Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Yesterday’s Twin Cataclysms, grand and petty

by Ratnakar Tripathy

There is no comparison, unless one insists, between the grand cataclysm faced by the US on Wednesday morning and the petty hassles faced by the Indians on the same day. But maybe the grandness of the so-called cataclysm requires as much questioning as the pettiness of the Indian hassles of the day. I am of course speaking of Trump’s grand victory in the US and the invalidation of banknotes of the value of Re 1000 and Re 500 in India on the same day. Most of the friends on my Facebook, their friends, and the friends of friends went into deep mourning early in the morning on the 9th of November over the election results in the US. Many of them however did not forget to quote dire instances of inconvenience and even death caused for instance by the inability of common Indians to pay medical fees in Rs 100 notes when required – in another news ‘A middle-aged woman died allegedly of heart failure when she came to know about the government's announcement the banks won't accept old currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. The woman reportedly came to know about the move when she reached the bank in Uttar Pradesh's Kushinagar district’. Another FB friend sent SOS over how he is stuck in Varanasi on his way to Mumbai and how all he has in 100 Rs is Rs 1200. Such suffering may continue for days and even weeks but certainly not for four long years when Trump and his cronies may decide to take drastic decisions on a daily basis and steer America into the unknown!

What strikes me right away however is the two disparate reactions in the Indian press – the Times of India tweeted the following:
‘It’s official! @realDonaldTrump grabs America by the …Congratulations. Mr President Elect!’.
The Washington Post did not fail to notice the tweet and carried a piece to underline the state of cynicism and the dreary humour of the damned, not to mention the sheer bad taste. What the Washington Post columnist may have failed to notice is the sense of gloating that may be seen among two men dangling by the noose side by side and the cataclysmic mirth felt by one for the other.  

Another elaborate ¾ page news report in a Hindi Daily Dainik Bhaskar prominently highlights the claim that Trump won the election having spent only half as much as Hilary Clinton, making her seem more of a plutocrat than Trump. He has broken a trend and won each vote it seems at the rate of $5. He thus comes out a smarter buyer, a cool customer at the grocery, a man supposedly most powerful in the world!

Of course, why Trump won will continue to be analyzed for a long time to come in the US and the world over. Just as the liberal world will repeatedly introspect how it altogether missed the lurking trends ignoring or not sensing the silent thoughts of the disgruntled voter. In the meantime just as in India, so in the US, however divided we were as voters we have no choice but to be united in paying a heavy price for voting wrong for several precious years to come!  

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