Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Lone Rangers in our midst...

I was rather taken aback by our resident Bong Intellectual ( are there any other kind?), Swapan Dasgupta's take on Meera Sanyal and Mallika Sarabhai in his column 'Right & Wrong' this morning (TOI). His argument suggests that no Independent candidate deserves to contest , even less win!! 'It doesn't help to be a Lone Ranger', he says. And I want to weep! It has always been the Lone Rangers in our midst who have created movements, brought about change. Vivekananda, anyone?? This is NOT to equate Meera or Mallika with the philospher\social reformer. Merely to point out that society desperately needs those who refuse to toe someone else's line. Who are ready to take a position and do their bit without aligning themselves to any party or individual. It is a daunting task. I am sure both candidates know exactly what they are up against. Which is what makes them inspiring in the first place. India needs Lone Rangers. There are enough Tontos around!! Whether or not these ladies lose their respective deposits is not the issue. To damn them for being 'elitist' is to display your own prejudice. Was Mahatma Gandhi not an elitist? A barrister? And Nehru, too?? To say these women have made a virtue of their 'fringe status' is unfair and petty. Why attack them and exclude the crorepati bandits already in the fray, whose appeal is equally fringe? How much more elitist can you get than a Rahul or a Priyanka. An Omar or a Sachin? They don't belong to the unwashed masses either. They get their special status from the elitist families they come from - just like Mallika and her Sarabhai legacy. Why castigate these two women and pick on them for taking the 'moral high ground'? What would Swapan prefer - those compromised candidates who have sold their souls to various parties? When Swapan refers to the duo's social exclusivity and calls them snobs "in an arena where snobbery is at a serious discount'', I wonder who the real snob is?? Jyoti Basu is often referred to as the 'Ultimate Elitist' by the Bongs themselves. By dismissing candidates like Meera and Mallika , and referring to them mockingly as 'Beautiful People', Swapan has opened up a different sort of debate which is class-driven and as narrow minded as the caste one. A case of reverse discrimination?? It is true that decent, honest, educated people are reluctant to 'get their hands dirty' (my words) by getting into this cess pool we call politics. If they stay away, they are damned for their indifference. If they put themselves on the line and jump in to the fray, they are scorned for their audacity. What is Swapan's solution? Should these ladies have signed up with some sleazy party and become like the rest? They have shown the courage to go it alone and take their chances. We should applaud them for it. When 'intellectuals' discuss 'inclusive politics' over Scotch, I guess they are saying they are more comfortable with the usual suspects who don't challenge the staus quo. We've seen what a great job they've done so far.Sure, an Independent candidate in India has a really, really slim chance of denting the system. But Independents give the rest a hope that we still function as a democracy, where a cobbler can contest an election along with a banker, and let the people decide.

29 comments:

aniket said...

well the post was awesome.
i think swapan has gotten used to the same old politician,political parties and their banal manifestoes ,& fears even a tinge of change,energy,youthful campaigning (as in the case of mallika sarabhai) which was missing long in the indian politics .

Mallika wins or not doesn't matter.
what matters is
1.her immaculate campaigning that others politicians should look up to.

2. her awakening the sleeping youth to participate actively and "QUESTIONING" Advani what has he done till now for his own constituency..

cmpershad said...

"'It doesn't help to be a Lone Ranger'..."
No one in today's world is Vivekananda or Gandhi but it does help to be a lone ranger winner in today's politics at the time of horse-trading [mule trading too :)]. I agree that today's Indian political system needs two party system to clean it and make it sans horse-trading.

kala said...

Both sides of the arguments have their own merits and demerits. Why elitists are shunned may be because of their dripping contempt for anything pedestrian though they dont say it in so many words. Elitists are not one homogeneous lot. They are as different from one another because the elitist paradoxically considers oneself essentially exclusive. They can never be the mob who lynch and plunder during the riots who collectively believe in certain things. Elitists are not trusted just like politicians are not trusted. Mahatma Gandhi, Vivekandanda and other eshewed their lifestyles, some of them suffered long periods of imprisonments and that made them more people friendly. Priyanka, Rahul, Omar and others like them are forced into politics by circumstances.

emedglobal.net said...

Thank you Shobha, for articulating so clearly what may of us felt so strongly after reading this cringe-worthy narrow-minded "class" driven discriminatory anti-democratic article !
Shame on TOI for publishing it !

Pesto Sauce said...

Perhaps what Swapan meant & said was something different & probably funded by some party

Why don't you stand in elections sometime? Imagine Shobhaa De in our dear Parliament making all those old politicos shit in their pyjamas. C'mon you are a master in hitting men below the belt; now one time below the pyjama naada also

Kyun ho jaaye...

The Comic Project said...

The attack by politicians and those in the mainstream on the independents/newcomers is nothing new. Parties would rather have an independent, well-meaning professional in their party, vote for them .. or just disappear. However, the criticism that I see for Independents makes me feel hopeful, in the sense that they are being seen as a threat or at least someone who can make a little impact. That's a start. Meera Sanyal and Mallika Sarabhai will not win - that is certain, but the discomfort of the political class is a good sign. All we need is one independent candidate..with the gravitas to connect with the middle class and the voting class. That will set the tone. A question of when, and not if - i hope.

obssesor said...

There is something called as individual opinion. If swapnan feels that way, let him. Disagree and move ahead, why give it unneccessary importance and make an issue out of it?

Merlin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pooja raathore said...

I agree with you.
As for Meera Sanyal is concerned i know about her through you(i.e your column...and i trust your judgement.)
I like Mallika i read about her in the news paper where she stated how she is better than Mr Advani ...she is expressive and secular stands for aam admi and genuinely wants to bring a change...i like people who express themselves .

Theyoginme said...

Independent voices can make a huge difference in the long run.. it was good for you to respond to "Swapan" - not that I have a clue of who this columnist is.. If each state produced one or two independent winners, don't you kind of sort of have a party?

Sudhir Kekre said...

Shobhaa,

I think the educated people have to get into politics in a big way. we have to think of issue based politics instead of party based politics. recently my article " An open letter to the PM" was published in sify.first some one tried to sabotage by blog.
http://www.hamarichaupal.blogspot.com
i was shocked when the chief editor wrote me a mail saying that he liked my contents but i was too religious. when he clicked my link all he got was some bible preachings and church stuff. i never ever write such stuff.
then when it was published i had some one call me a 'dumbwit( that could find a place in a dictionary!)' a 'ghati'. if you read the article i have been very unbiased. you could oppose my views. i would respect that but calling me a rabid hindu or a ghati isnt fair. if we dont change our mindset, dont vote and dont debate and tow party line , i guess its hard to change anything.
and change means CHANGE at all levels.

muthu said...

Bull's eye..... people need an attitude revolution.... people as a singular entity can do anything if they are motivated......

omsherryom said...

would like to agree with what Mr Swapan Dasguptas' take on the 2 women mentioned and more so w.r.t Ms. Sarabhai! Because what they are doing is eye wash. Not any good to society ! You minus 'media publicity, camera glare' and you will realise that they are not fit for public service. Surely in the absence of publicity they will withdraw themselve only. There are hell lot of individuals fighting at every level alone to improve lives of the needy. Madam De do care for them also.

athi said...

We all sit and crib, so why blame those who try and get into the marsh? How much change they bring is another thing altogether but I'm glad someone is doing it.

I wouldn't really, not even if someone gives me a million dollars. So I totally respect people who do ‘do’ it.

Priyadarshini Karanjai said...

I guess he is a pseudo intellectual (more appropriately 'aatel' as we say in bengali). They love to comment 'hatke' irrespective of whether it makes sense. Close encounter of the third kind, huh, shobhaa?

Zlaek said...

I really think you should consider moving into active politics as well ma'am.
You'd be such a hit :D
The tag- Lone Ranger suits you so unbelievably well.

Gajendra said...

I am of the opinion that human kind can only be saved by a mix of Totalitarianism and Authoritarianism, which should be gradually drilled down into anarchy (after the society has got its sense and sanctity back)

Else, we will always be pinned down by corruption, which is the ultimate bane of india and society as a whole.

Gajendra said...

Shobaa, why the hell have you not taken the plunge ??? Don't you think we need as many sane persons running our country..........NOW ????

Nandita said...

My uncle is running as an Independent candidate from North Kolkatta and is determined to make a dent in the system, even though in all likelihood he may not win. You can see his profile at www.amitabhasen.com.

Some more background info on him:
Amitabh sen left Calcutta as a college student with a scholarship from a Canadian University to pursue M.Sc. in Civil Engineering. "After 32 years of living in Canada and the U.S. and eventually changing careers to become a lawyer, I returned to India, hoping to make a difference. I opened my own law firm in Delhi and have been, for the last 12 years, actively involved in pro bono litigation to assist those who cannot advocate for themselves. For example, I negotiated one of the largest settlements (65 lakhs) in the Indian legal history for the families of the victims in the BMW case in New Delhi. Now, after 12 years, I would like to do more to serve the country and have decided to run as an Independent candidate in the 15th Lok Shabha elections from Kolkata Uttar."

Dr Bhaskar said...

It isn't a question of whether an independent candidate is an elitist or not. Any independent candidate is only adding to the confusion of the Indian system of electing governments. Regional parties have already playing puppeteers in two previous coalition governments and now prominent personalities as independents only worsen the situation and promote the voters to give a broken verdict.

Mayank said...

Hey Good one de, and too many people have the same voice and i am sure if u did'nt take the plunge this way u will come in sometime through Rajya Sabha in whichever way You come ;Just make a difference for those who reallyu need that,Swapan has the right to say anything and if we agree tis ok and if we dont why we are giving soo much footage to him,There are so many other things on which this precious blog can put light,Shobha why don't you help out both those women on there elections you have so many contacts which can be used for there chances don't you want a change for your Mumbai or for your country come out Please and JUST DO IT :)

Cheers
Mayank

*Aham* said...

petty thinking. What else can be said of Swapan. There are some who try and slug it out.. there are some who just rant and pull everyone who wishes to do something down. Or act as trolls and deviate the topic.

Im sure swapan is entitled to an opinion. Let him be. I dont feel meera or mallika would in anyway be affected by what he has to say. If at all, the article would instigate more and more people to vote in favour of the two M.S.

yes, meera and mallika are beautiful people. And they dont wear khadi always. would our respect and trust on them be quadrupled if they wore khadi?

I should confess, i have a lot of respect for Milind Deora.. but when I saw Salman Khan campaigning for him... i totally lost it... What a senseless, insane and inane thing to do. A woman beater, a person convicted of wildlife slaughter, someone who has slaughtered pavement dwellers under his wheel.. has been called for campaigning. What the f?

Milind was booed off a recent meeting that he attended with people in his constituency. Rightly so. He is a smart guy. I still find him genuine. He has to develop a spine of his own.

Meera and Mallika have inspired me. I don't have money. But I have a heart and the will to change things. I might have to dirty my hands.I will.

But I am determined. I will contend in the next elections. And i will win.

yesterday NDTV had mentioned about a person from the slums with a total savings of 350 rupees contending for the elections. Money is needed. But more than that is the determination to do what they desire.

Sudhir Kekre said...

Thanks Shobhaa for your mail. It showed your warm and sensitive side.
I am printing this in your post so that your fans too know what a thoughtful person you are.
Hope you recover soon and write much more

narendra shenoy said...

Hey, well said again! We need a "paradigm shift" as the MBAs are fond of saying at every opportunity. Someone, I think it was Bertrand Russel, said that a reasonable man is one who adapts himself to his circumstances while an unreasonable man is one who tries to adapt circumstances to suit himself. And most of the progress in the world is due to the latter.

We need mavericks. Unreasonable people. Don Quixotes. There'd be no push to change otherwise.

Gajendra said...

"more effective outside the system" ???? no shobhaa, with all the powers that matter, the people in the parliament are the ones who can change our system, I don't see how we can be effective by staying outside the system, naaaaaa I don't think so shobhaa.

Roshni said...

kudos to both these ladies for having the guts to stand up for what they believe in.

ED said...

All I want to say Shobha that you would not be going ballistic about Mallika's candidature, had she contested against the Yuvraaj or the Queen. Even Mallika knows she will be ignored by a biased media if she did so. So, she is just doing it to hog some limelight. Care to ask her a question - why Advani and why not Sonia? Of course the lame answer would be that 'I don't have an address in Rae Bareli'.

And before you also brand me as one of the Modi stooge, let me clarify that I am a management consultant based in Mumbai and don't care much about politics. Only because of the hypocrite and biased media which you are a part of...

Subashkumar said...

Maverick or not.. these two have shown nerves of steel. So let us be on their side.

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