At a talk I gave last night in South Mumbai, someone asked me at dinner what I thought of the disqualification of Rahul. I replied that I looked at democracy as a competitive race, in which the best man or woman won. “And to keep the race or democracy afloat,” I said, “the competition has to be fair!”

 “You remember the movie Benhur and the spectacular chariot race between the hero and his competitor. What did the competitor do? Instead of trying to prove he was a better horseman, a better racer than Benhur, he started breaking the wheels of Benhur’s chariot, whipping Benhur so he would be unable to ride, and using other destructive ways to see Benhur lose.

 “Then it isn’t a fair race,” said the person who had asked me the question.”

 “We in India as lovers of cricket, are furious about ball tampering and even sledging. ‘Unfair!’ we shout, because anything that stands in the way of a fair competition is injustice!”

 “Our elections need to be a competitive race, where the best man wins fairly.”

 “Imagine a competition, where at the beginning of a 100 metre dash, there’s only one runner with no competition. “Where are the others?” we, the spectators, ask puzzled.”

 “Some of them got thrown out!”

 “Some, threatened!”

 “Others are too scared that the same will be done to them!”

 “Here we are just talking about a race with just one man running! Can it be called a race? Just imagine the North Koreans with only one man in the race having the audacity to call themselves the ‘Democratic People's Republic of Korea’!”


“Whoa! Whoa!” laughed the man.

It’s like a huge crowd of spectators rushing to a racing track and cheering as a lone man hobbles down a 100 metre track to breast the tape.

 “What a race!” we tell ourselves as we congratulate the lone participant on his spectacular win.

And Kim Jong-un the lone runner, beams and tells the world, his world, his poor, poverty stricken, whipped into silence world how he beat the competition. Oh yes, he did, not during the race but before in prisons, torture chambers and with firing squads.

And then fools them even more by telling his subjects their country is a democracy!

We cry foul at cricket ball tampering, at ‘fixed matches’ but remain silent as the greatest race in a country turns into a no-competition final!

Are we being fooled?

 “Hey,” I said grinning, “We’re talking about the ‘Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, right?”

 “Of course!” said the person who had asked me the question, “It’s safe to talk about Korea here in India, but…”

 “No buts!” I said, as we smiled sadly and watched the 100 metre race..!

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