Okay so the damn website has crashed again. I give up. *bangs head on keyboard* Anyone able to recommend a good host that doesn’t cost the earth? And can handle the traffic?
And while you’re racking your brain I’m going to post about something that has been in the news for some days and no, it’s not the tsunami. It is about Jeev Milkha Singh’s coach, Amritinder Singh being asked to remove his turban at the airport for security checks.
I understand there has been a lot of outrage and living in India where Sikhs and turbans are common, I see their point. I could never imagine asking a Sikh to remove his turban. College years in Delhi were spent in a locality full of Skihs though and on Sunday afternoons it was a common sight to see bearded men sitting outside their homes on khatiyas drying their freshly washed hair. It would almost always end in a cricket match down the lanes and for the first few weeks after I moved there I was very confused to see tall, hefty bearded figures rush up and down the lane with beautiful, thick, shiny long hair flowing down to the waist, good-naturedly squabbling over whether it was a four or a six. Come Monday morning the hair would be bundled neatly into turbans and they’d be serious faced businessmen at the local shopping centre.
But, turbans and burkhas, while religious symbols, must all give way to law. There is no right or wrong – this is an area of legal and illegal. It is legal and well within the airport authorities rights to make us take off shoes, gloves, hats, caps, anything they want really. If I give them enough reason to, they might stick a finger up where the sun don’t shine and sadly, there is nothing I can do about it. It’s not polite, it’s not nice, and I may not be an internationally renowned sports person. But I have my dignity that is no less than yours or Shahrukh Khan’s and it bothers me if something beeps and they start checking if it is my belt or bra hook. And yet, I endure it, because we all need to bow before the law of the land, regardless of our personal religious beliefs. And this is a matter of security – is it right to allow our personal beliefs to jeopardise other peoples’ lives? I can’t think of a single country that hasn’t faced security issues and terror threats. Everyone has a right to do what it takes to ensure their personal and national safety just as everyone has a right to their religious symbols and personal dignity.
Why not make it easy for everyone concerned by just cooperating? Instead you object. They are simply security personnel doing their job so they get mad. You get madder. The queue behind you is growing and fidgeting. It blows into an international incident. And before you know it, they are demanding that that PM of the country speak on behalf of all turban wearers. And I’ll admit that I don’t know the PM personally, but he seems to be the kind of person who would have complied in a quiet and dignified manner without it turning into a diplomatic situation, pulling rank or playing the I-am-so-famous card. I guess that is where real dignity enters the picture. No one can take away your dignity and self respect unless you allow them to. I have taken a very very long time to learn this lesson. And oh – what if it had not been a sportsperson and just some regular Sikh businessman on his way to Canada? Would we have entertained the protests? All this is just diverting attention from true racism, hate crimes and harassment.
Some time back there was a huge controversy about burkha photo IDs and only female staff being allowed to check the faces of women in burkhas. I think that is fair enough because many women are uncomfortable being stared in the face by a strange man. It is a small matter to take someone aside and give them some privacy. Perhaps a similar courtesy could have been extended to Mr Singh. If he felt taking his turban off in public was an insult, they might have taken him aside. Not because he is a famous person, but because this is a religious sentiment and one needs to tread cautiously. But if he felt that as a renowned personality he had a right to be exempted, I’m afraid I disagree. I mean even the far more well known Shahrukh Khan (with all due respect to Mr Singh) was detained and questioned for two hours. All because his Muslim name kept popping up on an alert list. And he endured it because it was a law of the land and the authorities were simply following procedures. I can’t imagine us doing that to Brad Pitt or Will Smith.
Part of the problem in our country is that we don’t follow the procedures even though there are more than enough of them laid in place. All you have to do is claim that someone is insulting your religious symbol/pride and you’re let off. Or else of course say that your father is a big shot (Jaante ho main kiska beta hoon?) and you’re through. There are sops and loopholes and allowances for everything. Sikhs don’t wear helmets and women in burkhas vote without once lifting their burkha for their identity to be checked. And then we expect that the rest of the world will go as easy on our feelings as India does. Not happening.
What do you guys think?