We Are Anonymous, We Are Legion, We Are Clueless

When it comes to public opinion, the kindest thing you could say about Indians is that we’re an emotional people. It’s like saying that nuclear explosions may cause a bit of smog. This emotional storm is most apparent when people discuss the biggest rivalry in Indian politics today – Manmohan Singh vs. Vocal Cords.

OK no, I meant Modi vs. Rahul Gandhi. This contest heated up this week when Modi got a standing ovation from 1800 students in Delhi – no mean feat, given that the only other Gujarati man capable of arousing such passion and fervour is Falguni Pathak. Not to be outdone, Rahul Gandhi got 1400 new ‘likes’ and ‘cho chweet’ on his FB page the same day.  Or as the Congress calls it, ‘Sarkari Gandhi-Putra Chick Magnet Yojana’.

This Delhi trip spurred Modi-Gandhi debates in college canteens, offices and yes, all over the internet. These debates were marked by logical arguments backed by data gathered from credible sources, after which everyone shook hands, wished each others’ female relatives well and drove off to Neverland in a Batmobile powered by unicorns.

I’m fascinated by how politics and other complex issues of national importance – such as the economy and defence – attract idiots whose confidence increases in proportion to their ignorance. They then go around peddling opinions that are based on knowledge and expertise in the same way that the Nazi party was based on sweet interracial love. Don’t get me wrong. Indians are capable of great things as individuals, but put enough of us together and our collective IQ crashes faster than Salman at a bakery.

Also, the more complex the issue, the stupider our beliefs. For example, just go out and ask people a simple question like, “What is the capital of Nagaland?” and then watch them struggle before they finally give up and answer, “Momos?” (The actual capital of Nagaland is Baichung Bhutia)

But ask the same people about Kashmir, and watch them assault your senses with full confidence: “NUKE PAKISTAN! I’m telling you na! War is the only way. Go to war. Problem solved. Enough is enough. Now or never. Do or die. Boom boom time. Chak de India. Melody hai choclatey. Cheetah bhi peeta hai.”

It’s like they think that if they’re moronic enough, they’ll be summoned to the President’s office. I’d pay to see that happen:

President: So we’re having some trouble with Kashmir. I’m told you have a solution.

Conviction Man: Yes, I do.

President: And what is your exact area of expertise? Diplomacy? Political affairs? Military strategy? Covert ops?

Conviction Man: No, but I’ve seen Gadar, like, 15 times.

The problem is exacerbated by news channels that insist on having a finger on the pulse of the nation, and in doing so, reduce the most complex problems of our generation to simplistic polls, such as, ‘Do you think the government should increase military spending? a) Yes b) No.’ Really now? I want to see Option C, the honest option, which says, “I have no clue. The only news items I read are celebrity horoscopes. I’m just a BA pass from a college that doubles up as a hosiery shop in the evenings. All I want from life is to own a 1BHK in Dombivli, and to convince my wife to do that thing I saw in an MMS once, while I lie there thinking about her sister. SO STOP ASKING ME ABOUT THINGS I WILL NEVER FULLY UNDERSTAND!”

What’s the point of seeking public opinion on matters that require specialised knowledge? You wouldn’t do that with other specialised fields like, say, medicine. That would make hospital visits awkward:

Doctor: You have lung cancer. We were going to operate but…

Patient: But what?

Doctor: But Bansi Lal from Jaunpur just wrote in to say that it is a clear case of ‘Mata Chadh Gayi Hai’.


Doctor: So we’re just going to whack away at your tumour with a bunch of peacock feathers.

It would be great if most people just accepted the fact that they know nothing about most issues. We could also do that thing where we just ask questions about unfamiliar subjects. Asking questions came naturally to us as three-year-olds, back when we still thought of pants as a valid poop destination, so really, it shouldn’t be that hard now. I’m pretty sure that public discourse will improve over time. In fact, I’d bet my unicorn on it.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 10th Feb 2013.)

(P.S. I’ve been informed by the good people at HT that as of this Sunday, the column is back to being a weekly. So here’s a massive thank you to everyone who wrote in a few months ago, asking HT to make it so. You guys are the best. Like sex deep-fried in chocolate. Or something. See you next week.)

51 thoughts on “We Are Anonymous, We Are Legion, We Are Clueless

  1. “NUKE PAKISTAN! I’m telling you na! War is the only way. Go to war. Problem solved. Enough is enough. Now or never. Do or die. Boom boom time. Chak de India. Melody hai choclatey. Cheetah bhi peeta hai.”

    This line made me laugh a lot!

  2. Oh dear….Are you implying that when I quote from a friend’s Facebook status when presenting the gospel truth during an argument, I might not be doing the right thing? Well, I refuse to believe you!

    Awesome satire! It was a pleasure to read it.


  3. Brilliant! Loved it!
    But to be fair, ‘us’ Indians are also a ridiculously proud people, given our apparent ocean of knowledge. So why would we ask questions and claim ignorance only to be laughed at by others who are equally clueless but prefer to feign awareness?
    I ask a lot of questions and get more giggles than answers!!

  4. Clearly showing fascist mentality, exaggerating above moronic limit. One should know the difference between public opinion and judgement or decision. Public opinion should be considered but should not be enforced as judgement. There is nothing wrong about topic discussed on paan dukaan, chai, beedi ki ghumti etc… These are the signs of free and democratic society where freedom of speech is valued (unfortunately there has been several attempts to curb them by different organisations, institutions, politicians and bloggers like you). I think you are a biggest moron who calls idiot to people who shows interest in politics and complex issues of national importance. And what kind of specialization you have got to comment on these people? You need to read more than celebrity horoscopes to understand these matters.

      1. “I think you are a biggest moron who calls idiot to people who shows interest in politics and complex issues of national importance.”

        With reasoned, fact-based arguments such as these, our future is secure, I say.

        As for your return to a weekly format, Praise the Lord!

  5. What you have described is essentially a cognitive bias; to be precise, it is the Dunning-Kruger effect – the assumption of expertise due to lacking the meta-cognitive ability to realize the extent of non-expertise. You can Google it (original paper: http://gagne.homedns.org/~tgagne/contrib/unskilled.html).

    You’ve ignored an important pillar of this bias, which are celebrity panels/interviews – one does not simply ask some guy who has acted in Gadar or Khel what he thinks about the national deficit, and so setting of all the mirror neurons in the mango people of India, leading people to believe that those with arts degrees are qualified to opine on anything (including the arts). It would be hard pressed to get the general population to use proper reasoning, let alone subscribe to logical positivism.

    1. Seriously! And you thought the perfect place to post all these jargon is a humorous blog post’s comment section? 😀

  6. haha! Funniest of all your posts so far! I’ve stopped watching the news from these 24X7 channels for this exact reason. Print seems to accept my opinions better.

  7. Seriously,its very rare to laugh uncontrollably over a piece of write-up compared to other visual stuff . No doubt,it is your best work…Keep it up ! And hey HT,make this piece daily now 🙂

  8. U r hilarious!!! love your posts, though sometimes u can come across as condescending!!! anyways .. if we cant laugh at ourselves…. then no fun in life!!!!

    Excellent and glad u r gng to be a weekly laughometer with many a pondering thought left behind sometimes!!

  9. Can we please include Abhisekh’s comment as a sample response in column itself ? But then that would give him attention, like the TV media does. I cant believe someone can be so moronic and get time to do that. (I am exceptional, i m unemployed)

    The best statement and a brutal truth ” Also, the more complex the issue, the stupider our beliefs.”

    And sex deep fried in chocolate with some nuts is the yummiest !

    You rock boss !!

  10. Well written satire. Expressing thoughts on areas beyond our usual forte is a self-proclaimed right of every human brain (functional or not is completely subjective) ~~ chuckles~~. 😉
    Not just politics but people take liberty to express their humble opinion on almost every single aspect of life; on sports, from team selection to strategy of a team ’captain; on Music & entertainment industry; on history, what went wrong and what could have been done right the list goes on. If equipped with appropriate technology lingo they’ll even shed ideas on Mars landing, while struggling to land their own feet on a crowded subway.
    In democracy however, we don’t discriminate people’s voting ability on the basis of their mental merit. That’s how democracy functions; by far the most effective form of government.
    Btw: Bush’s ignorance on India’s premier was caught during presidential race and he still managed to become President. ::)

  11. Well…I just charged my client a hefty amount for all the outrageous reading that I did over the last 5-6 days. Yes…I just finished reading all your blog posts dating right back to the days when Simi Grewal used to be young. You Siree, are damn funny. Keep bestowing us with these gems!

  12. This one was one of your best ones! It actually made me get off my ass and start writitng a blog myself. So I do thank you 🙂
    And with ‘Mata chadh gayi hai’… you were in a different class altogether…

  13. Nuke Pakistan. I have heard that so many times. Spare a thought for the poor buggers living near the borders my information-challenged denizens of local paan dukans. Or at least give Border patrol a heads up before we start lobbing nukes like a Badminton Match. XD.
    Good piece mate, wish my parents subscribed to HT :/

  14. :)))) brilliant..brilliant … brilliant .. ‘we’re an emotional people. It’s like saying that nuclear explosions may cause a bit of smog.’ …

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