Between the father-son duo of Kashmir Deputy Inspector General Shakeel Ahmed Beig and his son Tony, it’s a toss up deciding who’s behaviour has been more appalling. The DIG who thinks it’s his birthright to have someone tie his shoelaces, or the son who thought nothing of publicly proclaiming it on Instagram: “Real king-My Dad!! Last time he put his shoes himself was 15 years ago.”
Regular citizens can be excused for feeling great joy at the shattering fall from grace of people who derive pleasure from this kind of subservience. Retribution or karma is a very comforting concept, if only it came true more often. Warren Anderson just died at 92, after spending the last decade in a beach side retirement home with a wife who baked Swedish bread. He’s held responsible for the 10,000 deaths in Bhopal but his biggest problem was insomnia.
Beig’s case, however, has turned out to be deliciously karmic — and more glee, he’s been shot in the hip by his own son. It’s enough to make one believe in divine justice and consider, that maybe occasionally, the universe does actually conspire to give people their due. In the same lifetime. All the aggravating cliches that never come true (Reap what you sow, what goes around comes around) have this time, and triggered an avalanche of contempt. Ironically enough, in one day the DIG has gone from not tying his shoelaces, to having shoes hurled at him from every direction.
What’s fascinating to note in this entire incident is the ease with which Tony wears his entitlement. It’s just another day for him in paradise, where his dad calls the shots and everybody else obediently falls in line. The changes sweeping India have entirely escaped him (point to note, those changes are clearly not as prevalent in smaller towns), where the laal batti culture continues unabated. But in a rare twist of fate he’s been outed as a vile and shallow caricature of a villain from a ’70s Hindi movie — that most tired of cliches — bade baap ka bigdaa hua beta. Only, this is still reality in 2014.
The rich and powerful simply care less about everybody around them, because they don’t have to. With the grinding poverty all of us are exposed to in India, we’ve lost the ability to see ourselves in a less advantaged person’s shoes. Metaphors like ‘turning a blind eye’ came about because they suggest, rather correctly, the social distances between people. Sure, you can’t fault someone for being rich. China has its little emperors, New York, it’s pampered flamboyant princesses of the Upper East Side, immortalised by Gossip Girl. It’s relative, and we are all higher or lower in different interactions. It’s how we behave despite that, that reveals who we are.