One of the best things about being an avid reader is discovering most writers, journalists and editors have a great sense of humor. Although content on the Robert J. Richey blog often includes some playful banter, a sense of whimsy, and occasionally droll satire, it often lacks the darker sarcasm found in our home—much to the chagrin of the big thinking, rocking hot spouse. Thankfully, news outlets everywhere provide a sufficiently combustible mix of solemnity, irony, and mockery to ignite one’s self-restrained stockpile of cynically sarcastic juices.
News editors have extremely difficult jobs. In addition to reading and reviewing hundreds of thousands of words a day, they must make tough decisions about what to publish and what to discard. A healthy sense of humor is a necessity when sitting behind a desk all day reading headline after headline. Here are just a few favorite headlines about the country we currently call home.
Note: This is neither a judgement about India nor the Indian media. Google “funny headlines” and you’ll find there are ridiculous things being printed across the globe nearly every day. If you are particularly sensitive, it would be a good idea to stop reading now.
A scientist, his wife, and a partner were recently caught cooking up some amphetamine. Illegal drugs are a serious problem; kudos to the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) for doing what the fictional DEA couldn’t do to Walt in Breaking Bad. Nice cake topper: The scientist leased a chemical reactor at a factory in IDA Bolarum by telling the owners they were manufacturing a drug to cure diarrhea—which is totally believable in India!
Being caught on camera while doing something stupid is bad enough—isn’t that how the Funniest Home Videos franchise got started?—but cops fighting other cops is disgraceful. Aren’t there enough civilians in Lucknow to harass, shakedown, and beat? Thankfully, the Superintendent of Police clarified the incident: it wasn’t bribery, just lazy cops fighting over who should clear a traffic jam.
Some headlines, although sad, are just too amazing to pass. People die doing all kinds of stupid stuff, but there are few places one will read about people being killed during an idol immersion. Since many of these idols are painted with lead paint, contaminating the same water consumed by people, animals and plants, one must wonder about the sense of irony. A commenter on the site summed up the problem: “Do god really want to immerse idols and pollute rivers?”
Air India is an easy target and with good reason, they are one of the worst airlines on which many of us have flown. Perhaps they get a bit of a bad wrap, after all, passengers enjoy amazing meals fortified with cockroach protein supplements and unique recipes featuring lizard entrees. A bit disconcerting: the rodent was not found. No worries, it’s sure to turn up in someone’s dinner.
This headline actually makes a lot of sense. Scenario: A bureaucratic Non-commissioned Officer (NCO) in charge of recruitment scans a list of thousands of potential recruits queueing to take the military’s rigorous written entry exam. There were previous reports of cheating which must be curtailed—the last batch of recruits drowned while looking for enemy aircraft during a rain storm. No problem, everyone takes the test naked. A perfectly good, government-employee inspired solution. “The army said it was done to ‘save time on checking so many students’”.
You won’t find this article online. Presumably, since pretty much every scientist on the planet came out and denounced the government’s claim, Times of India removed their original article which obviously employed only scant use of the terms “research” and “validation.” The link is included in case someone wants to try to find it on the Wayback Machine or cached elsewhere.
India’s trouble with toilets: Government sanitation drives fail to sway those who believe going outdoors is more wholesome
This one is like cows and buffalo—just too easy a target. The PM, Narendra Modi, launched the Swachh Bharat Mission on 2 October 2014 in an attempt to clean up India, but the government has been subsidizing the building of toilets for decades. To look around, the effort hasn’t been very successful, apparently for good reason—it’s unhealthy to defecate indoors.
There are some things that inspire the reaction “WTF?” According to the 2011 census, India has about 46 million fewer women than men; for every two unmarried women, there are seven unmarried men in the 25-34 age group. Killing women is not going to improve those odds.
This article is both sad and scary. We might have seen a similar headline in the US Fifty years ago: Southern blood bank seeks white O+ blood donors. If Darwin was right, we should see fewer and fewer bigots as they are unable to find their choice of blood.
In a case of spying most insidious, a pigeon from Pakistan was taken into custody by border guards after a letter addressed to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was found on the bird. In a similar article, the Wall Street Journal reported that the “winged duo” was being held on suspicion of espionage and “one of the jailbirds carried a message attributed to [a] Pakistan-based terror group.” What a bunch of bird brains.
There are many more awesome headlines out there. Share your favorites for everyone to see.
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Unless otherwise noted, I drew or took the photographs in the article—as lame as they may look. Sometimes drawings come from my head, other times they’re from something I saw somewhere. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is probably planned. Copyright can be found here for my original work.
“Air India Plane Returns to Mumbai After Passenger Sees Rat.” 31 December 2015. NBC News (online). http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/air-india-plane-returns-mumbai-after-passenger-sees-rat-n488496
Buddil, Mahesh. 2016. “Drug Bust: Bengaluru scientist held in Hyderabad.” 4 October. Times of India (online). http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/Drug-bust-Bengaluru-scientist-held-in-Hyderabad/articleshow/54666928.cms
Burke, Jason & Chaurasia, Manoj. 2015. “Five women killed in India by villagers suspecting witchcraft.” 8 August. The Guardian (online). https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/08/five-women-killed-india-jharkhand-villagers-suspecting-witchcraft
“Hyderabad-based blood bank seeks high caste O+ donors, receives flack on Twitter.” 20 August 2016. Deccan Chronicle (online). http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/200816/casteism-and-blood-bank-tweet-seeking-high-caste-o-donors-receives-flak.html
“India job seekers made to strip for army test to stop cheating.” 1 March 2016. BBC (online). http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-35693987
Lupi, Darrin Zammit. 2016. “Pigeon arrested in India for carrying threatening message to PM.” 4 October. RT (online). https://www.rt.com/news/361384-pigeon-arrested-india-pakistan/
Mandhana, Niharika. 2016. “India Detains Pigeons as Authorities Fret Over Risk of a Coo.” Wall Street Journal (online). http://www.wsj.com/articles/india-detains-pigeons-as-authorities-fret-over-risk-of-a-coo-1475512345
“Meteorite Kills Indian Man.” 9 February 2016. Times of India. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Govt-confirms-meteorite-blast-in- Vellore-killed-man/articleshow/50894959.cms
Mishra, Alok K N. 2016. “11 killed during idol immersion in Jharkhand.” 14 February 2016. Times of India (online) http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ranchi/11-killed-during-idol-immersion-in-Jharkhand/articleshow/50985726.cms
Nathoo, Leila. 2015. “India’s trouble with toilets: Government sanitation drives fail to sway those who believe going outdoors is more wholesome.” 21 August. Independent (online). http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/india-rejects-the-toilet-how-government-sanitation-drives-have-failed-to-sway-those-who-believe-10466041.html
Pandey, Alok. 2016. “Caught on Camera: Lucknow Policemen Brawl In Public, Allegedly Over Bribe.” 26 June. NDTV (online). http://www.ndtv.com/lucknow-news/policeman-suspended-for-brawl-with-homeguard-in-lucknow-1423690?pfrom=video-read
PMIndia. 2014. “Towards a Swachh Bharat. PMIndia.gov.in. http://www.pmindia.gov.in/en/government_tr_rec/swachh-bharat-abhiyan-2/
Prakashan, Priya. 2015. “Disgusting! After Lizard, cockroach found in Air India flight meal.” 26 June. India (online). http://www.india.com/news/india/disgusting-after-lizard-cockroach-found-in-air-india-flight-meal-437528/