The people of India are extremely intolerant towards the criticism of certain iconic individuals and incredible institutions of their country. These iconic individuals are known for their superhuman efforts and these incredible institutions are remembered for churning out the most talented set of men and women. Any criticism of these individuals or institutions (be it reasonable or unreasonable) happens to create a stir and is presumed to go against national prestige. All in all, they are considered to be larger than life.
It’s a scenario of exaggerated national pride where we categorically crush constructive criticism. We don’t allow anyone to kickstart any debate which questions Gandhi’s political strategies, his views on sex and his alleged superstitions. We create a huge furore when Shoaib Akhtar questions Sachin Tendulkar’s credentials as a batsman or when Adam Gilchrist raises doubts about his sportsmanship and the entire country collectively condemns Narayan Murthy’s opprobrium of IIT’s after an unneeded controversy. We’ve got to accept the fact that these individuals/institutions are not above suspicion or criticism. ‘Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion’ doesn’t apply to them. We need to stop seeing Mahatma Gandhi as a saint, prophet or messiah. He was a master politician who happened to be just as shrewd as all the other politicians of his time and achieved awe-inspiring success but that doesn’t mean that he did not lead movements which failed or he did not take any wrong step which backfired. There is no denying that Sachin Tendulkar is the one of the best cricketers of all time but the truth is that sometimes he has also failed to deliver on occasions when the team has actually required him to lead from the front. The IIT’s continue to be extremely prestigious and sought after institutions but the IIT’s just like all the other institutes of India can be accused of not imparting technical education necessary for survival in the industry.
What we need to learn is how to utilize opprobrium and critically analyze it for our own benefit. There is no point in banning books and crushing criticisms. It’s always better to have a debating society where factions advocating different view points exist instead of having a society where there are no mavericks, no argument can be countered and there is a unitary centre of power/thinking whose stance has to be toe-ed on each and every matter.