Oxygen’s in the air: Great expectations of good governance

If you go to a cow, you will get milk, urine, or dung. But if you go to a cow and expect Dalgona coffee, whose fault is it — yours or the cow’s?

May 08, 2021 04:00 pm | Updated May 09, 2021 08:50 am IST

I’m noticing that a lot of people are feeling disappointed with our government’s governance — the same government they lovingly voted back to power for reasons that have nothing to do with governance. The root cause of this disappointment is the same as always: unwarranted expectations. If you go to a cow, you will get milk, urine, or dung. But if you go to a cow and expect Dalgona coffee, whose fault is it — yours or the cow’s?

Coming to specifics, all of us are expecting the government to provide oxygen. Oxygen is all the rage these days. Even in the cow belt, oxygen is now more popular than both the cow and the Supreme Leader — and that’s the crux of the problem. People are unable to manage their expectations.

Let’s be fair: the party in power never promised oxygen — either in its manifesto or in its election campaign. To now blame them for oxygen shortage is equivalent to what, in management parlance, is called ‘moving the goal posts’. Therefore, in the larger public interest of shifting the goal posts of expectations back to their original position, I’m putting forward the correct expectations that Indians should have from their government. Replace your currently delusional expectations with the ones below, and you won’t feel an iota of disappointment. Your unconditional love for Vishwaguru will remain the same whether your SpO2 is 99 or 29. So, here goes:

1. Expect OTPs, not vaccines : Our PM has given thousands of speeches in the past seven years. Has he ever talked of ‘Vaccinated India’? No. All he’s ever spoken about is Digital India. Don’t tell me you didn’t know. And if you knew, then you must be crazy to actually expect vaccines from the world’s largest vaccination drive. Just be grateful that our honourable Health Minister could deliver a record 1.45 crore OTPs in just three hours. If you still feel like complaining, why don’t you try delivering a six-digit OTP using only the five digits of one hand?

2. Government shouldmaintain adequate stock of distractions: All the time there are allegations coming from anti-national elements such as Opposition, activists, and international media. They keep drawing people back to reality, making them worry about mundane things like hospital beds and vaccines instead of focusing on Pakistan. One would naturally expect the government to keep an adequate stock of distractions to manage public perceptions and media narratives, and in this respect, our government has never disappointed — far from it!

By the way, have you wondered which foreign agency is behind this sudden national obsession with oxygen? Is it ISI? PLA? Or is it Twitter? We do know its traffic has shot up tremendously due to the new craze for oxygen. All I want to say is that if you love oxygen so much, then inhale it all you want, but don’t drag (pun unintended) the PM into it. I’ve read reams of commentary on this issue but no one has bothered to point out that India’s atmosphere today holds exactly the same quantity of oxygen as it did 70 years ago, when Nehru was PM. It was 21% back then. It is 21% now. But India’s population today is nearly four times what it was in 1947. In other words, while our oxygen quantity has remained the same, our population has quadrupled! So who is to blame here? Think!

3. Take care of country’s image: A patriot’s foremost expectation from the government — more important than even his own life expectancy — is that it will channel all its resources to protect the country’s image, i.e. the country’s PM’s image. That is why one must NOT expect the thousands of crores set aside for building the PM’s new residence to be used for buying vaccines and giving them free to every citizen. After all, shouldn’t it be a matter of pride for every Indian that our PM’s house is more luxurious and more palatial than any that has been funded by tax-payers in the history of tax-paying humanity?

4. PM’s photo on vaccine certificate : It enrages me to even think that there are people out there who expect otherwise. Whose photo do you want to see on your vaccine certificate, if not the PM’s? Would you prefer a mugshot of Venkatesh Prasad? Seriously!

5. Nothing : India’s biggest tragedy is that even highly educated intellectuals claim to be disappointed with the government for “not offering any governance”. They expect centralised coordination for ensuring timely access to ICU beds, oxygen concentrators, ventilators, medicines, etc. Hello! For several months, well before the advent of coronavirus in India, our PM repeatedly urged us to become atmanirbhar , and he did so expressly to ensure we’re fully prepared for the pandemic. But did you listen? Do you even know what atmanirbhar means? It means expect nothing from the government. So do it. Expect nothing. And thank me when you find your expectations finally being met, none after another.

G. Sampath, author of this satire, is Social Affairs Editor , The Hindu.


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