Proverbs and idioms, being exclusively scripted in different languages, as is familiar to the sections in the land’s population speaking, writing, reading and communicating particularly in Kannada wherever they are across the world, have crystallised out of life’s experiences of people in successive generations, although none of them is attributed to any individual of an undermined past. So also the lines of Subhaashitas (words of wisdom that please the minds) that are now within easy reach of all who can read either Kannada script or Devanagari script. One such set of lines reads: Vidwatvan cha nrupathvam cha naivathulyam kadaachanna; swadeshe poojyathe raaja, Vidwan sarvtra poojyathe. The expression prescribes that scholarship and sovereignty of a King are not to be equated; A King is respected only in his kingdom while a scholar is respected everywhere. One is prompted to draw a parallel to this expression by replacing the King with the land’s netas, barring rare exceptions.
Pages of the land’s history do mention kings ruling in different regions at different times extolled outside their captive territories, such as Emperor Ashoka. There is no gainsaying that scholars such as the legendary eighth century philosopher Adi Shankara have earned unqualified respect of people all over the land not only in their lifetime but also over centuries long after their passing away.
Having taken note of the vast difference between the short-lived-short-range imagery of kings and never-fading-all-pervading adulation for scholars, one may find it fascinating to take a peek at the public image of the land’s netas. The Constitution of the nation provides the framework in which the people, read electorate, have elected their representatives, facilitating most of them to land seats of authority and unbridled power, not to forget self-granted fat package of lavish privileges, including five-figure pay cheque, free travel, subsidised food and so on, last but not the least, VIP and VVIP status, descending on public spaces like the proverbial ‘Bull-in-a-China-shop’! The aam janata have to grin and bear it as it were while these elected representatives who profess to serve want to be served. Money-power and muscle-power along with the hard-to-erase feudal culture of the land’s Diaspora are their best bet to be VIPs and VVIPs.
In the backdrop of the foregoing scenario, the two dramatically announced measures at the instance of the Prime Minister, namely (a) knocking off the red beacon light on official cars of Ministers and (b) barring use of official transport for private trips by the bureaucrats have come not a day too early even as public angst over the open arrogance of the netas has crossed all limits of tolerance.