Anupam Kher made virtue of his theatre background to give Bollywood a new character. Therefore, his defence the other day of the word theatre in reference to the Ramdev-government spat did not surprise at all. But what perhaps came as a surprise was his stout defence of the yoga guru and the unflinching faith he had in the vision of Ramdev to redeem India of all its evils.
Kher represents today a breed of growing number of professionals who believe a solution to vexed problem of corruption lies in either sitting on fast or spewing venom in a television studio. There is no doubt a compelling reason for each one of us to protest. Yes, indeed most of us feel like puking but the vomit just does not happen leaving us all in a state of physical and mental paralysis. To make matters worse the turn of events in the last few weeks and days have only prolonged the paralysis.
Ruled by a bunch of politicians who despite the brute power at their command have not been
able to stem the incessant tumbling of skeletons from their cupboard and with an apology of an opposition which survives essentially on a generous dose of issues gifted by the media, the common man has desperately been in search of a saviour.
It is this yawning gap that has led to the emergence of larger than life characters taking centre stage with their longevity being fuelled by live television in search of that elusive story that does not truly belong to it. That is why even Anna Hazare for all his greatness faces the rather awkward situation of being referred to a Mahatma Gandhi and Baba Ramdev for all his yoga innovations being hailed as the new age Swami Vivekananda.
Mind you such (in)glorious comparisons have come from many of our educated well to do metro residing middle class population in India, which is celebrating no end its playful somewhat of a joyous role in the theatre of the absurd unfold right in front of their eyes.
For a moment both Hazare and Ramdev would be entitled to imagine that they indeed are worthy of the comparison but a reality check is in order. Truly so for the likes of Hazare and Ramdev on one side and most importantly for all those who are in a tearing hurry to locate and anoint the next Gandhi or Vivekananda to deliver a corruption free healthy nation for us.
Nobody here is either trying to belittle the selfless social work to the credit of Hazare or the contribution of Ramdev to build a healthy India. But work integrity and work ethics demand that both see their roles in view of their limited skill sets, aptitude levels, and core competency. The argument that great leaders are neither born with a pedigree nor a certified bio-data is far too generic to merit support here given the complex reality and contradictions enshrined in the land called India, more so given it's well established framework of having a democratically elected government.
That is where the irony lies! On one hand we have four senior cabinet ministers’ offering a televised red carpet welcome to Ramdev and a few days later the same ministers order use of force against innocent thousands in a mid night swoop on the Baba. When Pranab Mukherjee drove down to the Delhi airport to hold talks with the yoga Guru, he did perhaps what he had never done earlier. But is not everything fair in democracy?
One is not sure whether or not it added value to Mukherjee’s otherwise illustrious CV, but what is beyond doubt is that it kept alive the Congress tradition of creating giants out of political pygmies quite often to suit its politics of opportunity.
Similarly by squatting at Rajghat the top opposition brass admitted to its own failure to throw up a leader who had half the mass appeal of an Anna or a Ramdev. L K Advani indeed raised first the issue of black money but the message should not be lost on him that he failed to convert it into a mass issue, another pointer to BJP’s inability to garner mass appeal.
There is nothing wrong with the aspiration of a social activist or a yoga expert to attain overnight political stardom (in this case thrust on them). But the undeniable reality of politics overwhelming them resulting in their issues becoming poor hostage to the political hysteria is there for anyone and everyone to see. Most importantly, it is not as much about overnight political stardom but about the blunder of seeking overnight solutions to highly complex problems facing the nation.
India’s problems are far too many and simply cannot be solved in a 20:20 cricket approach. Hence, the urge to locate either a Sachin or a Dhoni or both from within the Indian society is part of the problem rather than a solution. This tendency has suicidal streaks.
It is time the vast population in the country sitting on the fringe hoping someone somewhere to deliver the miracle for them one fine morning realised that the opportunity had come to act decisively with each one of them being capable of becoming the change agent. Time each Indian gets ready to do a ‘Saraansh’ in real life to extract India from the clutches of misfortune.
(The writer is Editor, Zee Research Group)
(The views expressed by the author are personal)