Saturday, 4 July 2015

The Kannada Hater

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"Keep an open mind about everything in life"

"There are more Indians in the US than within the borders of India", he said. "What in heaven's name do you mean?" I asked. He replied, "Yes, in other countries, there are many Indians. But within India, you have a Bihari, a Madarasi, a Tamilian, a Telgite, a Kannadiga, Hindu, Muslim etc. but no Indians"

It's an old SMS forward that I paraphrased above. But a deep one nonetheless

I was absent-mindedly scrolling through the infinite curated posts on my Facebook wall the other day when I stumbled upon a post. What caught my attention was the fact that my junior from college had 'liked' it, but the photo of the guy in the post was my former colleague. What was the connection? I then paid a little more attention and noticed that it was a photo accompanied by a write-up of some sort. I clicked on it to expand the content and read something as follows:

(Clearly not the original content - but something along these lines. Narrated like a play by the Original Poster [OP] )
The scene is set in a bus. Characters are bus conductor, bad man (my former colleague) and hero (the narrator) [words chosen by OP] 
The bus was relatively empty. The bus conductor approaches the bad man and tells him "You are sitting in a seat reserved for conductors. Please sit somewhere else." To this, bad man responds "No I am comfortable here. Sit somewhere else" To which conductor again politely says something similar in Kannada (because apparently he can speak only Kannada and passable English) to which bad man arrogantly replies "You Kannadigas are fools. Why can't you learn other languages like English or Hindi" The conductor keeps quiet at this retort while the remaining people in the bus also don't react. 
How can he, a person who came from somewhere else talk about Kannada like this? The hero got seriously offended and felt like he was slapped on his face by a slipper. So he decided to fight for justice and for Kannada and started abusing the bad man, left right and centre, giving the usual "All languages are important" speech. Then bad man learnt he was defeated and eventually scurried away like the rat that he is. This is followed a long set of bullet points about equality and all that jazz.

This post became viral with thousands of likes and hundreds of shares. Many people left comments of their opinions of the matter - Some verbally abusive, some calling him names, some pitying the state of affairs, some saying Kannadigas are too nice and thus get into this situation and so on. One person grossly generalised saying all Biharis are rapists, all Malayalees go to the gulf and work instead of in their homeland and so on...

Alright, I am not saying you should not get offended. What I found strange was that nobody actually took some time to see if what the Original Poster (OP) is saying is true or not. He has written his account of the story. The question is, is that to be taken as 100% true account? Is that how it must have happened? How do we know that he has not glossed over details?

My former colleague (who has apparently quit Facebook now) is from somewhere in the North, probably Delhi. Do you think it is possible that he comes down to Bangalore, sits in a bus surrounded by locals and abuses the local language? Do you think that this is a remotely plausible situation? Do you think someone from Bangalore would go to, say Tamil Nadu, and yell "Tamil sucks"? Anyone with a little bit of common sense knows that you will get beaten up. Do you think someone would go to Saudi Arabia and say something like Islam sucks? Think about it. The idea of going to a different place and abusing locals is not something anyone with basic common sense does.

Secondly, nobody starts abusing in the second sentence - especially, when he asked him to change seat, why would he abuse Kannada? That too in the second sentence? It doesn't fit...

What must have happened is - The conductor must have asked this guy to sit somewhere or must have repeatedly tried to have a conversation in Kannada. Talking to a non-Kannadiga in Kannada is as bad as talking to a non-Malayalee guy in Malayalam or talking to a non French guy in French. The other guy simply doesn't understand what he is talking and must have asked him to talk in a common language. I am, of course, guessing because this makes more sense to me. I am not saying that "Bad Man" was polite - I don't know what happened. But I am sure that the story didn't happen as narrated above, because it is not logical.

However, what interests me more is the reaction. The furore in the "Hero's" wall is something to be seen to be believed. The snowball effect made it appear like they would go up in arms and butcher him if he was around. And this is precisely how the media controls public opinion. They selectively release information in ways to sensationalise incidents. People lap up stories as they arrive without paying heed and start sharing them. Every story has two sides - and we must make conscious attempts to learn the other side.

[Click on the image to enlarge]





This is also why history should always be taken with a pinch of salt. Remember, it is the victors who write stories very often. Whether great kings of the past were truly great or barbaric is something we cannot be sure of from the writings of people from their era. They would write it in that way to win the favour of the king rather than earn his wrath - for the king could have them executed because he felt like it.

To summarise, one should not jump to conclusions based on one sided accounts. Every dispute has two sides and one should listen to both sides before arriving at conclusions. Perhaps the bad man was bad after all, but it is too early to jump to that without hearing what he has to say. Don't be like the media-persons who act like they are judges and juries unto themselves, who frame and blame and run trials on their own account, who fabricate stories and give partial one-sided accounts.  Keep an open mind about everything in life. Don't get biased.


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Comments from Facebook


  • Chandan Siddaiah Good blog!! Ur points to be noted.. smile emoticon
  • Narayan Jalan Thank you so much Nikhil for writing this. I was also planning to put exactly same message on that post that how could someone already proclaimed the heroism, felon in their story telling. Let that be decided by reader. Nevertheless, You made it all in good phrase . thanks once again smile emoticon

3 comments:

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Anil Kulkarni said...

How did you display the Facebook comments here?