The recent Article by Indian Express and the debate it has brought about especially on twitter and blogs reminded of three, essentially unconnected stories.
The first involves my great grandfather a simpleton from a village deep in South Tamilnadu who resettled in Bombay. He died a couple of years before i was born but is very famous for his acerbic tongue. Once asked which of his 4 sons did he think was good, he is supposed to have answered – can you see that boy on the roof of my house trying to burn it down? He is the best of my sons. That just about sums up the current status of our political leaders. The Kiran Bedis, Ketriwals and Bangaru Laxmans have their small skeletons in their cupboards. But unfortunately the other option is the perpetrators of Bofors, Adarsh et al (via 2G). Unfortunately the boy trying to burn down the house looks much better.
The second story is a sanitised version of a story that kids tell each other. Two friends who went on an adventure tour to an undeveloped island were caught by the natives and brought to the head of the tribe. The Head orders them to collect 100 fruits each. The first one runs around and picks up 100 grape fruits. The second one wants to impress the head and goes in search of bigger fruits. The head of the tribe orders the first one to be killed by stuffing the grape fruits raw in his mouth. As the first one is dragged out he sees the second one lugging large piles of Jack Fruit. Similar is the outrage against Kiran Bedi and her airfare scam. It is all fine to say that why should the size of the sacm affect the merits. I am a big fan of Subramania Barathi, especially of one of his smallest songs which says *found a small piece of fire, put in inside a hole in a tree and the forest burned down. There is no small or big fire.” But two things – there is no quid pro quo, especially by the abuse of an office. One friend of mine alone has been repeatedly saying that the benefit was given to Gallantry award winners for infrequent travel and not for regular business travel. I would agree with his logic. But then most others have gone overboard on their outrage, which they seem to reserve only for their ideological opponents. Kiran Bedi’s trusts gets income tax notice. In a few days a news paper comes out with details of travel fare with bill numbers, cheque numbers and unsettled amounts. These are not got by an RTI. Either the income tax department has leaked it or the reporter must have broken the lock of the NGOs office at night. I would believe the former happened.
This brings me to the third story. This is about three monks in a monastery. They live under severe conditions and only one monk is aloowed to talk a sentence every year. At the end of the first year the eldest monk says “I hate the spinach they serve every day”. The next monk waits for another year and says “I disagree with you, I like the spinach.” The third monk waits for another year and says “All you get is one sentence every year and you waste it talking about spinach.” Most times seeing discussions on social sites I am reminded of this story. We waste our time and effort on commenting about the minor defects of others rather than looking at constructive ideas and action. There is an interesting variant to this story. There is a fourth monk who says at the end of the fourth year “Unlike the three of you I wont waste my line talking about spinach”. I now feel like the fourth monk. This unfortunately is my spinach moment.