[MJR] Pity the Poor Politician!

14 May,2012

Ranjona Banerji

By Ranjona Banerji


This week’s candidate for Noosemaker is our favourite whipping boy – the politician, both in India and abroad.


This poor soul puts every bit of work he or she can into working for the people, but the people are ungrateful sods and show little appreciation. Take for instance, the politicians’ campaign to save the “father of the Indian Constitution” – Dr BR Ambedkar from a cartoonist. Instead of applauding politicians for this act of bravery – in the pursuit of which they even showed the courage to go against the freedom of expression which Ambedkar enshrined in the Constitution – our politicians had to face ridicule.


Instead of congratulating them, people started pulling out facts about Ambedkar’s life, sense of humour, the importance of not disrupting Parliament, the Constitution and irrelevant stuff like that. What on earth, said these beleaguered politicians, have facts got to do with anything. We are saving Dr Ambedkar from a cartoon by Shankar which is part of a textbook. We don’t care if Ambedkar himself saw the cartoon when it first appeared in 1949 or not. We don’t care if Shankar was a famous cartoonist. We are only bothered that Ambedkar’s reputation has been damaged and for that, we’re willing to damage anything and anybody. Including, of course, the offices of one of the academics who decided to include the cartoon in the textbook.


Meanwhile, other politicians got so bothered by the ruckus that the government just banned the textbook. This is probably a wise move as Class XI students will now have no political science textbooks, so if any of those students want to enter politics, they will be suitably ignorant about Ambedkar, the Constitution and so on. This is a necessary prerequisite for politicians.


I would also advise young people to think carefully about becoming cartoonists. Dead or alive, cartoonists are public enemy number one for politicians, a dangerous breed giving to fostering humour, laughter and other subversive tendencies.


* * *


The other politicians in the spotlight are in the UK. They must now be careful when they send text messages to editors of newspaper. Because if those editors get involved in phone-hacking scandals and then get questioned by a media ethics inquiry, they can reveal damaging stuff. Now we know, for instance, that British prime minister David Cameron of the Conservative Party did not know the meaning of the short form “LOL”. He kept sending it to Rebekkah Brookes, former editor of The Sun and News of the World and boss of News Corp and now just a formidable person, thinking it meant “Lots of love”. She had to point out to him that it meant “Laugh Out Loud.”


This has almost completely destroyed Cameron’s street cred and it is possible that because of his good friend and neighbour Brookes, he may lose his premiership.

The Labour Party, by the way, cannot send anyone messages saying “ROFL” because they were well known for cosying up to News Corp as well.


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