A senior journalist asked me yesterday what upset me about young Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech. And I said in immediate reaction that it was the insolence. His kinesic (body language) profile was one of swagger and rudeness best reflected in the snotty and casual manner in which he saluted the armed forces with a jaunty wave, as if he was patronising them as an equal or their ‘superior.’ Believe me, Kanhaiya, old son, you haven't earned those spurs. We do not need you or anyone else to underscore the courage or sense of duty in our boys on the inhospitable borders, okay.
That stuck in my throat and it saddens me that the derisiveness went unnoticed.
Maybe it is personal. My family has given over 200 years of service to the military, so yes, I am sensitive about the way anyone talks to or about the forces, suck it up if you don't like it.
Lecturing the Prime Minister came a distant second in the impropriety stakes but was up there on the board.
It was not youthful exuberance, it was the heady wine of high octane power, a dangerous elixir at best and cringeworthy.
I also thought it was profound bad taste to link the men in uniform with the condition of farmers since both are mutually exclusive and have their particular roles in society, what possible gain is there in creating a nexus at the expense of one or the other. That is mischief.
Then I had an epiphany. This man has been doing this stump speech for eight years. It wasn’t his first time and in that lay the rub... those who marvel at this ‘coming out’ have let it slip their minds that there is a great deal of practice there. Years of campus politicking and whipping sentiment, it is so practiced in that he is not a revelation in flowing robes or the great crusader. Nostradamus did not predict this saviour.
In a lighter vein, he and Arnab Goswami have much in common after that campus speech that they could be interchangeable.
They both shout to be heard... believing that truth is strident.
Both project themselves ahead of the subject and are glib and smooth... marketing the sizzle for the steak.
Neither likes to be interrupted and both love the sound of their own voices. Both speak for the nation as if it was their personal fiefdom. At least Arnab does it as a job. What excuse does Kanhaiya have?
Both have missionary zeal.
The two bring up issues like poverty, social injustice, corruption, unemployment and other sundry ills as if these were rabbits from a hat and they were magicians... abracadabra, look what we found? And we, the people, are supposedly blind as bats (and stupid, too) that we didn’t know these warts existed. Stating the obvious again and again is demagoguery, not erudition.
Belabouring the obvious and increasing the volume is tantamount to heckling not honesty, especially when neither offers a road map or even a semblance of a solution. Was there a line in the speech that offered a constructive (as opposed to the pointless drivel of yelling ‘azadi’) response to any negative social problem?
You don’t have to possess a huge IQ to stand on a soapbox and reiterate the ills in society. There are lot of good men and women quietly fighting those ills without seeking the spotlight. They are the gutsy ones.
Both these gentleman are never wrong.
Both have a tendency to divide everyone into ‘them’ and ‘us’ …if you are not for me you are my enemy, if you argue you are my enemy, if you do not cheer lustily for me you are my enemy. Ergo, you are the enemy of the issue at hand. You are, by this curious osmosis, the supporter of all the ills and deserve damnation… why????... because we say so, we are the keepers of the flame and have elected ourselves to be so. If you don’t agree you are the enemy, yes you are.
Both use the gambit of mockery to put down others and generate support from the stands.
Both are on a winning streak. When will the road end and the canyon yawn? When the sun goes down and the night comes riding in.