Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Summary Exercise May 23, 2012

Read the following article and write a summary of around 70 words and tally it with summary provided on the Answers Page.  
Rage is the dominant emotion in India today. Not the rage of the underprivileged, of the indigent, of Les Miserables who see no hope in this glittering nation - but that of the privileged and the powerful. Politician rage, film actor rage, celebrity rage, each one expressing an impatience with rules, laws, conventions. 
Road rage, a quotidian occurrence on our streets, does not come from the auto-rickshaw driver but from the SUV owner who cannot fathom why a pedestrian would want to cross at a green light. At the other end, a high-flying industrialist is angry that the government, the media and perhaps even passengers have somehow let him and his airline down. That his business model could be flawed does not occur to him and the question of apologising to shareholders and customers is farthest from his mind.
The Indian Premier League, that fiery cocktail of big money and low sleaze has offered up many examples of such fury. Cricketers, mindful of the high expectations engendered by their high salaries, have kicked stumps, threatened rivals and wagged their fingers at umpires. The glamorous and influential
 franchise owners, fully aware that they have paid top dollar for the teams and therefore subject to no rules or conventions, strut about the stadium, leaving no doubt who is the boss. Why should they listen to a small-time security guard when they don't care two hoots about the mandarins who run the game? The wrath then is directed at the petty employee; there is nary an admission, let alone an apology that perhaps the matter went too far and could have been handled with dignity. 
Another celebrity, famous only for being his father's son and the escort of an actress, gets het up when the media asks him about a sexual harassment case involving one of his franchise's players. A party girl daring to blame a cricketer for making passes? Let us rubbish her on Twitter, in the most demeaning way possible. Where at one time there would have been bland assurances of "looking into the matter", now there is a direct attack on the girl's reputation and on the media for bringing it up. The girl has dared raise her voice against a cricketer and by implication the powerful people who own him, so she must be squashed. What more can be expected from someone who uses the social media to rubbish complaints made by passengers?
Time was when politicians showed humility, even if fake and contrived, to the public, fully conscious of the optics of the folded hands. Today, a chief minister walks off in a huff when her constituents ask questions that she finds inconvenient. And then sends cops to check out the antecedents of the questioners, who are college students. Her message is unambiguous: I am powerful and, therefore, can do whatever i want to you serfs.
Such messages, coming from those who are in public life and should be role models of civility, filter down rapidly. The signal is unambiguous: power allows you to strut and squash anyone who is beneath you. More money, better job, bigger car are all markers of influence and muscle, which must be deployed to show the lower orders their place. To these superior beings, the ordinary laws do not apply. VIPs of all hues, for example, do not believe in queues of any kind. How often do we see this sense of entitlement being played out at airports, where the great and the good breeze past security? Body checks and boring lines at immigration are not for them.
The bizarre part is that we, as citizens of a democratic country, freely accept and even justify such feudal inequality. After Shah Rukh Khan, who finds it difficult to keep his temper in check in India, was held up for questioning at an American airport, many Indians were outraged because a celebrity was treated in this manner. It did not occur to them that for an American customs official, there are no exceptions, only the rules that must be followed. We quietly and happily submit to the Indian way of doing things, which is to have a different set of rules for VIPs; there our sense of rage deserts us.
The rising rage is directly related to our increasing lack of civility. Sorry seems to be a word that has disappeared from our lexicon. When common courtesies, such as holding the door open for someone behind you, vanish, a society is well on the road to boorishness and eventually rage. Good manners are the bedrock of civilised social transactions; are we a good-mannered people?
India has not handled its
 success well. Instead of the greater responsibility that should come with greater power and wealth, we have chosen to swagger. We take grave offence at the most innocuous of comments. We cannot stand anyone making fun of our foibles or our accent. We are ready to use our diplomatic resources if some advertisement in a far away country spoofs our ways. The world is laughing at our pompousness and this makes us more furious. 
The sorriest part of this is that our rage is turned against those who cannot defend themselves. And those at the bottom of the social pyramid, who suffer the most inequity and therefore have some justification to be angry, are expected to meekly surrender. What will happen if one day they start showing their rage?

Source: The Times of India

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