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.
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?