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Political Play
KG Suresh
Remembering Lok Nayak and Nanaji on Big B's birthday 11 October, 2012
Television channels and radio stations today are agog with special reports and features on the Big B on account of his birthday and rightfully so. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Bollywood history can be divided into two parts - pre-Amitabh and AB's era.

THE ANGRY young man of Indian cinema reflected the frustration and anger of the youth against the system, the rampant corruption, the rich-poor class divide, communal polarization, et al. But unlike other starts who faded with time, Big B’s genius lay in reinventing himself.

From a senior citizen who falls in love with the beautiful Tabu to the memorable role of Auro in Paa, AB has established himself as an actor par excellence and numero uno. He showed no reluctance whatsoever in adapting to new technologies whether it be television (hosting the ever popular KBC) or the new media (blogs and tweets).

Big B has also set a benchmark as a marketing genius. His contribution to the eradication of Polio as the campaign’s good will ambassador has been phenomenal, apart from being the Brand Ambassador for Gujarat and earlier IIFA.

Acknowledging his mistake of joining politics, Big B continues to give young models a run for their money with his endorsement of products, ranging from hair oil to pen, suitings, phone services and what not, often inviting criticism for not being choosy enough.

Unmindful, the Big B juggernaut moves on. In fact, the mass media hysteria on his 70th birthday is a tribute not only to his popularity but an indication of his brand value the advertising agencies want to promote.

While the Big B did provide a gasket relief system of sorts to the angst and desperation of the masses, his films were personality oriented, one man  against all odds, something impractical. His role was thus confined to providing a relief, an escape of three hours or so from the harsh realities of life.

But on the same day today were also born two other great heroes, who by leading collective action brought about the much-needed change, at the national and local level.

With his call for ‘Sampoorna Kranti’ or ‘Total Revolution’, JP, popularly known as Lok Nayak, became the inspiration and icon for millions of youth across the country, as they fought against the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1975. He led by example, suffering torture and imprisonment, sacrificing his health and wealth for the larger well-being of the nation. Though he died a disillusioned man with the failure of the Janata experiments due to mutual wrangling, he conveyed to the rulers that the Indian people would never tolerate any dictatorship. His movement for democracy was no less significant than the freedom movement itself.

Nanaji Deshmukh was another stalwart who showed how change can be brought about at the grass roots level through grass root level voluntary action. After retiring from an active political life in Bharatiya Jan Sangh and founding the Deendayal Research Institute, Deshmukh developed a model for the development of rural areas on the basis of Integral Humanism.

After initial experiments in Gonda (U.P.) and Beed (Maharashtra), Nanaji finally fine-tuned an integrated program for the development of rural areas that covers health, hygiene, education, agriculture, income generation, conservation of resources, and social conscience, that is both sustainable and replicable. The basis of the project is 'Total transformation through total development with people's initiative and participation'.

The project, called the Chitrakoot Project or the 'Campaign for Self-Reliance', has transformed the lives of  over 500 villages around Chitrakoot along the MP-UP border and is being studied as a role model worldwide for sustainable development.

While entertainment is an essential ingredient of news, it should not be at the cost of education and enlightenment. (Ironically, it is the state run AIR and Doordarshan, which devoted some time to remember JP today). AB’s birthday is relevant for his fans and the products he endorses but the birth anniversaries of leaders such as Lok Nayak and Nanaji Deshmukh hold a greater significances for the larger masses of this country as they continue to battle corruption, poverty, malnourishment, unemployment and gender disparities every day. It’s time to review our priorities.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
About The Author
K G Suresh is a Delhi-based Senior Journalist and Editor of Critique
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