Bharat Mata may deserve a “jai” from every Indian, but do the “leaders” who govern in her name deserve the same respect? Given below are three recent examples of the sterling attitude and behaviour of our elected politicians. You can draw your own conclusions.
Pull Chain, Stop Train
A Shiv Sena bigwig held up the Devnagri Express for almost an hour because he was allotted a side berth in the train compartment; and this supposedly did not befit his exalted status. The sense of entitlement among our MLAs and MLCs is bizarre and totally undeserved.
The irony is that these small time politicos behave even more arrogantly than their seniors. In reality, most of these “gentlemen” got elected because of money and muscle power. Very few of them earn the respect of their constituents. And then they act like rulers, which directly contradict the concept of democracy.
To make matters worse, their inflated egos are constantly fed by ever present sycophants, as well as police and government officials. This charade of conducting an enquiry will fizzle out – like all others before it. Even if the Opposition makes a show of raking up this issue, they will not follow up on it, because many of their own cadres behave in a similar fashion.
Politicians of all affiliations eventually look after their own – the public be damned. That is the tragedy of our Bharat Mata.
Playing with Fire
A careless display and storage of fireworks – many of them manufactured with unauthorized chemicals – set off a massive explosion during a temple ceremony in Kerala resulting in horrendous loss of lives and multiple casualties. The most significant phrase in the newspaper reports of the incident was “with the help of local politicians”.
Many of the avoidable man-made calamities in our country are a result of interference by politicians, whose main purpose is to pander to their vote-bank. That is why despite being denied permission by the district collector and the police commissioner, the temple authorities felt emboldened to hold the function.
The tragedy of our nation is that even small-time politicians are afforded undue influence and power. Given the reality that many of these politicians have a criminal background and a reputation for thuggery, it is not surprising that they are able to override even senior government officials.
Of course, the district collector and the police commissioner must share the blame. It is not enough for them to simply deny permission and then take no steps to ensure that their ruling is obeyed. It is inexplicable that the police who can provide scores of personnel for VIP bandobast duty, cannot spare a few cops, who could have easily cancelled the firework display and prevented hundreds of casualties.
Honouring Our Heroes?
How bored and purposeless our politicians would feel if they weren’t routinely making a mountain out of a molehill. Sometimes I feel that Shakespeare wrote the lines “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” specifically for them.
The latest brouhaha is over the proposed Rs.425 crore Ambedkar memorial at the Indu Mill compound in Mumbai. “Devotees” of the Dalit leader – including the rank opportunist and self-proclaimed Ambedkar champion, Ramdas Athavale – are fighting to display their credentials, perhaps in a desperate bid to remain relevant.
A slight aside here : If, according to his disciples, Narendra Modi is “God’s gift to India”, what is Ambedkar’s position in the hierarchy of Indian pantheons, above or below?
The irony is that Ambedkar himself would have been appalled at this profligate expenditure towards a memorial to him – money that he would have greatly preferred to be spent on the Dalits he cared about so much. Truly great men like Ambedkar and Sardar Patel attach no importance to personal honours. Patel is probably chortling up in heaven at his new-found bhakt’s resolve to erect a massive statue, more to enhance his own image than any sincere homage to the Iron Man of India.
For these great men, ‘public service’ was not just a catch phrase to be trotted out at election time, but a vocation. They were supremely confident that their achievements and good works would speak in volumes far louder than any brick and mortar edifice. That is a concept our present crop of leaders with their Lilliputian mindsets will never grasp.
So there it is. Somebody needs to educate these self-important Neanderthals that patriotism is not displayed merely by shouting slogans or erecting memorials (which are paid for by tax payers). It is proved by acting responsibly and looking after the welfare of the people that they have been elected to govern.
Firoze Hirjikaka is a retired civil engineer and a freelance writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org