diplomatic way to respond to that would be to randomly and out of the blue, connect that answer to a dog or howdogs/puppies are getting trampled/run over or how dogs are stoned etc.
You don’t have to try too hard to be intellectually metaphoric. As long as you say something about dogs, you should be sorted. Sounds too good, to be true? Trust me, our Prime Minister and the External Affairs Minister for State swear by this strategy.
All said and done, I won’t deny that all this insensitivity business can get a little overwhelming and might not be particularly easy for those who have the disadvantage of an education background hanging around their neck like an albatross (six-day degrees included) or come from decent families. I have only one piece of advice for you. Shed your inhibitions or perish.
If a 4 star General and former Chief of the Army Staff turned External Affairs Minister of State, an Olympic silver medallist turned Information and Broadcasting Minister of State, a superstar lawyer turned Finance Minister or a doctor turned Culture Minister (who even sent his son to Oxford by the way!) can be creatively crass, delightfully sexist and more importantly, successful, then even you can. These are insensitive rock stars to be emulated.
Let’s get to the nuts and bolts of being insensitive. For starters, begin by scanning the expansive and rich literature on the subject of insensitivity. And before we progress any further, I highly recommend that you do away with all the MSD, SRK and Che Guevara posters hanging in your room. Instead, put up posters of Mahesh Sharma, General VK Singh, Yogi Adityanath, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Sakshi Maharaj.
These shall be your gurus from now on. Actually, let’s do away with Sakshi Maharaj’s poster for the time being. While I give him credit for at least being consistently insensitive, he is getting repetitive. He dwells too much on Gandhi, Godse and all that jazz. Someone needs to tell him that it’s just not the flavour of the season.
We need to focus all our attention on beef, rape/women/sex (all the same), farmers, Dalits, Muslims and journalists. These are evergreen themes for insensitivity.
Here are some gems from the masters.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Khattar: “If a girl is dressed decently, a boy will not look at her in the wrong way… If you want freedom, why don’t they just roam around naked? Freedom has to be limited. These short clothes are western influences. Our country’s tradition asks girls to dress decently.”
Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar: Advising striking nurses, he shared, “Girls should not sit on hunger strike in hot sun as their complexion will become dark and they will not find a good bridegroom.”
Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma: “We will cleanse every area of public discourse that has been westernised and where Indian culture and civilisation need to be restored — be it the history we read, our cultural heritage or our institutes that have been polluted over years. Need to rid the nation of “sanskritik pradushan(cultural pollution).”
Agriculture minister of Haryana, Om Prakash Dhankar: “Farmers who commit suicide are cowards and criminals. According to Indian law, suicide is a crime. A person who commits suicide runs away from his responsibilities. Such people are cowards and the government cannot stand by such cowards, such criminals.”
MP from Unnao, Sakshi Maharaj: Offering his theory for the Nepal earthquake, he informed, “Rahul Gandhi eats beef, and goes to the holy shrine without purifying himself. The earthquake was bound to happen. So forget about tectonic plates shifting or any scientific reasoning, the real reason for the devastating earthquake is Rahul Gandhi’s beef-eating habit and his visit to Kedarnath.”
Minister for Finance, I&B and Corporate Affairs Arun Jaitley: “A law and order problem, one small incident of rape in Delhi advertised world over is enough to cost us millions of dollars in terms of lower tourism.”
Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore: “Women in media would be better off pursuing off-field roles like that of news analysis as opposed to field reporting in view of safety, challenging conditions and odd hours of work.”
For further reading, you may also refer to the teachings of other stalwarts in this domain like Abhijeet Mukherjee, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Abu Azmi, Om Prakash Chautala, Muqtar Abbas Naqvi, Sharad Yadav etc. You are now ready to make your first move.
It’s about time you find a few scribes and start practicing. From one Virat Hindu to another, you have my best wishes!
(This piece originally appeared in the Huffington Post)