Monday, January 16, 2017

David Guetta, Bombay Gymkhana & Coldplay - Why I am angry.

The fiasco with David Guetta has left me disturbed, disgusted and, once again, brimming with a simmering rage.

India is a totally schizophrenic country. It is also full of the most venal citizens you could find anywhere on earth. And, unfortunately, unless you have the blessings of the highest and most powerful in the land, you are going nowhere.

Now having set the tone let me explain why I am so upset.

Schizophrenia, unfortunately has taken over our lives. On the one hand you have our Prime Minister saying that we should become digital in our payments, he has attempted – whatever your point of view may be – to use the cliché “cleanse our country of black money’. These are bold, dramatic and forward looking steps. At the same time, you have calls for Prohibition which are calls from the Dark Ages. I really cannot get this. Prohibition? When there is empirical data to show how Prohibition increases crime?

Another instance of schizophrenia is the reporting of the demonetization and its after effects. Initially, there was confusion, and then there was gloom and doom with, our ex-Prime Minister - most unfortunately being paraded by the disgusting Congress High Command - saying that demonetization would result in a 2% GDP fall. The data released now shows a robust tax collection on 15th December [after demonetization and the 3rd installment of Advance Tax] and rather healthy industrial production figures. To add to the madness, this morning [Sunday 15th January] the papers reported a higher than normal sale of alcohol including Country Liquor on 31st December. Higher Country Liquor sales!! The poor buy this. Demonetization is supposed to have crippled them! Sorry, for me the numbers and the gloom and doom reports just don’t add up.

Now let us come to David Guetta. I do not condone what happened in Bangalore on New Year’s Eve. Everyone, especially the social media devotees i.e. the intellectuals, the liberals the Lefties [many fall in this category] were frothing at the mouth. Harsh comments were made by them – correctly but harshly. The doltish bureaucracy, presumably prompted by their masters the Mantri’s, spouted absolute rubbish instead of making placatory statements. An unholy mess. However, the social media devotees were on a winning streak. The bureaucrats had made a real cock up. Score - 1 – Nil in favour of the social media devotees.

Less than 2 weeks after this sordid mess, David Guetta is parachuted in to perform a gig in Bangalore. The bureaucrats now sense victory. They close ranks and cite law and order as a reason to not grant permissions to the David Guetta gig. Score - Social Media Devotees 1 – Bureaucrats 1.

What I am laboring to tell you out is that this is not a point scoring game. This is so much more. Should the bureaucracy be so petty and sensitive to the criticism, most justified I thought, and simply not grant permissions? Egotistical.

Sticking with David Guetta and turning to our fair city Mumbai. The gig was to be held at the Race Course. The venue was changed to the Bandra Kurla Complex. This was cancelled only to be rescheduled to Sunday morning. The Municipal Corporation stated that some previous dues were not paid hence they cancelled. The Mumbai Police stated that permission was applied at too late a stage hence they could not grant permission.  Yes of course permissions were applied for late...remember, the venue was shifted by the Municipal Corporation 2 days before the event hence the organisers could only apply for permission a day before the event!!!

You will remember the cancellation of the New Years Eve party by the Bombay Gymkhana. This happened at the very last minute. I know for a fact that 600 chickens, 70 kgs of lamb along with other perishables all went to waste. The band hired to play on the evening, the caterer the decorator all had to be paid. Just the financial loss to the Bombay Gymkhana was easily in the region of 30 plus lakhs. The reason for the cancellation? The Municipal Corporation said that they could not give any permission until the Collector of Mumbai granted his NOC.

Come to the reported demand by the Municipal Corporation from the organizers of the Mumbai Marathon of some INR 5 Crores or INR 50 million at the last moment. This claim is for a security deposit and for permission to place advertisements along the route. The Municipal Commissioner has been quoted as stating
Earlier the charges were levied considering the social causes but with the event becoming highly commercialised, the new charges are as per our commercial rates.”
“We have no objection to the event taking place as we have already granted them permission. But if the advertisement charges are not paid before the event, we will take action under the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act and the Defacement of Property Act.”
Please do take note of the threatening language.

Let me explain the similarity with these three. David Guetta has performed in Mumbai several times in the past. The Bombay Gymkhana has been holding New Years Eve parties ever since I can remember. This is the 15th edition of the Mumbai Marathon. None of these are first time events. They are not only repeats but multiple repeats. Leave longevity and repeats aside for the moment. Surely the authorities have a set of or a list of requirements or permissions that have to be obtained before holding such events. I realize that in India everything is much more devious and detailed and laborious than anywhere else save possibly in Africa. Nothing is a single window clearance. I grant that. However, would it not be obvious that whatever is the list, there should be a list? And should that list not be the same over the years? And if there are additional requirements or some deletions having regard to the changing times, should not the list be updated? Unfortunately, the answer to all these questions is “no”. Why should this be the case? Is this the venal people, meaning the organizers, trying to make a buck or take a short cut? Is this the corrupt venal egotistical bureaucrat? Is this just schizophrenia with one person saying “Make in India” and the bureaucrat saying “I will fuck you if you come to India”?

I have no idea. I just am very angry.

While I hate to write this, because I believe that image cannot be everything, can you imagine what India’s image would be among the world of international musicians? David Guetta is no lightweight, from what I read he earns in excess of USD 35 million a years, travels on a private jet and charges USD 350,000 to 500,000 for a gig. I assume he would talk about the madness he has been subjected to.

Now, you may very well say that, we in India, and by that I mean the bureaucrat, the politician and every neighborhood lout, has a biased attitude to Western Pop Music and “culture”. Yes and no. Schizophrenia at work coupled with my theory of unless you have the blessings of the highest and most powerful in the land, you are going nowhere. Let me explain.

You will no doubt recall the Coldplay concert in Mumbai on 19th November 2016 – after demonetization. Pop music, Western culture all on shameless display. This was a concert organized under the banner Global Citizen Festival. Every vapid Bollywood wannabe attended. To name a few - Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra, Ayushmann Khurrana, Alia Bhatt and Sonam Kapoor. Ananya Birla, daughter of Kumarmangalam Birla even sang a song. Leave aside Jay Z or Coldplay, our Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared on screen and made a speech. So obviously Western Culture had got nothing to do with it. No this is not about the rights and wrongs of Modi. The question is, if Modi was making a speech, could any, I mean any, Municipal Corporation, or two bit Collector or halfwit Police Commissioner ever have stopped this concert? Absolutely no way Jignesh! It had the support of the highest in the land. No one will fuck about.

On the point of the Global Citizen Festival. How many of you will recall Narendra Modi speaking at a concert in 2014 in Central Park New York with Hugh Jackman by his side? Many. How many will recall him saying “May the force be with you”? Many. But how many of you will recall that the concert in Central Park was also by this strange organization – Global Citizen?

So I ask, after writing all this. What is wrong with us? Why do we have to be such numbskulls, why do we have to be so venal, vindictive, egotistical and paranoid about ourselves? Why do we all have no sense of responsibility and accountability? Unless someone else is taking the rap, we will not do anything.

Now you know why I am so angry.

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