Some time ago, an Air India staffer was assaulted by an MP from the defenders of democracy aka Shiv Sena aka glorified goons. The details of the incident are enough to horrify anyone with it’s uncalled for violence, blatant misuse of power and the nonchalance of the MP after the incident.
In fact, the MP is quoted to having said, “I am an MP” as a defense for his despicable actions.I mean who says that the premise does not stand, it’s like saying that you can grab p****ies if you are rich. Oh, wait. Scratch that.
Anyway, had it not been for the staunch stand taken by the airlines and the eventual media firestorm, this would have been another episode of politicians misusing their power and influence and getting away with a mere slap on the wrist. Not even on the face like my mom gave me when I messed up.
Even though eventually, the government was forced to use its power to reinstate his privileges (the reasons for this lie in the delicate power-sharing structure that exists in India, but that’s a topic for another article), there was a question raised in the collective psyche of Indians and a resultant furore that erupted is laid bare for everyone to see.
But the question lies that why? Why do these people whose job description is ‘public servants’, whose power is derived from the very people they oppress now, why have things reached a point where the ill-treatment is considered part and parcel of the ‘neta’ and is conveniently ignored?
The answer is us, “We, the people of India”, as we are described in the constitution are the ones who have handed the very laathi with which they beat us into submission. We have accepted this just like a captive accepts the will of his captor after a certain point of time.
But the reason lies in the habit of us Indians when we engage in pedestalization of these political figures to the point where we consider their power and authority absolute and beyond question and this habit is quite old to the tune of, I don’t know, maybe 500-600 years?
We attach a certain sense of awe and admiration to those in power. This only bolsters the pre-existing disparity and somehow validates it. The problem with pedestalization is quite simple, the power gets to their head. They achieve a bloated sense of over-entitlement that affects all their decision-making abilities and forces them to act out in rash ways. Much like kids in a playground.
In some ways, this behavior of the masses engaging in pedestalization of these authoritarian figures is a remnant of the colonial and Mughal era (hence my reference to this being an old habit of ours).
For hundreds of years, the populace of the subcontinent has been forced to subjugate to a foreign power that rules with an iron fist, has absolute power and authority, Teaches the citizens not to question and penalizes any dissent.
This is bound to create a culture of implicit fear of authority which gets ingrained into the minds of the current populace and those that come after them and this CAUSES THE pedestalization because there IS no other way for the people to RATIONALIZE this oppression than to consider themselves one-upped by their oppressors.
Translating this into the modern scenario, this phenomenon still exists albeit to a lesser extent. And it is precisely because of this that the likes of Ravindra Gaikwad are able to act in this Baahubali-esque manner and justify it due to the people accepting this justification to a large extent.
The politics of intimidation is on the rise and there is a small yet determined sect that vehemently supports these excesses. In order for us to counter and push back against this necrotic culture that is slowly spreading across the ranks, a comprehensive campaign of education is required.
No media firestorms can weather these politicians till the constituents are the ones firing the trebuchets. Because only they can hit them where it really matters: In the ballot box.
Just don’t try to hit them in the balls. Because this much is apparent from their actions, they don’t have any.
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