That’s a birdy your honour – eagle and albatross next?

Voices Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 05:30
Free as a bird One bird that must be jumping with joy at the Delhi High Court’s order recalling the rights of our feathered friends saying they have rights to fly in open spaces must surely be India’s former top sleuth Ranjit Sinha. Remember the time he shamed 1.3 billion Indians by calling himself a “caged parrot”, presumably one that could neither spit nor swallow? Justice Manmohan Singh (what irony) expressed anguish that instead of being allowed to fly free, birds were “exported illegally to foreign countries without availability of proper food, water or medical aid”. While we let experts and legal luminaries sort that one out, we have a few doubts and some questions. In a country where it is illegal to be gay, where beef is being sought to be banned, where passports are denied to women who marry their partners after living with them,  what is this bird …no, we don’t want to use that word. We are also reminded of the time when an entire contingent of policemen was deployed to trace buffaloes in a state where the chief minister say boys will be boys after they are caught raping women.  Or the numerous times our politicians make other passengers wait in planes while their kith and kin shop, generally abroad. Remember the hundreds of examples where law-abiding bureaucrats are shifted and shunted around because they played by the rule? Yes, we are coming to it. What do our politicians and legal luminaries have to say about the daily harassment of human beings for everything from hospital beds to school admissions, food, fuel, water and safety? Oh, and how could we forget. Those stupid pavement-dwellers who threw themselves in front of a famous film star who was driving drunk? They deserved to die. Or a certain lady whose financial assets shrunk magically? And that other driver who killed his guard because the latter was a little late in opening another guilded cage? Questions, more questions – we told you.  Don’t get us wrong.  This is not about caged or free animals and birds. This is about dignity to live and love freely without fear and prejudice - rights that were written into our Constitutions when we became free as a people. Our rights are denied to us on a daily basis by politicians we have elected. They speak in tongues we no longer understand. They fight battles that are neither ours nor theirs. As millions of Indians struggle to make both ends meet, our politicians look not just at self-preservation but also at ways and means to extend their privileges by hook or by crook. That is the albatross and the Alcatraz or the mill stone if you prefer. As for us, we are all registering ourselves at golf clubs so we can club it all together in a way that makes sense to normal people.  Go figure.