Last night I had a dream. I was in a Dreamland. Its officials invited me to look at the ‘Bhikash’ (development) they had done in return for all and the ‘Bhishwas’ (trust) they had won from everyone. I gladly accepted the opportunity to observe the ‘Sachche Dhin’ (days of truth) that had been promised by their leader. I felt like an alien gliding through an empty, homogeneous, directionless tube of space and time. An entourage of official spokespersons and ‘bold, independent & nationalist’ journalists escorted me with the objective of offering explanations, directions, and heterogeneity. The Dreamland was not new, but its remarkable transformation had begun only 6 years ago. Some officials told me that the 6 years achieved more than the preceding 60 years.
We began the tour by visiting a cowshed. A combination of strict slaughterhouse laws, effective trade regulations, and passionate vigilante groups had extended the dream project of ‘Bhikash’ to the cows. The cows were very happy now. “If we had a UN World Happiness Report for cows, we would not have been at 144 out of 156,” a group of cows, mostly saffron in colour, told me when I spoke to them. At some distance, a few plastic chewing cows were protesting for fodder but I was told they were being misled by those who love poverty. I noticed a few cows also held placards that read- ‘We oppose all lynching, even of humans’. I couldn’t fathom much but moved on.
From here we arrived at a school. I was told by an official spokesperson that for far too long, a group of historians, with the aim of maligning the Dreamland had been writing the wrong history. The new regime had hired social media celebrities, retired military generals, and film directors to create a ‘paradigm shift’. The generals were passionately reclaiming a scientific history of religion; the social media celebrities were writing on the art of debate, and the film directors were compiling a book on ‘Urban Maxals’ and ‘Breaking Dreamland Forces’. I was nonplussed but curiosity forced me to move on. At some distance, I noticed a few students sloganeering- “an education that is not free is a stick of the class to beat the mass.” When I approached them they said education was now sold like weapons in the shopping malls of high streets, from where the rich and powerful could buy it to hang around their waist. “Education is a weapon of control,” they said. As I stood there hoping to comprehend what they meant, the bold, independent & nationalist media apprised that these were ‘anti-dreamlandals’ and deserved no attention. Trusting their better sense and judgment, I conformed.
Here I witnessed an election rally where scores of people, crammed in trucks and buses, had travelled from neighboring villages to catch a glimpse of the supreme leader. I was told that corruption was gotten rid of completely. The new regime had legalized electoral funding and a surgical strike on black money had broken the backs of many who deserved it. A uniform tax law coupled with tax raids had forced almost all citizens to pay their outstanding dues. At some distance, a few citizens of the Dreamland were protesting because some millionaires had defaulted on loans and escaped, leaving the banks reeling under what they called MPA (Mal Performing Asset). The officials next to me were quick to confer that ‘the fundamentals of economy’ were too strong for anyone to worry about. A few others told me about the recent scams in a province called Kassam. The ‘bold, independent & nationalist’ journalists added in clarification that it was because of strict media and government actions that these scams had been exposed. Until a few years ago, scams were interpreted as corruption but I learned that in the Dreamland they indicated strict and effective governance. Consequently, the dreamland had been freed of all corruption except those which the government helped expose.
The next thing I witnessed was a wonder. Farmers’ incomes had doubled amidst severe rural distress and a new farm bill had liberated them for the first time. I assumed the national liberation that we achieved decades ago from the clutches of imperialism did not apply to the farmers. However, there were farmers who objected. I discerned with official assistance that the farmers were also misled. A little way further, I noticed a billboard that read- “This dreamland is for sale, billionaires should approach through back doors for their share in Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) and common people should celebrate their liberation by the invisible hands of billionaires.” Many had gathered under it with utensils and earthen lamps to commemorate their second independence.
Soon we ran out of petrol. On entering a gas station, I was told that the retail prices were escalating as the price of international crude oil plummeted. The officials explained that the windfall given to responsible billionaires in tax was being compensated by fuel tax. While we waited for the tank to fill, I got down to buy some fries from a hawker. On his cart I read a banner- “Employment at 45 year high; hawkers and vendors at your help- as drivers of fundamental jobs.” When I offered to pay in cash, I was told that some DAM scheme had enabled them to go digital. Cash was no longer accepted! I was in one of the ‘smart cities’ after all! Although, there was no Wi-Fi and we had to buy it from one of the responsible billionaires. I recharged some data, paid for the fries, and moved puzzled by the idea of a smart city with a not-so-free-internet. But as an outsider I assumed there were things I did not understand about the Dreamland.
As we travelled further, we came across a huge gathering of people. It was a jaunty crowd, colorfully dressed, with elongated marks on their foreheads, dancing around a bonfire. At first impression, I thought it was a festival but someone clarified that it was in fact a boycott against a neighboring country’s goods with the dual objective of teaching the adversary a lesson and more importantly becoming self-reliant. 6 years ago, the new regime had launched a ‘Make in Dreamland’ project. Upon going through a newspaper, I came to know that the total export of the Dreamland was one-tenth of that of the neighboring country. However, supporters of the Dreamland said this boycott would vanquish the neighboring country. Despite confusion, I nodded with admiration of the audacious optimism.
Unfortunately the fries upset my stomach and we had to rush to a hospital while a pandemic was ravaging through the country. I was informed that government hospitals that constituted 35% beds serviced 90% of the population and private hospitals with 65% beds serviced 10% of the population. When I asked the ‘bold, independent & nationalist’ journalists about it, I was told that the billionaires of the Dreamland are efficient, patriotic and responsible. I wondered if more responsibility should be passed on to them. 65% is not enough!
While passing through, I was also told that under the new regime, the courts have become very transparent, the investigating agencies are fully autonomous, the university heads are selected objectively without political interference, and the police system has been overhauled to make it autonomous, sensitive, and inclusive. Some ‘anti-dreamlandals’ again parroted their propaganda- that courts refused to take Habeas Corpus petitions, showed no alacrity in taking up matters of citizenship or federalism, in many cases, bowed down to populist pressure, and neglected arbitrary arrests of dissenters. The police, I was told, operated as the political masters and even collaborated with the mob. They also informed that the Dreamland was nose-diving continually on press freedom, on democracy index, and on global hunger index. When I inquired about these issues, the ‘bold, independent & nationalist’ journalists said it was a conspiracy against the nation. Their vehemence and clarity towards the greatness of their leader was compelling and cemented my own beliefs in their ideals.
With this my small tour across the Dreamland ended. As a note of gratitude, they requested me to write a few lines on my experience. As an intellectual, I wrote a brief souvenir-
“The dreamland is one that reflects the spirit entailed in its name. It is a land where an animal can be more equal than a human. It is where text-books are written on the cardinal principle of truth, where intellectuals are as good as anyone (note the equality). This dreamland is an imagined fraternity built on the spirit of equality and liberty; this land excludes only those who do not conform. There is no corruption except for those which the government generously exposes because of its integrity. Here, even the corporate is responsible; so much so that the government outsources responsibility to the corporate to continually liberate its citizens and make them more efficient. The farmers can double their income, even when there is distress. The patriotic citizens happily make up for the corporate tax break and trade deficit. The government has built many smart cities with internet connections through digital payment to one of the responsible billionaires. In governance, the dreamland has collapsed the foreign principles of separation of power. Here officials dispense religious duty, judges tell protestors to behave, vigilantes become jury and executor; all with the blessings of ‘bold, independent & nationalist’ media houses, committed to truth and integrity alone. In this dreamland, we find harmony at its best. And if this is not enough, one must remember- it has been only 6 years, not 60. There is much more to come.”