The Fall of Icons

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Even in this age of falling standards, we do hold some institutions in high regard, e.g. the Supreme Court, the Armed Forces, and certain individuals who have become institutions, like Anna Hazare and some fearless journalists.

Some recent incidents have shattered our belief in some of these highly respected institutions and individuals.

It started with a young lawyer accusing a recently retired judge of the supreme court of sexually assaulting her when she interned with him last year. Now, we consider the Supreme Court as that last unblemished institution which upholds integrity and probity in public life. A sitting or retired judge being accused of such misconduct is a sad and frustrating commentary on our society at large.

The Aam aadmi party, which started with much promise, has had its own share of allegations to face. Launched on a promise of providing clean, corruption free governance, its candidates have been accused of misappropriation of funds and collecting illegal donations. It may be political conspiracy, as Arvind Kejriwal says, but as Anna has advised him, one should be very careful in managing funds. There is definitely some lapse – of judgment, or worse, of greed. One fears, with some sense of impending loss, will the AAP also go the way of other political parties?

While one tends to believe in Kejriwal as a person of exemplary honesty, can we expect the same from all his associates? I only hope that the allegations are a “conspiracy” and AAP goes on to form the first “government of the people, by the people, for the people” in Delhi.

'Tehelka' really made a tehelka when it was launched. Its sting operations made many heads roll. They have always been known to fight for the right values and expose shady deals and murky happenings. It was again sad and shameful when Tarun Tejpal, owning up an act of sexual misconduct with a lady colleague stepped down.

Initially, it seemed Shoma Chaudhury was trying to protect Tarun, but it seems she was the one who made him apologise to the victim. There is still a lot to be said and written on this issue, but at least Tarun Tejpal showed the courage to accept his misconduct and apologise. However, it still leaves one with a bitter taste and a feeling of being cheated. We believed in him and he has shamelessly crushed the belief of a colleague, thus falling in our eyes. I have a feeling; the case will go a long way.

I think the heady feeling of power or importance which comes with professions such as politics, journalism and judiciary (not to speak of police and administrative services) makes one let down his guards and get into the realm of such unsavoury activities. One makes such errors of judgment, being carried away by the feeling of power and position.

Such incidents leave us thinking – whom to trust?

But there is one shining example which immediately comes to mind – Sachin Tendulkar. I remember him using phrases like – “my head is on my shoulders”, “…I don’t have to get it to my head” etc. long back. He has really maintained his integrity, humility, performance and leadership in the face of several temptations, on the professional as well as personal fronts.

So, there is still hope.

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