I got my dose of Baba-stuff some years ago in Delhi. Found an ad for one of them in a newspaper, touting all kinds of wondrous things he could do for you, physically and mentally, with words like "pranayam" and "asana" sprinkled about liberally. It was all just a bit too good to be true, and I was just a bit younger than I am today and intent on some leg-pulling, so I found a phone and called.
"Is that Baba XYZ?" I asked.
"Ji", said the man.
"You are a fake", I said.
Came the response, without missing a beat: "You are a bahenchod."
Now admittedly I had been provocative. Admittedly I have no way to tell if all Babas are like this. But this incident only bolstered the total scepticism I have for Babas and godmen of all stripes.
This one who went on a "fast", no exception.
I mean, this is a guy who wants a law that prescribes death for the corrupt. This is a guy who has never, to my knowledge, said a single thing about the slide in ethics among us all. This is a guy who wears a woman's clothes and hides among women to evade the cops. This is a guy who thinks corruption is manifest in currency notes. This is a guy who claims that breathing techniques will cure for the world's most intractable diseases. This is a guy who abhors homosexuals. This is a guy who sees excellence in a CM who presided over one of the worst massacres in our history. This is a guy who undermines his own faithful by promising the government, without their knowledge, that he will give up his fast within hours of starting.
I mean, I am incensed and horrified by the corruption that's all around us -- from CWG to telecom to Adarsh. I am sick of a government that chooses only to wink at it. I am repelled by the guys waiting in the wings who cannot rise above their obsession with … yes, a temple.
And yet it is possibly more horrifying that we see a saviour from all this in a man whose every antic and utterance smack of the most superficial half-heartedness, and that's the kindest way I can describe his behaviour.
Do we really want to end corruption in this country? Let's get used to a few truths (there are many more) then.
* It won't happen with fasts.
* It won't happen if we cannot see a CM's failure to do his constitutional duty to protect his citizens for what it is: corruption as well.
* It won't happen if we see corruption only in our governments, and not in the corporate world, not among us in our ordinary everyday lives.
* It won't happen as long as we seek heroes in half-men and charlatans.
And there are times when I worry that:
* It won't happen, ever.