By: Fahad Samar
…or there’s a more potent solution, cast your vote
About a decade ago, when MTV India was still an iconoclastic youth channel, it ran a series of hilarious yet thought-provoking short films titled One Tight Slap. In these 30-second vignettes, annoying people such as those who speak on their mobiles during films in cinema halls, overzealous salesmen and lying politicians get slapped across the face for being, well, annoying. Viewers instantly connected with this sentiment and experienced vicarious delight that such vexing characters were finally being put in their place by the hand of god.
The series creator, Cyrus Oshidar, was perhaps unaware that his cheeky campaign would one day unleash a torrent of real life events where irate citizens would not hesitate before administering a tight smack on the object of their ire.
Women, tired of being harassed, decided to fight back and frequently delivered a resounding slap on amorous fellow commuters and roadside ruffians. Errant cabbies, bus drivers, corrupt babus and numerous others experienced the sting and stigma of being publicly slapped for their shortcomings.
In 2011, Harvinder Singh, a resident of Rohini, New Delhi, slapped the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar. This thwack resounded across the nation and snowballed into a political slugfest even as the Slapgate video instantly went viral. Surely, this act must have been orchestrated by a rival party, cried Pawar’s cohorts, otherwise how could a mere commoner have had the temerity to assault a powerful minister. But it transpired that Harvinder Singh was simply an angry citizen venting his frustration at rising prices by lashing out at the senior minister.
Prior to this incident, in 2009, Home Minister P Chidambaram was the target of a shoe attack by a journalist called Jarnail Singh. Shortly thereafter, Congress MP Naveen Jindal also had footwear lobbed at him and then a few days later it was the venerable BJP leader LK Advani, who suffered the indignity of dodging a slipper hurled by a disgruntled party worker.
Of course, the man currently in the news for enduring an array of slaps, blows and face blackening incidents is Arvind Kejriwal. The AAP leader, however, remains resolutely Gandhian and exhorts his party workers not to retaliate each time he is assaulted. His former mentor Anna Hazare had not been so charitable when Pawar was assaulted and wondered aloud on camera why the NCP politico had received only one slap.
Interestingly, Jarnail Singh, the journalist who targeted Chidambaram has been awarded an AAP ticket to contest these elections. If elected, Jarnail Singh, already proficient at flinging footwear, will feel right at home in Parliament where all manner of objects and abuses are routinely hurled.
It seems to me that rather than attack your fellow men or take the law in your own hands, the most potent way to express one’s outrage is to simply raise your index finger and cast your vote. This will not only deliver a resounding slap on the face of the corrupt but also give the complacent and incompetent the boot.