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What Rajini Can't

What else could I want for a Sunday afternoon? I had the tickets for the matinee to the much hyped up blockbuster release of the year – Sivaji. Popcorns, friends and of course indulgence in some minor vices made that Sunday for me. After all, I could not resist myself for this was indeed a Rajini movie, my all time favourite. I pardoned myself for this indulgence, for it seemed I was entitled to it. The magnetism of the man, his eternal grace, unique style and copious charm was on full display, undiminished by time and age. But I had had one additional reason to see this film - Shankar who always has his audience in some deep contemplation has directed it. Shankar coupled with Rajini were an awesome pair!

The message from the film was all about one man’s successful crusade against the parallel economy and the ills associated with it. While the plot was indeed weak in terms of dealing with a subject as convoluted, complicated and technical as parallel economy, one does appreciate the attempt of the Director to present the subject in simple terms to the common man. If only real life could imitate the reel life, we could get rid of the scourge of black money instantly. Surely if wishes were horses, beggars would be riding them.

“Narada, remember corruption is a universal phenomenon. But normally in a debate on parallel economy, it is often forgotten that a poor country like India has chosen a costly system as democracy. Naturally somebody has to pay the price for it,” outlined Pratibha, my good old friend when I met her the next day. “Then is democracy is the cause for extreme levels of corruption prevailing in the country?” I enquired. “Not really Narada, even China which is not a democracy, is facing enormous corruption as it is the scourge of every developing country. The problem in India is typically the lack of good governance,” she replied. “Are you suggesting that the lack of good governance is at the root of corruption? I enquired getting a feeling that Pratibha, as her name suggested, was a genius, more so in obfuscation. “Not really Narada,” she said calmly and added after a pause “Many of our institutions which includes the judiciary and the men who handle it are yet to meet the imperial demands of our sublime constitution. Naturally corruption and its immediate fallout – the parallel economy – results from the failure of these institutions and the men handling them to tackle the extant situation effectively.” Well that was an unplayable googly. “Pratibha, are you suggesting that lack of institutional discipline is the cause of all these?” I enquired without understanding the import of what she said just now. “Why blame institutions, when our laws are badly drafted and poorly administered? Crucially, our exorbitant tax rates that prevail even today and the manner in which the tax laws are administered act as a perfect incentive to evade taxes and thereby generate black money.” Well, for once Pratibha was coherent and her utterances made sense. Yet it did not satisfy me. “Have we not undertaken massive tax reforms in the past decade or so?” I persisted. “Yes we have,” she said accepting my point of view but added, “The tax laws of today are no less complex than they were a decade ago.” Again that left me perplexed. “Are we to blame tax laws then?” I persisted dogmatically. “Not really, Narada” Pratibha said and added “Corruption is not an outcome of poor legislations alone or for that matter, the outcome of poor quality of our legislators. Nevertheless parallel economy is a creation of State and legitimised by society. It is as much an economic issue as much as it concerns morality. And all of us are involved.” In effect Pratibha was explaining the ills plaguing Indian economy and taking me through its coordinates. Knowing her indefatigable energy levels and seeking to put an end to this conversation I asked her “Can all these be ever remedied?” She replied coolly, “Even Rajini can’t.” Perhaps that explains why he hasn’t entered politics.

Last modified on Sunday, 07 July 2013 07:36