Whose ‘leader’ and why should we mourn

published on December 27, 2010

The Bhagawad Gita says dying is nothing much to worry about. That is a correct perspective if one thinks about life on this planet as a continuum of births and rebirths and liberation from the cycle of these two through the yogic path.

In the present milieu wherein the internet and electronic media is the favourite green pastures of the diaspora, the electronic media unwittingly enjoys the liberty to set the agenda for the leisure time that a person spends at home. The TV news channels are always after news – good or bad. After all, that is their business. However, if we review the way some news channels cover certain events, especially deaths and funerals, we are forced to surmise if the viewers really deserve such a treatment from the channels. The TV channels have the uncanny knack to demonise or deify a public personality at a crucial juncture of his life. If the famous devotional Malayalam poet Poonthanam were to come alive today, he would sing “‘it is the news channels who make a king out of a pauper and yet it is the news channels who punish the smart guy in 2-4 days.”

No doubt, the death of a public person deserves to be mourned. What happens to the deeds or misdeeds of that person with his or her death? Worldwide, traditionally, humankind has not forgiven dead tyrants and autocrats of yore who had been handing out tyranny and trouble while alive. If various societies were to forgive such rulers, we would not have the telltale accounts of cruelties and misrule in the pages of world history – be it Ravana, Hitler, Mussolini or any such ruler.

When K. Karunakaran passed away, the entire Malayalam media began singing paeans to him. All of a sudden they atoned all his misdeeds and eulogized him as the ‘Leader’ and some TV channels even portrayed Karunakaran as the leader of all times. In hindsight if one peeps into the past, one cannot miss the real face of K. Karunakaran. This author agrees that he was a freedom fighter and he used to protect anybody who took refuge in him. He was also a quick decision maker. These apart, who was the real Karunakaran? He was an out and out corrupt politician. His life has been a rags-to-riches story. He amassed huge wealth, the account of much of which is unknown in the public realm. He was autocratic to the core like his mentor, late Indira Gandhi.

To the Hindus in Kerala, Karunakaran did much harm to their life over the decades though they are blissfully oblivious of this fact mainly due to the fact that public memory is short and often it fails to flash back through bygone years. Karunakaran, during the dark days of emergency, as home minster in the Achyuta Menon government, was responsible for instilling fear in peoples’ mind and perpetration of many brutalities in Kerala. Though he recently tried to absolve himself of the responsibility for Rajan’s death, public memory and facts of the case are too strong to be forgotten and forgiven so easily. Emergency rule had many workers of the Hindu nationalist organisations jailed and tortured brutally. Many of them are living testimonials to the brutalities of Karunakaran’s police. Most of them have to undergo periodic medical treatment to counter the lifelong injuries inflicted on them during torture in jail.

It is again Karunakaran who was responsible for giving undeserved legitimacy to minority communal parties, Kerala Congress and Muslim League, in the state politics by forging alliances with them in various assembly elections. The worst insult on the face of millions of Hindus in the state was planting of cruses by overzealous Catholic missionaries in Nilakkal. Karunakaran did not do anything to reign in Kerala Congress which has been protecting the missionaries. Not only that, his police beat up the Hindu protestors and many protestors and Hindu religious leaders were put in jail and tortured.

K. Karunakaran was an ardent devotee or Guruvayoorappan and Ravana himself was a strong devotee of Lord Siva. Both Ravana and Karunakaran worshipped God for their selfish motives. They were never bothered about dharma or values.

The media should do well to adopt a more balanced approach in reporting obituaries and funerals. If they remodel their strategies with regard to such events, they would be doing justice to the viewers or readers who very rarely bother to look pretty deep into the annals of unwholesome lives of public personalities.

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