Monday, August 29, 2011

Public figures exposed

So Anna Hazare is done with his initial part of the crusade -jolting the conscience of middle India with the C-word. Much has been said about the septuagenarian’s hunger strike and his demands in the last couple of weeks that another ‘Anna- tomy’ is not warranted. At least not until it sets off a precedent.
The disturbing fact that emerged of the whole movement is the question of freedom of speech in democratic India - how much is too much?  Former IPS officer and a personality whom girls of two generations have come to look up to is now popular for her ‘ghunghat act’ at the Ramlila maidan on the eleventh day of the crusade. She mocked the government, slandered politicians and called her ‘full-throttled’ act a ‘game-changer’ all the while claiming it was against her ‘grain’ nevertheless.
Veteran actor Om Puri will be in the hot seat if parliamentarians have their way. They have moved a privilege motion against him for calling them ‘uneducated and incompetent’. The actor, however, has unconditionally apologised for his words, thereafter.
The common excuse by both public figures is they were emotionally charged and were carried away by the angst of the people. They were both ‘talking in context’ – it was ‘never meant to hurt anyone’.
Even a murder is committed in the spur of the moment – but the doer a criminal!
What do we call public figures who choose to lose their ethics amid people power?  An actor need not necessarily have faced protests and the masses in such numbers, so when Om Puri said, “I was moved by seeing the frail old man whose health was a concern,” his morality is at least intact.
But what’s with Kiran Bedi – the ex-IPS cop, who taught the inmates of Tihar how to conduct themselves in life? Was her bowl of wisdom so frugal that she distributed it all among the prisoners? The goodwill she achieved for her daring performance in uniform is tarnished. It’s time she invested in a ghunghat! And her gall to defend her act in the media is nothing short of shamelessness.
That brings us to the role of media in the crusade. Anna called it the ‘second independence fight’ and the media echoed it louder. Anna termed government dealing as non-transparent and the media zoomed its lense closer. Anchors of all popular TV channels conducted talk shows and hosted debates among both Anna supporters and members of the government, with clear questions and exclamations promoting the Anna Team. Has media forgotten its role?
The visual media revolution in India seems to have given journalists the right to prosecute the accused even before the court of law decides on their fate. With popular figures gaining notoriety in various scams and cases, channels have begun pushing their own moral limits to see their TRP ratings withstand the competition. All’s fair in the game of survival! So far it concerned only individuals and smaller groups. But when the majority of the nation erupted in unison, the media ought to have looked up its ethical roster. Their TRP was anyways taken care of by the secular middle class.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Holiday speak

What is the correct way of spending holidays? Socially-accepted break-time activities include discovering new destinations, catching up with folks, checking-out financial matters; honing a new skill, pursuing a hobby, soaking tense muscles in scented water at spas, pilgrimage, retail therapy, et al.
I'm back from my annual summer break and did none of the above, at least not to the extent where it warranties a mention. For instance, I did shop but it was not retail therapy nor was it the shop-until-you-drop kind of an endeavour. I did call upon the elderly but it wasn't catching up with my folks. I did pick up the racquet to give my little girl some badminton fun, but it was not pursuing a hobby. I did tend to my sore back but it wasn't at a celebrated spot. I did pass through a couple of new places while looking for addresses of friends but they were not exotic destinations. And yes, I did visit holy places to pray for my family's well-being, but it was not a pilgrimage to note down in my itinerary.
So when I was asked by a few of my acquaintances on my return 'what did you do, where did you go'?, I had no specific reply. My response - ‘nowhere, was at home' - received varied reactions. One elderly couple, in their 50s, laughed out loud, and said ‘how could you have sat at home all the time. We just can’t do that’. Another younger duo, in their 20s, said ‘don’t you get tired of staying at home. You’ve been going to the same home for so many years now start visiting new places’.
I forgive the younger couple. They would know no better. Being just married, understand their eagerness to spend time alone far away from their people.
But can’t understand the older butterflies. Wonder if their laughter would be as loud when their soon-to-be-married son takes his family elsewhere on annual jaunts and not check on them.

Ideal holiday activities are matters of your heart. Do as it says, want to laze around, just do it; want to jet-ski, go ahead. But be generous with floss when speaking to status-obsessed lifestyle mongers. No fear of guilt rides needed because - only warmth breeds guilt!