Follow which leaders?

A few weeks back, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh described Narendra Modi as ‘India’s first authentic fascist’ and ‘Bhasmasura’.

A few days later, Sudheendra Kulkarni described Narendra Modi as ‘a self-centered leader who has shown that he cares two hoots for the party organisation’ and Rajnath Singh as ‘a foxy party president, who has his own astrologically-induced delusions of becoming India’s prime minister’.

This week, Union Minister for Steel Beni Prasad Verma stated in public that “(Mulayam Singh) Yadav wants to become Prime Minister. He should first try to get the job of a sweeper at the residence of the PM.” (Some months back, Verma had alleged that the SP chief had links with terrorists, but later expressed regret after coming under pressure from his party.) In response, Kamal Farooqi of the Samajwadi Party said, “What can be said about an insane person who does not know how to behave and what language to use. It is very surprising and unfortunate that the Congress is not acting against him.”

We see ‘shouting matches’ between the spokespersons of political parties on television and exchanges of allegations on Twitter.

This is not a very recent phenomenon, nor is the highest level in the political class untouched by it. In an election speech in Gujarat in 2007, Sonia Gandhi had referred to Narendra Modi as ‘maut ka saudagar’ (‘merchant of death’).

In refreshing contrast to all these indecent exchanges between India’s ‘leaders’ is the story of Kima, a Mumbai resident. On March 24, 2013, a Mumbai policeman drove away in his official van after having mocked at, and insulted, some young Mizo persons. Kima was appalled, pained and angry by the policeman’s behaviour, but decided not to confront, but to reconcile. He described the incident in detail (including the van’s licence plate number) in his blog post and invited the policeman concerned to discuss the issue over a cup of tea or coffee.

The response of the Mumbai police and the follow-up action is described in detail in Firstpost on March 26, 2013 and March 29, 2013 and in Kima’s blog post dated April 14, 2013. (Please click on the dates to read the complete reports.)

Most persons would either do nothing in response to an insult, or would try to retaliate. Kima did neither. He responded in the best manner possible, attacking the root of the social evil rather than one perpetrator. The long-term impact of his efforts remains to be seen. But, two things are for sure:
1. The situation will either improve or remain the same. The efforts of Kima and the Police Department will not worsen the situation.
2. There will be no bitterness.

Should we emulate the behaviour of our so-called leaders, or that of Kima and the police officers?

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