I called up my good friend Laloo Prasad Yadav, a modern day icon who just happens to be selflessly devoting his time nowadays as the Railway minister. Before I tell you what we discussed, I must say that the sacrifices this man has made for the nation simply amazes me: letting his wife forgo her conjugal duties to be the chief minister of Bihar, depriving himself of an education for the larger good of fostering Dalit power, fathering eight kids to strengthen the country, endeavouring to make Bihar a cricketing powerhouse by himself becoming the president of the State Association and making his son the captain of the junior cricket team———in short a man of action for whom personal benefits and the well being of his family are of no concern.
So as I was saying he was rather surprised to get my call. …….he said that virtually all the people on the caller list on his cell phone had their cellphones recently confiscated thanks to the raids conducted at different jails. Right away the greatness of the man came to the fore: full of the milk of human kindness, he takes calls from cell inmates on their cells—while other states punish offenders by putting them in harsh conditions in jails, Bihar under his guidance has elevated itself to a higher plane of humanity where the crime is punished and not the criminals.
The tragedy with crime is that one small mistake tarnishes your life forever and it is impossible to be accepted in society or get a job once convicted. In true visionary style, Laloo has embraced these fallen souls by making them ministers and MLAs/MPs and shown society that it is possible to rehabilitate criminals. Four walls do not a prison make and nowhere is this more true than the land of Taxila and Nalanda.
Laloo pointed out that the high court mandated raid on Bihar prisons was one more manifestation of the conspiracy hatched by the “communal forces” to defame the “pipul” (which is how Laloo-ji refers to himself) [Webster spells it as “people” but Webster was part of a clique of Bramhin conspirators]. Why shouldnt people in jail be allowed to smoke some joints, a cigarette or two, chew gutkha, drink a bottle of whisky and more importantly what right does anyone have to snatch away things people paid a lot of money to procure? After all as he jocularly pointed out: if we let these people rule the country where they can ruin other people—why do we even bother if they ruin themselves with some addicitives ? Laloo does have a sense of humor !
I said I had called him because some of these elitist papers were saying that Bihar is becoming even more a hell-hole with its recent spates of kidnappings of doctors and engineers. Things have reached such a stage that Bihari doctors are now asking for guns. Laloo listened to be patiently and I heard a soft musical laugh at the other end—-he pointed out that he sees nothing wrong in that…all the doctors in the hospital he and his family go for health checkups have always had guns or at least could legally have one. I was not prepared for that one—so I asked him where is that? He said “Arre buddhu (stupid) dont you know its legal to have guns in Texas?” Of course I had forgotten that Laloo in his infinte wisdom does not put pressure on the overworked health administation in his own state for the care of himself and his family—he selflessly comes all the way to US. [A lot of other politicians do this of course but as we all know “what Laloo thinks today, India thinks tomorrow and the world just scratches its head day after tomorrow”]
He continued with his brand of irrefutable logic. Kidnapping means stealing kids who are napping–doctors and engineers are grown-up men. So this talk of kidnapping is again, you guessed it, a conspiracy by communal forces. It’s just that many of his friends who are in jail want to express their love and admiration for doctors and engineers (our nation builders) ; that is why they have made arrangements to pick up doctors and engineers from their place of work and take them on surprise trips. Laloo quipped that doctors and engineers are overworked, overstressed people who need some alone time away from patients and family so that they can recharge their batteries and that is exactly what his friends want to provide them—the element of surprise is what makes these soujourns even more enjoyable. And Laloo pointed out that this sudden whiff of freedom has so electrified the medical community in Patna that they are enmasse getting their phone numbers changed and not seeing patients after 5:00—–that way they have more alone time.
To be honest I had not looked at the problem like this. But then again I always thought that plastic was more convenient in trains than kulchas. Of course I was wrong ! The thriving kulcha making community in Bihar is an example of the social change small selfless decisions can make in even large corporations like the Indian railways. Laloo of course was also miffed at the High Court decision to ban nude dances at cattle fairs—it seems everyone wants to kill the Bihari tourism industry—-he pointed out the hypocricy engaged in by the upper-class intellegentsia–a boy and girl (underaged) engaging in lewd acts is “hot”while a lower class girl liberating herself of clothes in bovine surroundings is “not”. Point taken.
I pointed out a news article which reported that many politicians claimed that they had also gotten death threats and yet people felt that this was just a “fake ruse” to divert attention from their involvement in the whole fiasco. Laloo fell strangely silent and says that he has also received death threats on his cell. But refused to elaborate. I felt that was mightily strange considering the fact that his cell is configured to accept calls ONLY from people on his contact’s list.
I was planning to ask him about bombs exploding in Patna schools but I knew in my heart of hearts that this was the handiwork of communal forces. So I let it pass. I told him that a few of my friends felt that the overall violence and lawlessness of Bihar has permeated into the minds of Biharis–how else would you explain a noted surgeon in Patna being beaten up by his wife and son (returned from US) with hockey sticks? At which point Laloo asked me the name of the doctor.. I said Dr Jankidev Prasad, a renowned orthopaedic surgeon. Laloo was silent for a while and said renowned surgeon you say—I hummed my ascent. He thought aloud–must be pretty rich….then his voice suddenly became hurried and he said ” I will call you later” and cut me off before I could say anything. I am still awaiting his call. I am sure Dr Prasad isnt.