A modest proposal inspired by Dear Leader’s birthday

Haters called it a carnival of sycophancy, but who has time to indulge them amidst the joys to be had? Arvind Yadav / Hindustan Times / Getty Images
21 September, 2022

It fills me with melancholy to walk down the streets of this great country and see roads crowded with beggars, ordinary citizens throwing litter willy-nilly, those in cars not following the rules of the road, those with houses not doing more for those without and so on. I think there can be little debate that all of us can do more for Mother India and, more importantly, for Dear Leader. Like the falling apple that prompted the physicist Isaac Newton to formulate his laws of gravity, the not-at-all-orchestrated celebrations for Dear Leader’s seventy-second birthday—after a prosperous year, under his watchful eyes—have given me my own eureka moment.

As you may have noticed, India erupted into celebrations a day early, with corporations, party members and supporters announcing how they were going to mark the day. Haters called it a carnival of sycophancy, but who has time to indulge them amidst the joys to be had? A Delhi-based restaurant launched a “56-inch Modi Ji Thali,” while the Bharatiya Janata Party announced a 20-day blitz to mark Dear Leader completing 20 years of public service was announced. The prestigious National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi organised a special exhibition displaying twelve hundred gifts presented to him, which are to be auctioned off. Eight cheetahs were flown in from Namibia and personally welcomed by the prime minister, who, news anchors adoringly pointed out, is a lion in human avatar, a mythical sphinx come to life. Babies born on this day were given gold rings by BJP members in Tamil Nadu. The governor and chief minister of Goa inaugurated a gaushala—cow shelter—at Raj Bhavan, meant to attract tourists and cow lovers from all over the country. There was some good news for tuberculosis patients as well, as the health ministry offered them up for “adoption” to mark the occasion. Where do they come in expecting dignity along with healthcare? 

Needless to say, each of these initiatives is a runway success and, I say, we should make the most of it, especially the demand for adoption of tuberculosis patients. As a health reporter, I know that there are around 2 million tuberculosis patients in India. I estimate—off the cuff, of course—that sixty percent of these people cannot afford to fall ill and, yet, deliberately do so each year. Out of this, we should subtract the ten percent or so who have the good grace to die quietly, without making India look bad. The rest, I say, we auction. If the adoption scheme crosses a threshold—which will obviously be arrived at after consulting astrologers—let us start a parallel  scheme to auction them. Why should the sick and the infirm not help with nation-building? After that is done, we can auction and/or adopt pulmonologists and other intellectuals wasting their time looking for evidence to form policies. Needless to say, this policy is scalable to HIV, cancer and diabetes patients as well.

At this point, I must categorically state that India, after a series of preposterous years, is in fact in no crisis, Praise Be. Those who suggest otherwise are in the minority. Pay no heed to them. India also organised the world’s biggest cleanliness and blood donation drives in a country that is, as far as I can tell, plenty clean and has so much blood that we routinely spill it on the streets. There were many more such drives that I cannot go into due to restrictions of word limit. That is not what I am here for anyway. I am here to suggest a modest proposal in nation-building—the proverbial apple that dropped on the auspicious occasion of Dear Leader’s birthday. 

We must feed every problem into another—until it becomes a giant mass with its own gravity, pulling every last citizen into it. We can turn each problem into its own solution. The volunteers lighting lamps can do so in government-specified neighbourhoods, solving the electricity crisis in the blink of an eye. The money raised by auctioning the gifts displayed at the NGMA, already being used to finance the Namami Gange scheme, can become the primary funder for maintaining river bodies. Who needs experts?

In this way, we could take inspiration from Dear Leader’s life and tie important days with corresponding problems. For example, we could celebrate his wedding anniversary by abandoning our spouses—Indian marriages last long after they stop working anyway. To mark the day Dear Leader entered politics, we should beat up those people who call themselves “apolitical” on dating apps. We could celebrate his arrest during the Emergency by arresting more people without declaring any emergency. Lastly, we should put those gaushalas within cheetah corridors to keep them well protected. Let those beef-loving anti-nationals come for our cows.

We could also take inspiration from Dear Leader’s love for spyware and launch a national policy of man-to-man marking—of activists, poets, professors, writers, students and anyone he considers anti-national. It is, after all, a time-tested defensive strategy that, as an added plus, turns every citizen of our nation into a useful member of our society. And all of this gives Dear Leader time to spend in front of cameras and adoring subjects instead of being locked in a room behind a large desk. A collateral advantage is that a nation of well-intended volunteers is in no need of intellectuals, as Dear Leader has been maintaining for a while. 

So here is my proposal: let us celebrate Dear Leader every single day of the year. Three hundred and sixty-five days. And combine all the policies, shut down all ministries, thereby undeniably achieving—in a masterstroke, if I say so myself—the target of minimum governance. Some might find these ideas Stalinesque, but I strongly argue that each and every member of this nation should either gainfully contribute to the effort of nation-building or join the cheering squad to keep morale up by doing things Dear Leader likes. If you are not adopting tuberculosis patients or cleaning rivers, please use your free time to run over puppies in your Land Rovers, wearing a Movado watch, Maybach sunglasses and monogrammed pinstriped clothes woven with gold threads. As an added bonus, we can then call ourselves a nation of fakirs, doing Gandhi proud. I, for one, after much thought, have started celebrating his life with this column and will be spending the rest of this year profiling “Aunt Lydias” for their brave decision to stand with powerful men and against the scourge of feminism. 

This modest proposal will also lift the spirit of those of despondent nature, who care too much about the poor, the old and the sick. Let us turn the unending misery in to a single unending birthday party. And those few who get left behind—begging on streets, littering willy-nilly and not following traffic rules—let us boil and eat them. It will not only solve the fake propaganda around starvation deaths but will also provide a welcome reprieve from the crushing realities of our ongoing economic, democratic and cultural decline.

Sieg Heil. I mean, Jai Hind.

Vidya Krishnan is a global health reporter who works and lives in India. Her first book, Phantom Plague: How Tuberculosis Shaped History, was published in February 2022 by PublicAffairs.