As Indians, we do not believe in half-measures. For example, when we build potholes, we make sure they’re big enough to accommodate all of Bangladesh. When we spit, we make it a grand performance, hocking violently to create Phlegm Dubstep. And when we’re accused of sexual assault, irrespective of class or education, we pull out The International Handbook of Excuses and add twenty more chapters to it.
I speak of course, of Tarun Tejpal, whose defence has gone from “light-hearted banter”, and “fleeting, consensual encounter” to “She is lying” and “This is a BJP conspiracy”. Up next: ‘The girl is an ISI agent’ and ‘It wasn’t me – it was my brother, Laxman Prasad Dasrath Prasad Sharma.’
The news of the events at Tehelka (Hindi word that means “Adamantine Recusal”) gained traction after Tejpal’s apology-cum-GRE wordlist went public via Twitter. As expected, a lot of hate and disgust was directed his way after he offered to atone by taking a six-month vacation, and in doing so, probably inspired future criminals. It’ll get weird in court if people start taking the Tejpal Approach:
Judge: You have been charged with being a serial-killer. Your DNA is all over the crime scene, the murder weapon was licensed to you, and you took various selfies while committing the crime. What do you have to say for yourself?
Accused: I don’t know man, like, whatevs.
Accused: Wait. *clears throat* Verily, I am smothered with regret after a lapse of judgement that led to a consensual triple homicide. I recuse myself from jail for six months, because I must do the penance that lacerates me. Preferably in Pattaya.
Accused: Forsooth! Blistering barnacles, thundering typhoons and ululating uvulas!
Judge: Wow, what solid English yaar.
Judge: Mind. Blown. You’re free to go.
Accused: Thought so.
Judge: Also, Phuket is better for atonement.
It’s also depressing to see how quickly such cases turn into a feeding frenzy for politicians, whom I’d describe as vultures, except those creatures actually play a vital role in the ecosystem. This week’s star was senior BJP leader Vijay Jolly, who landed up at the residence of Tehelka’s former managing editor Shoma Chaudhury, defaced her name-plate, charged at her car and created a general ruckus that is usually reserved for within the Parliament. Thankfully, Jolly learnt his lesson when he was handed severe punishment in the form of free publicity on prime-time television.
You have to appreciate the genius in (supposedly) taking a pro-women stance by harassing a woman. It’s like showing your support for PETA by using an ivory bat to club baby seals. Also, the more the BJP protests and enables people like Vijay Jolly, the easier it is for people to cry conspiracy. Then again, only politicians see it fit to splash about in a gutter in the hope that some muck will land on their opponents outside.
Nobody who has spent more than six minutes in India is surprised at how the whole issue has been hijacked by vested interests. Our leaders are capable of politicising even the sweetest and most innocuous of things like, say, a Youtube video of a sneezing baby. This is how it would go:
BJP: This baby is sneezing because it is allergic to the UPA’s corruption. Dr. Manmohan Singh must resign.
Congress: Nonsense. We have always been pro-babies.
Congress: We will provide a special anti-sneezing vaccine to all babies in India.
BJP: In Gujarat, whenever a baby sneezes, money shoots out of his nose. Manmohan Singh, resign.
Congress: Oops, forgot to tell you that the vaccine sops will cost you guys 90,000 crores.
Random Self-Important Person On Twitter: Six babies sneezed in Chhatisgarh yesterday, but did anyone care? No. You just care about urban bab-Ooh, new Starbucks!
BJP: We demand an inquiry into the irregularities in sneeze vaccine allocation.
CAG: We estimate the Sneeze Vaccine Scam to be worth Eleventy One Million Crores.
BJP: Mr. Singh, why are you still here?
Manmohan Singh: <INSERT PUNJABI TERM FOR ‘YOU ALL CAN GO DO HORRIBLE THINGS TO YOURSELF WITH A CACTUS’>
Even as I write this, I’m being bombarded with minute-by-minute updates of Tejpal’s trip to Goa. I now know that “Tarun Tejpal has fastened his seat-belt”, “He is now eating salted cashews” and “He’s in the airplane loo, wishing it were a magic portal to Canada”. What I don’t know though, is what it will take for justice to be served through a fair trial, bereft of politics and media hysteria. Because as Indians, we do not believe in half-measures, unless we’re talking about sanity.
(Note: This is my HT column dated 1st Dec 2013.)