24 Sep 09 Have we Indians lost our sense of humour?
Mr. Shashi Tharoor is the latest hapless victim of the “Indian sensibility”. A spate of newspapers delightedly reported how the Minister had been castigated by his bosses for his insensitive comments. Quoting the Indian Express …..’the party told him bluntly to “desist from any comment or action, even jokingly, that would hurt sentiments of the common man”’
Yes – the same “common man” who is invoked every time a politician wants to express his or her personal opinion!
But is the “common man” complaining? Most of us are enjoying the “tamasha”, even as Congress party hotshots are doing their best to condemn Mr. Tharoor! Do politicians think that we Indians are so brittle that we can’t handle a joke (even if it’s in bad taste)?
Or is this simply a chance to get back at Mr. Tharoor, an “outsider” whose political career so far has been nothing less than spectacular?
After all, he’s one of the most coherent speakers among politicians, and comes across as a really smart guy. (I’ve heard him speak at a conference last year, and was suitably impressed despite much initial skepticism.) He also has the background and sophistication to appeal to the unrepresented middle class, including a large chunk of India’s youth. Maybe this is why many of his fellow party members haven’t lost the opportunity to denounce him publicly?
I agree that a minister needs to be more careful about what he says (or tweets) in public. And this is a lesson that Mr. Tharoor has surely learnt. However, the hue and cry (and that too, from his own party) is a bit absurd, even surreal.
Methinks we Indians have forgotten how to laugh at ourselves. Maybe I should qualify that! Our politicians and others who claim to represent us, have assumed that we have no sense of humour. And that we are highly “sensitive” folk. Every issue can be politicised, and that’s what they’re good at – all in the name of the “common man”.
We’re now so sensitive about everything – from a word in a movie or song, to a tweet, to interpretation of history, to art, to almost anything at all – that we (read: some political thugs pretending to be voicing our opinions) react with anger and end up burning buses and endangering our neighbours. Is this sensitivity or insensivity?
As a final thought – if this continues, they will end up banning Sardarji jokes!