Feel-good optimism has become the mantra of the corporate media in rising, shining, roaring India.
Don’t worry, this too shall pass. Poverty, disease, death, illiteracy, corruption, casteism, communalism… all the woes confronting us will vanish if only you train yourself to look at the bright side of things; if only you consume the right kind of media; if only you buy the right kind of products; if only you aspire in the right kind of way…
How very refreshing to come across somebody who says just the opposite; who says things are bad, yes, but it will only get worse; and who has no qualms of being seen as a cynic?
Anuradha SenGupta: You have commented over the years on traffic jams, on corruption, on indifference by elected political representatives, lack of implementation of schemes. Many of those things have not changed, they have remained as they are. Does that make R.K. Laxman a cynical man?
R.K. Laxman: I am a cynical man… I am a born cynical man.
SenGupta: You are not an optimist. You believe that this is the way we are and this is the way we will be.
Laxman: Optimism is one which says that everything will be all right. So, I feel things will get worse, not better. Roads, potholes, traffic, traffic jam, all that have not changed….
SenGupta: I thought there would be hope…
Laxman: How? Sense of humour does not give hope. It has nothing to do with it. Hope means what? Tomorrow everything will be all right? There would be no nuclear war? There would be no Iraq, there would be no Bush… that kind of hope? Things are getting from bad to worse.
SenGupta: The hope that we will be one day conscious enough and active enough to change things the way to what we want them to be.
Laxman: You can’t change, that’s it. It’s not because they are not aware of it. You mean to say politicians are not aware of what is going on? They are aware of it but they are helpless because they want to become leaders. That is the idea – to stand for the elections and get it, that’s the idea of the politicians.
Read the full text: ‘It’s nice to have double standards’