Monday, November 5, 2012

Crucify Gadkari for his corruption, not for his IQ remark….

As Hindus often believe, there are “good days” and “bad days”. These are obviously bad days for Gadkari. He’s been crucified for alleged corruption charges (and they do look credible). He’s been pushed to the wall by the Modi brigade (Mahesh Jethmalani quitting is just one more evidence of the tirade against him). And now he’s being targeted for what was a very ordinary (even correct maybe) remark he made on the IQ levels of Dawood Ibrahim and Swami Vivekanand. Unsurprisingly, this remark has been blown out of proportions by the Modi brigade, yet again putting pressure on him to resign. The Congress has happily joined in in the public demolition of the BJP President.

But what did Gadkari really say that was so offensive? As per the TOI, he said “If we compare the IQ levels of Vivekananda and Dawood, it could be the same”. Now there’s nothing wrong with this. This could well be a factually correct statement. By making this statement, Gadkari is merely saying that a) Swami Vivekananda had a great IQ (implied….since no doubt he holds him in high regard) b) Dawood Ibrahim also had a great IQ (implied….though he is careful to use the word “could”). He has not said that both are alike or both are comparable. In fact, there is nothing about comparison at all. It’s like saying Tendulkar and Kasab have the same determination to succeed. That would be true, no matter how grotesque the juxtaposition of the two names next to each other may sound. We cannot crucify Gadkari for this.

Not only is there no comparison, there is in fact a purposeful contrasting of the two personalities built into the sentence itself. The second part of his statement is thus relevant here. The full sentence reads: “If we compare the IQ levels of Vivekananda and Dawood, it could be the same. But Vivekananda used it in nation building and spiritualism while Dawood used it to excel in the crime world.” Notice how the word “But” is used. If he wanted to compare, he would have used the word “And” and completed the sentence accordingly. Further, the two are clearly mentioned as being achievers of two totally different kinds. Dawood Ibrahim is shown as being one who excels in the crime world. So that there is no confusion, Gadkari has over-elaborated by also specifying the field in which Vivekananda used his IQ. C’mon guys….give him a break!

This entire episode would have been very funny, had it not been for the way the BJP’s Modi brigade has disparaged Gadkari and the way the media has given it prominence. Quite clearly, its impossible to be honest in India. If one has to talk about Dawood Ibrahim, it would appear that one has to talk about him in absolutely the most derogatory language. One simply cannot acknowledge that he can be a very cruel despot….and also have some great strengths in him (his IQ maybe….the way he has evaded arrest). But such “gray” characterization is not permitted in our very black-and-white society. If someone is bad, he has to be painted totally black. It’s like when you see a woman smoking in a Hindi film, the woman has to be a negative character….even maybe a vamp. This is perhaps why so many of our police chiefs (and indeed the bulk of the lower ranks) feel that women who wear smart (daring in their lingo) clothers are responsible for the rapes! India is about black and white stereotypes…..Gadkari just made the mistake of forgetting that!

Unfortunately, this attitude of ours comes from our history and religion. Let me explain that. It’s Diwali time now and the annihilation of Ravana, the ten-headed “demon”, has just been concluded. Actually Ravana was a “gray” character in the Ramayana. He had his good parts apart from his very well known cruel parts. He was actually a devout follower of Shiva, a great scholar, a capable ruler and a maestro of the Veena. Some of his apologists believe that his six heads symbolized his thorough knowledge over the 4 Vedas and 6 Upanishads, which made him as powerful as 10 scholars. Yet another interpretation of the ten-headed Ravana describes him to be a complete man with nine of his heads representing nine emotions that a man may possess (viz.anger, pride, jealousy, happiness, sadness, fear, selfishness, passion, ambition) and one representing the intellect (all of this taken from Wikipedia). So Ravana was a great scholar and king, who was avenging the insult heaped on his sister Surpanakha (the cutting of her nose) by Ram and Lakshman, by kidnapping Sita. Now given that Ram is God, any such act is bound to be considered evil. And I have no problem painting Ravana black….but can we say that he was a good man in parts and a very bad man as well? No way! He has to be shown in the single color of black.

Likewise, there is no chance of showing the better side of Surpanakha as well. Look at the “politics” of description even in those days! Valmiki describes Surpanakha as “a) An ugly woman (gora mukhi), b) pot bellied and cross-eyed. c) Thinning, brown hair d) A grating voice that is harsh on the ears and e) Oversized breasts—which can be translated to mean a heart full of wickedness.” After this, there could be no confusion that she was the vamp! But look at how the Tamil poet Kamban, differs in his description of Surpanakha from Valmiki, describing Surpanakha instead as a) a very beautiful woman with long, beautiful, fish-shaped eyes (validating her given name of "Minakshi" at birth), b) a slender shape and c) a bewitching personality. In addition, d) she possessed magical powers and could assume any shape or form (all from Wikipedia). Kamban was being realistic and pragmatic. Sometimes, the evil comes in the form of a saint. In fact, mostly!

Renuka Chowdhury of the Congress had no business saying “Why should he link Vivekananda to Dawood Ibrahmin. Gadkari can have Vivekananda in his heart, we accept. But he also has Dawood there. He should answer why so?” Well, Gadkari did not “link” the two. And whether he has Dawood Ibrahim in his heart or not, she will never know. This is just plain dirty politics….

The real truth is that this controversy has nothing to do with what Gadkari said. Its all to do with his stars and the “bad times” that he is going through! Maybe he should do a puja to assuage the gods! However, if one looks at the matter more seriously, it appears to be just another weapon fired by the Modi brigade against Gadkari… oust him and clear the way for their “boss’s” ascendency to the number 1 position in the BJP. I won’t be surprised if Modi is chosen as the President of the BJP as soon as Gadkari is gone. Then Modi could claim the PM’s position if the BJP emerged the victor in 2014….

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