Wednesday, July 04, 2012

A Great Void

Such a dearth of heroes. Of idols, role models.
They exist. But in lieu, in the avatars of politicians, film stars, industrialists, sportspersons. Somehow, these entities are all wanting.
Not just wanting in the desirable qualities that would naturally earn them goodwill and deserving reputations, but also in the fact that they want. They desire.
They demand our attention, our adulation, our wealth and time. Individually and collectively. They want, and provide us entertainment. Of a sort. Momentary diversions, temporal relief are granted us through their speech and actions. But they insist we believe in them. That we must aspire to be like them. It's not as if they're giving you a choice either.
This is a part of the system. The system which must control you in entirety. Including how you think. We are already controlled in what we do, why we do it, and when. The mind is still free. So far.

Heroes tell you to free your mind. Idols want you to worship life, not death nor past, not graven images. Role models tell you to do what you must. Not how they want you should.
These thoughts arise because I was referred a link to a poll seeking online votes for the “Greatest Indian after Mahatma Gandhi”. A shortlisted roster of 10 prominent Indians were the final candidates.
Of whom 7 are dead. I have no idea if permissions were taken from the living to know if they wanted to be participating.
Of the list, 6 are really dead. The doubt arises because: of a listed politician-candidate, there is no news, other than as rare historical references by his party peers in closed gatherings. So to our media-controlled minds, he doesn't exist. Good as dead.
Of the ones alive who are listed, there is, in no particular order: a cricketer, a playback singer and an ex-President cum ex-scientist, currently author of an alarming number of inspirational literature titles which read like a rehash of Readers' Digest, Paulo Coelho, and good old village elder wisdom. And has a particularly permanent bad hair day.
The playback singer is mostly known as a record-holder of the most number of songs ever sung, something as mundane as the tallest building/ the longest road/ the shortest man.
The cricketer too is another boring record-holder of having whacked the most number of leather balls with a wooden bat. Both singer and sport are famous for their distinctive voices. And the sport has recently adopted bad-hair-day style as well.
Of the remaining, that is the dead, the truly dead, are four politicians, an industrialist, and an European immigrant who conceived, and then perfected the poverty tourism industry. Unknowingly. But with much love. Which she wanted to keep giving, asking for nothing in return but love. We were happy to oblige.
Of the politicians, one was assassinated, and the others dead of natural causes presumably, too have suitable memorials across the country in the form of statues/ busts/ portraits, road names, housing colonies, public transport termini, institutions of learning, glowing references in Ministry approved history books. Makes us proud. Of names. Big names. Important names.
The industrialist is a bit of a wild card really, on this list. He's famous for inheriting India’s first indigenous steel plant, a scion of the family that has contributed in no small measure to the country's economy and prestige. He also initiated civil aviation in India.
[By the way...have often wondered why an airport should be named after a man who was last known to have died in an air crash.]
It's sad we have no greats. Alive or dead. Since MKG. And he too was a man. Human. Like all of us. Known as a major force and inspiration in our Independence movement, he is today venerated only in the absence of his vision and intellect. And oh yes, is seen as a watermark on our currency.

Are we, as a nation, really so bereft of character, of ability, quality that we have no one alive to take on the mantle of the next great Indian?
What happens then to the names of of all the new roads and flyovers, the institutions being made and yet to be made, the awards to be given?

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