"Is it true?" to borrow a phrase from Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, that we are capable of great change? Taking a cue from Dubai, India will be adopting a new tourism policy in 2016, one in which we seize the passports of visiting tourists if we have to make them watch our fireworks, damn it.
Dubai, in keeping to its reputation for equitable hospitality, offers you fireworks for free when you check in, whether you want them or not. Despite initial speculation that it might be a terrorist attack, it was soon established that with the determination to disallow merry makers from turning party poopers, evacuating them at lightning speed, so as to go ahead with the massive fireworks display just across the street at the Burj Khalifa even as The Address burned for eight hours, the government is capable of terrorising its citizens quite well on its own, thank you. (Now say "oooo", now say "aaah", now applaud!)
What really was worthy of applause though was the fleet-footedness of the disaster management skills on display given that the inferno engulfed a building 63-storeys high. The Indian fire brigade whose ladders can't get past the second floor, whose engines can't enter any Indian by-lanes, and whose water supply depends on the tanker lobby, and whose firemen are too portly to not use the elevator in a fire, were seen standing in queue at the visa application centre for Dubai early this New Year morning. The prime minister will be visiting Dubai later this year to take a selfie with their fire brigade, all of whom, it will shortly be learned are Indian.
In another sort of fire fighting entirely, the people of Delhi today launch an entirely new class system all of their own making. The VVIPs relocated. The VIPs got exemption. The IAS cadres just did what the hell they wanted. The Super Elite reregistered one of their two cars or just bought another. The Elite had their number plates changed to odd overnight. The Merely Rich drank all night and chose to just stay home today. The Upper Middle Class bought hoverboards, Dahon foldable cycles and matching cycle shorts and helmets for Christmas. They are the brightly-coloured splat you see on the side of the road where a couldn't-care-less Delhi driver (one of the first three categories above) put their plans to rest.
The Middle Class are the ones whose loving parents got their new Metro pass laminated and bought beti a new tight-clasp-wala handbag for the commute. And the Lower Middle class are the ones soldiering themselves to each other in already-overcrowded buses. Delhi has moved from haves and have-nots to cans and I-just-can-not in the New Year.
In Mumbai, the cops, now having nothing to do with the CBI pretty much running all crime in the state, er... oops.. solving we mean... solving... has moved to a swanky new building, watches CCTV footage from dance bars for entertainment, and has replaced mug shots of criminals with selfies with young couples thronging Marine Drive and Juhu beach to release sky lanterns over the sea.
So, you know... When they raid them for holding hands or kissing or renting a room tomorrow, they already have dispensed with all the formalities. Maharashtra's state debt is growing, farmers are flinging themselves into the sugar cane fields, and drought is sucking the state dry, but it is important for the welfare of the state to chase down Salman Khan, Maggi and dance bars, in that order.
In Chennai, flood relief efforts have kicked in quite well, with the music sabhas horse-trading time for money instead of talent, and Vijaykanth's DMDK spitting on and attacking journalists who had gone to, of all things, cover a blood donation camp.
This is but natural given that the DMDK is used to drawing, not donating blood, and the journalists are used to making national news events of everything except the way the CM rules the state in Freedom-of-Speech embracing folk singer Kovan-arresting Chennai. Chennai even went back to celebrating New Year's with the rest of the world, with decorations competing with the Sydney Opera House and the Great Wall and Times Square - 1,000 cut outs of Amma from Poes Garden to Thiruvanmayur visible from outer space. All's back to normal there then.
In Bangalore, the Indian city with the shortest Metro ride in the world to qualify for a public transportation system, the entire city refused to dance for New Year's saying they'd had enough of doing that on the commute to work over crater-like potholes last year and they were frightened that to bring in the year dancing just meant more of that to come.
Karnataka CM Siddarammaiah upped the number of bars, banned Zakir Naik and Pravin Togadia, but his government schools shut in the state for three days because they had no money to buy chalk, Dilwale screenings were shut down due to protests, and, in the mother of all beef parties, he's upheld Sharad Pawar as potential prime ministerial candidate.
The Supreme Court continues to ban booze, LGBTQ rights and the suffrage of those deprived of an education by a state they can't control until they participate in it.
In a complete endorsement of Intolerant India, Adnan Sami, that Pakistani, embraced Indian citizenship, Qatar waived a Rs 12,000cr fine on India, and Air India decided it loves India so much it uses rats on board as an excuse (when has that ever stopped them, eh?) to turn planes full of paid ticket holders escaping to better destinations, back to India midway.
The French Revolution may have begun with Let Them Eat Cake, India will adopt Let Them Eat Flowers in 2016, given that horticultural output has exceeded grain production across all states for the third year in a row. Despite flood, drought, climate change, failed monsoons and unseasonal hailstorms, the spices they perfume us, the mangoes they thrive, vegetables they sprout, the flowers they bloom.
Despite us all, India blooms.