Freedom struggle of our times

Our elected representatives are our greatest freedom fighters – fighting for anything they can bully, cajole, arm-twist into getting free of cost


Suresh Menon | June 1, 2012

Give us free passes to the cricket match or we will not collect your garbage; also we will find other ways to harass you. The Bangalore corporators, elected to their posts by the tax-paying public, are clear on what they want from life. Free passes, free membership to all the local clubs, and if possible free roti, kapda aur makaan. From here to demanding free porn is but a step, especially on the latest notebooks and iPads which the tax-payer must supply.

Our elected representatives are our greatest freedom fighters – fighting for anything they can bully, cajole, arm-twist into getting free of cost. The greatest challenge they face would be to find creative ways of spending their salaries since they demand everything and pay for nothing.
In short, they are an inspiration.

I have been wondering what humble columnists who churn out a few thousand words a week can learn from the Bangalore corporators (scientific name: corporatorae bangalorium; physical features: mouth hanging open, hands outstretched reaching out for freedom).

Here are a few ideas:

Give us free petrol or we shall leave dangling participles lying unattended all over the place. No one will turn up to clear the non sequitors, and if we continue to be ignored, we shall leave out the second ‘m’ in ‘accommodate’ whenever we need to use that word.

Give us free housing or we shall end our sentences with a preposition and cheer for Rahul Dravid’s Rajasthan Royals on screen when they play Royal Challengers Bangalore (we will agitate for free television sets so we can watch the IPL matches on television).

Give us free haircuts or we shall mix up punctuation, using a mere semi-colon where only a full one will do or a comma when the crying need is for a full stop.

Trim our moustaches free of cost while we listen to music on iPods supplied free of cost or we shall refuse to begin a sentence with a capital letter, and find different ways of spelling the word ‘freedom’, none of them correct.

Ignore us at the cost of getting a DLF maximum across your backsides.

This feels good. I could write the manifesto for corporators everywhere – give, give, give, give to be followed by or else, or else, or else, or else. This, as a corporator went on national television to point out, is not blackmail. It is entitlement, it is a matter of ‘prestige’, he said sounding like a pressure cooker.
In a city where garbage is king – ignored in some areas, added to in others by officials – it is not surprising that garbage trucks have to be escorted by securitymen to ensure that they reach the destination. It is a lovely thought, rotten tomatoes and putrefying material being protected from the elected representatives of the tax-payers by the tax-payers money. Tolstoy might have written a whole novel about it; Thomas Hardy a poem.

Unlike Marlon Brando in the Godfather who advised his cohorts to make difficult people an offer they couldn’t refuse, cricket authorities in Bangalore are in the unhappy position of making refuse they can’t offer. Not to the garbage collectors, anyway.

This could all be a coincidence, of course. Why should we see a cause-and-effect relationship between free tickets not given by one party and garbage not collected by the other?

My sympathies are entirely with the corporators. Here they are, working so hard they have no time to pass the budget, making travel plans to study drought conditions in Italy or Switzerland when they have a full-blown one at home, and all they ask for in return is free tickets, free meals, free liquor, free transportation and possibly an easy win for their heroes. If only they knew who their heroes were. “I like Sachin Tendulkar,” one of them said with startling originality. Some probably think Shah Rukh Khan plays for one of the teams.

Perhaps the cricket association can resolve the issue by getting the corporators to take a cricket test: identify the following players. What is the LBW law? Where is mid-on? You get the idea.

But then they might demand a free answer sheet to be supplied to them, and we’d all be back where we – or the corporators – started.
Give them the free passes (in a golden box on a tray with all those auspicious spices) or Chris Gayle’s favourite brand of chewing gum will be banned from Bangalore. Ah! The endless possibilities.



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