Tuesday, 6 September 2011


We, in India, from ancient times till now, hold footwear in great awe and respect. I don't know about earlier times, but, from the time of Lord Rama, sandals are regarded as good as the king himself, the ruler, the monarch. Bharat, in the absence of Lord Rama, ruled Ayodhya through the latter's sandals.

Seen in this light one cannot understand the brouhaha about Mayawati sending an aeroplane to fetch her sandals. Looked at it in a certain way, it is just an expression of her desire to usher in Ram-rajya in her state Uttar Pradesh.

Mayawati's genuine desire to quickly get at her sandals goes well with her dalit image honed perfectly by putting the symbol of poverty and frugality, the elephant, all over the state. This, in a way, can be described a Gandhian way of doing things; if you recall that it used to cost a lot allowing Gandhi to travel with the common man in the third class in the trains.

Mayawati - bringing in Ram-rajya. Pic Courtesy: India Daily

Afterall, if Mayawati was not giving out a lesson in frugality she would have shown scant respect for fellow Indians by going the Imelda Marcos way and have a number of planes fetch a number of her sandals; if the readers care to remember Imelda and her husband when they fled Philippines didn't wait for their countrymen to shower their footwear in rememberance of a job well done as President and Mrs President, but, merely took a few hundred of her own whilst fleeing. Likewise, Mayawati won't be too sure if the populace of UP would like to part with their footwear to show respect for her rule. So, her attachment to her own sandals can be excused. Lets also be thankful that she has merely fetched sandals and not hurled it on anyone, which is also becoming quite common. But, she won't stoop so low.

Talking about Presidents, how can we forget His Excellency, Giani Zail Singh, the hon'ble President of India? His claim that if Smt Indira Gandhi wanted him to sweep the floor, he would do so happily. Each one of our dignitaries, from the President to Parliamentarians to Chief Ministaers to MLAs (Members of Legislative Assemblies) have brought great dignity to their posts by such acts as Zail Singh Ji's, by hurling footwear and other removable things at one another, and by offering and accepting underhand cash for what they are supposed to do. So possessive they are about the lofty reputation they have built up, that when a commoner like Anna Hazare and his team, do the unthinkable of getting people on their side, they instantly talk about dignity and supremacy of parliament.

In the end we have to consider who is more important, a Foreign Minister of a failed state like Pakistan, Hine Rabbani Khar (who spends a huge sum of money on her Birkin bag) or a Chief Minister of India's largest state, Mayawati. A pair of sandals is actually a useful item; whereas a bag is just a fashion statement.

By requisitioning a plane to get her sandals Mayawati is also signalling that we Indians take tradition more seriously than wasting planes to be used as missiles against unfriendly nations. It is such an innocent act that we don't have to start a GWOF (Global War on Footwear).

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