They Think Alike

Great minds think alike. This is a frequently used quotation to suggest that two or more people are very intelligent because they are thinking the same thing. What most people are not aware of, however, is that the original saying is slightly longer—"Great minds may think alike, but fools seldom differ either".

This conveys a somewhat different meaning—it suggests that people who come to the same conclusion may not be so smart after all.

Both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress are thinking and worrying about the same things. Gujarat election results, Rahul Gandhi taking over as party president, the sluggish economy, the angry farmer, the crore of unemployed youth, ever-widening chasm between the very rich and the very poor.

Because they are pitted so vehemently against each other in the political arena, they are sounding very different when they hurl accusations and verbal insults at each other. But in essence they are thinking and saying the same things from different perspectives.

As the ruling party, the BJP is pretending as if everything is under control and it is coping splendidly with all the burning problems of the day. It's one-point mantra is: Modi is Right. Future is Bright.

As an Opposition party the Congress is seizing every opportunity to expose every failure, nail every lie and puncture every empty boast. It's new war-cry is: Modi is dividing the country and ruining the economy. Only Congress under Rahul can save the Nation.

Whether all this makes the two major parties in the country look very intelligent or not smart at all is an altogether different matter. Perhaps it is wiser for the common citizen not to delve too deeply into that question. The answer could be disturbing and even dangerous.

The reality is that there are a million mini-mutinies brewing. There is growing unrest among various sections of the population. Aspirations for a better life are rising but hopes are fading fast. Dalits are in revolt. Muslims feel cornered. Students get frustrated the moment they pass out of college or drop out of school. Big traders are confused, small traders are dispirited. Little children are dying like fireflies in ill-equipped government hospitals, owners of private medical centres are minting money faster than the RBI security presses did after demonetisation.

Elections are held as frequently as cricket matches, candidates win, parties hold victory celebrations but the voter always loses. State assemblies and parliament sessions are convened every winter, summer and monsson. Eminent MPs and MLAs hurl invectives, insults and even chairs at each other.

Despite the din and the dharnas, Bills and Budgets are somehow passed. Wondrous new schemes are announced with fanfare. But nothing changes on city streets, farmlands and villages. India is still filthy, not swatchh. Toilets in every home are a farce and an unmentionable humiliation.

The waters of the holy Ganga are more impure land unhygienic than before. The air is more polluted than ever before, with visiting cricketers sporting face-masks on the playing fields. As the upwardly-mobile upper classes buy cars by the thousands, the traffic jams take the joy out of driving your own vehicle. As mobile phone users cross the five billion mark, and the government boasts that 99 percent households have bank accounts, draconian laws are clumped to invade privacy and sell personal data to multinational mega-corporations.

In short, Democracy does not seem to be working. So maybe it doesn't really matter who gets more seats in the Himachal and Gujarat assemblies, whether the price of onions zooms up two-fold or four-fold, whether GDP inches up to seven or slips below five, whether young folks find jobs or take to rape and crime, whether cows are worshipped or slaughtered, whether another giant statue is erected of Shivaji and Sardar Patel with the Made-in-China label cleverly covered-up. No, it's all the same. India's great leaders all have great minds that think alike. They are the very intelligent ones. The common man is the perennial fool and not so smart after all.


Vol. 50, No.27, Jan 7 - 13, 2017