Meet the person of the year 2016: The quintessential Indian hypocrite.

You would have met him everywhere. In queues outside ATMs, banks and multiplexes, chanting slogans, waging WhatsApp jihad, supporting boycott calls on Twitter, railing against his own countrymen and bleeding from his desktop for soldiers on the border.

His principle: Preach in public exactly the opposite of what you practise in private.

His dharma: Hate in others what you want to hide about yourself.

The year belonged to him. He screamed, shouted, outraged, pointed one finger at others, forgetting the direction of the other four. But as Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”

India has always been an amusing bundle of contradictions, a lexicon of oxymorons. We worship at the altar of female goddesses, but have a skewed sex ratio. We boast of sanskars and lofty ideals but practice casteism, demand dowry and have a maniacal obsession with male children.

We are the land of Kamasutra, Khajuraho and have the highest growth rate of population, but we also have Pahlaj Nihalani who fears moral regression of the vulnerable masses if James Bond kisses for half-a-minute on the screen. We are a country that sings bhajans of Meera and Kabir but ends up revering Radhey and Asaram as ‘Maa’ and ‘Bapu’.

We are a country, which, in true Oscar Wilde fashion, is so clever that it doesn’t mean a single word it says.

Representational image. Reuters.

Representational image. Reuters.

But, sometimes a country’s polity and society combine to create circumstances and debates that expose our deeper contradictions, expose bigger hypocrisies. And gave us many shades of the quintessential Indian hypocrite.

This year we had the kaala dhan warrior. He rejoiced when Prime Minister Narendra Modi outlawed notes of higher denomination. In a delirium of patriotism, moral propriety and schadenfreude, he announced the end of black money and the corrupt — everyone apart from, of course, himself.

But, by next morning the kaala dhan warrior rushed to launder unaccounted cash, adjust accounts, put every bit of outlawed currency into bank accounts, announcing at the end of the day, “Yaar, apna to adjust ho gaya.”

He called it a surgical strike on the corrupt, rich and powerful and then bathed in the flowing Ganga of connivance and corruption with co-hypocrites — the broker, the banker, holder of Jan Dhan accounts, presumably the people hit most by kaala dhan.

Nothing captured the prevailing hypocrisy more than the constant changes in deposit and withdrawal rules to counter his propensity to circumvent laws that were hailed in public — Bharat Mata ki Jai — and violated in private.

We had the holier-than-thou fanatic. By day he slammed fanatics of ”that religion” for not allowing a cricketer’s wife to wear a gown. He mocked the utter lack of freedom in that religion, the tyranny of those opposing their religious and moral codes on others. By night he railed at a celebrity couple’s choice of name for their newborn, opposed a woman’s freedom to choose her husband, a person’s choice of food, a producer’s choice of the actor he wanted to cast in his film.

His ideological rival, behaved in an identical fashion. He defended a mother’s right to call her son Taimur, but not a woman’s right to protest Triple Talaq or wear a gown, proving hypocrites of the world have just one religion — hate.

We had the pious gau bhakt. He declared cow as his mother, advocated lynching of men for eating beef, skinning carcasses, but blithely went past bovines looking for food in heaps of garbage lying on roads of ‘Swachh Bharat’, ignored hundreds dying in cow shelters.

He was the bleeding heart patriot who blasted others for complaining of hardships when soldiers were dying on the border but encouraged his children to look for the best overseas job, leaving the vacancies in the Army for the neighbour’s son to fill. He shed Twitter tears when soldiers died in natural disasters in Siachen but laughed when people died in queues outside banks due to a man-made disaster or at Jantar Mantar while demanding one-rank-one pension.

He was the angry desh bhakt who danced to Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s songs, sang out aloud Honey Singh’s “g@#*d mein dam hai to band karwa lo” at parties but protested Ghulam Ali’s ghazal concerts. He gloated when Indian beat Pakistan in hockey but felt outraged at the thought of cricketers and kabaddi players taking on their cross-border rivals. He lamented when one state government spent a few hundred crores on ad campaigns but puffed his chest in pride when another government announced it would put Rs 3,600 crore in the Arabian Sea to showcase a warrior in a state with high rates of farmer suicides and history of droughts.

Finally, he was the social media jihadist who advocated bans on apps of online retailers endorsed by Aamir Khan but rushed to its stores every time a sale was announced. He was the Twitter activist who sought a ban on Chinese items but queued up for flash sales of mobiles made in China, paid for them through Paytm. He was the intolerant troll who wanted films to be boycotted, actors to be punished but bought tickets first-day-first-show, tamely surrendering crores in the dangal of box office, putting their money where their mouth wasn’t.

No, 2016, didn’t belong to Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi, Urjit Patel, Aamir Khan or Salman Khan. It belonged to the quintessential hypocrite who amused and entertained us throughout the year, proving right Somerset Maugham who famously said, “It cannot, like adultery or gluttony, be practiced at spare moments; it is a whole-time job.”

Congratulations, all of us gave it one full year.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 15:15 IST

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2016 did not belong to Modi, Rahul or Urjit Patel, it belonged to the Indian hypocrite