Tuesday, Aug 09, 2022

No Aliens Under Our Beds

Among the biggest political delusions we have laboured for long is the 'foreign hand'

No Aliens Under Our Beds No Aliens Under Our Beds

Every time there is a walkout in the Lok Sabha, or a range of full-throated voices seek to drown out a member's intervention, men my age write editorials on how this theatre of rowdyism and the absurd was once a forum for serious debate and discussion. This is only in part nostalgia; it is also in part founded on fact. For at least half its life, the Indian Parliament was a place characterised by intellectual sophistication and moral seriousness and, lest we forget, humour. The speeches of such men as Ram Manohar Lohia, Atal Behari Vajpayee and Harindranath Chattopadhyay (among others) were suffused with satirical wit.

My favourite example of parliamentary humour, however, was a placard that sometime in the early 1970s was hung over the capacious form of the architect-turned-politician Piloo Mody. It bore the words: 'I AM A CIA AGENT'.