Saturday, August 15, 2009

Two Tales in Two Cities



Today India celebrates 63rd Independence Day. We undoubtedly achieved a great deal in the past years. But there is a long and bumpy road ahead. There are two events that bothered me this morning.

First Incident:
"Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." It's the Golden Rule and we believe that it is the ultimate norm of high morality in all culture.
Last Saturday night I was on my way back from Kolkata, my hometown, where I went for a brief break taking a week off. I was travelling back alone as my family stayed back for a few extra weeks so they could spend some time with the family.
We were on an emirates Airbus A 330 aircraft and the flight was smooth enough to let me start writing this blog at a height of 36000 feet above the sea level. I was a bit skeptical about the departure time as the flight preceding ours was delayed by a few hours. To shake my confidence further I spotted a dead cockroach in the waiting lounge and none of the house telephones were in working condition. Once up in the sky I discovered that my co passenger was just a little short of a robot and since I did not know where the switch was, I never got to start a conversation and I was on my own. Emirate airlines provide a wide range of choices for in-flight viewing. After dinner I dozed off for a while. When I woke up the lights were dimmed and I the plane was very quiet. As I looked around I could make one definitive conclusion and that is SRK is a superstar. I could conclude this because all the video screens visible were tuned in to a movie starring SRK and yes all of them without an exception. It was the movie called “Rab ne bana di Jodi” (“a match made in heaven” is probably a close translation). That is his level of popularity among Indians, Indian Diasporas and also many non Indians. I remember the Al Nasr cinema in Muscat used to witness plenty of fighting and back marketing when one of his movies was screened. SRK is the initials of Shah Rukh Khan who is only the second movie superstar of India and second only to the one and only Amitabh Bachan (The Big B or AB as he is popularly known).
Today He was stopped at an airport in New York and interrogated for two hours and not allowed to make a phone call either. While a mere search in the “Google search” would have brought out all his details and the total number of pages would have been many times of that of Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp put together. So the security agents have detained him because of the word “Khan” attached to his name. Now the question is those guys are uninformed or Stupid or stubborn or simply Idiots!
I think Indian authorities should take a note of this and treat the same way when one those Tom Cruises or Brad Pits visits our soil! But probably we are too cultured to treat our guests likewise …. We are like this only….. !!!

Next Incident:
At the dawn of our independence from the British our first prime minister’s words are worth remembering... "The ambition of the greatest men of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but so long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over." -- Jawaharlal Nehru’
But unfortunately we have a quite e different scenario today and left with some leaders who seem to have quite different views towards life, country and countrymen. Mayawati wants to decorate the state with statues of leaders. She is the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, the northern state which is among the largest and most populous states of the country. It is also one state with a high number of rural population most of whom are below the poverty line. To make things worse a drought is looming overhead this year. But apparently our Mayawati has requisition the central government for Funds worth 5.56 billions of Indian rupees for statues building while allocating only 2.5 billion rupees in her budget as a special economic package to deal with drought hit provinces of the state.

But these are only a few glitches in our way of progress …. Jai Hind!

16 comments:

  1. A truly beautiful post to commemorate your country and the celebrations.

    I recognize Shah Rukh Khan from the very few Indian movies that are sent on Danish television from time to time. I have to say that I find them utterly intriguing; when it comes to costumes colours, the acting, the emotional outburst in the actors performances. And not to mention the singing and the beauty of both the female and male actors.
    I am so sorry that he got such a bad treatment.

    Congratulations on your Independence Day.:))

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  2. I have travelled abroad on quite a few occasions and have been totally put off by the high handedness of the people there, be it Americans or Europeans.
    Makes me wonder why we actually go there as tourists, India offers so many beautiful sights.
    The Shah Rukh Khan incident was necessary because only now people are openly condemning the Americans. Had it been you or me, nobody would have bothered.
    About Mayavati, my blood boils when I see her. What makes people of UP choose her as their leader? I fail to understand.
    But barring some negatives, India still is an awesome place, isn't it?

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  3. Firstly, I want to thank you for visiting my blog last week and leaving such a thoughtful and interesting comment which added to the value of the post as a whole. Many of my readers are from my side of the world but if I have been able to say something to Indian readers too, I feel I have written something good.

    Regarding Mr. Khan, that was a most unfortunate incident. I am from Ireland as you know, and I am sure you may remember that Ireland had many problems with it's neighbours because of the terrorism. Irish people go in and out of the UK all the time and whenever there was a terrorism incident, many innocent Irish people paid the price for it. Customs officials and police are as susceptible to prejudice as anyone else. There were some terrible incidents of innocent people going to prison for crimes committed by others on the basis of flimsy circumstantial evidence. As a (foreign, therefore non-voting) resident of UP, my observation is that the current CM was simply the fortunate beneficiary of an anti-incumbency vote. Let time tell the story. The outcome should interesting!

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  4. SRK maybe a huge celebrity but he is not above law. If millions of Indians and pakistanis get this treatment in the US airports almost everyday and it all goes unnoticed, I would not bother myself with SRK being grilled. I dont advocate similar treatment without evidence on foreign celebrities either, why? its pointless, but I do hope that actual culprits are screened properly.
    A few politicians og India are rowdy and God knows what else, but I have faith in the younger generation of leaders who are emerging, the scindia, the pilot, Abdullah and the Gandhi. I hope they can bring a change

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  5. SRK incident was unfortunate,ut I of feel this issue has been blown out of proportion y the media.
    As for Mayawati,she is one sample...I just feel like laughing at her :D

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  6. Hi,

    Very beautiful written thoughts!! Very true... on every day i think are we independence in true sense..

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  7. Very nice post. But this seems to be common in U.S.A. Even very popular mayor of one of the states of America was not allowed to board the plane because of his name. This was not once but on 5 occasions.

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  8. Theres an award waiting for you at my blog.

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  9. i dont really agree with ur view on the treatment of SRK... because what US did was just a sign of how particular they are about security... they have nothing against SRK personally so such a thing is obviously not a personal attack...
    infact Indian airports should have tighter security enforcements...

    by the ways...congrats on ur award by Aparna

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  10. OMG, you think SRK incident is an exception, it happens all the time and happened even with Al Gore, SRK just blowed it up, do you know Y, well his upcoming film is on the subject "My name is Khan."

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  11. As usual you have come up with an unusual yet very relevant post.

    I do believe SRK overreacted. But maybe officials need to mix business with politeness.

    And Mayawati has mastered the art of blowing her own trumpet.

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  12. @ Protégé,
    Thanks. Independence Day used to be a very special day while growing up. We used to hoist our flag in our house and also go to the parade grounds with our father and watch the official flag hoisting function followed by March past. But now it is work as usual.
    I am glad to know that you watched a few of Hindi movies. And yes the movies give plenty of opportunity to the creative people in terms of dresses and sets etc. The story line is more often than none a big question mark!

    @Aparna,
    India is awesome. A place where life is! We belong to this place.
    Hope an incident like this will make things slightly better and they stop profiling people. I also have to say here that our police are not the politest of all people. But I guess we treat the foreigners in a much pleasant way.
    Mayawati … I was trying to imagine you uttering …”khoon kholti hai” lol

    @Gaelikaa
    You do write very well and it is particularly nice to read when someone writes from a different back ground and views from another perspective. I do enjoy your posts and try and keep a track.
    I know the excesses that the security people do. But what bothers me is the profiling of people that they usually do. Most of the times they provide collective punishments and I am a bit aware of the time of the active days of IRA.
    You are a foreigner and could not vote. But I haven’t voted yet in any of the elections either barring the college council ones. So you haven’t missed much!

    @Sujata,
    I am not talking only about the woes of SRK. I am talking of all of us who go through these as a collective punishment. And also my statement was not against searching but it was against the detainment and interrogation.
    And you know how some people gets picked up RANDOMLY every time they are at the airport for special questioning. That is true for Indian-American people also who are travelling from this region.
    I hope the young blood takes over and I am keeping my fingers crossed that those new breed be honest. BTW last year a party called PPI (professional party of India) has been active. The members and supporter are mostly professionals. Hope they get the mass support someday.

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  13. @Deeps,
    The media needs its fodder and they thrive particularly on unfortunate events. But at times it helps the cause when things are blown out of proportions.
    Unfortunately when I see Mayawati I feel like laughing at myself! What a pitiful state of affairs

    @ Swatantra,
    I thank you for your kind comments. Do come back.

    @ Rajesh,
    Thanks. That is what it is coming at, probably one day the robots will take over the entire world. They are kind of using a screening method without the human judgment factored in.

    @ Aparna,
    I will be there soon and find out what it is and try to give an acceptance speech.

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  14. @ Neha,
    First of all, it is nice to have you as a guest. Thank you and will find out what this award is all about.
    I think there has been something lost in the translation. I did not mean that the security should be relaxed in anyways. I totally agree how they as the person to stand in “X” format and they do all possible kind of checking and investigations with metal detectors, air jets and what not. They did the same thing to our ex president at an Indian airport, though later apologized. I cannot imagine that happening to Bush or Blair or anyone else.
    I was pointing out at the reason for detaining for about 2 hours and questioning. I thought it was relatively easy to gather information about well known persons. I cannot quite fathom one of the Hollywood stars being whisked away and interrogated in isolation in one of the Indian airports.
    I agree that the security at Indian airports needs to be increased. To me it appears so decorative.

    @ Anonymous,
    Another conspiracy theory about SRK and his publicity game! I like it.

    @Sucharita,
    Yes, there need to be a middle path. Doing business in a way where mutual respect is not compromised.
    Maya used to be such a lovely name once upon a time … not anymore after wati got stuck at the end of it!!

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  15. Independence day is a good time to introspect. Actually, i think we are the ones who should think of our celebrity culture. Why should anyone be above the law? also, the paper today revealed another angle on the story to the effect that the organisers of the SRK show are on the radar of some govts, including the indian one...and hence all the checks. I think all the noise should have been made (if at all) for Mr. Kalam incident which happened on Indian soil.

    The politicians today are really not the ones we need... but where are the alternatives?? no one wants to do any thing... Yet i am sure there is hope!!

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  16. @ Suchismita,
    Thanks for visiting.
    Your views are appreciated.
    I actually did not look at it from a hero worshipper's perspective. My comment was about detainment and interrogation.
    We do have Hope and the good thing is that majority of the people are honest and that is the reason we are still progressing.

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