Every few generations, a culture, society, civilisation, even, produces men of such calibre that they redefine standards for the rest of us. And every time one thinks that these men are done outdoing their previous best, they effortlessly prove us wrong. Kind of like Usain Bolt smiling for the camera as he crosses the finish line while breaking his own record.
In India, we have produced such a man, and it’s time to give him his due.
Two months into the new year and with less than that to go before the next national elections, it’s time to admit that we have reached Peak Genius. Any more, and one fears a mere television set will no longer contain him. Any more, and I fear I’ll feel the full force of Major General GD Bakshi’s spittle as The Nation demands to know what my rank was in the IIT-JEE exam. Because that’s the thing about Genius, isn’t it? In its presence, we—the audience, but really an undifferentiated mass called The Nation—are but errant children.
Within minutes of any breaking event—which, going by the news channels, must be a constantly occurring thing—no matter how complex or multitudinous the political, economic, social and historical matrix of cause and consequence, Masterji will not only have parsed it fully and definitively for us but in full and definitive knowledge of what we—all 1.3 billion of us (minus anti-nationals)—want, need and should know. Not since the Buddha has this civilisation produced a man of such vision. Not since Nityananda explaining E=mc2 have we produced a man of such genius. It used to be that news anchors had the pulse of the nation. But not with Masterji. He has the full bloodwork.
And so every night we tune into his coaching class between 9 pm and 11 pm and learn what we should think, feel and who to throw our pencil box at. It’s a coaching class like no other, but with elements that will be familiar to engineers across this country. Guests, ostensibly there for reasons of character development, looking both nervous and eager to please, are called one by one to the board by Masterji and asked to solve an equation. The equation always falls to a binary—for or against, Congress or BJP, pass or fail. One must solve for x. x is what Masterji says.
Masterji is a hard taskmaster because no dullard ever became a patriot. Those who get it right win an indulgent smile. Those who don’t, get it hard and fast in front of the whole class. Sometimes it just gets so tiresome for Masterji—he leaves the caning to the class monitor. It used to be Navika Ma’am. Nowadays it’s Gaurav Bhaiya.
But nothing irks Masterji quite as much as those who never make it to class. We all know them: Kavita, Romilla, Nayantara. JNU, FTII, HCU. These are the anti-nationals. The street-roaming, waste fellows who seek to influence us—Masterji’s flock—badly. Because of course, our impressionable minds in this, our perpetual youth, must be protected, our wayward impulses checked.
For those of us who haven’t yet graduated to thinking in 256 characters, there are always the remedial classes taken through the day by the junior faculty-in-training. Those anchors who speak in declarative sentences and always “prove beyond a doubt”. Those tireless reporters who go every day beyond the call of duty, all the way from Noida to Central Delhi, to read us press releases. And, most of all, those behind-the-scenes producers that give us our study guide in the form of the ticker, the graphics and the hashtag.
In earlier times, the text used to be small. But they have grown since, in keeping with the importance of Masterji’s pronouncements.
Just in the past week, I have learned: “Blast Fake Bravado, Give it Back”, “Brahma-astra that Pak should be Scared of”, “India Ready For More”, “130 crore Indians celebrating”, and “Decisive Battle Need of the Hour”.
Last night, I learned “The Real Story in 39 seconds”. If this is not genius, I don’t know what is. Even the sports commentators take longer than 39 seconds to demystify Bumrah’s pace and Kuldeep’s googly.
And because learning should be fun, there are helpful images of bomb silos opening, fighter jets flying and munitions exploding. I even got homework last night: I must record my salute to Indian servicemen under the hashtag #NationSalutes. They give their lives, I give them a selfie. This, right here, is national service. Nayantara would have known had she attended.
With so much tireless effort, the results are showing. We have all been learning. Not just those of us weeding out anti-nationals—those who eat wrong, speak wrong, or just look wrong —but also those of us in the English TV media. Masterji would not be who he is if he had not shown others the path. They’ve opened their own coaching classes. Perhaps they’re lured by the attendance Masterji gets but frankly, it’s hard to dismiss their intentions when one sees them furrow their brows and speak with such loud purpose. Chaubey Uncle, Kanwal Bhaiya, Navika Ma’am, Rahul Bhai may be the poor person’s Masterji, but they do try.
Why, only a few months back, Kanwal Bhaiya was found crouching in the jungle, looking seriously into the distant vegetation, searching for armed anti-nationals. It turned out to be staged shoot, but still. The Maoists were definitely in the same state.
But most importantly, they have all learnt from Masterji the seriousness of the enterprise.
Come the time when people die, they turn their studios into war rooms complete with simple maps and those tiny planes that are such a delight to watch. Crossing back and forth, back and forth, roughly west and north of Delhi and next to a place called Kashmir. These little details are important. Geography class was a while back. What else does a war room really need when the expressions are so serious and the clichés aplenty?
Each one tries harder than the other despite the obvious handicap of not having anything substantially different to say. But if there is one thing we’ve learnt at Masterji’s feet, it is that patriotism requires that all our mind-voices coalesce into a single undifferentiated stream of 256 character chunks. Preferably with a hashtag.
And yes. They aren’t going to be at either end of the missiles they so lovingly stroke, in a war they so ardently fan. Soldiers will be, and they will die.
But let no loudmouth question their resolve, their courage and above all, their manliness. Because real men they are. Even if their chest size falls short of that of The Great Leader—as it must—let no man tell you it’s easy under those studio lights.
And when the bodies start coming home, they’ll be there, bringing us the final goodbyes between the dead and their loved ones. Private moments that we’ll all be a part of. Because this is what manliness and dignity require. It takes manliness to ask for war. Why, Kanwal Bhaiya might even get as far as Punjab, just this side of the entire Indian Army.
And to the softies whining for Peace, buck up man. There is a national election around the corner and Masterji has spoken. He has chosen for us and saved us the trouble.
The Great Leader watches. He does not speak. But Masterji has spoken. We must obey.
And when the next young widow salutes before a casket, so will we. On Twitter and Facebook. Definitely Instagram. And woe betide any old man with creaking knees who does not stand erect for the national anthem at the cinema. How dare he disrespect our soldiers? We love our soldiers. We honour them with their own sacrifice.
Now, just stand straight with your shoulders back and take a selfie. Pixel is best but a Redmi Note will do. And don’t forget the hashtag. #NationSalutes