Monday, April 13, 2009
Shoe! Go away now...
Yes, yet another shoe post. There are a number of factors that conspired to lead to this moment. The one that refuses to shoo-off from my head is the deteriorating nature of political discourse in this lofty nation of ours. A few examples: the fluctuating age of the grand Old Party aka the Budiya-gudiya Congress; exploits of the Great Lotus Slayer and its thirst for chopped-off Islamic hands; doodh ka farz and mamta ka karz (or, if you're in Bengal, then Mamata ka curse!); lauh purush versus duh-uh purush; full-frontal assaults by shifting Fronts (and their sequels: Left, Right, Third, Fourth and so on...); all of which portend to the sad fact that, despite the multitude of issues begging attention, our politicians are beggaring off in a more personal direction.
Keen watchers of action replays on TV channels might have observed that, as a seemingly direct result of this, the means of protest in this country are roughly keeping pace with -- and thus deteriorating in direct proportion to -- the intellectual level of our leaders. In other words, its all down to ground level and we're merely lifting things off that ground to throw in protest. In the last few days we have seen the shoe, like a heat-seeking missile, being lobbed off in the general direction of our Men in White. But, even as we bear witness to the birth of a new form of political protest, somehow, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to make fun of what's going on all around me. (Including the slowly sinking reality of zero increments. Ah, but more on that some other day...)
So, while I can't help but admire the calm with which PC dodged the fallout of that flying Reebok, I can't say the same about young Naveen Jindal and his reaction to an old man's worn and dusty equivalent. Before I say anything further, I have to admit that though I ain't a great Congress fan, and basically keep an equally healthy distance from all things political, I have been keenly observing the Congress's youth brigade march to, what I was hoping would be, the beat of a hip new drum. Cool, calm, collected and above board: is that too much to ask of a generation of leaders who claim a certain sophistication in pedigree?
So, while PC sought moderation in his appeal to disregard "the emotional actions of one man", while promptly forgiving the shoe-thrower, young Mr Jindal's response can, for the lack of any sophistication on my part this time, be only called dumb. Or stupid, if you prefer. Also, annoyingly arrogant. Ok, so the poor old man had had a bit of his daily tipple. The fact remains: he was poor. He was old. And his son had just lost his job. So, he lost it. But what about Mr Jindal? I'd say he merely lost a bunch of votes, along with his perspective, that was hurled out along with the shoe that found its way back to the thrower.
Allowing party workers to beat up a poor old man, a retired teacher to boot, for an angrily flung boot that (SADLY) missed its mark, and then acting all prissy about it could certainly have been PC's prerogative -- since the shoe was flung directly at the Indian State, by virtue of its target's position as the Home Minister -- but in this case it reeks of spoilt brat behaviour. Whatever happened to youthful tolerance?
So, in light of all the above, I say... If the shoe fits, throw it!