Regular readers of this column would know that I’m second to none when it comes to deshbhakti. But sadly, one of the things I’ve come to realise, particularly in the last five years, is that I’ll never be even half as great a deshbhakt as the garden variety NRI. Why not? Because true love, as Himesh Reshammiya pointed out long ago, is only when you love unconditionally. Till date, only NRIs have proved themselves capable of unconditional patriotic love. Not only do they love their motherland regardless of what it does, unlike the spouses of most people I know, they love the object of their love a thousand times more when it screws up.
For instance, my old friend Wewake (spelling changed to protect identity), who I’ve known since college, would abuse the nation and the nation’s father and mother every time his bike went over a pothole. “If the British hadn’t quit India, they would have continued to loot us, true, but we would’ve at least had decent roads! Today our rulers still loot us but we get nothing in return, nothing!” he would rant.
A vow to not pay taxes
One day the cycle-rickshaw he was travelling in had an unexpected encounter with an impressive pothole. The rickshaw toppled, and Wewake found himself launched into space. Unlike Chandrayaan-2, he landed safely, though bottom-first, into what was, by lunar standards, a crater of modest proportions. That was the day he took a vow: he may have been born in India but he wasn’t going to pay his taxes here.
Within a year he managed to emigrate to a country that is, rest assured, much inferior to India. I won’t name the country (to protect the country’s privacy), but take it from me, it’s a country that should learn from us how to treat minorities, how to conduct elections, and how to nurture a truly independent national media that courageously speaks truth to the Opposition. A man who hated India while living here morphed into a hyper-patriot soon after he settled abroad. Wewake’s love for India steadily began to swell, like a cow’s bladder filling with holy fluid, until, the day the 2019 poll results were declared, it exploded, drenching everyone in his field of influence with the glorious nationalistic sap synonymous with the bovine divine.
Another conversation now
His deshbhakti was at its peak when he called me last week.
“The Indian economy is doing fantastic!” he gushed. “Where I live, we are growing at a paltry 1.1! India’s growth rate is a whopping 5%! What are you whining about!”
“But there is a big problem of poor demand,” I said. “Nobody has money to buy anything!”
“Rubbish,” he said. “You guys just placed an order worth $8 billion for 36 Rafales. You’ve given a credit line to Russia for $1 billion! You have splurged $146 million on a difficult Moon mission that nine out of 10 developed countries can’t even dream of! You’ve rejected the cheapest crude that money can buy in favour of more expensive oil from the richest country in the world! And yet you claim India has no money!? Boss, better get your head checked!”
“All that you say may be true,” I sighed. “But that doesn’t mean ordinary Indians have money to spend!”
“What nonsense!” he said. “Only anti-nationals don’t have money to spend! And they totally deserve to be broke! If you keep bad-mouthing the economy, don’t complain if the economy decides to punish you! Every patriotic Indian is prospering like never before.”
“Show me one patriotic Indian who is prospering like never before,” I said. “Just one.”
“Me!” he said. “The Indian economy is doing so well, in the last five years I have bought three houses — one each in Besant Nagar, Gurgaon, and Cuffe Parade.”
“Really?” I was stunned. “You’re just an accountant! How much do they pay you?”
“My salary is nothing extraordinary, but I do get an increment every month.”
“An increment every month!”
“I earn in dollars, my friend. Every time the rupee depreciates, I get an increment,” he said.
“You have every reason to love Bharat Mata,” I said.
“Two weeks ago,” Wewake said, “after the rupee fell some more, I sold my old washing machine and used the proceeds to buy an apartment in Gurgaon Sector 392.”
“Can you lend me a thousand dollars?” I said. “I’ll pay them back as soon our growth rate returns to 8%.”
“I’ve identified a really nice villa in Anjuna,” he said, voice brimming with excitement. “Wouldn’t it be nice to spend the winters on the beach in Goa?”
“It would be,” I said.
“For me to be able to afford that villa the rupee needs to cross 95,” he said.
“You want the rupee to sink to 95?”
“Of course not, I love my country,” he said. “But do keep your fingers crossed.”