Thursday, January 10, 2019

Hardik Pandya & Dr Abraham Samuel - Both victims of the new India

The two events, one being Hardik Pandya’s “comments” on the Koffee with Karan show and the other being “denial of immigration” [sic] to Dr. Abraham Samuel for not knowing Hindi are the provocations for this post.

Let me take Hardik first. I do not normally watch the show Koffee with Karan. Seeing an entire episode is an impossibility. Once social media was frothing, I caught a re-run to see what the palaver was about.

The show defines the words vapid, empty, snowflake and airhead. Fluff, pure and simple fluff is what the show is. Obviously, the show has an audience, but I cannot figure who that is. On the one hand the show features Bollywood stars, and is telecast in English. So, a large audience is removed as they cannot understand English. Then, the show has its participants dressed in the most expensive designer wear, which is unaffordable for 95% of us. The participants speak about hook ups, affairs and travel, after which, they have a contest to dial up friends. This is the sort of drivel the show contains, all of which is of no relevance to the audience, nor, is any of this attainable by 95% of the audience. This show, is, by no stretch of any imagination, intellectual.

On this platform you have a 9th Standard pass cricketer being interviewed. He has never claimed to be Einstein and neither has he been accused of being Einstein. For God’s sake being a 9th Standard student, he has barely any education. He admits on the show that he can read English, and can barely read Hindi or Gujarati. To me that is disturbing. What he said about girls was silly and only braggadocio. Assuming all he said was true, please consider this gem.

“At a party my parents asked me acha tera wala (women) kaun sa hai so I said yeh, yeh, yeh (pointing out women) and they were like waah proud of u beta.”

Now, how many movies have you seen in the past about teenagers coming of age. From the mild Grease, to Saturday Night Fever to Dirty Dancing and several more where boys talk about “going all the way”, “getting to third base” etc. How many rap songs and today’s music is similar in braggadocio? Our children watch such films and listen to such songs. We don’t seem to have a problem. But suddenly when Hardik, I repeat, a 9th Standard functionally literate cricketer spouts we get our chuddies all twisted

No, I am not saying – give him a break. That is not my point. My point is twofold. First, since when does a 9th Standard functionally literate cricketer become a role model for us or our children? In fact, he should be anything but one. Should a 9th Standard functionally literate be a role model? Who is to tell India’s youths, similarly placed, from villages and small towns, that don’t look at Hardik as a role model. Compare Hardik with a hugely more erudite Javagal Srinath with an engineering degree in Instrumentation, or Anil Kumble a Mechanical Engineer or even K Shrikant an Electrical Engineer. These are role models. Why do we have this obsession of treating every celebrity as a role model. Salman? I mean come on. I am unsure if even Salman or Hardik regard themselves as one. But we, in our wooly headed way want to bestow “role model” on them. I mean why not the morning newspaper delivery boy – see how hard he works, see how disciplined he is waking up at the crack of dawn to deliver papers, see how after delivery he goes to school!!! I mean come on. All this is admirable and should be encouraged. But role model? Hardik’s parents encouraged him to become a cricketer but role model? 

My second point is, how the intellectuals have double standards. I am sure you must have heard the Voltaire argument ad nauseum. For those readers who live under rocks, Voltaire was a French philosopher who once said “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This is used by our intellectuals to argue against any ban on free speech. Does Hardik not have the Voltaire right? Our intellectuals say that Indians are very sensitive and thin skinned. I agree. Suddenly we find that a fluff show Koffee with Karan with a 9th Standard functionally literate cricketer spouting rubbish is deeply upsetting. I mean really come on.

Just a social media driven storm in a tea cup. However, this will not die. We should have a debate or three on TV at Prime Time and I am sure our worthy top journalists – Shobhaa De, Karan Thapar, Tavleen Singh et al as well as some feminists will write a few hundred words on this absolute drivel.

Now let us turn our attention to another gem. Abraham Samuel who describes himself as [BTech MSc MIET. Biotechnologist, Biomedical Engineer, PhD Chemistry Student. Biopharma & Scientific R&D, Chromatography, Spectroscopy, GxP] in other words, not stupid, and certainly role model worthy. Abraham was stopped at immigration in Mumbai. Pausing here for a moment. I am proceeding on the footing that what has been published in the newspapers is the Gospel. I am NOT questioning it.

Abraham Samuel was LEAVING INDIA, yes, LEAVING INDIA from Mumbai airport. He has an Indian passport. The words used are immigration, which is incorrect. It should be emigration – i.e. leaving. Anyway, while leaving India, the officer asked Abraham Samuel a question in Hindi to which he replied that he speaks English and Tamil but not Hindi. Samuel was harassed, allegedly abused, supervisors were summoned and eventually, he was allowed to go. Samuel tweets –

“The only reason i left was because my flight was scheduled to be boarded at 1:00 AM. Otherwise i would have stayed to lodge a formal complaint against this nincampoop! How do idiots like him make way into the Indian government? (sic)”

Once again, assuming all this is true and factually correct, I am aghast, and very angry.

I travel out of the country fairly often. Over the past few months I have noticed that when leaving, yes leaving, the country I am asked (i) where I am going and (ii) what is the purpose of my visit. On one trip my answer of “Bologna and holiday” did fuck with the mind of the ninacampoop as he had never heard of Bologna. My question is why? Honestly, for the love of God, why should I be asked this when I am an Indian leaving with a valid visa for my destination? I presume Abraham Samuel was asked the same thing in Hindi which caused this furore.

Secondly, I was aghast at the explanations put out by the immigration guys. This was reported in the Times of India, the venerable Lady of Bori Bunder. I quote.

“Refuting the tweets an immigration officer said, “They were doing their duty. They have to cross check with flyers as some Sri Lankans had tried to clear immigration check with fake Indian passports. Many Lankans have been caught with fake passports, so methods are used to verify and check if the flyer is really an Indian.”

Stunning, simply stunning. Straight from the highly trained brain of a 9th Standard functionally literate. These very gentlemen are protecting our borders from illegal immigrants. A method to check if a person is Indian is to speak to him in Hindi. Absolutely fucking brilliant! Sometimes I wonder why Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar was given the Bharat Ratna. We have un-named worthiness among us.

This my dear readers, is our India today.

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