Look who’s surprised

Why does the GoI always insist on acting so coy? Like, with information? Why don’t they ever just tell us before they pull a major piece of legislation out of a hat? Seriously, they remind me a little of those over-enthu, slightly obsessive boyfriends who always want to throw surprise parties for you on your birthday. You're walking around all chill and clueless, humming a little song perhaps, and bam, they leap out from behind the sofa holding a cake you never asked for, blazing with candles, dripping wax all over your clean floor, and bellow SURPRIISSSSE so loudly that you die of a heart attack.

Right now, it is our farmers who are in danger of dying of a heart attack. Last year, pretty much on these dates exactly, it was our minorities. A little before that, it was the much-put-upon Kashmiris. And before that, of course, it was all of us, reeling wildly in shock as GoI, beaming from ear to ear, leapt out and brandished a two-tiered cake at us, the lower one iced ‘Demonetisation’ and the upper, ‘GST’.

‘Isn’t it pretty?’ they chortled. ‘Aren’t you happy? C’mon, let’s all sing Bharat Mata Ki Jai and blow its candles out! Lol, don’t be afraid of this big knife we’re holding! We’re not going to slit your throat with it! So funny!

And just like the toxic boyfriend, they sulk if you don’t like the surprise. Sometimes they get nasty. They call you ungrateful. Like, look at us busting Rs20,000 crore on giving New Delhi this amazing new Central Vista, and you are so ungrateful you don’t even like it! What do you mean we should have asked you what sort of new Central Vista you wanted, or if you wanted a new Central Vista at all? What do you mean you won’t pay for it? How ungrateful! You think this is some sort of democracy? Just say thank you nicely, and suck it up, okay?

Illustration: Bhaskaran Illustration: Bhaskaran

The reason why toxic boyfriends love throwing surprise parties is that they are control freaks. They like to micro-manage everything, while keeping their ‘loved’ one in the dark, high-handedly avoiding all debate and discussion and the seeking of consent, and after the party, hogging all the credit for being so loving and sensitive and proactive. While a genuinely loving boyfriend may actually surprise his partner with something she wants, a sociopath will generally give her what is good for him, not her.
Which leads one to suspect that the reason why our government holds its cards so close to its chest is similar. They don’t want us to know ki choli ki peechay kya hai. They don’t want debate and discussion. They don’t want Nobel Prize winners in Economics or (God forbid!) actual farmers weighing in on these issues and confusing everybody. They don’t want ‘too much of a democracy’. Just fait accompli after fait accompli.

But the farmers don’t seem to have gotten this memo. They are persisting in calmly but very firmly rejecting GoI’s three lavishly decorated cakes, one iced Minimum Support Price ka The End, one iced Legal Recourse ka The End, and one iced Hoarding and Stockpiling. Your surprise cakes are poisoned, they are saying politely. We won’t eat them. Because if we do, we'll be the new cake. And the people who will blow our candles out, and eat us up, are Big Business.

I don’t know, but there is something about the look in their eyes. They have sowed their crops, packed up enough food to see them through the winter, and come to town to settle in for the long haul. Maybe this time, the surprise givers will end up being surprised themselves.