There is nothing in the life of George HW Bush that would account for his rise to the office of US President. A successful WWII pilot, a successful oil-businessman he had almost no political victories to speak of. He didn’t win the nomination for the presidential election of 1980 either. But GB had something; he had ‘horse sense’. He tagged on to Ronald Reagan for a long time and was picked for the latter’s VP candidate. It is as Reagan’s follower and VP for 8 years that GB finally got elected as president. “Many people assume that success in life involves "trying harder". Nothing is further from the truth”. That’s the publisher’s line for the book ‘Horse Sense’ by marketing gurus Al Ries & Jack Trout.
“At the traffic lights - where our cars came into enforced confrontation with poverty - and we saw a small hand stretched out for alms, or a disabled man trying to wave a red rose or a magazine at us, imploring us for help - we would barely look up from behind our over-sized designer sunglasses. We would, in fact, sink back into the plush leather of our seats and be extra determined that the story of India would no longer be told in picture-postcards of poverty”. Barkha Dutt: “Writes of passage” Hindustan Trolls April 13.
So you see, most Indian middle-class people wear designer sun-glasses, drive cars with plush leather seats. They ignore the beggars and the disabled selling magazines or roses at traffic junctions. Mind you, the only place a “middle class” lady like Barkha can now eat “Gol-Gappas” is at the PM’s party. Not on the streets like “upper-class” Indians. Let’s hear another similar heart-breaking story.
"The moralistic virtuosity of Team Anna rankles many of us. We who have made our compromises, we who speed our cars when we see beggars approaching, we who roll up our car windows when vendors sell us agarbattis at traffic crossing, we don’t see children who are rag pickers, night soil lifters and tea vendors. We are morally, spiritually, physically depleted, exhausted and blind. This revolution that Kejriwal talks about isn’t for the likes of you and me. We have made our compromises". Smita Prakash: “Who has the stomach for a revolution?” MidDay August 6.
Damn! What’s with these two ladies and cars and traffic signals? Compromises? Read that as: “we have chosen our horses”. Don’t despair! I managed to find someone who doesn’t talk about cars and traffic signals. Instead, she talks about “Tits, Clits and Elephant dicks” and “The Vagina Monologues”. Who could it be but our very own Social Genius:
“No wonder this neo Macaulayputra now faces a quintessentially desi revolution, a revolt is brewing, something is stirring in the air. Kejriwal versus Vadra is as much a class war as it is a war against corruption, it is a war between an elite class—containing within it undoubtedly many many examples of excellence and achievement—and an aspirant class of dhartiputra for whom the moral crusade is sharpened by class anger…. Hindutva rage against so called “English speaking secularists” has been manufactured as not just rage against those who are supposed to love minorities but against those who are perceived to be members of a left liberal aristocracy who practice vote bank appeasement in order to maintain their own political and social monopoly of public life". Sagarika Ghose: “Vadra vs Kejriwal: This is also a war about class” FirstPost October 10.
There you are, it’s not just class wars but also Hindutva rage against ‘English speaking secularists’. That’s from a woman who wanted ‘female orgasm’ to be a Constitutional right. We get the humour, of course. For her and the elites, the Hindutva folks are the biggest enemies who are constantly in the “manufacture-rage” mode. All three, Barkha, Smita and Sagarika seem to forget they are indeed the ‘Elites’. They are indeed the MacaulayPutris who seem to trigger the middle-class outrage being channelled by AK. Why do their writings smack of so much hidden guilt? Barkha has umbilical ties to Hindustan Times. Smita is the daughter of a Principal Information Officer of GOI. Sagarika is the daughter of a Doordarshan director and her relatives include judges and ambassadors. All very “middle class” eh?
All 3 women seem to be obsessed with Kejriwal and class-wars. Coincidence? Would these women have gotten to where they are any differently from Vadra or Kejriwal? Not in terms of multi-crore deals or anti-corruption fights but in terms of position and influence. And all three are stupidly, terribly wrong about AK too. They’re either simply too dumb or unwilling to see how AK got where he is and they confuse his war as one of class.
By reports AK first approached former president APJ Abdul Kalam for his IAC movement. A Prominent TV panellist told me Kalam said “I’m all for this anti-corruption thing but I love eating so don’t ask me to fast and blast and all that”. AK then approached Narayana Murthy of Infosys. NM’s response was: “Look Mr.K, we must evolve our social structure supported by a massive overhaul of our systems which bring in investment and expands our capabilities to compete in the world and take progress to the grassroots without upsetting the balance in our industrial position in the world which can badly impact the morale of both the govt and the people as also our fight against corruption and our methods must be secular without offending the rightwing, leftwing, centrists, media, politicians or neo-nazis”. Got it? I’m sure AK must have returned from NM with his head spinning. So he went to Anna Hazare. AH was known for anti-corruption agitations and fasting. AH was willing. AH was willing to fast and be the face of AK’s movement. Ride the right horse! Can you now imagine AK carrying out his IAC on his own? He was more or less a “nobody”, not even 20 people would have turned up for him. Picking Kalam, Murthy or Anna is what’s called Horse Sense. Vadra, the national son-in-law, is the horse that DLF rides as do many other business entities.
Consciously or unconsciously Sagarika luckily picked a horse too. The moment Rajdeep Sardesai got to head a channel of his own she was Deputy Editor at the channel. You think anyone else would have expected that? Out of the blue some guy called Ashutosh Varshney was a panellist frequently on NDTV. Except for stray comments here and there I hadn’t heard of this guy before. Well, what do you know! Before you could say ‘horse’ he had turned Barkha into a ‘Sabbateur’. Er.. That’s my description of someone on a sabbatical as Barkha now claims to be at Brown University under some fellowship. Varshney is Director, Brown-India Initiative. Wait a minute! It could be the reverse too. It could have been Varshney horsing around. The two can decide which one it was. Of Smita, I don’t see a new horse to identify and I hope it stays that way.
Most people in public life in India strongly rely on horse sense. It’s not a bad thing and not a bad route to the top. Think Ahmed Patel, think Rajiv Shukla and make your own list. Some, unfortunately, take it to the level of slavery. The entire clan and cult of Macaulay Putris and putras are essentially outcomes of such horse sense. Calling themselves ‘middle class’ is another of way of somehow defending their elitist guilt.
Note: Responses of APJ Abdul Kalam & Narayana Murthy to AK are imaginary and shouldn't be confused for real.