Watching the discussion of the panel of editors on the Bharkha-Radia Controversy on NDTV yesterday added to my confusion rather than resolve it. I’d have liked it much better if it had helped to decide whether the media queen was guilty or not guilty.
In the past six months, a few of my idols crumbled. For me, the most painful fall was that Of Bharkha Dutt, Sashi Tharoor and Vir Sanghvi – in that order. This post is an introspective one. My concern is not whether, say, Bharkha is innocent or guilty, but with the way my mind grapples with disillusionment when an idol falls. The experience is very unsettling.
I’m trying to analyze what happens to the votary when deities prove to have feet of clay.
The mind tries to heal the wounds by fortifying itself to absorb it. It tries to adapt itself to the new reality of the painful wounds. When Sashi Tharoor’s personal agenda behind the Kochi IPL team was exposed by the sweat equity issue, I was upset. I had not only posted blogs in support of him during the elections, but also did my bit in my personal circles to promote him. Here was a man I thought who’d been above blame in his entire career. He appeared to be a genuine person anxious to contribute his mite to making his country a better place. When the scam broke, I told myself – this cant be true. It’s the north Indian lobby working against him and his state.
Then I looked for excuses to exonerate him. I told myself that he and only he could have put Kerala on the IPL map. I tried to invest his effort in this direction with epic proportions. But an uneasy feeling kept nagging at me. Is there no integrity left in this world? Is he too a part of the greedy herd?
Then I adopted the strategy of transforming the body (my mind) on which the wounds were inflicted. So what if he did it? At least, Kerala’d gain by it.
Then cynicism took over. Well, if one has to be effective, one has to play the game this way. I started telling people –so what if Karunakaran lined his pockets heavily building the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium? He did it, didn’t he? No one else could have done it. Isn’t he better than the honest but ineffectual angel like A K Antony?
The same with Bharkha – only in her case it was even more painful. A lot of people I know don’t like her, but I’ve always thought they were jealous. The clarity of her thinking, the felicity of expression and of course, and her guts - gosh she really did us proud.
When the Radia tapes were played by channels I thought – oh no! This cant be. Not she! She can’t be corrupt!
But the tapes were too damning.
So I eagerly listened to the NDTV show with Bharkha and the editors on the Tapes. I listened to it again online. I rejoiced when Bharkha said that she was only playing along with Radia in order to gather information. I believed her. But later I realized I believed her because I wanted to believe her. I didnt want to believe that she had greased her palm portfolio peddling. I admonished my mind when it took upon itself to wonder how much was her monetary share in this power-brokering business. I wanted to believe her when she said that it was an error of judgment on her part to have dealt with such people and made promises to be a go between when she had no intention of doing it. I wanted to believe her when she said she hadn’t perceived that the nexus between the corporates and the government was a big enough story to report.
But the last one was a little too difficult to swallow. No. So sharp a mind as Ms Dutt’s cannot miss the scandalous nature, and therefore the news value of that unholy intrigue which made a mockery of the democratic aspirations of the nation. Imagine, corporates calling the shots on whom to allot portfolios to. And it was painful to suspect that the Kargil heroine and the ruthless pursuer of truth was a key figure in brokering power that makes fools of the voter and the common man!
Soon I found that I couldn’t convince myself of her innocence. The seeds of doubt were sown and watered with ‘proofs’ that she claimed were doctored.
Then that strategy that smacks of cynicism came to my rescue. What if she is dishonest? Hasn’t she done stupendous work for more than two decades? Don’t I still look forward to We The People eagerly?
What if she does what everybody else in her field is doing? What if Shasi Tharoor did what all other IPL companies were doing>
This effort involves a change in the nature of the body (mind) on which the wounds were inflicted – you know a type of numbing with anesthetic and fortification with supplements. In plain speak, I try to compromise my principles, and the things I believe in. I tell myself values and principles are not absolute. They are time and circumstances bound.
Soon the wound shows signs of healing, and with them the pain begins to subside.
This is how idols and icons condition the thinking of their votaries. I realize this. I’m getting caught up in the discourses that they represent. New values are created.
I put a break on this thread of thinking. Integrity, I tell myself, is an eternal value. It cannot be compromised – not even for Barkha Dutt.
But I can’t help wishing that some miracle would happen and Bharkha would clear her name totally and regain her place on the pedestal.