Jun 302017

We look up to leaders for sanity. The lack of it only empowers the wrongdoerWe look up to leaders for sanity. The lack of it only empowers the wrongdoer

Here’s the thing with protests. It’s not that people don’t. They do. Very often. And that’s the hallmark of a democracy anyway. But if you look closely, on a more regular basis, whenever there is a ‘dharna’ or protest march, the faces that show up, are the usual suspects — who either have an agenda (legit or otherwise). Or are more specifically inclined towards issues being raised on a public platform.

What was incredibly heartening for me about the nationwide series of peaceful public protests that took place across India and outside, on June 28, was that it wasn’t about people from a certain religion, caste, economic strata, or community, hitting the street, to make their voices heard, and simply say #NotInMyName. It was a spontaneous call. It echoed absolutely everyone’s sentiment. I wish I could’ve been there. I was travelling, unfortunately.

Sure, every democracy has its issues. But there comes a moment — as it happened with Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption rally in 2010, or ‘Nirbhaya’ in 2012 — when everyone feels that their backs are against the wall and things have genuinely spun out of control. That they must speak up. It’s at a time like this when the political classes at the upper echelons, usually silent, are forced to take notice. As did the Prime Minister, who made it clear that a lynch-mob, or vigilante justice, is not Mahatma Gandhi’s chosen path or method. And it certainly does not signify a Hindu way of life.

We look up to leaders for voice of sanity. The lack of it only empowers the wrongdoer. But even beyond that, we look up to this nation’s judiciary that somehow ought to cease power from vigilantes. We can’t have laws slipping into the hands of a retributive mob, or self-styled ‘gau rakshaks’, simply because our criminal-justice system is long and unwieldy.

For a second, just imagine that beef is found on a person. Forget that there are rumours that he may be carrying some. He has it. So what? We will kill him? No sane person will think so. Most regular humans understand that a plural, multi-cultural, diverse society is beneficial for everyone. But there are some who are brainwashed to think differently from the rest — from a very early age. They may never understand rational arguments. It’s hard to reason with them.

How does the society respond to them? What happens to a boy who’s killed as a result? Who’s answerable for the death of the innocent? What action does the state take against that killer? These are equally if not more important questions.

For long, everyone kept quiet assuming beef to be such a sensitive issue. But people are dying –being killed. There is systematic targeting that’s tearing up the basic fabric of this country. The prospects are frightening. As a commentator I recently pointed out, it takes just one twisted mind from the other end of the spectrum to take advantage of a ripe situation like this, and retaliate. It would be labeled as terrorism. Who wants that? Where do we go from there?

It’s a shame that things have come to this. But heartening still that people from all walks of life chose to step out of their homes on June 28, stand up together in public, raise their voice, and say that this is not what my nation, or my religion, teaches me. Silence, at a time like this, only benefits those who perpetrate crimes under a community’s name. Nope, #NotInMyName. Not anymore.

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Dec 162012

Shah Rukh Khan on Thursday evening attended his friend and the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohammad’s birthday and he was also awarded the prestigious BrandLaureate Legendary Award.

The superstar was given this honour by the Asia Pacific Brands Foundation for his contributions to the Bollywood film industry and as India’s foremost brand ambassador.

Shah Rukh was humbled by the honour given to him by Founder of Lord’s Tailor Mr Robert Loh, President of The BrandLaureate Dr KK Johan, and Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohammad.

“It is an honour to be given the Brandlaureate Legendary Award. It is always a pleasure to be amongst friends and to be given so much love and motivation to do better,” said Shah Rukh.

The BrandLaureate Legendary Award has been earlier given to the likes of Dr Nelson Mandela, Nobel Laureate recipient Mohammad Yunus, Ratan Tata, late Steve Jobs, Marck Zuckerburg, Michael Schumacher and more.

In 2008 Shah Rukh had become the first Indian actor to be conferred with the prestigious Malaysian title of Datuk (equivalent of the British Knighthood) by the governor of Malaysia’s southern state of Malacca for promoting tourism through his movies in that region.

Earlier this year, Shah Rukh became the first Indian film industry’s personality to be honoured with the prestigious Chubb fellowship at Yale University and very recently he was honoured with L?toile d’Or by Mohammaed VI, the King of Morocco during 12th International Film Festival of Marrakech twice in a row.

Dec 112012

Hours before the end of campaigning for the first phase of election in Gujarat, Congress scion Rahul Gandhi took charge of his party initiating a slugfest with Narendra Modi . Rahul addressed three public meetings on Tuesday. Out of the three, two were in Jamnanagar and Amreli in the volatile Saurashtra region and one at Sanand in the outskirts of Ahmedabad.

Adhering to the development agenda, which has largely acquired the status of being official theme of this election, Rahul claimed Mahatma Gandhi to be his guru in politics and launched a scathing attack on Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi without ever naming him in all the three meetings.

Rahul took Gujarat BJP to task for the scant days of the functioning of the state assembly.

“The assembly in this state functions for 20 to 25 days in a year,” Rahul said, adding that even in these few days if the opposition raises its voice in the house they are thrown out.

Coming down heavily on claims of development of the state, Rahul at Jamnagar said that  while more than 10 lakh youth in the state are without jobs, Gujarat is shining for the world. “While you all are working for the state, you are being told that Gujarat is being run by one man,” Rahul said in Sanand. “This is marketing,” he added.

“Gujarat cannot be run by one man and one man does not run Gujarat. Gujarat is being run by Gujaratis,” he said in Jamnagar.

Reacting sharply to Rahul’s attack, Modi claimed at Surendranagar that there is no dearth of employment in Gujarat. In a subsequent public meeting at Dholka in rural Ahmedabad, Modi referred to Rahul’s poor attendance record in Parliament and asked how could he dare question him on the days of functioning of Gujarat assembly with his own poor personal record of attending Parliament.

Modi renewed his allegations of Centre banning cotton subsidy and subsidising cotton and beef export.  He even mocked Congress at a meeting at Dhrangadhra and said that the talk of technology does not befit Congress. While people in Gujarat get 24 hours of electricity, the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi need to keep generator sets at their homes.

It may be mentioned that Saurashtra, rural Ahmedabad and South Gujarat is going to polls on Thursday in the first phase of the election and Tuesday 5 p.m is the time when campaign for the first phase has to conclude.