Foreigners new to Japan initially find it hard to understand the calendar here. According to the Japanese calendar, this is the 27th year of the Heisei era, which started in January 1989 when Akihito, became the new emperor following the death of his father Hirohito. Hirohito’s era from 1926 to 1989 is called the Showa era and he is now known as the Showa emperor. This is used officially too, so you should know how to convert from the Gregorian to the Showa (I was born in the Showa era!) or Heisei when filling in your date of birth in some government form.
The Gregorian calendar has the birth of Jesus as the starting point. How did they come up with that date? Don’t ask unnecessary questions. We demand unquestionable faith. Coming to the current era, we, now have a chance to devise a new calendar.
I recently found out that I may not have been proud to be an Indian till 2014. This was revealed by our prime minister, who is now the “greatest leader of the greatest nation on the earth”. That sobriquet, till recently, was owned by whichever douchebag was the president of the USA at that time. So, at some point of time in the past Nixon and GW Bush were the greatest leaders of the “free world”.
Now that mantle has been appropriated by Mr. Modi, if you believe the noise in the Hindu web world. Global leaders are kowtowing to him (though it is our leader who is going around). Everybody is respecting Indians (except maybe Indians). We have reached superpower status where we can project our *#$% into other people’s affairs and get away with it like the USA (we could try Maldives? Maybe not). Canada gave Indians visa on arrival (VOA) status (Don’t try it. It is the other way round. We gave VOA to Canadians). Perhaps if we repeat it enough times all these will come true.
With nothing to be proud of pre-2014, we ought to divide our calendar as BM and AD, i.e. “Before Modi” was elected PM in 2014 (hereinafter “AD 1”), while retaining AD but altering its meaning to Anno Domini Nostri Modi.
“Hey, hey, what about Gandhi? Surely you can be proud of him!” You might ask. Well, what about him? Look at him. The man was walking around in a loincloth. Was it a designer langoti? Was it monogrammed with his initials MKG? In gold? No. I doubt whether the langoti even had the black dots and lines the dhobis put to identify clothes. On the other hand you won’t catch our PM in the same dress twice. Pretty soon he will have the RSS musclemen in designer khaki knickers (made in China).
“How about the Gupta period? Y’know, the Golden Age blah, blah we learned at school”. Stop asking questions. We’ll instruct you on what to learn, do, eat, think, wear, etc. in due course of time. Just follow our lead. The last time we were close to being proud was about 7000 years ago when we had intergalactic space machines and our gurus were doing head transplants. Got it?
So, now I am a proud Indian. Proud of things we are instructed to be proud of. Proud of the fake Macaulay minute of 2-2-1835 in sepia print floating around in the Internet, where he saw a super country when he travelled the length and breadth of India. Did he come down to Trivandrum? If he did, he could have seen my great-great-great grandmother walking nude waist up because it was a great period and feminists were having a “Free the Nipple” campaign of their time, and not because of some crazy caste rules, as the fake historians would make you believe.
There is a right-wing narrative being slowly scripted now, of what a super race we are (were), of how we had invented everything that had to be invented, of how all these foreigners looted us, etc. Some of it may be legit, but quite a bit are based on dodgy historical interpretations and on mythology.
And it is being implemented stealthily and incrementally. A beef ban here, a new history book there, a religious nut in an education board here, a dress code there, a false quote (Macaulay) in social media here, a fake Vivekananda smart-ass riposte to a white man there. It is slowly building up and at some point of time it will reach the critical mass needed to engulf a naïve public who is taught not to think for themselves and not to question authority. The modus operandi is somewhat similar to the right wing in the USA, where the Christian right (in some States) wants the Genesis to be taught as science along with evolution. So, it is possible that in the near future we might be taught there is nothing to be proud of Gandhi, Nehru or Tagore, or that we did the first live television broadcast of a major war thousands of years before CNN brought the Gulf War to the living rooms.
Any which way you look at it, we are screwed.
We will be screwed left, right and centre – by the lame and limp left; by the rabid, rampant right; and the corrupt and clueless centre. And, to rub it in further, we’ll be screwed all over by the corporates, for whom these three exist.
A prime example is Trivandrum. Mr. Modi, the Calendar Divider and the Generous, recently gave a billion dollars to Mongolia, which has a population about the same as Trivandrum district! At the same time, these three groupings (the left, the right and the centre) are falling over each other trying to screw Trivandrum, whether it is over a mass rapid transport system, the Vizhinjam port, a waste management system or any other development whatsoever.
My only hope is that one day Mr. Modi the Generous will throw some spare change our way from the air when he flies over our airspace to some distant land.