We have yet another instance of a VVIP, this time Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan being questioned by security officials at an American airport.
Apparently Khan was gently quizzed by a lady official for ten minutes, the time normally taken by disembarking passengers to visit the loo, if there is a bit of rush.
Usually, when they take you aside in USA, they strip you to the very minimum and beyond, without peeing, that can be uncomfortable after a long journey.
But, Khan suffered no such indignity, though he should be happy he now belongs to a long list of more distinguished Indians who have been double checked at American airports many times. They include Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Shahrukh Khan, Abdul Kalam, among others. Most have quietly carried on with their itineraries, except SRK, who once timed his very public airing of grievance to the release of a movie, which was good marketing strategy.
Azam Khan could have easily headed to Harvard along with Akhilesh Yadav, the chief minister of UP, India’s most populous state, whose hands are full managing ego centric uncles, relatives and father Mulayam Singh’s rabble rousing pals like Khan.
Harvard University invited Akhilesh and Khan, to speak about handling the Kumbh Mela, a logistical nightmare involving millions of God fearing devotees who believe that a dip in the heavily polluted Ganga and Yamuna will cleanse them of sins for eternity even if they have to deal with sores and skin disease in the immediate future.
The students of Harvard instead got to witness a firsthand case study of a pure breed narrow minded vote bank seeking middle level Indian politician at his rabid best. This will be helpful to anybody wanting do business with India. They will need to know how to deal with law makers such as Khan. They abound.
Indian politicians, as we know and probably Harvard found out the hard way, thrive on any opportunity for free political mileage. Khan sensed a global audience from Boston, an occasion to be on CNN, BBC and Times Now at the same time.
He went ballistic linking the security episode to America’s imperialistic designs, specific anti-Muslim profiling at airports, a weak Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister due to which he was targeted. Khan’s equally demented supporters joined the chorus deriding US authorities and Singh.
Manmohan, for once, reacted rightly by keeping silent. President Obama, already caught up handling deranged kids in America, probably thought Khan was a supporter of former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf seeking asylum.
Narendra Modi probably thought it was a stupid idea to fly all the way to America when 3-D video conferencing could have worked better. Rahul Gandhi probably feels Khan should undertake a train journey to know the real America.
Though there is some truth about Muslims being targeted at US airports, Khan clearly went overboard in trying to kill 10 political birds with one stone, including cancelling the Harvard lecture. Ideally he should have lodged a formal complaint, used the toilet and carried on with his program.
Instead, the students of Harvard, luckily or unluckily, also got a glimpse of India’s overbearing VVIP culture that is very touchy about having their way, including walking in and out of Indian airports and aircrafts unchecked and unhindered as if they are visiting a restaurant in a mall or a movie hall.
Common Indian citizens, of course, have to submit themselves to a physical rub down at these locations by semi-literate, ill-trained, lowly paid security guards derived from impoverished areas such as Bihar, who spend most of their day scratching private parts, smoking and chewing tobacco. It is not hygienic.
The Indian VVIP culture reflects an attitude of superiority, invincibility and treating common citizens like dirt. It thrives on trampling rule of law, abuse of power and treating of tax payers’ money as a personal savings account with free unlimited withdrawals. The VVIP could be ministers, bureaucrats, police officials, Mukesh Ambani, goons protected by the state due to connections or money.
One manifestation of high handedness is witnessed on Indian roads everyday wherein any traveling VVIP is accompanied by an entourage of SUV’s stuffed with heavily armed security personnel who menacingly weave their way through heavy traffic at high speeds.
They jump red lights, don’t line up at the toll and expect everybody else to quickly move aside or else abuse and assault with impunity. In India, ambulances get caught in traffic, never a VVIP convoy and Domino’s pizza home delivery.