The first week of 2016 was a remarkable one in the history of India, second only to the week when Aryabhata invented zero. It was because the AAP government in Delhi decided to put to test the odd-even formula, which meant that a majority of the residents of Delhi had to first understand the concept of odd and even numbers. Aryabhata’s invention was a notch higher because otherwise it would have been difficult to quantify Delhi Chief Minister and popular movie critic Arvind Kejriwal’s concerns regarding trifling issues such as large scale rioting in Malda.
The impact of the odd-even formula on pollution levels is seemingly inconclusive. Some opine that the air quality in Delhi is beyond salvation, and restricting the number of cars plying on any given day is like giving up on dessert after a buffet at the Barbeque Nation. The damage has already been done, and the proposed efforts seem too little, too late. Having or not having the desert is not going to have any bearing on the fact that you’re definitely going to shit your pants since you’ve already had so much. So you might as well have the dessert.
Yesterday, the Delhi government came up with a new Namaskar Main Arvind Kejriwal advertisement about the odd-even formula featuring Arvind Kejriwal with his back turned toward the camera. The ad begins with the now ubiquitous phrase Namaskar Main Arvind Kejriwal bol raha hoon ”. In terms of the frequency with which the residents of Delhi get to listen to this phrase every day, it beats DJ waale babu and even a certain reference to one’s sister. It’s funny that all this while he’s hasn’t changed that phrase to Namaskar Main Arvind Kejriwal aarop laga raha hoon.
During the course of the new “ Namaskar Main Arvind Kejriwal “ ad, Kejriwal gives anecdotal evidence about Delhi residents being law-abiding and good-hearted which, even by AAP standards, is a very ridiculous and serious allegation. Kejriwal talks about a guy who was driving an even-numbered car on an odd date, and was stopped by a civil-defence volunteer following which he took a U-turn, returned home, took his motorcycle out, and went back to work.
The advertisement is indeed eye-catchy. First off, it has Kejriwal talking about U-turns, which makes it look more like a video resume than an advertisement given that he’s taken more U-turns in his short political career than Mulayam Singh Yadav has in his entire life. Kejriwal talking about taking a U-turn is like the Gandhi family talking about nepotism, or Pahlaj Nihalani talking about arse-lickery and bad animation: just a bunch of guys explaining what they are good at.
Secondly, it paints a utopian picture of Delhi. A guy in car gets intercepted says nothing and goes back to his house to return in a motorcycle, and that’s kind of sweet and hopeful since in Delhi, under normal circumstances, things would’ve been entirely different. The civil defence volunteer would’ve either been asked the question “tu jaanta hai mera baap kaun hai”, run over by the violator, or shot at.
Nowhere in the advertisement does Kejriwal show his face. It’s just a continuous shot of him talking on his cell phone with his back turned toward the camera, with the trademark muffler and sweater in place. More like Namaskar Main Arvind Kejriwal bol raha hoon, bas dikh nahi raha hoon”. Some say he’s shy, some say he’s too embarrassed to show his face, while some others say he’s hiding his nose which, like Pinocchio’s, has grown too long. The real reason, however, is that the Supreme Court had passed a ruling last May that doesn’t allow government funded advertisements to show the faces of politicians. Hence, Kejriwal is not looking at the camera since most of our laws are like Bollywood scripts: full of gaping holes.
While the odd-even formula has probably reduced the amount of traffic/ crowding on the roads even though the agenda was reduction in pollution and not traffic, the public transport system, most noticeably the metro was thrown off guard. People were complaining about how jam-packed the metro trains were, and how they ended up smelling others’ armpits and scratching others’ body parts on their way to work, to which Mumbaikars responded with a LoL. When asked about his views regarding how difficult life in a metro had become for commuters, Kejriwal’s reply was “An excellent movie. A must watch”.
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