30 July, 2021


We invoke Gandhi and claim that we are non-violent; we build statues for Ambedkar to claim that we are inclusive. We are none of this, let us admit it. Churchill could have been right when he called us beasts and our religion beastly.


In this 2015 Hollywood thriller on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy caused by concussions in the football field, Will Smith, playing the neuropathologist Dr Bennet Omalu, tells his future wife that as a migrant he picked up a role model, a dignified, balding White man, and faked his attitude. “Need is not weak. Need is need. You have to be the best version of yourself. If you don’t know what that is, you pick something and fake it,” says Omalu in the movie. Migrants or otherwise, isn’t that what we do all the time: picking up someone and trying to be him or her, faking it all the time. But unlike in the movie, in real life, the faking happens not to present the best or the ideal version. We fake it to ape successful versions. In corrupt, queue-jumping societies like ours, the successful ones are often those who have bent rules or made new flexible ones. I have a friend who, after migrating to Delhi, had faked not just himself but created an entire fictional family—father, mother and siblings—to suit his new aspirations.

In fact, whole...

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