Happier birthdays for some?



Dear Rahul Gee,

India has an excellent cultural practice of respecting our elders and ancestors. We all subscribe to that, observe the shraads  of our departed kinsfolk, and remember them on their birth anniversaries. There is therefore nothing wrong in our government doing the same – remembering our departed leaders on special days. So on the face of it, the fact that Rs. 7.25 cr were spent on ads on birth anniversaries of Rajiv Gee and Indira  by various ministries of the government does not seem too wrong. After all, we all agree that both of them were great leaders who contributed a lot towards the development of the country and it’s emergence as a leading nation of the world today.

But when you contrast this generous expenditure with the miserliness when it comes to any leaders that are not your ancestors, the complexion changes slightly. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel for instance. The iron man shares his birth anniversary with the death anniversary of Indira Gee – 31 Oct. On that day, I counted 17 advertisements paying homage to Indira Gee, and one solitary one for Sardar Patel. And on his death anniversary which just went by on 15th December – not even a mention.What is more so, 16th December was Vijay Diwas – anniversary of India’s decisive victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war. A war in which 3843 Indian soldiers died and 9851 were injured.

In fact, while even Babu Jagjivan Ram and Chaudhari Charan Singh have real estate in Lutyens Delhi and along the banks of Yamuna dedicated to their memory, the poor Sardar did not merit even that. Nor does, for that matter, the Indian soldier who lays down his life for the country. One lesson you must learn from this, Rahul Gee, is that your children must follow your footsteps into politics. Unless of course, you can be like Maya Behan and take the onus of perpetuating your memory in your own hands.

But seriously, leads one to wonder what is the criteria that the babus or ministers of various ministries use to decide on which occasions will they use their ad spend? Why do we see such lopsided favour towards placing ads on the occasions pertaining to your family? Is it relative to the significance of contributions to the nation? If so, what are the parameters by which it is measured? And who does the judging?

The only reason that strikes me is that these ministers and babus are trying to be sycophantic to curry favours with you and Sonia Gee. Why don’t you tell them that you are smart enough to see through their pathetic attempts? You may also like to apprise them that like you, majority of the people are also smart enough to do so. In fact, they also get irritated and resent the skewed homages. The result is complete lose – lose. The advertisers don’t get to please you as you are too smart to see through them (you are, aren’t you?). And in the bargain, the voters get more and more irritated with the dynastic politics that such display smacks of. Guess the only people happy are the newspapers who rake in the moolah for publishing the ads.

Is it any wonder, Rahul Gee, that the Indian public finds Anna Hazare an attractive leader to follow? After all, he has no progeny to claim real estate and newspaper columns for him after he is gone.

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