Boozos

The paying public deserves better.

They (the public) paid for their lavish lifestyles. They paid for their needless overseas study junkets to Europe during the summer months. They paid for the security detail to protect them from themselves (the public). They paid for their scams. They paid for their unaccounted money stashed away in tax havens. They paid for the infrastructure that mostly did not get built.

Just when they (the public) felt they could sit back and let political leaders pay some dividend on the investment by making a fool of themselves by making needless, irrational decisions that are likely to be scoffed at by all sections of society and may soon need to be reversed, the rug has rudely been pulled from under their feet.

Throwing caution to the winds, the Supreme Court has decided to take upon itself the mantle of making needless, irrational decisions that are likely to be scoffed at by all sections of society and may soon need to be reversed.

Political leaders are running scared. Never before has there been such an open challenge to their rights. This move of the Supreme Court strikes at their belief system and the core of their existence. Most of them have beaten a hasty path back to their constituencies to convince voters that they will continue to disappoint them with their unfulfilled promises and irrational decisions. The Supreme Court decision should be seen merely as a one-off, an aberration.

In a bold decision that appears to be in response to a petition from no part of society, the Supreme Court has decided that there should be no liquor vends within 500 metres of any national highway. This, apparently, was the missing piece of the jigsaw that will bring down accidents on national highways. Conducting driving tests and antecedent verification before issuance of licences was considered as an alternative solution but, since it appeared to hold promise of solving the problem, it eventually went where such alternatives need to go; the reject pile. Existing liquor vends should be moved a minimum distance of 500 metres from the highways. Moreover, since many of the existing vends appear to have been created after taking due approvals from authorities, they will need to be shifted overnight.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going, they say.

In keeping with the “spirit” of the order, several states have moved to denotify national highways and classify them as “tiny local roads” instead. The Supreme Court has lauded the move and acknowledged that the threat of accidents owing to drivers consuming liquor from vends on roads called national highways does not exist from drivers consuming liquor from vends on roads called tiny local roads, which carry as much traffic as national highways.

Pubs and restaurants falling within the 500 metre zone have, “under the influence” of the order, also moved to shift their entrance gates to beyond the 500 metre line. It is common knowledge based upon detailed studies of human behaviour that once you have moved (or have been moved by someone) a distance of 500 metres after consumption of liquor, the inebriation vanishes and you become, strangely enough, “sober as a judge”.

Hotel Management schools across the country have introduced a new course on teaching students the metric measurement system. Especially for the purpose of measuring a distance of 500 metres. The humble metric measure is enjoying a revival amongst bar owners who have only known the inches to be poured down a glass. Catering students are being taught the difference between national highways and tiny local roads and how to identify each.

The sagacity of the decision can be judged from the fact that India remains one of the most densely populated large nations in the world with, among nations with 100 million plus populations, neighbouring Bangladesh being the only one more densely packed, leaving enough space to move anything upto 500 mm (millimetres; 1 metre = 1000 millimetres) in any direction. Hence, moving a vend 500 metres away can be considered a wise and reasonable decisions, taking liquor vends only closer to  schools, homes, religious places, etc. And we know our children and people not barrelling down national highways are mature enough to resist the lure of the drink. In fact, liquor vends can be setup at a distance of 100 metres from schools. QED.

In a strange coincidence, the day this order was announced, a small outlet started coming up close to our building, at a point visible from our terrace. Yesterday the signboards have been put-up. And, lo and behold, we now have a liquor vend right next to our building! But I exaggerate. It is not right next to our building. It is about 100 metres away. From the place in the compound where youngsters play football, a good kick could land the ball, and some chasing youngsters, into the vend. But so what? Are they grown-ups travelling down national highways who will be lured by liquor and cause damage to themselves and others?

It is mainly drivers of vehicles on the national highways that we worry about. Drivers who we have chosen to give licences to drive motorised vehicles ranging from two-wheelers to twenty ton trucks. How can we trust them to resist the lure of liquor.

The Supreme Court means business. It has also banned signboards which started mushrooming along remaining national highways (the ones not converted to tiny local roads), pointing to the nearest liquor vend 501 metres away. It is expected that demonstrating foresight and wisdom borrowed from political leaders, they will issue a pre-emptive order for banning signboards which point the way to the nearest signboard which points the way to the nearest liquor vend.

But the paying public is not happy. They have paid so much money to see politicians make of fool of themselves. They cannot countenance the Supreme Court denying them their fundamental rights.

The Supreme Court, cut to the quick by the spontaneous censure from all over the country, is trying to limit the damage.

They have clarified that liquor is good because it generates a huge amount of revenue for the government. Our fight is not against liquor. Do you not see the rapid expansion of liquor vends near schools, houses and religious places, at least in modern cities like Gurgaon? If we have our way, no citizen of the country will need to travel more than 100 metres in any direction to reach a liquor vend. 

But liquor drinking is bad. Our fight is only against drinking liquor. That too by mature adults who have been adjudged fit to be issued driving licences. That is why liquor advertising is banned on all media. We will soon issue orders to ensure that the government introduces a tax to uniformly collect liquor revenue from each citizen so that the state can continue to finance its charitable activities and development agenda, without anyone ever needing to consume it.

National Anthem

Taking its role of acting as executive, that has not been granted to it by the Constitution, that needs to issue unilateral and unprovoked orders, normally the sacred duty of the elected government as per the Constitution, and not merely being the arbiter of disputes, its duty as enshrined in the Constitution, with an earnestness  unseen in bureaucratic circles of the country,  the Supreme Court has ordered that “all cinema halls in India shall play the national anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the national anthem” as a part of their “sacred obligation”.

As is expected of democratic institution in a republic, they have provided a logical explanation for their action, “And this is how it is because we say so.”

The bench added that doors of the halls will remain shut during the anthem so that no disturbance is caused and so that patriotism, and love and affection for the country, can be voluntarily and spontaneously displayed by people. It further decreed that natural calamities like fire and earthquakes be prohibited from striking during the time the doors are shut because of the national anthem being played.

In issuing a statement that cannot be fathomed by anyone, the bench has displayed enviable command over the language, “Time has come for people to realise that the national anthem is a symbol of constitutional patriotism…people must feel they live in a nation and this wallowing individually perceived notion of freedom must go…people must feel this is my country, my motherland. The directions are issued, for love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National Anthem as well as to the National Flag. That apart, it would instil the feeling within one, a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism.”

“And if you don’t feel, we will make you feel”, the bench has clarified.

The court order, in order to ensure complete transparency in implementation and resolution of disputes, does not entail any penalty or punishment for not standing when the national anthem is played and hence everyone will know exactly what is to be done in cases of non-compliance.

During the hearing, the bench observed: “Universalism is alright but little still Bharat is the epitome of culture, knowledge… gyaan and vigyaan…people must feel this is my country…who are you? You are an Indian first. In other countries, you respect their restrictions. In India, why can you not have restrictions in larger good.”

“Moreover, our university education in law and subsequent practice as advocates and judges uniquely positions us to issue unilateral and random directions and decide who is showing love and respect for the motherland and who is not. Besides, it also gives us the right to make a judgment about other countries without any responsibility for its veracity.”

The Opposition is up in arms and has contended that this move is for the benefit of one individual, the popular movie producer Karan Johar, whose latest offering, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (ADHM) barely managed to hold the audience for 15 seconds. By introducing the national anthem, the audience will stay in the hall for at least a minute.

The Delhi Chief Minister has asked for evidence from the judges of them having sung the national anthem when they were in school.

Taking a cue from the Supreme Court order, a district court in Maharashtra has decreed that the Supreme Court ruling will apply not only to in-cinema screenings but to any movie being watched anywhere by an Indian. Hence, as an example, all airlines carrying Indian passengers must ensure that the Indian national anthem is played each time a passenger starts an in-flight movie. Moreover, the “seat belt” sign should not be switched on so that people can stand when the national anthem is playing. After all, one cannot allow them to stop being Indian wherever they are. This court, like the Supreme Court, has issued these directions out of love and respect for the motherland.

In another court in Allahabad, the honourable judges have mutually decided that the time has come to screen the footage of the final of the 1983 ICC Cricket World Cup before every movie, to instil a deeper sense of pride and patriotism. Moreover, all present for the movie would be obliged to stand during the 7-hour footage to show their patriotism.

Patriots who do not watch movies are up in arms.

A letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi echoes the sentiments of many similarly disenfranchised:

“Dear Sir, I am thoroughly disheartened by the judgment of the Supreme Court. I do not watch movies. How will I display my love and affection for my country? I have faithfully been urinating on the roadside, jumping queues especially where seniors and children were in line, and using vulgar language in public places. Clearly, in the new world order, that does not cut mustard anymore. I need to do more. I don’t watch movies. Please restore my right to display my patriotism.”

Being a responsive government that works for the common man, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a meeting of the senior cabinet ministers that included Home Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Narendra Modi, at his house late at night to address the situation.

In a remarkable display of having their ear close to the ground, the high-powered team issued a note late at night that requires all banks to play the national anthem in a perpetual “loop”.

Home Minister Narendra Modi, in response to a media query, has clarified, “We have decided this in the interest of the nation. After all, from 9th November, the entire nation has been standing in a line outside banks, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. What better place to promote patriotism than at banks?”

To ensure that no individual is left behind in patriotism, the legislative council of the state of Madhya Pradesh has decided that henceforth the national anthem will be played each time a shopper enters a grocery store. “If you are not standing in a bank queue, you perhaps already have money some of which will surely be spent at a grocery store”, they have rightfully surmised.

A body blow has been dealt to the terrorism industry with the Supreme Court mandating the singing of the National Anthem before every movie. In the latest episode of Mann Ki Baat, the PM has shared, “It is widely known that Hindi movies are popular with terrorists. Not being patriots, they will not stand up when the national anthem is being played and can easily be nabbed. He asked patriots to not share this plan with non-patriots.”

Jan, Gan, Man…