By: Saad Rahman & Atif Anwar
People around get all flared up when I use the term “Biryani Democracy”. Before I give you reasons behind it, let me first take this moment and coin the term. It is a combination of two unrelated genres. The first part is the interesting one – one which any South East Asian will understand right away. Biryani is an exotic Mughal era rice dish, essentially an elaborate twist on pilaf. The only historical link it has with Democracy is the lack of it, as it has origins in a time of Mughal emperors. Till this day it serves the modern day self-proclaimed royals of the south east we call politicians.
Biryani has become a vehicle of journey for several politicians in the region. Unlike the dictatorial tactics of their royal predecessors, the tools of persuasion are less hostile but cunning. Making a mockery of the widespread poverty, politicians use Biryani as their weapon to coerce the common man into submission; essentially trading a few plates of Biryani for a vote. As sad it may sound, the poor public does not ever see much in reforms. So instead, every few years they look forward to a week or two of heavenly feasts as they listen to the never ending promises made all over again by the same few elite. Alas, the vicious cycle repeats. This is the Biryani Democracy we live in.
In a nation where even the basics defined by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are a struggle for the lower and middle class, Biryani suffices to win over the masses. The word democracy is pasted on every media outlet, to keep the world at bay. But in reality, these few elite still run a kingdom.
There is still hope. We need to join those who are trying to flicker a ray of light in this darkness. Being an avid supporter and associated with some organizations I urge all to look around and find what you believe will bring about a change. Amongst a few such organizations are TCF Foundation, Sawayra, Kashf Foundation, Asasah and BRAC Pakistan.