6.11.15

"Because it is 2015" and other lame reasons



Fifty-five days from today the phrase "because it is 2015" will become stale, its heft redundant. So, why has it gained the currency of an aphorism? In fact, its transformation into an aphorism itself exposes the levity.

Justin Trudeau, all Hollywood good looks and geek-certified, flashed his cabinet as the new prime minister of Canada. "Why is half of your cabinet made up of women?" somebody asked. He replied, "Because it is 2015." The world went into a tizzy. This is what a cabinet should look like, they chorused, this is a modern man, moving with the times.

There is a small technicality here. 50 percent of the ministers, who happen to be women, will now be seen as harbingers of a period in time. That these are competent women who have been chosen for their ability to work in government gets lost in the exclamatory nature of their initiation/welcome.

Why is half your cabinet made up of women?

Because they were the best and most suited.

This would have sounded better and apt. Instead, Mr. Trudeau's statement sounds like he is following a reservations template: give the women 50 per cent seats because it is 2015, and to hell with other things.

Women aren't the only beneficiaries of the PM's 'goodness'. He has included people from different provinces, minorities, an aborigine, even a refugee. There are three Sikhs, and the one who is Defence Minister also "took on the Taliban". (Yo, turban versus turban.) We are told that somebody is a paraplegic and somebody else is recovering from cancer.

To make matters worse, all this variety will lead to profiling the ministers on the basis of whether they can be mainstream enough. Already TIME magazine has carried a photospread of the women in his cabinet, as though they are bunnies at the Playboy mansion.

Trudeau calls the mix of his cabinet "like Canada". Diversity of people in government is always a good thing, but here it does seem like it was about ticking the right boxes.

Governments the world over, including India, make it a point to pick members from certain groups. These are often sops, however inclusive they might appear to be. Indeed, cynicism should not prevent such choices. However, the celebration should wait, for It makes him into a benefactor, when it should be about the talent pool he could benefit from.

No wonder the reactions have been breathless whistles of how "cool" and "sexy" Trudeau is for being open. People have ended up lauding not the cause but the one they now consider the new messiah.

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