May 11, 2011

Conspiracy Theories

Some one once told me that everything in this world is controlled by just fifty people. These fifty people, he said, determine everything. And he meant everything. As in everything  from stock market movements to oil prices to US presidential elections to opium trafficking and mujahideen movements in Afghanistan to installing the next puppet government in banana republics .Whew! I am running out of breath just from listing the responsibilities of those who shall not be named. Fantastic theory, and apparently it has its takers.

Every one loves a good conspiracy theory. But, they relieve us from the banal and real world through imaginative concoctions that contain tiny morsels of truth and liberal doses of paranoid delusion. Life’s too short to be lived in the real world, I guess.

Who killed JFK? The Russians? The Mafia? Lyndon Johnson? Wait a minute, Lyndon Johnson? Come on!

Indian  conspiracy theories are inevitably about cricket, bollywood or politics and at times, all three. A colleague informed me that “3000 crores of money was bet on Sachin getting a hundred in the game against Pak” during the world cup. That, he explained, is why the Pakistanis dropped four catches of Sachin. I scratched my chin.

“err, didnt Afridi take the catch finally? And, Sachin finally never did get his hundred”

“That’s because Afridi is the *ONLY* clean guy on the Pak team. He doesn’t take money”

“The *ONLY* clean guy? Afridi?”

I had to pause to digest this nugget. This was like Lyndon Johnson all over again. If I had to pick the only clean guy on the Pakistani cricket team, I’d go with Kamran Akmal. His ability in dropping catches is genius. And that sort of genius cannot be faked. But then again, I wouldnt know. I am not in the nifty fifty.

The most interesting aspect of conspiracy theories are that they are so far divorced from our day to day lives that they are not actionable. We lose nothing by believing. But, one does struggle to process the data. The first bite is usually juicy. But then, the morsels get lumpier and harder to swallow with each progressive bite.

“Jesus really lived in Kashmir?”  Sometimes even the first morsel is hard to swallow.

A reporter asked if Andrew and Kate had been tipped off about the planned assault on OBL. The question arose because the royal couple had postponed their honeymoon by a day, and the reporter wanted to know if there was a connection. I can only imagine the look of bemusement on the palace spokesperson’s face.

Sorry folks, Hillary Clinton is in all likelihood a female. Osama is most definitely deader than a dodo. Yes, there is a fairly good chance that we landed on the moon. And oh yeah, Obama was born in Hawaii.

Nevertheless, one feels obliged to tip the hat to these unflappable heros who find the unlikeliest of connections between the faintest of dots, and in the process prove that human imagination is indeed alive, unbounded and purposeless. May their tribes flourish!

A note to the nifty fifty if you happen to be reading – I’d suggest punting on global warming, Pakistan, Libya, Egypt, etc for now,  and instead, please please do something first about Donald Trump.

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