Fitness of government as an issue

Aditya Aamir

Sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore’s #HumFitTohIndiaFit challenge to cricketer Virat Kohli has landed Prime Minister Narendra Modi looking remarkably unfit! Rathore tagged Kohli to the challenge and Anushka Sharma’s husband promptly tagged PM Modi to #HumFitTohIndiaFit. Within the hour, Modi was target of a 101 challenges thrown at him by political rivals and commoners alike. His silence on #ThoothukudiKillings was challenged. And he was challenged to #ProduceDegrees.
Rathore’s challenge was ill-timed. He should have also known that the information and broadcasting portfolio he recently took independent charge of is jinxed. I&B ministers invariably land in trouble. Their tongues loosen and their tweets go wild, viral like Nipah! Smriti Irani got kicked out for being overly confident and now Rathore. #WhenWillTheyEverLearn fits I&B ministers. Both in a way challenged PM Modi and Irani paid for it. Will Rathore?
The point is, unwittingly, Rathore’s #HumFitTohIndiaFit challenge has put Modi in the ‘unfit’ category of Indians.  Skipper Virat Kohli must be ruing the moment he tagged PM Modi to the challenge. But tagging @Anushka also to the challenge probably saved him. To any man except the PM a wife is dear. Virat can always tell a miffed @narendramodi that he wasn’t meaning any ill-will by tagging him to the challenge because he tagged his wife, too. It was all done in good faith.
If anything, the PM is himself to blame for landing @narendramodi in hot waters. The moment he tweeted ‘Challenge accepted. Virat!’ his goose was cooked. And served. Politicians reacted. Common people reacted. Thoothukudi reacted. And the Prime Minister’s political savviness got seriously challenged four years to the date he took charge of India. On the scale of #HumFitTohIndiaFit, Modi stood challenged despite Yoga and a balanced vegetarian diet, the mushroom!
Seeing his chance, handed on a platter, Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted his #FuelChallenge, daring the Prime Minister to cut fuel prices, failing which the Congress will foment a nationwide protest. Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala added his voice to his boss’s challenge. Another Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha rankled the PM with a produce degrees challenge. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor challenged Modi to break his silence on #Thoothukudi a la #Orlando.
Other more common voices challenged Modi. ‘Hey, how about Thoothukudi?’ rang out in Twitter Square, landing Modi at a crossroad, from where he’s still to decide which road to take. So far, he has chosen to stick to Silent Street. But that cannot be forever because his “I accept challenge Virat!” with “I’ll soon produce video of my fitness” binds him to respond. There is no escape. Either Prime Minister Narendra Modi proclaims himself fit or he dumps Rathore’s #HumFitTohIndiaFit challenge. Is the Prime Minister up for the #ModiFitTohIndiaFit challenge?                   
Let’s look at the ‘India fit’ part of the challenge. Definitely, India is not fit, not totally fit. Health-wise we don’t fit. Our cops are pot-bellied. The only cop who looked fit killed himself a week ago. Cancer was eating him. Our unfit politicians question the fitness of our army. The diabetic among us number nearly 10 crore. The obese and the fat Indians are multiplying exponentially. May 30 is anti-tobacco day and large numbers of Indians are smoking themselves to death. Malnutrition is stunting the growth of our children. In many places people do not get two square meals a day to keep themselves fit. The #HumFitTohIndiaFit challenge sounds hollow to them.
Income-wise too we are unfit. Income disparities continue to rankle huge numbers of Indians. How can those without jobs be fit? The fact of the matter is those taking up Rathore’s challenge – the @viratkohli, @anushkasharma, @rithikroshan,@pvsindhu, @nehwalsaina – are already fit; select Indians in a cozy club of ‘happy privilege’. True, lakhs of Indians are riding the wave to lift themselves to positions of fitness, but the majority would miserably fail the ‘hum fit’ challenge because successive governments have been found unfit to lift people out of poverty, provide employment, remove disparities, improve general health or have chosen not to. For politicians ‘hum fit toh India not necessarily fit’ applies. For them everything is a power grab. Nothing distinguishes the BJP neta from the Congress leader. Khaki-knicker from the colourful boxers. Except that if one is loose, the other is too tight a fit! (IPA)

Saturday, 26 May, 2018