Who are the Indian Political Junkies and What Angers Them so Easily?

Time: 5 minutes

Taking to the streets over state issues, to eat or not to eat something, to be allowed to pray or not to pray; burning public property and disrupting everyday life, the Indian political junkie, who aligns himself with this or that party, thinks nothing of the unimaginable loss caused to the country’s exchequer or to the common man – his own brethren. But then he is only concerned with his own viewpoint and how to impose it on another. He is even prepared to tread dangerous ground when he begins to question the Supreme Court’s decisions. If his political beliefs were genuinely sincere and he had the good of his country in mind would this junkie be party to the wanton destruction that he and his comrades let loose every time there is a disagreement? But then would an addict, another word for a junkie, who is a person with a compulsive habit or obsessive dependency on something, think of anybody else’s needs or ego but his own? Sreelata takes a hard look at the political junkie, in the Indian context, exclusively for Different Truths.

Do you watch ‘West Wing’? Are you crazy about ‘House of Cards? ‘’? ‘Veep’ or their reruns? Are you a regular at Trevor Noah’s or John Oliver’s daily fix or the late night shows with whoever? Did you break into a joyful jig when ‘Homeland’ came back for another season? And nearer home do you obsess about Arnab Goswami’s ‘The Newshour’ or wish Rajat Sharma would oblige you more often with his ‘Aap ki Adalat’? If you do, then there’s no doubt that you are one who is fixated with everything political. In other words, you are what is known as a ‘political junkie’.

But then who in India is not. Even without all the trappings that project one as a political junkie most Indians regardless are political animals. And politics is, without a doubt, their staple diet. Right from the snow-topped peaks of Kashmir to the lapping waters of Kanyakumari there is no dearth of political experts, who know exactly how the country needs to be run and how it should not. But alas the ones who don’t seem to know are the leaders we elect. We meet these political voyeurs in every Indian living room, nukkad and corner shop, where the man on the street has more than an informed opinion. Yes, the one common thread that binds and agitates India after cricket it would seem is the intriguing world of ‘Indian politics.’ Come election time and the frenzy reaches fever pitch high.

Unfortunately, almost all the above-mentioned TV serials and daily shows that deal and delve into the somewhat murky but almost always thrilling world of politics are either American or British. Way ahead in fictionalising what could be some disturbingly true aspects of governance, they are adept at highlighting the sometimes immoral and almost always alarming antics of their politicians. But we in India have a long way to go before we can even begin to laugh at ourselves or even come close to depicting our leaders or politicians as they are.

Possibly because of our diverse regional attitudes or a sense of insecurity instilled in us by our many years of subjugation we tend to go with the flow. Corrupt or immoral, honest or dishonest, we either deify our leaders or condemn them outright. Jawaharlal Nehru, hero-worshipped once upon a time, is now, overnight, everyone’s favorite whipping boy. once applauded as the ‘only man in the cabinet’ is vilified ad nauseam and dynastic rule so embedded in our DNA is now selectively derided. While Lalu Yadav, Mulayam Singh, Mayawati and their ilk continue to be in the reckoning. Again instead of leaving the past where it belongs – in the past and building upon it, we constantly hark back to – what are now termed to be mistakes of the past. Only to compound them further. It won’t be long before the Father of the Nation will also be called upon to account for some misdeed or the other.

Also quick to take offense, the politically inclined (mango/common man), largely seems to be unable to accept another point of view equally either. Even an FB post is cause for trouble. And let’s not talk about tweets. Whether they be leaders or the common man, our politics is all about the overly sensitive skin of our people. No one but no one is allowed to have an opinion that runs counter to the apparent majority or partisan agenda, whatever that might be. We even turn violently violent when views-any- differ. We are also unable to refrain from politicising everything – recent examples – our surgical strikes on terrorists or the encounter killing of eight escaped convicts in MP .With every Ram, Thomas and Imran having an opinion the sound bytes emanating are alarming. So distrustful and uncaringly cynical have we become, we question everything.

So nothing it would seem is sacrosanct to the Indian political junkie. Frivolous FIRs, needless special leave petitions (SLPs) and pointless court cases more common than desi laddoos now occupy our waking moments. And posturing as our nation’s conscious keepers our innumerable TV news channels dish out drivel 24×7 in the form of inane and in fact at times dangerously provocative panel discussions. And again playing to the gallery our politicians and political parties instead of nipping them in the bud seem to be lapping them up with relish. When he should be firmly putting them in their place we even have the chief minister of a state trying to broker peace between the thugs of a so-called political party and a filmmaker so that he may be allowed to screen his film in peace.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

Taking to the streets over state issues, to eat or not to eat something, to be allowed to pray or not to pray; burning public property and disrupting everyday life, the Indian political junkie, who aligns himself with this or that party, thinks nothing of the unimaginable monetary loss caused to the country’s exchequer or to the common man – his own brethren. But then he is only concerned with his own viewpoint and how to impose it on another. He is even prepared to tread dangerous ground when he begins to question the Supreme Court’s decisions. If his political beliefs were genuinely sincere and he had the good of his country in mind would this junkie be party to the wanton destruction that he and his comrades let loose every time there is a disagreement? But then would an addict, another word for a junkie, who is a person with a compulsive habit or obsessive dependency on something, think of anybody else’s needs or ego but his own?

As to who coined the term ‘political junkie’, the credit it appears would go to Rachel Anne Maddow of the Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC. A political commentator, author and television host, she was talking of her fellow Americans who were ‘obsessed with all things political, watches C-SPAN, and votes in every election.’

Seemingly she hasn’t heard of us. For then she would realise that the term ‘political junkie’ takes on a whole new meaning in India.

©Sreelata Menon

Photo from the Internet.

Sreelata Menon

Sreelata Menon

When computers hit the scene, life changed for Sreelata Menon. A Masters in History (Mumbai University) she was with the Onlooker and world Trade Magazines before teaching History to undergraduates and doing a stint in an advertising agency. A web content writer, she wrote blogs on freelance writing, and current happenings for online and print publications. Author of ‘Freelance Writing for the Newbie Writer’ her books also include Guru Nanak and Indira Gandhi for Penguin-Puffin.
Sreelata Menon

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