The Ministry of Distraction

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An orbiter in space, unseen behind the blinding flash of moonglow, lost in the south pole, celebrated with tears, with hugs, with cheers, with adoration, with patriotic pride.

The moon is roughly three lakh, eighty-four thousand, and four hundred kilometres away from Earth and Kashmir is roughly five-hundred and sixty-six kilometres away from the capital.

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Six thousand more rupees, directly transferred into the bank account of farmers in three equal instalments.

The rupee’s value suffered its biggest fall in six years in August, so the six thousand worth less than it was a year ago, and a year before that, and about equal to the number of farmers that commit suicide, or, if different data is presented, about half the number of farmer suicides, or, zero suicides because those numbers don’t exist anymore.

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Everything is broadcast, everything is breaking, everything is available with opinions and analysis and the common man has the power to be on the same platform as his leader except for the supreme leader and there is advertising money and high TRPs and we’re all hooked and there are 150 news channels—more or less—150 is 10 more than 140, which is India’s rank in the Press Freedom Index in Hindi and English and Gujarati and Assamese and Bengali and Kannada and Malayalam and Marathi and more and more but we prefer Hindi. You can say anything now, in any language except for expose poor school meals, or tell about the victims in Kashmir, or criticise the supreme leader, or criticise his acolytes, or praise the opposition, or you’ll be arrested, or lose advertisers, or shot. Right to Information… Right to Ignorance… Right to Irrationality… Right to Insanity.

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Corrupt politicians behind bars. Tax-evading industrialists on the plane back home. Unless you know the supreme leader, then you’re okay. Clean India, on the streets and in our hearts. Unused toilets, unallocated crores. Swacchta, Manual scavengers in shit from the toilets to the bank accounts It’s all shit.

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One hundred and eighty-two metres in the sky, piercing far above in the atmosphere over Gujarat below, the tallest statue in the world. Don’t look down. It is the Statue of Unity. Close to some of the most segregated ghettos in the country. Iron Man. Patron Saint of the Civil Servants. Civil rights snatched from citizens in Assam. An inspiration of the country’s junta, three-thousand crores of steel framing, reinforced by concrete and brass coating and bronze cladding, money spent up in the air.

And so, the race begins. Four thousand crores more to Shivaji, two hundred and twelve metres over Mumbai’s waterlogged streets. Flooded streets in Mumbai won’t get you to work, but Shivaji might smirk somewhere from the skies. Two and a half thousand crores to Ram, in Ayodhya, two hundred and fifty metres above. Look up! Look up! Look up! Uttar Pradesh would be the fifth-most populous nation in the world with the third-worst literacy rate in the country. Ram is watching.

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Ram Rajya is on its way. The good times. The Garden of Eden. A temple will be built again in Ayodhya. Jai Shri Ram. 88 incidents of lynchings related to cow and beef and bada meat and leather and cheeseburgers and rumours of cheeseburgers since 2012. No cow will be harmed in the making of our progress. Say ‘Ji Shri Ram’ or else or else else. We will drink their milk and stroke their backs and eat their and gau mutr is the cure for cancer the West hasn’t discovered yet. 89 now. 90 now. Now, 91.

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The supreme leader praying for peace and progress to the nation, three-thousand five-hundred and fifty-three metres, the bliss of nirvana only achievable through deep-breathing, meditation, goodness and the ANI camera crew. “We want to ensure more pilgrims come to Kedarnath and we are also making this place more environment friendly”. Two thousand crores between Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath. The unquestioningly pious are the priority.

Forest clearance and lost trees and shaved mountains and waters running wild or no water at all and hotter summers and colder winters and too dry and too wet. Irreversible damage to the ecology, selective piety, mother Earth.

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On the radio, the prime minister reaches 40 million listeners per episode, telling you the voice of his heart, a broadcast to assist, to eradicate, to conversate, to push for change, to educate. An awe-inspiring book for the youth encourages them to be exam warriors, with lessons on acing tests and facing life. “Non preachy, practical, and thought-proving”, it says, a solution to the world’s largest youth population, of young people dying for a rosy future over the nation’s throat-cutting academic competition.

Read more books children, get smarter, get wiser, go higher. Better schools, better colleges, better knowledge. Don’t read the books we tell you not to. Maoist literature is out, and Islamic literature is a no-no, and stray away from those distracting liberal arts, and don’t study the political science that questions your government, and don’t over-intellectualise too much for it will only hurt your brain, and we’ll hurt you if you do so, and we’ll take away your books and burn them, and we’ll silence your dissenting voice, and we’ll thrash you and lynch you and we’ll kill you so stop it now stop it stop it stop it.

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