Dear Friend

We were shooting stars once
Now you’re a cracker
Just smoke and illusion
A manifestation

We were deep as the ocean once
Now you’re as hollow
as the shells you wear
Your bones, they pick and tear

We were curious once
Now you know the world
Cynicist claiming realist
Pointing fingers at fundamentalists

You were alive once
Now you’re in a coma
A period of death, still in motion
Between recklessness and recollection

You told me once
How you’ll never change
Maybe it’s me
Maybe it’s the world
But I guess now we’ve grown old.

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Meritocracy versus Democracy

Trump’s victory speaks for itself. But that is not what I wish to speak about. I wish to speak about a system of government that is so underrated and unknown but that deserves immediate attention if we don’t want more people like Trump winning elections in other democracies (because yes, America, other countries exist in the world, almost 200 other countries actually). It’s called Meritocracy.

Something that has baffled me for quite a while is the fact that no democracy on planet earth, at least that I know of, has a system in place that screens presidential/prime ministerial candidates on the basis of their intelligence and capabilities before letting them even stand as candidates. I’d say one of the most efficiently run countries on this planet is the tiny little island nation of Singapore. It’s one of the most densely populated countries but living there, you’d never feel it because the city is so well-planned. Pollution levels are much lower than in many cities like New York and London and the government has protected many hectares of pristine tropical rain forest while making sure that everyone has adequate space to live. True, there are problems there that every city has but the fact that it has become one of the most well-organized and developed countries in just almost 50 years of independence speaks a lot about its governing body. But most importantly, it says a lot about the visionary that built up the country from the undeveloped village-like state that it was in a few decades ago. He is Lee Kuan Yew. A simple google search will tell you everything you need to know about him but he almost single-handedly revolutionized the nation.

The principle that saw it through was the principle he believed in the most: Meritocracy. The simple rule that everyone deserves what is worth their merit. Or simply put, always pick the best man for the job. For example, take the fact that if you wish to be the Finance Minister of Singapore, you must have been the CEO for at least 10 years of a multi-billion dollar company. Makes sense, right? If you know how to successfully run a giant corporation for a decade or so, I’m pretty sure you could be trusted with your country’s economy.

Singapore has a population of just around 6 million people. America has around 300 million. India has a population of around 1 billion (that’s 1000 million). Yet, neither of the latter two countries, or any other democracy that’s much larger than Singapore, has a system in place that screens potential candidates based on their skills, qualifications, and intelligence before they’re allowed to stand as a candidate. Do you not think that a nation of 300 million or one with 1 billion would have at least 5 to 10 people who are smart, honest and capable enough to lead the country? If there were exams in place for social etiquette, I’m pretty sure Trump would have failed in the first round because I don’t think “grabbing them by the pussy” is something anyone would pass him for. Why not do background checks before you let people into positions power? If that existed, I’m pretty sure India’s criminal-filled parliament bodies would have been filled with people who haven’t raped or murdered or robbed before. Why not screen them using basic Science exams? If you don’t believe in Science, you don’t deserve to rule in the 21st century. I’m sure Trump wouldn’t have passed that either, seeing as how he thinks global warming is a hoax made by China. Why not screen them based on educational qualifications and leadership capabilities? Place them through a series of tests, interviews, exams, steps to let them prove that they are good-hearted, clear-headed, capable individuals? How have we not come up with a system like this after existing as a species for hundreds of thousands of years?? Is this not just basic logic? Then let the people vote after the candidates have been selected based on all this. If the people were to vote from a group of talented, smart individuals, isn’t it much safer for the country because whoever wins, at least you know that the nation would be in safe hands! Democracy ultimately caters only to the lowest denominator of the populace. The brute-force loving, disgruntled mass. Meritocracy makes sure that the elected person is deserving of the title.

How have we not done this yet, world?

Ignorance

India. We spend approximately 70 billion US dollars on our military annually. We are sixth on planet earth in terms of military expenditure, with a solid defense system for the external enemies. But what about the internal ones? All that money to keep the other countries away and yet our government will happily sell off our natural resources, our beautiful plains, hills and mountains to foreign mining companies in exchange for a few millions of dollars flowing into their personal pockets. In this country, if you’ve failed the 5th grade a few times, dropped out of school and turned into a gangster with a couple of rape, murder and extortion cases on your record then you’re fit to be a politician. You’re fit to rule. If you were the smart kid in school, you’re expected to take an engineering/medicine/law degree, maybe do a Master’s abroad and then work for some corporate, lead a comfortable upper middle class life and work for some outsourced American company because politics isn’t for you. “You wouldn’t be able to handle the corruption”, they say. So sit your smart ass down and be an armchair activist. Sit in your house and complain about the system while trying to flee the country as fast as you can. Pollution levels too high in the capital? Can’t breathe? That’s OK. The uncle in Canada just called. Try getting a transfer because there’s nothing you can do here to help the situation. The government doesn’t want to make it better because they have houses in the prime locations with no pollution, closed vehicles to take them everywhere. Pollution is the common man’s problem. And since when have we ever given two shits about “the common man”? We’re all just too busy trying to lead a picturesque American lifestyle.

This was a spin-off on another issue entirely. Something that made me feel so helpless and frustrated. My friend had called. He lives in a bachelor pad with 2 other guys, all engineering grads working for giant corporates in Bangalore. They have a maid who comes and cleans the house everyday and cooks breakfast and lunch for them. A nice, quiet lady, a migrant from West Bengal. She called him last day to say she won’t be able to come for work as her husband had beaten her up pretty badly. I was shocked. He was shocked. We’d heard so much about abuse but we’d never actually seen or heard the victims from our comfortable little lives. We searched the web for helpline numbers and that’s when the anger kicked in. There’s one hotline for women run by the Bangalore city police. I read the forums and they told me what I’d expected but didn’t want to hear: that the police are of no use. Not that that was a surprise. We found a few other numbers, most of them independent organisations that are already trying to take care of way more victims than they have the facilities to handle. But what frustrated me the most was the fact that all these organisations help the women lodge a case and nothing else. Few have shelters. For a financially weak woman to have to stay in the same house as her husband while filing a case against him (which will most probably amount to nothing and drag on for decades since it’s India), is next to suicide. If the guy beats her up without her doing anything then if he knew that she was filing a case against him, isn’t it common sense that he’d probably try to kill her? This is a country of 1 billion people. Almost half are women. It’s been more than 60 years since independence. There’s not a single properly functioning support network for abuse victims. There’s no one who’d go and just beat the husband up. That’s what we need. We need someone whom these men will fear because the police are their friends. They’d more likely help abuse the victim than side with them. We need more groups like the Gulabi gang. The group of women in Uttar Pradesh who decided that enough was enough and decided to beat up every man in and around their village who was reported of being a rapist or an abuser. They are a group of poor women, working as daily wage laborers who decided to take matters into their own hands. And they’ve become so good at it that even the police and the politicians of that area fear them now. But that’s one small movement in a country where abuse is as common as pollution, where child rape is something you’ve become numb to because you read about it everyday. If those women can do it, why can’t people in cities? Why not just beat the guy up? If the police can’t be bothered to arrest one man, I’m pretty sure they’d be too lazy to round up a group of people. And for what crime? For serving justice to someone? I don’t know if this is preaching violence but tell me a peaceful way to solve this while making sure that the perpetrator pays for his crime dearly. I’m befuddled if that’s even the right word for this.

This is a message to all nations and all governments everywhere: Please take a fraction of your military budget and try to solve the internal evils of your country.

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