Virat Kohli – If they don’t have tap water, let them use bottled
Kohli is out in balmy England, trying to win the World Cup for his country. He has left half a dozen cars behind at his residence in Gurugram. Presumably his missus, Anushka Sharma, too is out. She is not one to miss Kohli‘s big matches.
Indians have a penchant for washing their cars. But they don’t do it themselves. Their serfs do it for them. So too Kohli‘s serfs. According to his neighbours, Kohli‘s minions have been using thousands of litres of bottled drinking water to keep his cars ship-shape. Gulp! That’s a lot of washing water.
And I presume that if bottled water had not been available, they would used cola or maybe even wine.
Kohli is the captain of the Indian cricket team. As such, he occupies arguably the second most onerous job in the country after the prime minister’s. He carries the weight of the expectations of a billion people on his shoulders. He is in the very highest echelon of India’s glitterati. And he’s married to an actress. That further increases his status.
Kohli emerged from a humble background. So did Anushka, but perhaps less humble than his. Now they are perched on top of the stratosphere. Their cars have to be kept in pristine condition even when there is no one at home. What if Kohli wants to snapchat with one of his limousines while he’s in England.
If Kohli bothers about these things, he’ll notice one thing. It rains constantly in England. Dribble dribble. And then if he notices another thing, he’ll notice that many of the cars in England are not very clean. The ever-pragmatic Englishman has deemed that if the heavens are pouring washing liquid all the time, why should he bother with his own.
But in India, it’s another matter. The saab’s transportation must be gleaming at all times. And with so many serfs at hand, heavens, what will they do if they don’t occupy themselves with the limos. And bottled drinking water.
The most laughable thing is the quantum of the fine imposed on Kohli by the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram. A majestic Rs. 500. Kohli must be laughing all the way to the pitch. Rs. 500.
But why pick only on poor Kohli. In a remark that Marie Antoinette may not have made, but that has been infamously pegged on her: If they don’t have bread, let them eat cake, this syndrome permeates almost all of India’s glitterati and even much of its English-speaking chatterati.
After more than 70 years in Independence, the numbers of the dismally and desperately poor just keeps on increasing.
Hope is vested in elected representatives every five years, but that hope is belied again and again. Much of what the elected representatives do is engage in palace intrigues to retain their hold on power. Roped in their shenanigans are bureaucrats and businessmen. The troika rules the country’s roost along with sundry top cricket and film stars.
This Indian glitterati lives like perhaps no other glitterati in the world. It is beyond the pale and often above the law. Witness the Gurugram municipal authority’s laughable fine. That it even dared to fine the Indian cricket captain is almost unimaginable.
In days gone by, when India was quasi-socialist, there were not that many toys for the Indian glitterati. Sure, they could import a Mercedes, but it was all too much hassle. They made do with Fiats and Ambassadors, as did the leaders of the country. But the economic reforms unleashed a wave of aspiration.
This aspiration hit India in different ways. The glitterati could afford anything now. All the Bugatis and the Lamborghinis and the Ferraris. And the gazillions of serfs meant to wash them. Then just below the glitterati was the chatterati. They looked at what the glitterati had and became truly aspirational.
Aspire, India, aspire. Aspirational became the new buzz word. The glitterati wagged a carrot in front of the chatterati and the chatterati aspired to it. A few in the chatterati did make it to the world of the glitterati. That made the rest of the chatterati aspire even more.
This gang has completely dominated India and India’s psyche. The lower middle class and the poor provide the minions. They really have nothing to aspire to. If a poor man could get a job in Kohli‘s household washing cars, his dreams have been fulfilled. If a lower middle class man could serve as a clerk for any of the glitterati, he must not aspire for anything else.
The glitterati like Kangana Ranaut wants the PM to make India into a $5 trillion economy from the current two and a half trillion, almost double of what it is now. Who will benefit most from this growth? The likes of Ranaut and Kohli, whose ostentatious consumption will only become ever more conspicuous.
Some money will trickle down to the chatterati, and even to the lower middle class and the poor. But the numbers of the poor will only increase. The trickle-down economic theory has failed India. Our leaders must evolve something different. Perhaps as Arundhati Roy says, soak the glitterati in taxes. Five hundred rupees is just not enough.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.