Her gentle demeanor belies her razor sharp wit. Alka Gurha of Freebird fame, not only happens to be one of my favourite bloggers but also my favourite blogger friend. Painfully shy, yet so warm, you can't help but fall in love with her. As a writer, she's well-informed, her language impeccable and her wit is like a cherry on the icing.
In this post, Alka reflects on the dying concept of Role Models.
‘Who is your role model and why?’ used to be a common essay topic while I was in school. There were options – Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, parents, grandparents.
Two decades later, when my son was in school the topic morphed to, ‘Do we need role models and why?’
Today the concept of role models has lost relevance. We want to chart our own paths, role models be damned.
For one, there is a serious dearth of role models. And since definitions of morality are in a state of flux, black and white have merged together to give us more acceptable shades of grey. What was wrong a decade ago does not evoke the same outrage today.
Income tax raids ruined reputations. You could be a party president today.
A corrupt cop in a Bollywood movie was a baddie. Today he is the mainstream hero who mints millions.
Women drinking in pubs were unacceptable. It is a sign of liberation today.
Unfortunate though it is, staying perched atop the moral pedestal has become increasingly difficult. Be it Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton, Lance Armstrong or Rajat Gupta - the perceived role models are under intense scrutiny. Every move of theirs is scanned, exposed and served on a platter to be dissected by the media. It is a tightrope walk across the hall of fame. People wait for you to slip.
Another idol who turned out to have feet of clay is Lance Armstrong. Once the initial outrage about the use of performance enhancing drugs subsided, we realized that it is not easy to look at the picture from the prism of right or wrong. The onslaught of tweets like, “Your government cheats you of your taxes, your bank cheats you of your hard earned savings, but Lance is who you should be angry with”( @Jonathan Witt) suggested that most of us live in glass houses.
Lance was caught. Many went scot free. Ditto with Rajat Gupta.
Someone else’s embarrassment is always a shared pleasure.
Funny, how we instinctively rally around celebrities to propel them on a moral platform. Soon we, along with the media begin to pull the same people down. It appears as if there is great fun in the entire act of hoisting and de-hoisting celebrities.
This reminds me of Anna Hazare, who has disappeared from the media glare. For a Gandhi reincarnate who was going to purge the nation of corruption, Anna does not enjoy the same status as he did last year. I doubt if Anna has had a change of heart. Where is the deluge of ‘I am Anna’ caps?
Along with Anna, the issue of corruption has also left the centre stage. The burning issue today is gender equality and safety for women. Along with idols, news is also getting ephemeral with the emergence of new news. The only thing shorter than public memory is public enthusiasm.
Very few like Sachin Tendulkar or Amitabh Bachchan have managed to stay afloat as role models. Sachin survived miraculously after his Rajya Sabha nomination. Some were ready to lynch him then and there. Amitabh went through a phase when he was pilloried for everything from acting, to politics, to business. Somehow he has managed to rise like a phoenix.
Given that movies mirror reality and vice versa, Bollywood has become meaner and darker over the years. Sooraj Barjatya’s sugary sweet movies are said to cause diabetes. It is the Dabanggs we love to watch. Perhaps we are grappling with the good bad and the bad good.
So what does this mean?
Since the role model concept is increasingly becoming irrelevant, it is best to draw inspiration from the grit and determination of Lance, the resolve and will power of Anna and the intellect and perseverance of Rajat Gupta.
Perhaps it’s best to accept that to err is human. But to learn from mistakes is divine.
“Role models? Are they the ones who walk on the ramp?” asks my seven year old nephew.
|Courtesy - Cartoonday.com|