It was almost a relief when WhatsApp collapsed for a few hours the other night. Because my phone did not beep endlessly with new horrors from India. New painful details about farmers and others killed by a posse of cars, one possibly driven by a BJP minister’s son in Lakhimpur Kheri. A young man murdered in a hit job by his girlfriend’s family. Civilians killed by terrorists in Kashmir. The rich getting richer and how more and more of them hide their money offshore as the latest tranche of the Pandora Papers show.
The collapse of law and order in India and the rampant indifference of the ruling regime to the pain of the people was matched by another story of suffering and anger here in the UK. Massive queues for petrol and diesel continued in several parts of the country and “no fuel” signs were up all over.
Who were the real “fules”? The Brexiteers whose desperation to leave the European Union has led to the current shortage of lorry drivers? Or the Remainers who didn’t put up a good enough fight? Or the general public, on whichever side, which now has to grapple with rising prices, increasing shortages and the end of the government’s Covid-19 “universal credit” scheme?
The fules are everywhere though and the effect of being a fule is felt the most by the fule of a voter. Gas, petrol and diesel prices continue to rise in India. The Prime Minister of India did not have time to visit the families of the murdered farmers but he did have the time to ‘punish’ a BJP MP who dared to sympathise with farmers by throwing him out of party’s National Executive.
He also had time to visit a famous stock investor. His party and government also had time to shield the minister’s son accused of murder. And to stop opposition members from visiting the families of the murdered and injured farmers.
The Lakhimpuri Kheri situation led the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to say this: “We expect this to be a responsible government. When there is a serious allegation of murder and gunshot injury… how are accused in other parts of the country treated? Sent notices like “please come, please tell us?”
This is the sort of good governance and responsible government that fules voters, like the fules who are forced to queue for petrol because they voted to get rid of immigrants.
We do argue sometimes that it’s not correct to call voters “fules” or all voters are not “fules” or all people did not vote for such criminal incompetence. Maybe that is correct. Maybe it also correct that people who make excuses for criminal incompetence masquerading as governance are criminal in effect if not in intent. And we have many of those, a curious mix of intellectual and idiot non-savants.
The Prime Minister of Britain made a speech which made little sense at his party conference. He was called out for doing so, point for point by voters, by opposition politicians, by the media. The economic situation has led even some sections of the supportive right-wing media to ask searching questions.
For those corresponding sections of the Indian media, the awakening if it comes at all, will be very slow. Because it is so used to obeisance and is so well-trained in its vicious guard dog reaction to all criticism of Narendra Modi and the BJP.
The collapse of WhatsApp or other aspects of Mark Zuckerberg’s empire is another story of terrible consequence and degrees of control. For now, it has returned to control our lives and spread misinformation freely. How and if that changes, that is one of those mysteries of human conscience over human convenience.
For every person who wanted governance and got Lakhimpur Kheri, do we offer condolences or scoff at their stupidity? Was it eternal hope that brought us here or eternal hatred couched as eternal patriotism? Is the death of a few more consequential when it comes to the greater glory of our emperor and his cohorts across the planet?
Or ultimately is our fate the one incontrovertible reality that Fules Rule?
This story first appeared on