Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Effigy Lobby Exposed

I don't know if you've noticed, but there seems to be an alarming increase in the number of protests being staged in India of late. Most of these protests seem to be staged by people whose sentiments, religious or otherwise, have been offended by insensitive charlatans. As a result, we've seen protests against Big Brother for discriminating against Shilpa Shetty, Richard Gere for kissing the aforementioned Ms. Shetty, Ravi Shastri for enjoying beef, Narayana Murthy for disrespecting the national anthem, Sachin Tendulkar and Mandira Bedi for disrespecting the national flag, Chandra Mohan for painting obscure art, Gurmeet Singh for looking like Gobind Singh, the Welsh government for culling bulls, and all of this just in the last month or two.

I couldn't help but wondering if we've truly become such an intolerant society, or if there is some deeper, ulterior motive behind all these protestations. But if there indeed is a deeper, ulterior motive, what can it be? Who stands to gain of it?

The initial knee-jerk reaction, as is the wont in these situations, is to blame politicians. But that seems a bit unfair. Politicians have been around for a long time, and have been tapping public outrage for some time now. What could have led to this sudden spurt of effigy burning? As I sat there asking myself these ponderous questions, it struck me. Effigy burning! Of course. This entire bedlam has been fuelled by none other than the cabalistic effigy lobby.

The more I think about it, the more obvious it becomes. It's the one common thread that unites all these protests. No matter what part of the country, or indeed the world, the protest is taking place, you can rest assured that there would be an effigy or two burning in the foreground. So much so, that the effigy has now become almost a status symbol. No self-respecting protest can leave home without one. Even the press doesn't care for a protest unless they have an enflaming simulacrum of the offenders in tow. Pretty soon, I reckon, the success of a protest will be measured not by the number of people attending, but by how high their effigy is.

And all this burning, while not helping the cause of global warming, is doing wonders for effigy manufacturers. Profits have skyrocketed, business is booming. The hitherto unrecognized effigy artisan finally feels vilified. But feeling vilified is no longer enough for the artist. It is in his best interest that the protests stay in vogue, even if it means going out of the way to pay hired goons, instigate riots, aggrandize non-issues. Whatever it takes. I have no doubt that there'll be a steady stream of people cropping up with offended sensibilities all over the place in the not so distant future. And rest assured, they'll be well armed with a pile of effigies to burn.

So what can you, the reader, do about all of this, you ask? Well, make the most of it, of course. Get rid of all those overpriced tech stocks and invest in the up-and-coming straw manikin industry instead. Oh, and you can thank me later.