A lot has been written about Richard Gere’s peck on Shilpa Shetty’s cheek. Prominent journalista have cautioned against the excesses of the moral police brigade; one journalist even went on to suggest that propriety would also depend upon the kind of kiss and no big problem with a harmless peck. Advertisement Guru Prahlad Kakkar said that what the magistrate said was not the voice of the majority. When the magistrate passed orders against Gere, prominent lawyers spoke of it as a cheap publicity stunt. Very true. Shilpa had herself said that the episode had been blown out of proportion and in pursuing the matter like this, India would make itself the laughing stock of the world. It came on TV and the papers that Gere had apologized for “offending” Indians. That is really the height of things- Richared Gere is a “rich” in charm and I am sure from him nobody would mind hugs, kisses Vagere Vagere(etc, etc)
One wonders why the moral police or even the mainstream media for that matter stand up for issues that really matter and show the kind of reaction that was witnessed when Shilpa was insulted on the Big Brother Television Show. Consider some issues:-
1) After the debacle in the World Cup, the cricket board imposed a strange penalty on the players that they could do only a certain number of commercials in a particular year. Nowhere in the world can such a penalty be imposed on sportspeople. It is not the board’s business(prerogative) to determine what the players are doing in their free time and as some former cricketers pointed out, if they are not performing, just drop them. Did it not do a world of good to Ganguly ? If one has to monitor them, one can make sure that they practice regularly but that too would be ridiculous. The autobiographies of former cricketers Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar reveal how the board tries to manipulate captains and players to its advantage so that no one player becomes too powerful. This too is a stupid ploy in trying to be an autocratic boss in such a transparent sport. It is fundamentally wrong and deserves to be condemned strongly.
2) Talking of Cricket, in the Sunday times that former Australian Captain Steve Waugh(he was in India recently) and former Indian Captain Kapil Dev had criticized the way the cricket match telecast was impeded by the influx of advertisements on Television. Thank god some celebrity spoke up because one always felt that the way the ads were inserted when some interesting/critical moment was to be shown, it was like putting the cart before the horse. Waugh has rightly commented that it is Advertisements that are supposed to promote cricket and not the other way around.. He said that vital comments are missing and the Telecast is plain “Unwatchable”. Kapil’s words are more revealing “Critical moments are lost to Shampoo Ads. At least for the finals, the sponsors will not mind making a little less money so that we can see the whole thing”. Since the sponsors pay the board and this is a perpetual issue, how come nobody speaks against this? Is the board prepared to lose money for something obviously wrong.?
3) There has been a lot of discussion in the news lately about the autonomy for IIMs and how the reservation issue was getting out of hand. Thank god the supreme court intervened because reservations are plain and simply wrong. Meritorious students cannot be made to pay the prize of populist politicians not having the foresight to create more educational institutions. A more practical solution would be online education. Not only this but all vote bank politics should be stalled by the media or the judiciary. Politician bashing has become a full time hobby but there is not enough action to curb their activities strongly. In the UP elections, populist politics is in full swing. Why does not anybody speak about this- is that morally right?
4) There are several mainstream media magazines reporting on how Rahul Gandhi is bracing for the UP battle for better things ahead and some still speculate on who among the Gandhi siblings “Priyanka/ Rahul), who would be better to lead a hundred year old party. All this dynastic politics business is mainly because a significant chunk of the Indian population is still illiterate and is swayed by the Gandhi name. That one can understand but why does the mainstream media has to go overboard in giving them coverage unless it is on true merit. The former editor of Economic Times Swaminathan. S. Venkata Iyer while acknowledging the fact that dynastic politics was rampant, dismissed Rahul Gandhi’s claims of Gandhis acting decisively. The facts that he gives about Nehru’s Vascillation on Kashmir, Rajiv Ganhi’s stand etc on Sri Lanka clearly show that the decisiveness was restricted to the Bangladesh war. The mainstream media should take a cue from Mr Aiyer.There should be some mechanism of detecting and promoting political talent instead of blindly following political families. Could Rohan Gavaskar succeed Sunil Gavaskar?- is sports more significant than politics. How come nobody talks of these issues? Is it because politicians are powerful?
5) Talking of political talent, Hindustan times editor Vir Sanghvi, in his Sunday column has written how we are obsessed with old age where politicians are concerned whereas people the world over look for Dynamism and youth. That is true to some extent though like in cricket teams, there has to be a blend of youth and experience. Why does not the moral police take up such issues- development , needs of society, etc. Once the elected representatives are elected, nobody knows what they do for their constituency for five long years. Why can’t they have immediate accountability for politicians the way they have for cricketers. It is ironical that a politician is heading a cricket board and has penalized the cricketers strongly for not performing in the world cup. Is performance in a sport more important than governing the country.? Why not a similar rule for them? Why doesen’t any moral police outfit discuss issues of develpment, progress, education, infrastructure etc instead of taking up frivolous issues
6) In the corporate world, I have failed to understand one thing. The world over, there is a credit rating system where each individual has a credit history which can be bought for a few dollars. This ensures that nobody fools around with his credit . In India, small companies are always scared of big company not paying their dues and sometimes are scared of even expanding their businesses. This is in direct variance to all this talk about economic progress and making India a so- called “superpower:”. Why doesn’t the moral police or the media take up this issue.
( A day after this post was written, it came in the papers that 400 VIPs owe crores for their illegally occupied bunaglows from all political parties. Why does not the moral police take up this- it is not a kiss but a rape of the tax payer. The media will also sleep over it till someone like one former governer of Bihar is kicked out of his bungalow for non-payment)
Actually, the point is that we all wait for Jesica lalls to be killed or Priyadarshini Mattoos to be raped to force the politicians and courts to perform. There must be millions of emotional and mental rapes because of case delays in the courts of India, there are countless cases suffering because of autocratic bosses and other injustices, some cannot help but put up with shoddy customer service(Cust-se-mar- Customer ) vagere, vagere(etc etc.) The moral police of the media should create a ruckus on such issues- the kind of response Shilpa got because of her insult on the “Big Brother” TV show. What is the use of the so called communication revolution otherwise? We all know how Mr Bush flouted the United Nations and against a majority of world opinon, went on to wage a totally farcical war in Iraq. Why doesn’t the moral police and the media take up such issues?- how are we any different from our ancestors if we cannot use the communication tools to our advantage to prevent an injustice as what happened in the Jesica lall case?. Why should such episodes be sporadically restricted to major injustice?. The way our courts function, every minor injustice becomes a major injustice anyway.
Then why give so much importance to Mr Gere(he should also be judged overall- his association with Aids and Dalai Lama instead of creating an unnecessary hungama):-
In being obsessed about Mr Gere’s and shilpa’s dance,
What all critical issues we leave to chance
What all we choose to publicly miss
By giving too much importance to to a private kiss.
In a lighter vein, it would do our ladies no harm
For them to be swayed by a man of Gere’s charm
Through prose and poetry, let it be heard
Only a nerd would be averse to such activities of Richard.
( Perhaps I should also add that many are proabably envying him including yours truly)