The Real Challenge

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.

Namely idiocy.

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.

51 thoughts on “The Real Challenge

  1. Absolutely agree there GB.
    It’s the biggest problem around. We have highly trained commandos but no jets to take them where they are needed fast. We have Bofors guns and no shells to fire them.
    We have sea-links that take you from one traffic bottle neck to another.
    We have .. Forget it

  2. If we talk about Mumbai nothing has changed in this one year, still Senas are doing what they have always done. Still we have the same government, Kasab is still in Jail and Mumbai still running at the same pace.

    Idiocy was always there but now it has reached to its supreme levels. Loved the way you explained all 4 exhibits.

  3. Me too felt the same thing about the Amrutha’s issue. They were more disappointed than surprised, considering what some of the other starlets have done for PETA.

  4. One of those lazy Sundays ahead and nothing exciting to do.Then I read this piece and laugh out aloud. Man, you made my day.
    I am happy I voted right on the Indiblog categories..

  5. GB,

    what would you call this one?

    of course, it has nothing to do with India. Or, does it?

  6. “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” .

    That uncanny ability to zero in on the truth! 🙂

    But seriosuly, why is the ss being so stupid! These incidents, and then the Sachin Tendulkar episode….they are just shooting themselves in the foot. Seriously what aholes….fing themselves in such comic fashion.:))
    Public sentiment against them will now exponentially compound.

    That Anurag K story- hard to believe that its real! Almost like a segment of an Anurag K movie…lol.

  7. I don’t know if you are just skeptic, or have a grip against film-stars getting involved in anything “serious”. But just FYI, one of them (Vivek Oberoi shown in the pic) didn’t actually go there for “expressing grief” but actually to “celebrate” something:

  8. BTW, I meant “gripe” in the first line. 😉

  9. @Nitin,

    Call it an anniversary or “celebration”, the signing of autographs and the “Hey I am a star” attitude that is revealed by the other pictures seemed to me an attempt to get the spotlight on one-self.

  10. I somehow feel that Indians in general are much more sensible and intelligent than these nut jobs.

  11. Isn’t it a wonder that so many of us agree that all this is idiocy and yet we can’t stop it. Inspite of large numbers, are well still in minority!?

  12. Vivek Oberoi is known to do these ‘kind’ gestures. Anyone remember him reaching going to post tsunami relief work in tamilnadu( Just an excerpt from the article:

    “When Bollywood stars weren’t even ready to at least shed crocodile tears for the tsunami-hit people, Vivek Oberoi shunned his comforts to land at Devinampattinam, a remote fishing hamlet ravaged by the killer waves that claimed more than 8,000 lives in TN and displaced thousands more a day after Christmas.

    Probably carried away by the depth of devastation as well as the uneasy glare of media in an occasion of grief, Vivek infused hope among the battered villagers. He announced a rehabilitation project costing Rs 10 crore.”

    10 Crore and no less. Any updates on this? anyone?

  13. I refer to exhibit 2:

    You don’t get it, do you?

    I think the govt. feels that if Naxalites etc. hear “morale boosting songs” composed by the likes of Himes bhai, they may instantaneously lose consciousness and end up brain dead.

    Low tech and cheap.

  14. @Rootofall3vil

    Apart from his post-Tsunai rehabilitation works, Vivek Oberoi is actually involved in lot more:

  15. @Nitin,
    So are many other actors. It is kind of surprising how these stories make their way into the media in a glorified way. I was trying to add to the point GB made about ‘expressing your grief’ by signing autographs on events such as above.

  16. You know what is the only thing I like about these Marathi manoos parties like MNS and Shiv Sena? They stand up to the bullshit of the cantankerous militant vegetarians who want to impose their dietary preferences on everyone else and turn vast swathes of Bombay into vegetarian zones.

    I’d personally vote for MNS if they take a truck full of bombil and dump it into these Veg societies (and I say this as a former vegetarian who loves vegetarian Jain food).

  17. I dont think vivek is at fault here. If some stupid asks for an autograph, what can he do? Refusing it also would invite unnecessary attention.
    He was the only actor who came to TN when tsunami hit. Even the local stars and tomorrow’s CMs didnt turn in for rehabilitation efforts. (Of course Federer was there.)

  18. @Thalassa: I wholeheartedly agree. Would love it if they add some onion if the society in question is Jain (ohh I so hate the look some Jains give me when they see some onion on my food plate)

  19. Nice article GB.. the first 3 exhibits funny.. the last one is simply sad.. I don’t understand how is it that in a country like ours do you not have something better to do.. inko time kahan milta hain yeh sab karne ko? I guess we need to gather these buffoons and inculcate some hobbies (reading to begin with.. uneducated morons) so that they have no time on their hands to go around spreading the idiocy!

  20. When it comes to acts of violence, its all for publicity. Mostly the press is informed in advance!
    As for the MNS, they are a right wing party and frankly they will always have a following. What is frightening is that right wing parties have started to do well in other countries too, like the UK and Switzerland. India being a diverse country, people turn against the citizens of their own country. Because they look different, talk different, and have different festivals and behavior. We are like a mini europe aren’t we. Integration is the key. No, its not the solution. The solution is to ban the MNS.

  21. the last 2 incidents are just shocking..MNS again proves that they are a bunch of [self censored]..
    liked the sarcasm on ur part as the footnote of each incident

  22. @ Nita
    Why exactly are the right wing parties succeeding in Europe?

  23. In general, a useful credo to follow is: “Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity.”

    But in the case of the MNS hoarding, I think it is reasonable to assume that the exact opposite holds.


  24. Your points are all good and funny…but your vitriolic sarcasm is at its best right here.

  25. @Rishi Khujur:
    “@ Nita
    Why exactly are the right wing parties succeeding in Europe?”

    Sorry, bait not taken…you need a bigger worm, sir…:-)

  26. @ Pauly
    The question was to Nita…or was it?

  27. What MNS has done is nothing new in Maharashtra which tends to honor only its local heroes .The airport , railway station is named after Shivaji .
    When u look at freedom fighters most of attention is paid on Savarkar , Tilak , Gokhale etc. MNS being a regional party nothing much can be expected of it .
    One could argue that not having photographs of the 2 other martyrs (one of them is a south indian) doesnt mean it is trying to discount their sacrifice, it just wishes to honor its local heroes.

  28. Hey G.B! Thanks for reminding the quote ‘There is no sin except stupidity’.

    @ Thalassa
    Have you watched ‘Quick Gun Murugun’ yet? Seems like the militant veggie-brigade gone on the offensive.

  29. @ G.B,

    This might sound like off the context but yesterday at Big Boss, both Bindu (Dara Singh) and KKR (you know who) started telling some other housemates that Cladia should not win as she is German, videshi.. we love desi etc. What they seemed to forget that when Shilpa Shetty had won the same contest abroad, they probably had clapped.
    Similar sentiments were projected during the recent Nobel prize win, or Indra Nooyi’s running of Pepsi.. the list is pretty long.
    We choose our heroes according to our convininience, and how it fits our scheme of things. Right now if MNS is ignoring Major Sandeep or Havaldar Singh, they might do an about turn real soon. The Tamilians who have faced the Shiv Sena ire in it’s early days can vouch.

  30. @Thalassa: I can sympathize with your peeves against militant veggies, but seriously girl, if you haven’t seen the omnivorous brigade’s dripping contempt and condescending attitude towards vegetarians and their diet all around you, you must be living in a parallel universe. Considering the fact that they bear the brunt of patronizing bs from society and popular culture (in India, and definitely internationally), I think they are entitled to their little militant havens…:-)

  31. There are around 4O lakh people from UP/Bihar in Maharashtra. Nothing wrong with people migrating however most of the migrants are poor people and have to live in slums and use free electricity. 50% of people in mumbai live in slums .The infrastructure is crumbling ,there is water shortage, power cuts ,the local trains are overcrowded the tax payers are suffering.UP has a population of around 14 crores ,every state in India should take equal responsibility and share this 14 crore population.The problem has not been started by the migrants , it is the politicians of UP/Bihar. Statements like “Lucknow , Patna jhaaki hai Mumbai abhi baaki hai ” and “make Hindi the only language in mumbai ” at Chaat Puja and Shivaji Park by Lalu and Abu Azmi doesnt help.

  32. Rishi (Khujur), seriously, sir, do you really have a single point agenda in life? You’re making it sound if Europe was all refined liberalism before the ‘hordes’ came in. It was the intellectual fountainhead of a lot of the nastiest atrocities in history. For someone so eager to brandish his knowledge of history, your history seems to be very ‘focused’.

    Excuse my rudeness, but it is downright dumb the way you try to drag every thread in the same direction.

  33. @ Nanda Kishore

    i asked a question.
    “Why exactly are the right wing parties succeeding in Europe?”

    I did not even express a SINGLE WORD of my opinion.
    Speaking of “single point agendas” seems the problem lies at your end my friend.
    What exactly are you talking about?

  34. @Nanda Kishore babu,

    As you appear to be someone who has no agenda in life, I prefer to read someone like Rishi Khujur who atleast has a focused agenda in his life. J/K.. 😉

    In case you didn’t notice, sir, this post by GB is partially about right-wing politics of the Marathi kind. In this vein, Nita correctly mentioned that right-wing parties on the rise in Europe. I too am surprised by this sudden-change in recent European politics and am curious to find out what triggered this polar-shift in European voters. Let us frankly dissect this topic and let the chips fall where they may.

    Has something changed in Europe that you would like to hide under the carpet and avert a frank discussion? Is post-liberal Europe waking up to a threat that we Indians are unaware of and are most likely going to be caught with our pants down (a la 26/11)?

    I agree that Christian Europe was the intellectual fountainhead of a lot of the nastiest atrocities in history, but are you at least willing to agree that Arabia remains the fountainhead of a lot more of the nastiest atrocities in history?

  35. I have always admired Anurag for standing against such idiots. And day by day these idiots are just growing in numbers. It’s strange that half of these people are just there or acting crazy for the money.

  36. One more to join the heights of idiocy:



    Arnab, please put an end to this very irritating habit some of the readers here have. It used to be a joke before it was flogged to death.

    The MNS hoarding is terrible and tasteless. Where were those goons when their beloved city was being attacked? They are brave only when facing the weak.

  37. Bengal Voice above-

    “I agree that Christian Europe was the intellectual fountainhead of a lot of the nastiest atrocities in history, but are you at least willing to agree that Arabia remains the fountainhead of a lot more of the nastiest atrocities in history?”

    Uff….tauba tauba….some words can make you feel as if you have just smelt a beautiful rose.

  38. Just today, while coming back from Karjat, our driver took a U turn without flashing indicator lights. A guy from the opposite side, who’s speaking on the cell phone, almost rams into us. He gets off and slaps our driver and kicks him once or twice. We are all too shocked to say anything, and we managed to drive him off. He says before leaving, “Tu marathi manoos ahe, that’s why I’m letting you off lightly.”

    In the car was my friend for whom it was the first time in Mumbai. And he asked us, “So is this how it happens here in Mumbai? What if the driver wouldn’t have been Marathi?”

    And I had no answer.

  39. First!!!!!…ipod?

  40. Saw you on TV … 🙂 You were brilliant with that conspiracy theory of the banana peel… !

  41. @Bengal Voice:Saw you on TV 🙂 … You were brilliant with that conspiracy theory of the banana peel… !

  42. @aylamrin
    Thanks. And I spotted you on an old TV clip. You were sneaking out from the White House wearing a blue dress with a stain. 😉

  43. @yourfan2

    “Uff….tauba tauba…some words can make you feel as if you have just smelt a beautiful rose.”

    Thanks. It looks like your rosy words have already inspired some readers (like aymalrin) to jump into denial mode. 🙂

  44. Rishi, I have no issue with your opinions, articulated or implied. Now please spare me your ‘honest inquiry’ crap. Everyone knows where you wanted the discussion to go – this is not a debating arena, and I’m sure I’m no match for your intellect or sense of history – so no need to indulge in sophistry.

    Bengal Voice, oh what a smack down! Sure it made your day. I have read much of what Rishi has had to say on this forum and as I said, I have no issue with that, regardless of whether I agree or have no opinion. And as for your sarcasm, you can shove it.

  45. @Nanda Kishore babu,

    Smackdowns certainly don’t make my day. Your “living in denial” mode certainly did.

    Way to go, my friend. I certainly liked the ease with which you dodged the Arabian question. Nice going there.

    Keeping shoving it, because when fit hits the shan, we are all going to shovel shit. 😉

  46. down with the fascist MNS .. but haha news is beautiful ..

  47. @ Nanda Kishore
    ” I have no issue with your opinions, articulated or implied.”

    I am sure you dont. Peace then.

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