The controversy over actor Anupam Kher's U-turn on Padma awards after his selection as a recipient of the Padma Bhushan this Republic Day is nothing new. In India, state awards today have become political rewards long back and whoever rules the day, abide by the same set of norms.
But what was ironical is that Kher's moment of shame came on a Republic Day when the president of France, a country which has historically been known for setting up high social ideals like ‘Liberty, Equality & Fraternity'.
How Anupam Kher ruined his hard-earned name
Have we in India ever felt the urgency to abide by those ideals to set up a high standard in our social life? The way a respected veteran actor like Anupam Kher showed how we Indians easily ruin our hard-earned names just to remain in the good books of the rulers of the day, it proves fundamental human values so vigorously championed in the West have little appeal in these parts.
It is painful to see that the civil society in India is unable to rise above the influence of political partisanship and patronage and in the process, loses the moral ground to back individual rights and freedom.
When Kher's colleague Aamir Khan mentions about a statement made by his wife apprehending an intolerant atmosphere in the country, the former aligns himself with a majority sentiment to criticise the latter.
Do Indians care about liberty, equality & fraternity?
One feels disappointed to see that even the educated and sophisticated minds of this country disapprove of the ideals of freedom, equality and brotherhood just to find it politically favourable.
The majoritarian voice gobbles up individuals' sense of responsibility to overshadow, sometimes even by questioning the external identity, those who feel it urgent to express their doubts.
This is how the rule of the majority functions, caring little about the noble motto that nations like France had preached centuries ago.
Hence, when we invite the French president and troops from his country to grace the occasion we choose to express our nationalistic pride, the self-defeating stand taken by people like Kher makes the picture look imperfect.
More than supporting France's military cause, we need to back its democratic ideals
If we are keen to support France's war on the Islamic State, we should be equally eager to match that country's commitment to democratic ideals. Else, things look hollow.
However, having spoken about Kher's U-turn that earned him brickbats in the public domain, let us also be clear about the fact that he is neither the first nor the last individual who is at the receiving end (both the award and the criticism).
As we said, the civil society in this country is a soft victim of political partisanship and we have seen time and again how that society gets split in displaying loyalty to diverse political camps, both for short-term and long-term gains.
Issues like "intolerance" just give an occasion to launch the mission in search of opportunism.