Maharashtra, at the time of writing, does not have a government. Now please don’t be one of those comedians who say Maharashtra never had a government. That’s because it may have, twice. Truth be told people are laughing at us. People from other states point as they pass Maharashtra, and say, ‘There goes Maharashtra, a State without a government, ha ha ha.’
Well, I'm totally sick of it. People laughing at our State. Or to be more clear, the state of our State. Unless you are doing a pull-up at this moment, you could be pointing fingers. So, stop it! I mean, by all means do the pull-up, but please please stop the finger pointing. In fact, like a Kuldeep Yadav delivery I’d like to go the other way. I’d like to defend our government. Actually I’d like to defend governments in general. They often get a bad rap. Governments, in that sense, are like old security guards. They do their best to open the lift door for you but you’ve already done that yourself by the time they get up from their stools.
Hence, as a young man (probably 4 years and 3 months old), I wrote the immortal line, ‘Ask not what your Government can do for you － ask what you can do for your Government, while it is trying to be formed’. This brings me to the much laboured, and probably unnecessary point － what do we citizens have to do for the good of our State? “Migrate”, say the comedians. However, I nullify that answer with an elongated answer of my own. This is my list of highly important duties and acts that citizens must put forward to better the quality of both State and Country. A lot of the research has come from the Upanishads which I have never read. And also Marco Polo’s last book Highlights From China. The points are in no specific order which also summarises the Maharashtra State.
- Walk on the pavement: Citizens of Maharashtra, mostly Mumbai, are to kindly note that we have a geographic structure called pavements. Amazingly these pavements were not designed for two wheelers to ride on, they were also not designed to be spittoons and dustbins. They were designed, surprisingly, for humanity to use when on foot. It’s not so important if it is one foot or two, the point is pavements are meant for feet. Feet, and maybe legs should be allowed on it, nothing else. Definitely not vehicles. It is the duty of the citizens of Maharashtra to use the pavements so that the roads are kept clear for our VIPs. By VIPs, I mean politicians, including those who form the government.
- Citizens of Maharashtra should learn to be civil and wish each other. This could be made compulsory and in the mother tongue of the state. All citizens should greet each other with ‘Kasa Kai?’. Youngsters may replace it with ‘What’s up?’ but only with a thick Marathi accent. This greeting will help form a bridge of hope and love amongst all citizens, and must be meted out to everyone except bikers riding on pavements.
- Motorists of Maharashtra, especially Mumbai, should avoid using their phones while driving. The only time this could be allowed is if they use the phone to call an ambulance for the pedestrian they have just knocked down. Obviously the said pedestrian was busy on the phone while crossing the road. So, as we say in Marathi, it was a fait accompli.
- Citizens of Maharashtra, especially Mumbai, should stop using the State and City as a space for dumping garbage. Maharashtra is not a giant dustbin. It soon will be. But it wasn’t designed to be. What would be more prudent is a disciplined and planned performance by our citizens. They could pile up their garbage in a dignified and systematic manner. Preserve it. Then, once a week, send it to a neighbouring state.
- Citizens of Maharashtra are considered the least politically conscious of all. Traditionally the Maharashtrian resident has no real interest in politics, unlike say the Bihari or Bengali. It would be wonderful if the citizens would know the names of at least their local MLA. If not the name, they should at least be able to point him out from the 27 hoardings in the area wishing him a happy 45th birthday on the occasion of his 50th.
There are many more duties. A total of 407, which make them too many to mention. But we can quickly roll out a few more that deserve special mention. Residents should not carry plastic bags. They shouldn’t dig their noses in public. No one’s saying don’t dig your nose at all. That would be expecting too much. Just don’t dig your nose in public. Don’t take part in reality shows. Also, definitely don’t take part in the same reality show, twice. Don’t use call drops as an excuse for not being able to hear what the other person is saying. Above all, for God’s sake, don’t create WhatsApp groups for the building, school and parents .
We interrupt this article with breaking news. Devendra Fadnavis, after reading the first half of this column, has resigned. And in the next 3 minutes, Uddhav Thackeray will be the next CM of Maharashtra. His reign will continue at least for this week. He has the tacit and overt support of the man who invented Maharashtra, a certain Sharad Pawar. As for his nephew, and the nephew’s cronies, things are looking a little bit bleak. So bleak that he may have to resign himself to appearing in reality shows for the next few years. Let’s be clear. “Reality” shows, are not ‘Realty’ shows. The latter continues to be the fiefdom of the elder Pawar. The most important fallout of this news is that the ordinary citizen of Maharashtra can go on holiday again since all the resorts and 5-star hotels will be vacant, again.
The writer is a comedian, TV anchor, theatre personality, satirist, podcaster and an author.