Monday, 23 October 2017

An open letter to VVIP Prakash Javadekar

An open letter to VVIP Prakash Javadekar

What is an auto driver's son

before a VVIP

Respected Sir,

Perhaps, this letter will not reach you and even if somehow it reaches you, it is highly unlikely that you will bother to look at it because it is not from a VIP or a celebrity or anyone whose name is familiar in media. It is from a common person – I prefer to say a “lesser citizen” – whose words do not carry any weight. Nevertheless, I think it is my duty to make you aware of the consequences of your visits where there is no regular facility for landing of helicopter carrying a VVIP like you.

I am referring to the incident I saw in the media a short while ago. According to the media report dated October 24, 2017 (it is available on Internet), young star cricketer Pranav Dhanawade “faced the humiliation of being caught by the collar of his jersey and detained in a police lock-up for more than an hour.” His fault, again according to the media report: he “failed to vacate the Subhash Maidan (Kalyan, Maharashtra), in time, which was being used as a makeshift helipad” for your arrival. This is the place which the children has been using for a long time to play cricket.

I hope you remember this young boy, son of an auto driver. In January 2016, when he was not even 16, he created sensation by becoming the first person to score more than 1000 runs (1009, to be precise) not out from 323 balls in one innings. He broke the 116-year-old record of 628 not out, set by the English schoolboy A. E. J. Collins in 1899. He received tremendous appreciation from the people. The Maharashtra Sports Minister said that “Dhanawade ‘s score has made Maharashtra proud…. He has made the country very proud as well.” The Minister announced that the State government would pay for his future educational and coaching expenses.

Unfortunately, what has happened to the young boy because of your visit to Kalyan now, had happened in December 2016 also due to your visit to that very place. At that time also he was thrashed by the police for not vacating the ground that was to be used as makeshift helipad for you. According to the media reports, when you came to know of the incident of December 2016, you called the boy “pride of India”, advised the authorities to be cautious to see that playgrounds were not used as helipads and promised to “talk to the Maharashtra Chief Minister over the issue.”

I do not know whether you talked to the Maharashtra Chief Minister or not and even if you talked to him, whether he promised to take action. Obviously, no action was taken.

Of course, on each occasion the police officers gave their own justification.

The young players’ problem is that they have no alternative place to play. The authorities’ problem is that have to keep in mind that a VVIP enjoying Z+ category security must be given special treatment and would not like to incur his or her displeasure if he or she feels even slightly inconvenienced. What is the social status of an auto driver’s son, even if he is a great cricketer? He is not a VVIP like Sachin Tendulkar or his son Arjun Tendulkar. I am sure, had there been Arjun Tendulkar in place of Pranav Dhanawade, police would not have touched him. Perhaps, by now either a new helipad or a new playground would have been made.

At the time of election, every politician goes to the people with folded hands, begging for votes. Once people have cast their votes, for the next five years the politicians become ‘Maharajas’. Ordinary folks are humiliated and beaten as a mark of respect to the ‘Maharajas’

Prime Minister Modi says that VIP culture must end. The removal of red lights from the rooftop of cars alone does not end VIP culture which is deep-rooted. Our elected representatives feel uncomfortable unless treated very much different from those who elect them.

Yours faithfully

Devendra Narain

October 24, 2017