In recent time, three similar events occurred and I was surprised to see different reaction of people to these events. This terribly lead me to search for an answer within myself what do we value in life?
Let me detail out my thought process and the events that triggered it. First was the death of the ‘First Superstar’, Rajesh Khanna aka Jatin Khanna, second was the death of Vilasrao Deshmukh, Ex-CM – Maharashtra State and last was the death of ‘Father of White Revolution’, Dr. Verghese Kurien.
These three personalities were from distinct fields of specialization and there own set of contribution to the India. However, the question that triggered this blog was the way media and overall people pay respect to these individual.
When in mid-July Rajesh Khanna passed away, we saw this death being covered among heavy rains, with all individuals thronging social, print and television media to pay their respect to the great actor. During his last rites, film and political fraternity joined along with millions via television network. However, looking back I think, what was his contribution? To summarize shortly; he provided entertainment to entire country by way of films, inspired a lot to come to entertainment industry and represented lot of social issues to public using films as platform. He was also involved in lot of activities; we don’t look in role models, like marrying a girl of almost half of his age.
Approximately after a month after death of great actor, was the time of in-office minister of Union of India, Vilasrao Deshmukh, died due to failure of kidney and liver. Just as expected, being in-office minister, 3 day state morning was declared and first time in history of Independent India, Independence Day flag was hosted at half-mast. Again, the individuals, across the country flocked every possible medium to pay homage to a person who rose from the rags of village of Latur to the riches of city of Mumbai. His last rites were widely covered by the television media from a small village in Latur district, somewhere in Maharashtra State. Again, thinking of his contribution, like all other politicians, I would term as nothing special apart from making wealth for himself and his family. Some of the wonderful things I can recollect about his contributions were sitting duck on November 2008 Mumbai attacks and huge Adarsh scandal involvement.
Again, after approximately a month, in early September, we lost ‘Father of the White Revolution’, Dr. Verghese Kurien. I was lucky to know more about him unlike other Indian, as I have one of mine priced possession, a book ‘I too had a dream’ – an autobiography of Dr. Kurien. A dreamer who wanted to be become a nuclear scientist and was by fate forced to dairy engineering and later landed to a small town in Gujarat, Anand. Dr. Kurien became instrumental in uniting the millions of farmers to bring about the White Revolution in India by making these farmers/ individuals self-reliant and more powerful by themselves. One of the world’s biggest case studies on co-operative institution success brings us to the creation of AMUL, an entity nurtured by Dr. Kurien and his team.
However, when he dies, in now, not so small town of Anand, I hardly see any individual of ‘Free’ India expressing his condolences on any medium. Hardly half page coverage of demise of this individual. I would not blame these mediums for not covering his death or government on not mourning because these government and these mediums are mere reflection of the people’s wishlists. Like others, I would like to summarize his contributions shortly; created AMUL as brand and as livelihood for millions of individual, established a success story on co-operative institution, replicated the AMUL model across country, indigenous made process of creating milk powder from buffalo milk. On the vice, he stood as chairman of the GCMMF and NDDB for long long time, till he was thrown out by petty politics.
So after penning down my thought on these three distinct personalities and we, people of India, paid out tributes to them, I go back to my troubling question, what do we value? I don’t want to give any judgment on any of these, but I surely want to ask all, whom we should follow as role model and how should we pay our tributes. At times, many such heroes gets lost in this ‘Image’ driven world but then what is that we aspire to be, Real Heroes or Image Heroes?