Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Article in The New Indian Express On December 26, 2010

The following article appeared in my Sunday column 'Un Intended' in the New Indian Express.

Harimohan Paruvu
I hate to say this. But all this fight corruption, save trees, save rocks campaigning is a big waste of time. It will never work with us. Not that we are lazy, stupid or corrupt; we are just culturally rebellious. We, as a nation, hate it when things are forced on us, as the British, our municipal authorities and the population control department found out in the past. When someone tries to force us to do something, we do the opposite. Now what that means is that unless we understand our psyche and adopt ‘opposite’ strategies, we are stuck with corruption, plastic etc forever.

In fact all those who have understood this ‘opposite psyche’ business have used it to their advantage and are now happy, successful and rich. The first ones to figure this psyche out were the politicians who always say something and do the opposite. Soon, corporate leaders figured it out. Then the land mafia, builders, fixers, government – they all figured it out. They say something and do something else. The only ones who haven’t figured it out is the general public which remains confused despite getting the opposite of what they have been promised all their lives. This could be because the public also opposes the manner in which it is supposed to behave when they get cheated, and are happy. Opposing even what they should oppose.

To understand this better, practice applying opposites to everything. For example, if a leader says he will die for the public, it means the opposite i.e. run for your lives. When some party says it respects women and culture, hide them safely faraway. When corporate houses talk of honesty, sell the shares instantly because there is a huge accounting fraud coming up. When governments promise action against erring officials, all complainants can apply for anticipatory bail, as the officials get promoted to more powerful posts. Get it. Apply the opposite.

Now, we can apply this same ‘opposite technology’ for our own benefit. If we don’t want corruption, then, make corruption compulsory. Our countrymen will instantly find ways to beat the system - and end up being scrupulously honest. Or, instead of fighting terrorism, promote terrorism. Budding terrorists delist when they see government directives telling them to terrorise compulsorily. I mean what good is terrorism if it is being promoted like tourism? Or what good is a scandal if it is mandatory requirement for public figures? How can anything compulsory and legal be opposed?
The issues die.

Similarly, we can get rid of the use of plastic, unsafe sex, queue jumping, spitting, scratching etc. For example, if we have a rule that directs the public to compulsorily spit ten times every five meters, the public will do the opposite. They will not even open their mouths for fear that they might spit accidentally. No more plastic, no more sex, no more nothing. The world gets what it wants (peace), the public gets what it wants (to oppose all rules) and the state gets what it wants (to harass the public) - it can even penalise the public for doing the right thing, which is legally the wrong thing. Everyone is happy.

The upside is that things get done easily. Corruption goes, plastic goes, scratching stops. The downside is that life gets boring. With nothing to oppose there will be no drama. All interesting media programs die, except DD which bores everyone to death. It will soon be more interesting to meet one’s family over dinner than watch prime time news. Unless, of course, we make talking to the family compulsory!

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