The elections are coming to India and the Times of India will keep us informed of what each party is doing, thinking, planning etc.. So the front page of the paper today has absolutely no news in it. Zero. All it has is something of an ad for the paper’s own Lead India campaign. The ad presents “a quiet oath” – or at least as quiet as it can be when printed as a full-page ad – which goes like this.
“I swear. [Possibly sung as plaintively as All 4 One did back in 1994. Or, given there are re-runs of Beverly Hills 90210 on Indian cable, perhaps pronounced with a Valley-girl roll so that its “swearrrr”. For the sentence, and it is a sentence because it’s got a full stop at the end, to have an Indian resonance, we needed a “yaar” or “ya” – “I swear, ya” – at the end.]
I swear that this time I will stand up. [Good on you, mate. More calories are burnt by standing. Oh, wait, despite the full stop this sentence is actually not a sentence. It’s completed in the next line.]
Not for what I believe in, but for what I don’t. [What precisely does it mean to stand up for something you don’t believe in?]
This time I will vote. Not for, but against.
Against my own helplessness.
Against my own laziness. [Our politicians are crap, agreed. But to blame them for personal sloth seems a bit… lazy.]
Against two words called Chalta hai. [Two words but according to the Times of India not necessarily the phrase which means “everything goes”. So if I was being nitpicky, I’d gather that they’re opposing the usage of the words “chalta” and “hai” but me, nitpicky? Pshaw! However, having never come across words with names before, I have to ask whether these words are “called” anything else? You know, do they have nicknames or handles?]
Against short cuts in queues. [Clearly this oath framer has never seen the queues at the local train stations during rush hour.]
Against cheating in exams. [Absolutely. Look what the suspicion of cheating did to poor Jamal in “Slumdog Millionaire”.]
Against Kharcha Paani [a euphemism for bribes] in offices. [Now I’ll be nitpicky. Why is P of paani capitalised when the H of hai wasn’t?]
Against powerless inquiry commissions.
And powerful vote banks. [Ummm… but isn’t that what you’re trying to be?]
Against religion in politics.
And politics in religion.
Against illegal constructions.
And legal loopholes.
Against every cynic. Every non-believer. [Non-believer as in a person without religious affiliations or beliefs? So then you do want religion in politics.]
Against the belief that nothing will change. [All those with surplus “Vote for Change” buttons and badges from the Obama campaign, send them over.]
Against the feeling that my
vote cannot make a difference. [Either all the superfluous full stops above and below should be ignored or the writer suddenly felt poetic. Or these two lines were just not fitting in one.]
Against every excuse for not voting.
And I will do this without fear or shame.
Because only by voting against all that
is destroying our today, will I give my
children something to vote for tomorrow.” [Definitely wouldn’t have fit into one line. If only they had got someone with basic knowledge of line breaks to write this oath, it might even have made sense.]
Inside, the newspaper gives us a quick round-up of the strengths and weaknesses of the two major coalitions that will be battling it out. Here’s one of the things that’s going for the Congress-led UPA: “Seen to have its nose ahead.” As opposed to all of us whose noses protrude from the back of our heads.