December 01, 2006

What it makes us

The portly man standing beside me over a drink this evening said it well.

They burn buses and force shops to close after a statue in Shivaji Park is defaced. They attack Mohammed Kaif's house because he didn't score in a few stupid cricket matches. Now they burn a train and throw stones after a statue in Kanpur is vandalized. Will these useless fellows ever demonstrate about education, or health, or injustice?

He looked at me meaningfully. Before I could respond, he went on.

Never, he said. Never. That's why we'll remain third-rate.

The "they" in each case above are different, of course. But my drinking partner didn't need to spell that out to make his point. Hundreds of thousands of rupees worth of property lie damaged today, including a train burned. Dozens are hurting today. Worst of all, four fellow citizens lie dead.

For what?

Because someone vandalized a statue of BR Ambedkar in Kanpur. Because hundreds of fellows, fellow citizens still, presumed to feel insulted by this. Because not one of them -- imagine that, not one -- had the ordinary sense to ask: would Ambedkar himself have felt insulted? Would Ambedkar himself have cared for a statue?

And to anyone who knows even a little bit about the kind of man this was, the answers are obvious: on both counts, a resounding no.

Because the real statue of Ambedkar is somewhere inside us. In our hearts, in our minds, embodied in the way we live our lives. And far more surely than any Kanpur incident, that statue is desecrated when we start throwing stones and burning trains. When people die as a result.

Will these useless fellows ever demonstrate about causing four futile deaths, my drinking pal might have asked.

Never, he might have answered before I could. Never. What does that make us?


Anonymous said...


It's amazing how you always find a way to mention either the Shiv Sena or some other Hindu party whenever talking about violence they were not involved in.
These sneaky references always appear when you write a flowery column after an Islamic terrorist bombing or after murderous protests like these.

Watching and learning as always,
Red Watch

Anonymous said...

what's "Hindu" about the shiv sena? what's "hindu" about sick thugs??

some paper i saw today has an item headed something like "Dalit parties are second only to Sena historically when it comes to violence."

HP said...

@Red Watch,

It is also amazing that you always read the Hindu bit and stop there..


Anonymous said...

I did read further but nothing else after that seemed worthy of a comment.
It was the same wordy anguish that seems to flow from Mr.DDS after most violent events.

Red Watch

Anonymous said...

Oh snap, you've tricked me into commenting on the rest of the comumn after all....kudos, HP

Red Watch

Anonymous said...

well written.i hope more people would read it and try to understand the meaning in the lines.

Anonymous said...

That makes us "The worlds oldest uncivilization"

- Baby V.
P.S: the quotes are (sic) Puppy Manohar said that.

Anonymous said...

I think you're looking in the wrong places for answers.

As Krish rightly says in this piece, these people who burnt the train did it because their economic conditions left them with no other choice. It's high time the media started to talk about these poor people and the problems they face.

Anonymous said...

This is the Gandhigiri we follow in India.

Anonymous said...

Why are you so sure Ambedkar would have been uninterested in statues? I don't mean of himself, I mean of some symbol of Dalit self-assertion (which in this instance happens to be of himself).

I think Ambedkar was much more perceptive about the need for self-assertion not only economically, but culturally, as he explained in converting to Buddhism.