Would have loved to blog about my Dilli Yatra - short and exceedingly sweet. But my sore wrist is protesting. Perhaps tomorrow?? What amazed me was the indifference in the Capital to the Japanese calamity. The Tsunami, the earthquake... the monumental tragedy of it all, left Dilliwallas totally cold! Delhi partied on non-chalantly and desi tv channels swiftly shifted to local gossip after a few mandatory clips from the devastated areas. Shame on us!
This appeared in the Asian Age \ Deccan Chronicle yesterday.
Own up…. and be damned !
Since India is in Confession Mode – starting with Manmohan Singh - let’s all start ‘owning up’. Ummmm…. let me think…. I once stole a mango from someone’s bageecha. Oh yes, a guava , too. And I threw ink bombs on my French teacher. I also bunked classes constantly. Crashed other people’s cars. Pinched menu cards from fancy restaurants. Rang the fire alarm at school.Rode bikes without my parents’ knowledge.Wore lipstick and kohl at age twelve. Rang doorbells, harassed neighbours, made prank calls to a couple of Italian blokes…. all this before I turned fourteen. Broke a few hearts, too. Had my mine broken. What else? What else? Oh…. a lot more. But , on looking back, I realise I was pretty stupid. Not only did I get caught every single time, I also received punishment ( often, far harsher than the crime committed). Worse, when I behaved still more stupidly and owned up, I got thrashed. I knew what every child knows – owning up is a pretty dumb thing to do, if you imagine there will be zero consequences. The rash act of owning up comes with an important assumption – it automatically means you are ready to face the music and take what follows on the chin.That could involve standing outside the classroom for hours on end. Writing a thousand lines, getting rusticated, not wincing when the cane makes contact with bare skin. You know, the usual torture that follows school confessions. But obviously, our netas have rewritten the old rules. The latest fad is to play martyr and ‘own up’. But after this brave and reckless gesture – what? Apparently, nothing! Illey po. It is as if having uttered those impressive words (“I am willing to own up,” said our pious P.M. earlier this week), the matter automatically ends right there. Khel khatam…. Boys and girls, go home and play…. or pray. The mighty leader has admitted his lapses. We should applaud and be grateful.
Come on… this is nothing but nautanki. That too, on a pretty amateurish level. Is it enough to say sorry and not follow up the apology with action ( please note: I did not say ‘resignation’). If someone in a position of great power has indeed had the guts and gumption to admit a mistake was made, the next logical thing to do is to rectify it. Or at least pretend! But no. In India it begins and ends with the person uttering those meaningless ‘magic’ words – I confess. Since the P.M . is responsible for this trend, we are waiting for the asli culprits to follow suit. Will they? Not a chance. No wonder fraudster Hassan Ali Khan is not just smirking in court and muttering ‘stupid people’ under his breath as some of those bumbling officers of the Enforcement Directorate get ticked off by Justice Tahilyani like they were errant school kids (“Do your homework….” said the learned judge). Meanwhile, India is left grappling with the numbers being tossed around – who can understand Income Tax arrears – ARREARS – of Rs.72,000 crores ( larger than the nation’s Health Budget)? The ‘aam aadmi’ ( yup , the very same chap our P.M. wants to impress) is unable to comprehend a thing. All he or she is interested in knowing is this – will the bounder be punished? Will he sing? Name names? Or…. errrr… own up?? Since it’s so cool to do so these days, why not, bhai? That goes for Maharashtra’s Chief Minister , Prithviraj Chavan, whose image has gone for a toss in the light of recent revelations. What an irony! Here he was, Mr. Clean himself, who was supposed to white- wash the mess in the State and make everybody forget Adarsh Society Ki Ajeeb Kahani. But his brand of detergent wasn’t good enough! So much dirty laundry has since come tumbling out of his personal closet, that citizens are wondering how he is planning to crawl out of three prickly controversies ( CVC,Antrix-Dewas,Wadala apartment). Will he also take the easy way out and start owning up?
The trouble with confessionals is that after a point, they lose their emotional power to generate sympathy. And unless these public confessions are followed through, they remain hollow and pointless. A massive book on contemporary confessions would be fascinating to read , because such outpourings are engineered to elicit specific responses. When powerful people admit weaknesses, their words make us feel a little better about our own miserable lives ….our petty concerns. George Bush Jr., quite possibly one of the most detested Presidents of America has surprised the public by admitting to quite a few gaffes. It may well have been his intention to influence American opinion and present a more human side to his crazy Presidency. Obama is definitely not in the mood to soften his position. While Gaddafi and Mubarak continue to rave and rant even as the world unites against their tyrannical regimes. Back home, we are more concerned with Rajat Gupta’s stated position on his exact role in the various financial scams he is accused of being involved in. Will he ‘own up’ and opt for as honourable an exit as International law permits? Or will he take Lalit Modi’s defiant stand and defend every single action, regardless of the facts in the public domain?
The ugly truth behind most of the recent confessions is that those going in for them are doing so with their backs against the wall. It’s that route – or else. But it certainly does not make them honourable men, nor does it exonerate them. It should be seen for what it actually is – a ploy to buy time and fix things.
India is facing its ‘Sholay’ moment, with the big question being: ‘Ab tera kya hoga, Kaalia?’
But who amongst the current lot will own up to being Gabbar Singh????