Our human nature is such that we don’t like it when someone tells us right on our face, not diplomatically but sanctimoniously and rudely, that we are bad or have done something terrible. And when it is told in presence of many or by foreigners on television, it further compounds our hurt and humiliation.
So when BBC aired a documentary on one of our young woman’s well-known rape case, it deeply humiliated us and wounded our pride. Some argue that the documentary dwells on rapists and may lead future travelers to India to think that India is a nation of rapists and a nation of incompetent people who can’t protect women and prevent rapes. They want our government to ban the feature (which it has done).
If BBC and other foreign broadcasting corporations want to portray us ugly then, as one argument goes, why not we show and talk about their bad apples. There is a dearth of grisly events, current as well as old, to report from their nations. And our documentary filmmakers could remain busy for their generations to come.
Our filmmakers could start in America and narrate starting from stories related to demise of American Indians to black slavery to Clinton-Lewinsky; or start in Britain and show ill deeds committed during the reins of Queen Elizabeth II and monarchs before her; or start in . . . but, let us face it, by portraying others bad is not going to make us good.
Mukesh Singh, a moving-bus-rapist, a BBC’s star interviewee, an ordinary man, just like you and I, is sitting on a death row for committing a deadly crime. He didn’t know then, and doesn’t know now, how valuable we the ordinary people are for our great nation.
We among others are sweepers, cleaners, coolies, truck drivers, tricycle drivers, maids, laborers, side-walk vendors, shoe polishers. We sweep roads, clean sewers and latrines, move luggage on our head or back, haul cargos, transport folks on 3-wheel-cycles, sweep and mop premises, carry bricks and concrete mix on our head (to help build bridges, buildings, and roads), sell tea and food, polish shoes. We are ubiquitous, yet many don’t see us. It’s time we, the ordinary people, are seen to prevent another “Mukesh Singh” arising from within us.
Our rich and famous people – actors, actresses, industrialists, merchants, professionals, and so on – have their own "Mukesh Singh" among them. They know how to cover up, and BBC won’t go there.
Swami Lokeshwarananda of The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture in Kolkata writes in his essay, "Beware of the ‘Great'":
The world owes much to great inventors, scholars, scientists, and writers, but it owes more to those anonymous humble men and women who, by their goodness and by the sacrifice they daily make, sustain society. They pass unnoticed, because they possess no outstanding quality to attract public notice. But they are 'the salt of the earth'. It is wrong to say that a country is known by its great men. A country is known by its average men and women. If they are good, the country is good. If they are quiet and humble, also good, intelligent, hard-working, and selfless, that country is indeed great.
If BBC and its staff want to insult us or be insensitive to our feelings or feel proud of airing the documentary, let them. Our challenge: become a rapist-free Swami-defined great country.
May the BBC find "Mukesh Singh" in Britain.