The future of the country (and the world) is bleak. Alternatively, the future’s so bright that in the words of Timbuk3’s 1986 hit song, ‘I gotta wear shades’. Pessimism and optimism are determined by which side of the political and ideological divide one is on. Are we sinking or are we doing just fine? God knows...
What I can tell you this Independence Day is that I visualise the following five things materialising in India’s not so distant future; it’s what my probiotic-informed gut tells me:
1. Compulsory national service: India will see some form of compulsory military service. There will be enormous public support for the idea. An announcement has already been made to set up a private army school to be run by the RSS’s education wing, Vidya Bharti. It’s tipped to open in Bulandshahr in April 2020.
Hindutva’s martial ambitions will mean that an Israel-style national service will prove to be hugely popular. This could be post-school or post-college, for the duration of a year (in Israel it’s almost three years).
Of course, middle-class Indians being middle-class Indians will do both: chest-thump this as an idea whose time has come (India needs discipline), while at the same time finding a backdoor method to get one’s kid excused from compulsory service. Fake medical and disability certificates will be winged; strings pulled in high places to get exemptions for ‘raja betas’.
2. Amit Shah as PM: Hindutva is going to have a good run of two to three decades. There is no doubt in my mind that Narendra Modi will make way for Amit Shah as PM for at least one term. This will be to prove to the people that the BJP is not dynastic like other parties, especially the Congress, and that it has depth and scope of political talent; it doesn’t have to scrounge around for a leader. Modi will make way for Shah at the peak of his popularity and return at a time of their choosing. The larger goal of this would be to show that the party and its ideology are larger than any single individual.
3. Construction of Ram temple: The Ram temple will be built in Ayodhya, sooner rather than later. There are those even among the bhakts who believe that it’s in the BJP’s interests to keep the issue simmering, but I feel it will deftly be managed with some constitutional skulduggery. It will be a moment of great rejoicing and mark the high point of Hindu resurgence.
4. Legal pot: Cannabis Indica will be made legal. The Rajiv Gandhi government enacted the NDPS in 1985, following a push from United States president Ronald Reagan's administration, which had just launched a global War on Drugs. The BJP will use two reasons to get rid of the ban: it’s been part of Hindu culture, from Mahashivratri and the sadhus at the Kumbh to Holi. Its usage is more a part of Indian tradition than drinking alcohol is. The NDPS was arbitrarily clamped under American pressure by a descendant of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Repealing it will be made part of the Congress-mukt Bharat agenda. It will be done quietly; as with the decriminalising of homosexuality, there will be no public outcry. The process of legalisation will be smooth.
5. Modi temples: At present, Modi is 68 years of age. By the time he is 78 (and after Amit Shah has served as PM) Modi’s sway over his people and their devotion to him will be so great that I see Modi temples springing up across the country. The Ram temple will only be one – in Ayodhya – but it will be the Modi temples that proliferate. By the time his political career ends, Modi wouldn’t be a mere politician or head of state; he would instead have attained the status of a new deity added on to the pantheon of Hindu gods. An entire iconography will emerge, to be studied by white social anthropologists down the ages.
6. Wedding bells for Rahul: Rahul Gandhi will finally tie the knot; have children – one of whom will vanquish the BJP in 2060.
(The writer is the author of The Butterfly Generation & editor of House Spirit: Drinking in India)
Please note - This article is a satirical take on recent developments, not intended to hurt anyone's sentiments.