Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tribute to ME, Dad

If you want to know what a silver spoon tastes like, what narcissism looks like, and how institutionalized patronage can be described in action, I urge you to read the Tribute to my dad blog by a daughter of Capt Kanwaljit Singh. The Captain died in a road accident last year. I am guessing the daughter is at least 30 years of age (since her father was 67 in 2009, when he passed away). I earlier thought, giving the writer the benefit of doubt, that the blog was by his granddaughter, but I have had to, unfortunately, correct my initial impression.

The first entry is Can anyone interpret my dream? The single comment is interesting too.

The second entry is a harangue coming from the notion that her father was unjustly treated after his accident.
If a VIP Person is not cared then what about a common man?Where should they go!!
Who will raise their voice against injustice?
JAAGO people get together to fight injustice
cause this can with anybody
The third (and currently the latest) entry is a tribute to her father, containing gems such as:
The most downtrodden could boast of his close connection with Capt. Sahib and bully his way in any government office.


He had so many qualities which cannot be enumerated but some major ones which stand out were: Honesty- not restricted to just corruption but honesty in thought and action. (couple this comment with the passport anecdote below -harmanjit)


I’ll tell you , since my father passed away I’ve been exposed to certain amount of politics & what I understand from my experience is that it is a task in itself to get through to the administration & leaders, if a person like me is unable to reach them, think about a common man?


One instance that I can’t forget is when my dad was going to UK for a conference. Everyone wanted to go and as usual I was told to make him agree. He agreed & we all got very happy. We were to leave in 2 days time and guess what my passport had expired; I was so sad that the person who made the entire plan was only not going!! I went to him and started crying that I did not want to be left behind. He told me ‘chalo dekhda Haan, ‘go home and get your things ready as our flight was to leave the next day at 9 pm. Then the impossible happened, My Passport was made by 1pm the next day and I started for Delhi at 2pm, the UK embassy closes by 4 PM again I got tensed as there was no way I could reach by 4 pm. My dad told me in his usual way ‘ CHALO DEKHDE HAI WHAT CAN BE DONE .’

you will not believe this- I reached DELHI at 6 pm and guess what the chief consulate of the embassy had kept the embassy open specially for me!! tears started flowing out of my eyes & i told him what i would do without him infact what will the whole family do without him!!!

Indeed! Indeed!


Want more enlightenment about her brother and how he has been planning to give tribute to his father?
Though he made it clear that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was a father-figure to him, he said he would contest as an Independent from Patiala to give a “befitting” tribute to his late father.
The son is miffed that in his efforts to honor his father, he was not allowed to contest as the party candidate from the constituency that his father hailed from, but had only been given the chairmanship of a bank.

From The Indian Express:
A few days back, SAD president and Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal was quoted saying that there was no need to adjust Bunny since he was already chairman of Punjab Cooperative Bank. This statement by Sukhbir Badal is learnt to have triggered this reaction.
In case you want to know how such chairmanships are awarded, may I direct your kind attention here.

End of the story? The son was finally allowed to give tribute to his father, by contesting as the party candidate from his father's constituency. And since it is India, my dear, obviously he won by a wide margin.


Ketan said...

I seriously did not get the point of the post. Most of the political leaders in India (or maybe even elsewhere), winning any election from any of the constituencies would have a similar story behind them.

At least it is the same in interiors of Maharashtra.

Was there something specific in this political family that made you write about them, or were you merely pointing out the typical things that happen in Indian politics?

Harmanjit Singh said...

@Ketan: The daughter's tribute and the son's tribute. Their pain and wish to remember their father who spent his life in the service of his people.

There should be a word for tragic sarcasm.

Ketan said...

Oh, ok, I get the point. I have just got too used to this sort of hypocrisy, especially coming from political families, and that's why I thought it normal.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@ketan: The hypocrisy of the son is easy to understand. The attitude of the daughter is more, um, interesting, shall we say? I really urge you to read her blog. :-)

Modern Man said...

Hello Harman,

What are some of your observations of the state of narcissism (of the kind displayed in the daughter's blog) in India? Is it as rampant as it is in the U.S., for instance?


Harmanjit Singh said...

@MM: In India it is an epidemic amongst the English speaking young generation and a double whammy in that they are "ME" and their "ME" is an imported one.

The examples are all over the place, but the major avenues are the most revealing. If you haven't seen "3 Idiots", the biggest hit as a film since a long time, you should.

Ketan said...


I had actually read all the three blog posts by her in the same sequence linked by you.

I had used the term 'hypocrisy' in her context, too, because the way she had glorified her father, and was referring to him impersonally and persistently as 'captain' gave me an impression that she was attempting to market him, and she knew that she was propagating a falsehood. In fact, even before I'd completed reading your post, reading hers gave me the impression she or some family member must be into politics.

The passport thing was the funniest! I don't know how she made that goof up of mentioning it the was she did. Maybe she didn't realize how the 'ordinary' citizens would receive making the embassy remain open two extra hours! Which, btw, I am not sure if is possible. Maybe, she was trying to market the 'softer' side of her dad!

And you must make her one more allowance - she does not know English well, and had used certain words only for the effect. In particular, she does not seem to know the negative 'connotations' associated with a word like "bully"! Or even worse, her idea of what constitutes "downtrodden" is quite upmarket. ;)

Initially, I didn't realize how entertaining what you wanted to point out was, but now thinking over again, I would say I thoroughly enjoyed reading her blog posts. :) Just that I did not get affected the way you did(?).

Where I had done my graduation, the feudal lords over there have been winning elections for almost 5 decades now.
This electoral success, in my understanding, is not as much about patronage as it is about coercion, nipping the buds, and pre-election gifting of motor bikes and TVs! Nobody likes that feudal family, but their winning the elections is almost a given! And the family have already produced two 'Padmashrees'!

Also, I could not get the "imported ME" reference to 3 idiots.

I'm sorry, I might take some time to get used to your kind of (subtle) sarcasm. :)

And lastly, by 'narcissism' did you mean merely self-centeredness or in addition to that, also an element of conceit?


anil misra said...

hey man she has lost a parent, I think she deserves sympathy rather than cynicsm. Are you saying that the loss of ones father is less painfull if he is in politics.

anil mishra

Pankaj said...

she could simply have said, and it would have summed it all up - "captain saab di badi daishat see"

the following video in this context -

Harmanjit Singh said...

@anilmisra: You are right. She has lost a parent, and her sorrow is understandable, but her response to the loss says a lot about power and privilege and entitlement, and that's what I am pointing at.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@Ketan: What is the central message of 3 idiots? According to me, it is this (and this message is being peddled in so many ways across our culture now):

Don't worry about expectations and responsibilities and hard work, think only of what YOU want.

And what I meant by the imported identity is that the favorite persona, role play, of the English-medium educated youngsters is that of a western Dude or Gal.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@Ketan: About narcissism, I will write a detailed article soon.

Ketan said...


Firstly, I found two central messages in 3 idiots - one for the individual, and one for the society.

For the individual it was:

Think of only what YOU want to do (as against wanting 'things'), and do not think of expectations or responsibilities or hardwork because (this reasoning was subliminal) those things will automatically fall in place once you pursuse your 'dream'. [both Madhavan and Sharman end up 'not struggling' in the movie].

For the society:

Education-practices must be purpose-driven (in this case, making engineers who can innovate) and not just because they have been handed down from the previous generations.

I have my strong reservations against the false and impractical optimism the second part of the individulistic message rides on. And I understand this view has come to be largely accepted, especially among those whose parents can take care of their children's finances just in case they fail in that department. But if my observation that this optimism is more prevalent among those well off is correct, then, probably it is because that segment of the Indian society is indeed more like the developed world in terms of financial security. I have never been out of India, so correct me if I am wrong, but my impression is that, 'poorer' a country (per capita income-wise), more efforts the citizens have to put in for basic survival or even for luxuries as compared to the effort required to procure the same in a developed country. In this sense, the children hailing from relatively well off Indian families can afford to take career-related risks (and anyway, on them financial expectations would not be weighing down heavily).

And as an aside, I don't know if it is only me, but I found the depiction of Sharman's family excessively contemptuous of those living under money constraints because of the circumstances they could not help.

I found many of the 'innovations' in the movie a bit too imaginative! ;)

Yes, would be looking forward to your article on narcissism. You might find interesting the diagnostic criteria for 'narcissistic personality disorder', if you are also looking out for what other sources have to say about narcissism.