President Obama visited Delhi on the occasion of our Republic Day earlier this year. Arvind Kejriwal was the immediate past Chief Minister of Delhi, which had no Chief Minister at that time. Kiran Bedi had just been roped in as the Chief Ministerial candidate by the BJP. Kejrival had complained to the Press that he was not invited for the Republic Day parade. Kiran Bedi had a prime seat for that occasion. A proud Bedi gave a public advice: “If he wants an invitation, let him join BJP”.
This in a way summarizes our way of life. It is not enough if you deserve something, you need to meet the powers that be and pay your obedience. If you don’t do it, the powers that be will ensure that you don’t get what you deserve. We would of course continue to talk about merit on public forum. It was saddening to see the iron lady from Tihar make this statement in 2015.
I was very pleased to see a newspaper announcement after Modi had assumed charge as PM. ‘Do not hang around and keep asking for favors’. After reading about Kiran Bedi’s advise to Kejriwal, I wonder what that announcement meant. ‘If we have some use for you, we will call you and throw some favors, you don’t come and ask’. Some one like Kiran Bedi should have deserved better.
When I had joined the IISc 18 years back, a senior colleague advised me: “Go and meet this influential person”. It was bizarre and some thing I have never been used to doing. I ignored the advice. It is certainly not that I would not like to meet an accomplished person. The objective of such a visit, which was apparent from the suggestion, was sickening to me. I have seen several around me paying a visit and letting their presence known. It seems to have helped some of those who visited.
If you have not read Obama’s ‘The Audacity of Hope’, I would strongly recommend that book. He describes an incident in which President Bush hosts a party to the legislators in the USA. Barrack Obama was a young representative at that time. Bush was always surrounded by many and Obama stayed in some corner. When the meeting was about to end, Bush goes to Obama and offers a hand. Obama, with some food in his hand stumbles. Bush had heard about Obama and has a brief chat with him on his own! I have witnessed such events.
It is indeed important that the elders are respected. However, respect should always be earned and not demanded. I see many not so accomplished young leaders suffering when they don’t feel respected enough by their younger colleagues. It gets into their head and they make statements which they themselves would regret, if and when they come down to earth. Some do not come down to earth though. It is a puzzle to me! Why our system puts up with their open display of arrogance!
I do hope that our youngster don’t fall prey to those in power. However, this needs courage, which still appears to be short in supply. One cannot, of course, loose hope. I indeed like the title chosen by Obama ‘The audacity of hope’. I do see in our youth enough signs that ‘respecting elders’ would no longer mean ‘implicit obedience’ and ‘accepting everything that is said without questioning’. I only hope our elders see this trend and stop ‘favoring’ the more-obedient at the cost of merit. We have suffered a lot due to such leadership all over India in every field.