In Converation With Joel

This is a mail I received from a young cousin of mine. Following that is my reply.

Hi all Indians,

Just decided to take few minutes of your life to spread awareness about the missile and space missions. The cause of this letter is the unfortunate subsequent failures of Agni3 and Insat 4C. There was something more annoying than this. The very next day I saw cartoons in the leading Newspapers. The fact is that working on such projects is much more difficult than making fun of them.It takes thousands of man hours. I want to ask them that do they make fun of their own family members when they face failures?

A scientist working on such project is no less than a soldier keeping our borders; a scientist who could have earned hansome amount in US, but preferred to work for India; a scientist who never gets a credit for his hardwork.

PS: Reading or fwding this message is not mandatory, do it at your own will.

Joel Jose,

My Reply

While I understand the spirit in which you have written your mail, I would like to make a few points.

Our country, its people, have over the years collected a lot of such things on which we get touchy. For instance, our religions, our castes, our leaders, our flag, and lot many more. For some reason we seem to think that the importance of something close to our hearts is increased or decreased by what someone else thinks of it.

The most recent example of such behavior was experienced in Bombay. Someone allegedly defaced the statute of Bal Thackeray’s mother. The Shiv Sena went on a rampage destroying public property in what they considered an affront to the memory of someone they hold dear. My question to them is how does it matter? Does someone desecrating her statute mean that she is any less dearer to them? Does it change the fact that she gave birth to their leader? The answer is an emphatic no. But when they destroy buses and other public property it DOES diminish the ability of our pubic services. It does decrease or increase the value of what they have destroyed.

This same charade of affront and destruction is played out in various ways all over our country. It is time we moved on. It is time we focused on the more important issues.

As a people we are too highly strung up. If we had the ability to laugh, somewhere along the way we have lost it. I would like to believe that Indians can laugh at themselves. Numerous works making fun of us have been well received. So why get uptight?

A cartoonist’s job is to see the lighter side of a moment, and he has done his job. So we look at it laugh about it and move on.

I don’t think for a moment that the cartoonist had any malaise in mind when he made the cartoon and I don’t think we should read between the lines.

So while I do, I really do, understand your point of view, I hope that your generation will not be as touchy as the ones past. You have so much in front of you, go take it, do not let such trivialities distract you.

John F Kennedy said as his inauguration “Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world. Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge—and more.”

These words ring true today 45 years after they were spoken, they are so very pertinent to what we need to do from this point on.

For us you are that new generation. Leave behind the baggage of hatred we have saddled you with and go forth lightly with peace as the wind that pushes you forward.


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