Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Story Remains the Same

Here’s my version of a story I’d heard five years back. Which itself was, at that time, a new version of a story I’d heard twenty years back. But for all the transformations the world has seen, little it seems has changed in this story – the story of the Ant and the Grasshopper.

The Ant works hard in the scorching heat all summer building its house and hording up supplies for the winter.

The Grasshopper thinks the Ant's a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. You know what happens next. But here’s where we cut to the modern times.

Come winter, the shivering Grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the Ant should be allowed to be warm and well-fed, while others like him are cold and starving.

At this point, NDTV, Aaj Tak and Barkha Dutt show up to provide pictures of the shivering Grasshopper next to a video of the Ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.

The world is shocked by the disparity in living conditions. How can this poor Grasshopper be allowed to suffer so?

Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the Ant's house. Anna Hazare threatens to go on a fast unless the government approves the Lokpal bill and probes into the Ant's assets. Arnab Goswami invites the Ant for an informal hearning, but gives him an earful.

The Ant becomes a trending topic on Twitter. Hundreds of tweets are written. Thousands of RTs follow. Many of whom decide to share it on FB too. And thousands of requests of “I’ll copy this one” follows, with many more FB walls updated. Why, even Chetan Bhagat has something funny to say about the Ant. And his post gets 3175 Likes and 584 Shares.

There is also a fair amount of support garnered by the Grasshopper. KCR invites the Grasshopper and his family to live in his new found state. Maya paints a picture of a bright future for the Grasshopper and his clan in all the four states she’s created. N Srinivasan agrees to send the Indian Cricket Team to Namibia for a one-off T20 in the middle of the IPL Season, for a charity match played for the Grasshopper and his community. A couple of weeks later, Sachin dedicates his 100th Half-century in ODIs to the Grasshopper.

More activity follows on all forms of Media. TOI initiates “Grasshopper ki Asha” and organizes a Page-3 event in a new city every weekend to spread awareness. Greenpeace spams 39,217 mailboxes to subscribers who couldn’t remember when they’d signed up for the damn thing. A email forward which encourages people to “mail this to 10 other friends and earn yourself a lifetime of good fortune and a 50% discount coupons for all forms of penis enlargement” starts doing the rounds, targeting those who still maintained their hotmail accounts.

This is when the government decide to take matters in their own hands. Opposition MPs stage a walkout. Left parties observe a 'National Bandh' in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a judicial enquiry. The Right-wing extremists blame a foreign hand (Hint: The country in question is not to be named. And it appears in the left of India when you are facing India’s political map.) The Centre is…hung.

Disgusted by the developments, the Ant’s lawyers convince him to go west and seek asylum (i.e. apply for H-1B Visa). After a few hours of consultation with the Passport Baba at Lucknow, that is.

After a year of noise, the Judicial Committee drafts the State Operation to Protect Grasshoppers Against Poverty (STOPGAP). Arundhati Roy calls it 'a Triumph of Justice'. Ashok Chavan offers to build a building in the heart of Mumbai for the Grasshopper and his followers. Ramalinga Raju pledges to build an IT company that will promote the IT skills of Grasshoppers. And finally President Obama invites the Grasshopper for a UN conference, and nominates the Grasshopper for the Nobel Peace Prize for his fight for equality.

Many years later...

The Ant continues to slog all year long in sunny California and hordes up his millions for the next Ice age. The Grasshopper gets grilled for his millions by the CBI, Income Tax department and Arnab Goswami. And India remains the world’s largest developing country.