Benjamin Parker in his legendary Spiderman movies says, “With great power comes great responsibility“. I think our public figures must watch Spiderman more often. Probably that is what is needed to make them appreciate this moot point- “Power comes with responsibility”. Our political leaders, opinion makers, media persons all have the power to drive, influence and lead public opinion. As long as they influence the masses with a view to benefiting the nation, all is well, but what if they overlook that aspect and transmit opinions to strengthen their market share. What then? Would their audio and video clips do anything besides pulverizing hope, trust and faith?
Look at the NDTV-Baba Ramdev interview that is doing the rounds on social media these days. It seems that NDTV selectively edited the interview to show Baba Ramdev as a brainless buffoon, so that he would fit the bill of a demagogic baba. Is that fair? Well, it generated TRP for NDTV and created enough likes, comments and tags on Social Media for the media house to survive another day. But what did the interview do beyond that? It wrecked Baba Ramdev’s image. It fanned ill will against him in the society. Probably many of his followers were left wondering- Is Baba Ramdev also like any other Baba? His contributions in the area of health, hygiene, social reforms etc were overlooked and he was tarred with a black brush. People began losing hope in a person who surely has done the country good in his time in public life. Ultimately, What purpose did NDTV’s interview achieve beyond creating doubt by trampling hope, trust and faith?
Now think of Salman Khan’s tweet on Yakub Menon. What purpose did that serve? Will we have an uproar every time anyone is sentenced to death? First Afzal Guru, and now Memon. It took our courts more than 20 years to arrive at, confirm and reconfirm this verdict. Just think for a second, would the courts not have gone through the case details? Would there not be enough clinching evidence? Would the courts not have thought of other alternatives before deciding to let Yakub hang? Have the courts in the past sentenced all and sundry to the gallows in the past? For 20 years, Yakub’s victims have died bit by bit every single day. What about them? Do they deserve nothing more than pity? Did only Hindus die in the ’93 bomb blasts, and even if that be the case, does that reduce the magnitude of crime? It is easy for Salman to tweet and then withdraw and apologize, it takes no efforts for Owaisi to thunder that people of only community are being targeted but what purpose does it serve? Once again, it creates doubt. People think our judiciary is so incapable that even after 20 years, it cannot arrive at the correct verdict. People think our system is so unfair that only Muslims are hanged. People lose hope, trust and faith.What happens then?
It is easy for any politician to transfer blame. Kejriwal can say Modi isn’t helping him, he can say LG isn’t helping him, the police isn’t helping him, MCD isn’t helping him and so on. Modi can choose to say that Congress isn’t helping him. Congress can say LaMuNi aren’t helping them and so on. You can have colourful Dharnas, posters and advertisements around this but who is benefitted? The poor still go hungry, the homeless sleep without shelters, commuters still ride on potholed roads, residents still complain of overflowing sewage. All this tamasha for what purpose? To generate visibility and TRPs? To shatter hope, trust and faith? To create an environment of ever pervading gloom?
Lets spare a few lines on Arnab and his hashtags. Today’s hashtag probably will be #ModifailsIndia in wake of the Gurdaspur terror strike. It would generate likes, comments and retweets. People will spew venom on intelligence officials, ministers, government et al. What then? Will that solve the problem? How long can you make people act by shaming them? Fair criticism begets positive change, Unfair criticism begets ire, pointless criticism begets scorn. It is forever easy to ask questions, it is always difficult to answer them, it is even more difficult to take action. You cannot build India by shaming and naming each and every individual.
Hope, Trust and Faith are precious things. One doesn’t appreciate them enough as long as they are there. But when they are gone, only despondency prevails. We are already ashamed of India in so many ways- bad roads, poor hygiene, traffic, poor policing, pollution, so on and so forth. Our public personalities are working overtime to dent the little trust that still remains. It has become a fashion to curse the system,to damn those in power, to ridicule those who work in the system, without even pausing to consider the impact that this has. A nation without hope, trust and faith is like a building whose foundation is weak. One kick at the door and the whole structure would collapse. We need to have faith in our institutions,systems, processes, past and future. We need to build on success stories to change the system. Only then can India ride forth confidently into the future.Harping on failures is sinfully pleasurable but has no utility beyond that.
To our public figures, I say, Think beyond the TRPs, a nation awaits your lead!
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