An year has passed since a bunch of goodwill ambassadors came from across the border showering the city of Mumbai with brotherly bonhomie, a very Pakistani kind of joi-d’ vivre springing from the well of affection that country has for us. The anniversary of that monumental event was observed recently with the lighting of candles, the singing of hymns and a serious series of allegations-counterallegations between widows of slain police officers and those who were in charge a year ago.
And if the dogfight between Mumbai’s finest was not punishment enough, there was the additional spectacle of stars “expressing their grief” at Leopold Cafe. (photo courtesy Filmicafe)
Not that there is a problem with that. Because we in India are now facing a much more serious challenge than terrorism, environmental degradation and Ajab Prem ki Ghazab Kahani combined.
Not simple idiocy. No. Monumental, tidal-wave sized idiocy.
Exhibit 1: [Link]
Recently, when Amrita Rao was shooting for PETA, her shoot was disrupted and prolonged due to political party activists who stormed the sets.They were misinformed that Amrita was posing in her bare essentials and much to their surprise Amrita was decently dressed. There also seemed to be an identity crisis as they thought it was Amrita Arora, who would be. However, once they saw seedhi saadhi Amrita, they realized their mistake and profusely apologized by telling Amrita how they loved her in Vivaah and Welcome To Sajjanpur and wanted to see more of her. Amrita, being the sweet girl next door, ensured her driver got them lunch from an Udipi joint close by and she sweetly autographed their hands. In fact, one of the activists made a call to his 10-year-old-son to visit the sets as Amrita was his favourite actress.
Now do not get me wrong. I fully support the rights of people to go and cause violent interventions if they suspect someone is unhooking the clasps of our culture. There are limits to free expression and that limit is “anything that offends me”. No problem there.Some might think that these people were not really offended but had in fact gone to see Amrita Arora in her bare essentials and were actually disappointed on seeing seedhi-saadhi Amrita Rao, which is why they said they “wanted to see more of her” .
Whatever their motives have been, what I expect, no insist, that before someone decides to disrupt something violently they know before hand what they are being offended at or what they are going to gawk at. Not to have done the most basic of research before taking such a step is nothing if not idiocy of the highest order.
Exhibit 2: [Link]
Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), India’s largest paramilitary force, is all set to march to a new patriotic tune, composed by Bollywood bigwigs.
A theme song of the force, put together by lyricist Prasoon Joshi and singer Shankar Mahadevan, will be released by home minister P Chidambaram on the occasion of CRPF’s raising day in Gurgaon on Friday.
The four-minute patriotic song “Jai Kara Jai Kara”, praising over 2.5 lakh personnel of the force, reminds the troops of their sacrifices made through the year.
“The song will inspire the men to follow and lead with valour and courage in performing their duties in various parts of the country which involves tackling naxalism, counter-insurgency, militancy and other law and order duties,” said an official.
Now after the BSF (and no it is not from the movie “Border”) , the CRPF also has a theme song. Not that I have any problem with the government spending resources and time on “theme songs” which I believe are far more important to morale than better training and equipment. But it is rank idiocy to have a theme song, without a remixed version for when battles really get intense and without extensive voice coaching for CRPF personnel, who might further inflame Naxalite-affected regions if they sing these songs together in their mellifluous voices.
Exhibit 3: [Link]
On Saturday, Amar Kaushik, who’s an assistant director to Onir, got the shock of his life on a local train where he was discussing Anurag Kashyap’s Dev D loudly and lavishly with his friends.
A group of passengers heard Dev D being mentioned and roughed up Kaushik very badly. Says the director Onir, “They mistook him for Anurag because Amar looks like him. And they said to him, ‘You’ve been talking rubbish about Raj Thackeray’. It is scary. If they can behave this way with Anurag’s lookalike what would they do with the real person. What has happened to the freedom of expression in Mumbai?”
Once again, it is absolutely par for the course to thrash someone up if he has been trash-talking against the Raj. Anyone who does that deserves the worst that can be done to him. However what is idiocy is to beat up someone who just looks like the reprobate, again a result of not having done the appropriate research before an act of otherwise thoroughly justifiable vigilantism.
Exhibit 4: [Link]
A hoarding an MNS leader posted in Mahim, north-central Mumbai, to mark the first anniversary of the 26/11 terror attacks, omits National Security Guard commandos Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and Havaldar Gajendra Singh Bisht who lost their lives battling terrorists at the Taj Mahal hotel and Nariman House respectively.
Both heroes, Bengaluru-based Unnikrishnan and Dehra Dun native Bisht, were honoured with the Ashok Chakra, the country’s highest award for valour during peace-time, this Republic Day.
The MNS hoarding has photographs of all the other security personnel killed during the 26/11 attacks.
Why is this idiocy? Because we are often told, by fairly intelligent and coherent people, that MNS’s opposition to UP and Bihari immigrants, which is expressed as acts of violence and disruption, is justified at an intellectual level. After all they are not opposed to the cosmopolitanism of Mumbai as such but only to these people who come from “outside” seeking to impose their lifestyle and their culture on the natives and bring to a very successful state the legacy of two failed states, no matter that those “outside” are also citizens of the same country.
However even this fig-leaf of legitimacy is torn aside when the contribution of two people, who represent the highest ideals of patriotism, is not recognized because they are “outsiders”; people who fell saving the very state whose pride the said party holds aloft as its banner.
Again I dont mind the fact they are considered “outsiders” even though they did not take anyone’s job or force themselves on the local population because hey they did come from “outside”. But what would MNS have lost if they had just put up these two pictures along with those of local heroes? Nothing. However by not doing so and making a distinction even here, it has made it all the more difficult for their supporters to put up a reasoned logical justification for their ideology.
And that to me is stupidity. Of the highest order.