Justice Markandey Katju-
Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.
One day a little girl called Alice was dozing in a meadow when she saw a white rabbit, dressed in a sky blue coat, and walking on two legs. The rabbit kept looking at a watch and said ” My God, I am late ! “, and saying this he ran and jumped into a hole in the ground.
Alice got up, went up to the hole, and also jumped in. She went down and down until she landed with a loud thud on a heap of cow manure.
Getting up, she asked some people nearby why was the heap of cow dung there. ” Oh,” they replied, ” That will be used for making covid vaccine. If you eat it you will never get covid “.
Alice then looked around and saw a huge board on which it was written ” Welcome to the capital of our great country Paagalkhana “.
She then saw a circular building on whose gate was written ‘ The Parliament of Paagalkhana ‘. She went upto it and entered. What she saw horrified her. The parliamentarians were shouting and screaming in unison, despite futile appeals of the Speaker of the House to maintain calm, and no one could understand what was being said. One member went upto the Speaker’s dias, snatched the papers the latter was holding, and tore them up. Other members were throwing mikes, paper weights, ink pots, and other objects they could get hold of, at each other.
Alice rushed out of this madhouse in consternation, clutching at her ears in desperation to stop hearing the din.
She then went to another building on whose gate were written the words ‘ Welcome to the greatest TV channel in Paagalkhana ‘. She went inside, and heard the TV debate going on. The anchor, whose name she later discovered was Lord Bhow Bhow, was screaming furiously like a madman at panelists who dared to disagree with his own jingoistic, rabidly communal and stupid views, calling them anti-nationals, tukde tukde gang, maoists, and what not, and would not allow them to speak, giving time only to the handpicked ones who agreed with him.
Alice ran out of this Mad Hatter’s Party too,
She then walked upto a place where a huge temple was being constructed at a huge cost ( after demolishing the place or worship of another religion ). She asked the head priest why so much money was being wasted, and said was this not just a gimmick to divert attention from the huge poverty, unemployment, price rise, malnourishment, lack of healthcare, etc in Paagalkhana ? He replied ” No madam, once this bhavya mandir is constructed all those problems will disappear “.
Alice then saw a handcuffed man being led by the police. She enquired from the policemen what crime had he committed? They replied that he had said that cow dung and cow urine were not the cure for covid, and this was the worst form of sedition.
She walked further and saw a man being lynched by people who said he had eaten beef. He kept protesting he had never eaten it, but the lynchers said ” How does that matter ? When we say you have eaten it, you have eaten it “, and continued the lynching until he was dead.
Alice then went to a place called Jantar Mantar, where people were chanting ” Agar Paagalkhane mein rehna hai, Jai Shri Ram kehna hai “.
Going further, she saw farmers protesting against their distress ( almost 400,000 committed suicide in the last 25 years in Paagalkhana, as she was told ). But the ruling party declared these were only ‘mawaalis’ ( hooligans), and would not accept their demand of repeal of the 3 laws recently passed by the Paagalkhana Parliament, and a minimum support price.
A huge mob of youth passed Alice, holding placards on which was written ” We are unemployed. There are tens of millions like us, and our numbers are rapidly increasing. Give us jobs “. But the onlookers only laughed at them.
Alice then went to a nearby market, where most of the shops had very few customers, The shopkeepers complained that online shopping by huge multinationals like Amazon and Walmart had ruined them, and now they did not even have money to pay their rents, and had to borrow money from relatives to survive.
Alice then saw a party going on. When she asked what it was about, the revelers said it was for our glorious achievement in the Tokyo Olympics. ” But Paagalkhana has won only 1 gold medal,” said Alice ” whereas USA has won 39, China 38, and Japan 27. Even small countries like New Zealand, Cuba, Jamaica, Croatia, South Korea, Uganda, Serbia, Slovenia, Qatar and Kosovo have won more gold medals than Paagalkhana “. ” How does that matter ? ” they replied ” Winning one gold means we have won the world “.
Being fed up with all this nonsense, Alice went upto a seemingly wise man who was sitting alone and asked him what kind of a strange country was Paagalkhana. He replied ” Sister, 90-95% of the people here are paagals. What else can you expect? When most of them go to vote they do not see the merit of the candidate, whether he is a good man or bad, educated or uneducated, nor do they have in mind issues like poverty, unemployment, price rise, malnourishment, healthcare, etc. All they consider when voting is the caste or religion of the candidate, or which caste or religion his party represents “.
Alice then went to a tavern where everybody seemed drunk. When she asked one of them why they had drunk so much, he replied ” The only way to preserve one’s sanity in Paagalkhana is to get drunk “.
At this Alice, herself got a bottle of ‘tharra’ (cheap country-made liquor ) and had consumed almost the whole of it, when she suddenly awoke and found she was dreaming.