Sumathi The Rebellious
Sumathi sounded very iconoclastic in her recent article India – A Land Of Compulsions. Her article was seething with anger and frustration about Indian society and particularly with Dr.Anbumani Ramadoss for cracking down on smoking, drinking and i-pill. She sounded rebellious and anti-establishment. According to her, “banning the spirit is just not on…..and ultimately, if our leaders want to do all our thinking we might as well be born without brains.”
A few young people in Mangalore were roughed up on January 25, by members of Sri Ram Sene founded by Pramod Muthalik. The hooligans chased five or six girls out and attacked men who tried to protect them. There are also reports that the girls were molested. Members of the Sri Ram Sene have justified their actions.
The reactions to the attack on the youngsters in the pub came thick and fast. The comments represented extreme polarities, and some made themselves ludicrous for their ability to do the chameleon act while others expressed thoughts of resignation.
The National Commission for Women whose representatives were all rage and picture of consternation immediately after the incident, did a volte-face two days later. NDTV reported, “Blaming security lapses in the Mangalore pub incident, the NCW said on Friday that it will recommend cancellation of license of the restaurant as it was supposed to serve only food to guests.”
Here is another one. Dsilva in NDTV blog, on Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Hi everyone, I would like to convey one thing, this is not the first time where it has brought shame to our country or people crying out for help or demanding the arrest of the culprits. This is happening often in our country and people responsible for it will be simply watching it, so please without wasting your time, carry on with your work.
Dear D’Silva, You may be right and I should perhaps wind up, right now and here, embrace sleep and just forget about these calamitous happenings around us. After all, why should I worry about some self professed social activists reaping the whirlwind and enjoying their hero-hood and time on prime-time news? Why bother about possibly, idealistic, good, sincere boys and girls hiding in the shadows – ostracized, labeled un-Indian, immoral and what not? But D’Silva, bear with me a while longer because I have a self imposed mission today – to delve deep under the surface and discover what makes Sumathi – apparently a very sincere and straight forward girl or lady – very angry and rebellious and why people like Pramod Muthalik are able to sit in self-righteous condemnation.
Bernard Shaw’s Joan of Arc
I now remember the lesson behind Bernard Shaw’s ‘Joan of Arc’, a brilliant play, where Joan of Arc, from her humble beginning as a peasant girl, goes to help the French army to drive out the English from France in the 15th century while she was still in her teens. Unable to match her achievements and popularity, she is betrayed, tried in a court, sentenced and then consigned to the flames of the stake, by a body of powerful political and church leaders like Bishop Cauchon. And the reason? Because she listened to God directly without mediation from priests and she wore man’s dresses etc.
In the Epilogue of the play, Shaw makes out the case that Bishop Cauchon too was a sincere man and he believed he was acting for the good. “The tragedy lies in human nature itself, which involves us all. According to him, the play is a tragedy without villains, for everyone, in some way or another, believes he or she is acting for the good.”
What Shaw tells us is that we too would burn Joan at the stake if we got the chance.
The Strange Thing About Conscience
Several years ago, I saw a beautiful movie, “The Fixer.” It is about the experience of a Jew in a German prison. There are two hauntingly powerful sentences in the movie I somehow remember to this day, “What makes the world upside down is not madness. It is conscience.” Sumathi would lay claim to her conscience just as Pramod Muthalik would flaunt his as representing the truest of values. Forgive me Sumathi, for giving exalted status to those who you may consider ruffians. You must understand I am only trying my best to understand human nature. I cannot be in judgment-passing-mode, today.
Saint Exupery’s Message
The world cannot go on with such human tragedies. Perhaps we need to listen to the words of the famous French Pilot and writer, Saint Exupery,
What is essential is invisible to the human eyes. One can only understand with the eye of the heart.
Will You Promise, Muthalik ?
Sumathi, did you hear that? And you, Muthalik? Yes? Will you now promise you will not go back to restoring our honored Indian culture by beating our beautiful women blue even if they wear man’s clothes and go to a pub?
Good. Now I will go to sleep. And I will dream.