The extreme of hatred is hallucinatory. In losing the prism of reason, we risk being capricious. Blinkered thus, we cannot tell black from white in a world which is largely grey. I will cite four examples to elucidate how we are failing to appreciate that innovation and innovation alone sets a leader apart from followers.
The road is a teacher
Indian roads indeed are. Craters – I have a problem with the use of ‘potholes’ which is too British and too insufficient for description – are never unexpected though their frequency can be varying at times. And when they stop you for tolls on such roads, it can be very antagonising. We cringe, we scowl, we grudge – and we pay up. A leader would not do that. He would take up the cudgels. And why so much brouhaha if that cudgel turned out to be a gun! Sadly that was all we could see on TV channels on Friday. What we missed is the intent of Congress MP from Gujarat Vitthal Radadia. He represents lakhs of people from a constituency (Porbandar) where Mahatma Gandhi was born. He just wanted to tell the toll collectors that they should not tax people unnecessarily. And a gun helps people learn their lesson quickly, doesn’t it? It is just that this quickgun Murugan forgot that toll plazas are normally under surveillance.
Rape of ludicrousness
In Haryana, where a series of rapes have sent shockwaves among people, leaders have sincerely given themselves to studying the problem day and night and coming up with solutions. Former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala took out a leaf from the history of Mughal era to suggest that marrying girls early can be one way out. “I had told media persons on Wednesday that during Mughal era, girls were picked up and they were raped. In order to avoid such incidents and embarrassment to families, girls’ parents used to get their daughters married at an early age,” he said. While the press lunged at him for his “insensitive” remarks, nobody realised he worked so hard to find a solution to the problem. So what if the solution is simply five centuries old! Congress leader Dharamvir Goyat approached the problem from a sociological angle and arrived at his own conclusion – that 90% women who are allegedly raped “willingly accompany the men initially but are trapped in gang rapes later”. It feels so great to see leaders cutting across party lines giving themselves to a problem at hand and coming up with innovative solutions and conclusions.
Moving fingers write…
Calligraphy is a lost art. Gone are the days when Akbar would bring in the famed Abd al-Samd from Shiraz – who enjoyed the title of ‘Shirin Qalam’ (sweet pen) and a mansab (administrative rank) of 400 horses – to introduce different styles of writing in India, nastalique, tughra, etc. And when such an effort is made in the modern times, people cry foul instead of showering praise. In the case at hand, “guttersnipes” have failed to see merit in certain people’s efforts at reviving this long lost art. The beginning was small though – only a few signatures were artfully copied. But a bad eye never sees anything good, does it?
Picketing has been a form of protest for ages now. Mahatma made ample use of it during our freedom struggle days. But Uttar Pradesh revenue minister Vinod Singh had to lose his job just when he wanted to give a modern touch to this old form of protest. Singh had asked the chief medical officer of Gonda district to enlist two of his favoruites on contract under the national rural health mission. When the CMO did not entertain the minister, Singh went to his house to picket and ended up allegedly abducting the official instead. Just a last-minute cosmetic change of plan cost the poor man his job.
Examples are endless. Robert Vadra’s possession of the legendary alchemical philosopher’s stone which turned his net worth from a few lakhs to hundreds of crores in a few years was looked at askance instead of being appreciated. In all of it we are probably being driven by our base proletariat instincts to doubt our leaders. Followers can never be leaders. Innovation sets them apart. A class apart.
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