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Let’s break free

It’s not their fault. We put them there. But we don’t need no role models. We don’t need no thought control. On the eve of our 59th Independence Day, Metro takes a pledge to walk past yesterday’s wall of fame

Long years ago, at the stroke of a midnight hour, Jawaharlal Nehru had promised that India would awake to life and freedom. The time has come again to redeem our pledge, to step out from the old to the new.

This Independence Day, we want freedom from our current role models. For too long have they been controlling our destinies. Our tryst with them is over. The nation is bored.

Not everyone needs to be overthrown. Some are true guiding lights for the nation, even if there are too many strobe lights. But how everyone will just go on and on about them. Some others need to go because they are not supposed to be there. The rest are just plain tiring.

Here’s why. (And we are only talking about the living.)

N.R. Narayana Murthy,
Sir Infosys

He put India on the global IT map, generated thousands of jobs, made a huge number of millionaires out of his employees. He embodies corporate social responsibility.

But does that mean we have to suffer the purple prose that he inspires' This is a homage paid to him on the Net. Narayana Murthy is “not just Karnataka’s jewel, but India’s pride”, it says. “He is known not just for building the biggest IT empire in India, but also for his simplicity... Almost every important dignitary visits Infosys campus. The beauty about his family is that they believe in sharing their wealth with the needy.” It’s the tone we object to.

If there is no one to challenge him in achievement, stature and respectability soon, middle-class parents will run out of adjectives — and dreams. (Ok, there’s Amartya Sen, too; we are coming to him, but he lives abroad mainly.) Murthy could also help us by saying something exciting, if only once a year.

Anil Ambani,
Reliance (Jr)

For some reason, he was elected the MTV youth icon in 2003. He features in other surveys of role models of the Indian youth, too. Though only what elder brother Mukesh has said has made sense of late, like calls and SMS on Reliance phone will cost 19 p per minute and 25 p respectively. It was Mukesh, again, who was seen with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

There can be only two reasons behind Anil being a youth icon — he takes part in the Mumbai marathon every year wearing a headband and is the best buddy of the man next on our hit list.

Amitabh Bachchan,
superstar

If we had ever known that the angry young man would turn into such a humble old man, we would have told him the secret of eternal youth.

Amitabh Bachchan should stop being modest. He is the greatest. He knows so. So instead of repeating

a) “What I am today is because of your love and respect”;

b) “Beggars cannot be choosers... So I take what (role) comes my way and do my best”;

c) “I am an ordinary person”,

he should just look as haughty as he should — and that he sure can — and read Mohammad Ali’s biography.

Sachin Tendulkar,
cricketer

Highlights of Sachin’s career, quoting from memory — highest number of Test centuries (35); fastest to score 10,000 runs in Test history; most runs (14,146) in ODIs; most centuries (39) in ODIs

And: most centuries (39) in ODIs; most runs (14,146) in ODIs; fastest to score 10,000 runs in Test history; highest number of Test centuries (35).

See, we know it backwards. He is also the cricketer who made the most money out of ads. He has already inspired an adequate number of generations. He did not want to pay the custom’s duty on a foreign car gifted to him. He should retire.

As a farewell gesture, we will not get into the debate of whether he plays for the country — or for himself. And one more time someone begins his profile with “Born in Mumbai into a middle-class Brahmin family…”, marks will be deducted.

Shah Rukh Khan,
hero

He is 40. What has he really contributed to the nation except Fauji and Swades, Karan Johar and a stutter that starts with a K'

Aishwarya Rai,
beauty

Her stints as beauty queen, as Nandini, as Binodini — and as the international face of Bollywood — are over.

Manmohan Singh,
PM

The 14th Prime Minister of India is considered to be the man who restructured the Indian economy in the 90s. He is gentle, unassuming, polite and highly respected. He is the most educated PM in Indian history. So when he became PM, the middle classes heaved a sigh of relief. But as Prime Minister, he has never allowed his voice to be heard. Never over the Congress president’s Italian-accented Hindi.

Recommended reading:

Assert Yourself: Simple Steps to Getting What You Want by Gael Lindenfield (to master the art of meeting Sonia Gandhi)

Build Your Confidence Day by Day by Gael Lindenfield (to attend a joint news conference with Sonia Gandhi)

Self Esteem: Simple Steps to Develop Self-reliance and Perseverance by Gael Lindenfield (to deal with Congress ministers who bypass him and meet Sonia Gandhi)

Emotional Confidence: Simple Steps to Managing Your Feelings by Gael Lindenfield (to deal with Natwar Singh)

Managing Anger: Simple Steps to Dealing with Frustration and Threat by Gael Lindenfield (to deal with Prakash Karat)

A Woman in Your Own Right by Anne Dickson (to understand Sonia Gandhi).

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam,
President

We the people have had enough of his life, poetry and views. In the short poem ‘Rakhi Day is Righteous Day’, he says: “This full moon day our hearts are in brim/ Feeling of faith and serenity in mind/ We light the lamps and our hearts glow/ Radiance of happiness and peace are in flow/ Harmonious homes are like streams of joy... Righteous homes alone make a beautiful State….” He has said: “I will not be presumptuous enough to say that my life can be a role model for anybody; but it could perhaps help some poor children living in an obscure place in an underprivileged social setting liberate themselves from the bondage of their illusory backwardness and hopelessness...”

But is any poor child listening'

Medha Patkar,
protest leader

Since the Eighties, she has spearheaded the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Her fasts don’t work any more; we need new forms of resistance — and we are not talking about celeb ‘guest appearances’ here.

Amartya Sen,
Mr Nobel

We need to listen to everything that he has to say about everything. But there should be a ban on more Bengalis naming their children after him.

Footnote: Sourav Ganguly stays on because of the fear of a Bong backlash post-‘comeback’, and Sania Mirza because she is too young — and the only one to sport a nose ring.

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