Saturday, May 18, 2024

Politics and Pitroda


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In election time, any stick would suffice for a party or leader to beat another with. This is the time to divide the people and take advantage in terms of electoral success. Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his present campaign for the BJP was repeatedly seen picking up extraneous issues to target the opposition. The latest was the way he condemned a comment from technocrat Sam Pitroda about the mix of races among the Indian population. Prima facie, the statement by Pitroda at an event abroad as head of the Indian Overseas Congress, an adjunct to the INC, did not mean to hurt any segment of the society. But, the PM described it as an “insult” to many.
Indian society is a mosaic of various races, cultures, religions, castes and communities. This is well-understood and appreciated by one and all. In normal course, such a statement is taken in the right spirit. Migrations, invasions, resultant mix of blood etc are believed to have added to the beauty of this mosaic. Pitroda’s statement was that those in the eastern states have features similar to the Chinese, those in the south have shades of Africans, those in the western region have looks similar to Arabs, etc. Each community in this country has its own charm in appearance and in their cultures that are built around them, and this is universally accepted. Stating as much is not to hurt any community or race. Pitroda added, obviously in good taste, that all these segments of the population live in harmony. Yet, the PM apparently projected the comparison of the people of the south, specifically, to Africans as an “insult”. Modi’s obvious intent was to electorally ‘hurt’ the Congress. Sensing its likely lethality on the election arena, the Congress leadership went into hyper action and “accepted” Pitroda’s resignation from the IOC chief post. Without doubt, the Indian society is mature enough to see through the games of politicians; and Pitroda’s statement is unlikely to cause any hurt to any other than the vicious minds of the political class.
Sam Pitroda, with his eminent US exposure, came in during the 1980s as technology adviser to then PM Rajiv Gandhi. He dumped the antiquated telecommunication network and updated the sector with the latest technology. This revolutionized the field. But for this leap, India would have missed the Information Technology revolution. Today, millions of Indian youths are employed in this sector within and abroad and this country holds a high reputation in global IT. After the Rajiv Gandhi era, this technocrat had been humiliated and hounded out by the political class. Pitroda may have his idiosyncrasies, but his services would have been helpful to this nation even today.


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