Home >Opinion >Columns >Opinion | The other difficult things Modi should make us all do

Reforming India is harmful for the reformer, and professional politicians usually never try it. M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) was so popular as chief minister of Tamil Nadu that Tamil men wept upon seeing him, as though they had lost a lunar lander, but he never did anything to reform them. Rather, he only appeased them; he made it legal for them to sit on the front crossbar of a bicycle, which was an offence until then. In response, Tamilians rejoiced on the streets. If only MGR had known the value of pi, he would have changed it from 3.14159…to just 3 to make it easier to measure a circle. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a different sort of leader. He has made cash vanish for several days; he has asked Indians to pay their taxes, exercise, eat less, and now his government has increased fines for traffic violations by many times. Yet, he thrives. Modi is so popular that he could help us accomplish some more difficult tasks. Here is a short list

• Most Indian buildings have double gates, as in a pair of gates that open or shut together. But Indians like to keep one of the gates shut. Forever. It’s a mystery why they do that. Shutting one of the gates makes vehicles squeeze through a narrow space for no good reason. As it is, half this nation is an ad for K-Y Jelly. Why should Indian life be a squeeze through narrow passageways?

• Female yoga instructors have to be sensitized to say things that men can understand. A typical yoga teacher will say something like this: “Imagine a string running through you, from your head and leaving your tail bone and is tied to that tree out there, which is now pulling you gentle…" This, while I lie there, the laggard of the class, hoping for a more equal world.

• Also, as Fit India is a government movement now, I propose that in all airports, the system of check-in baggage allowance be replaced with passenger weight plus baggage allowance. It is unfair that light people and heavy people should have the same baggage allowance when the luggage travels in the same plane as passengers (most of the time).

• And, gyms should be banned from playing music, as the only kind of songs they play are for an age group that does not go to the gym in any case. Recently, as I was trembling with an enormous weight over me, I heard a man’s voice sing: “I am sleeping like a sleeping maann". Then a woman sang, “He has all I need but I don’t need it now." Who are these people? What’s going on?

• People who take part in “marathons" only to walk all the way should be banned from the activity. They are a nuisance who block the way of more honest runners, all of it only to put up posts on social media. What validation do they need? Applause for walking? Some of them run only when their like-minded but amiably daft friend is taking a picture.

• Modi should consider mentioning in one of his speeches something most Indians do not know: The lift might be socially inferior to you, but still when you are waiting for a lift, you don’t ask it to come to you; you tell the lift where you want to go. You press the down arrow when you want to go down. And, when you want to go up, you press the up arrow. Do not press the down button, look up, and then push the up button.

• The MeToo movement should include naming and shaming men who perform the “naagin" dance at office parties.

• All Indians who invite people over for dinner should be, by law, made to serve dinner by 9pm at the latest.

• Indians should be weaned off their love for squeezing broke farm workers into paramilitary outfits and making them do meaningless tasks—like making cars go zig-zag and pretending to check their boots with their X-ray vision. Also, Modi should ask all Indians to stop saluting other Indians, especially the kind of saluting that involves stomping one leg. And, until the time saluting is banned, all guards should salute memsaabs, too.

• Business class passengers who are seated in their comfortable seats on aeroplanes should not be allowed to meet the eyes of economy passengers as the cattle class shuffles in.

• A person who bums a cigarette should not be expected to have a conversation with the donor just because a favour was done.

• In any political gathering, all chairs on the stage should be of the same size. And, once the event begins, no sidekick should be allowed to crawl on to the stage to whisper into a leader’s ears. This whispering by the sidekick on stage has been going on from the time of Mahatma Gandhi. What is it that the sidekicks say, exactly? What is it that cannot wait? When Apple CEO Tim Cook is on stage, do you see anyone tip-toeing to him and whispering something?

Actually, what is going on is that the sidekick is sharing the spotlight, showing his face, and thus conveying to all that he has the leader’s ear.

• Modi should ask North Indians to decide whether they want to touch an elder’s feet or not. This ambiguous, in-between act where they reach for the elder’s crotch instead of his feet should stop. Perhaps they should learn from South Indians. There exist instructional videos of men falling at the feet of the late J. Jayalalithaa—lie on belly in full stretch, and don’t move for many seconds.

• Indian cricketers should not open restaurants that the Indian hockey team cannot afford.

Manu Joseph is a journalist, and a novelist, most recently of ‘Miss Laila, Armed And Dangerous’

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