This happened at IIT Kanpur. On 15 June 2017 at about 8.30 am IST.
I stay on campus at SBRA (Single Bed Room Apartment) provided for married scholars of Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT Kanpur). The campus was all set to receive the President of India, and dignitaries like PT Usha, MS swaminathan, Mriganka Sur, and Ajay K Sood. The spirit of scientific scholarship was tied to trees in the form of led bulbs and illumination chains. Humble proclamations scientific knowledge was proclaimed on large posters on all walls. We printed huge flux boards to celebrate invention of new eco-friendly initiatives in our laboratories. We were about to consecrate knowledge, education and scientific spirit. Hundreds of youngsters would be awarded their degrees the following days. They will move to different parts of the world holding the tricolour, singing glory to the nation and its high intellectual range and amplitude.
Meanwhile, I needed to drink some water- a petty human need. You see, we all have such needs irrespective of our status, knowledge, number of degrees and amount of power wielded on others. So I went to collect some 'purified' drinking water at the SBRA. There are only two taps for drinking water for SBRA residents. People from around SBRA also collect water from these taps- including maids, construction workers, vendors and passers by.
I was walking to the drinking water taps. There are two taps that give 'purified' drinking water. I saw that a worker from the construction site of Girls Hostel-2 was collecting water from one of the taps. He must have been working. There is dust on him. The other tap was idle. There was another woman-saree clad-waiting a few feet away from the taps, with an 'I-don't-care' attitude on her face. I wondered, why she was waiting while one tap was free. Since the other tap was free, I started collecting water from that one. I thought, may be she wants water from that specific tap! Some people have very specific choices. This pipe. ONLY. I was mistaken. It became clear when the labourer left, carrying his filled bottles and specks of dust back to the construction site.
When he left, she came up, carefully opened the tap with the tips of her fingers, collected some water in an empty steel mug, and began washing the tap thoroughly. When the ablution was over, she began filling her big Milton cooling flask! I hope you understood what the disease was! I pitied the saree-clad woman with an 'I-don't-care' expression. She needs education, I thought. What is wrong with her? What is so polluted about the construction worker? After all, she is collecting water from the tap installed by people like him. And she stays in a building constructed by people like him! Baah! And the campus was filled with ribbons (many of them saffron in colour) and posters and flux boards talking about scientific spirit and state-of-the-art inventions!
This is not the end of the story. I was thinking it was the 'labourer' status that made her wash the polluted pipes. I was mistaken. AGAIN! When I left with my bottles, I turned and saw that she was washing the tap I used! Wha...! Yes. She washed the tap I used, carefully opening the tap with the tips of her fingers. Then she began collecting water from that tap too! Oh no, I was mistaken. She was not particular about collecting water from the other tap! So, I am also untouchable. I too pollute what I touch (I am glad that water could remove the pollution caused by untouchables though). Good. I turned and walked feeling happy that I became one with the construction worker. After all, I am also an untouchable black South Indian!
Meanwhile, somewhere in the universe, so-called gods, angels, deities, holy spirits and their minions were being burned on stakes erected by people who worshiped their images in their holy buildings on Earth!
Is there anything true in the advertisements you see? Doubtful, isn't it? Before you make up your judgement, let me tell you something. There is truth in all sensible advertisements. But only part of it is true. I will show you how.
Most advertisements have three parts. The first part will be true. The second part will be false. The third part will be nonsense.
Part 1: Ad tells you that brushing your teeth is a good habit- truth.
Part 2: Ad tells you brand X has magical powers to attract handsome boys/beautiful girls- false.
Part 3: As shows you that brand X attracts six-pack-men or half naked shapely beautiful girls- nonsense.
Part 1: Ad tells you that wearing a deodorant reduces body order- truth.
Part 2: Ad shows you that brand Y has magical powers to seduce opposite gender- false and nonsense.
Part 3: Ad shows you that someone wearing brand Y deo attracts dozens of people like a magnet- NONSENSE.
Part 1: Ad tells you that a clean toilet is healthy, that it keeps the family's health ok- truth.
Part 2: Ad tells you that brand Z has magical powers to chase spooky germs and funny bacteria from under your WC, and is superior to every other toilet cleaner in the world- false.
Part 3: Ad shows you that brand Z chases spooky germs and funny bacteria from the WC- funny and nonsense.
When we watch an advertisement, we need to lock our intelligence away in a locker. We can't be told everyday that a fairness cream can make an Indian look like a European, or an ordinary person like superman! Aren't the ads indirectly telling you that you are not beautiful, handsome, intelligent, smart and strong? Yes. the ads are telling you on your face that you are a fool. They also tell you that using their product will make you someone else, who you should aspire to become. What farce! Who are these companies to tell me what I should become? What right do they have to tell me on my face that I am not good? No self-respecting individual can stand an ad that tells you that you are not good!
But ads do not tell you that directly. They will make it look like they are saying something sweet, good, for your improvement. But whatever they say, they are bluffing. Otherwise, what does a cricketer know about the quality of batteries? What does an actress know about the quality of a shoe brand? What does a singer know about the benefits of a mobile service provider? They take money, and parrot a script. And we believe! Yes. We are fools. Advertisement industry knows that we are fools. That we can be manipulated. That we can be easily trapped.
What I want to tell you is that we need to be cautious. Tomorrow when an ad tells you that your neighbour is a terrorist, and you need to 'kill your neigbour' with 'ABC' brand ax, you should not rush to buy that ax. The advertiser wants you to listen only to the 'ABC' part, and make you do the 'kill your neighbour' part of the ad. How clever! How ideological! How propagandist!
Next time you listen to an ad, listen to what it tells you. Think if there is truth in it. Never be tricked into doing what a stranger wants you to do.
A man of letters who loved to read everyday.
A man who made it a point to celebrate every occasion at home.
A man who loved his wife so much.
A man who made sure that his children had the education they desired.
A man who sent his children to music classes.
A man who put his reputation at risk for his family.
A man who turned poor for the love of his firstborn.
A man who sat silently in a police station for the happiness of his daughter.
A man who paid every bit he owed not by begging, but by selling everything he had.
A man who loved to travel, but stayed put for he had to feed his family.
A man who took the lead in computerizing the organization he worked for.
A man who secretly wrote and read poetry.
A man who romanced, loved and cared always.