I remember during mid-sixties MF Hussain – Maqbool Fida Husain- was seen in Connaught Place, inner circle New Delhi, quite often. If I remember correctly he had a 1958 make fiat which he had painted crazy with different colours like a jigsaw puzzle and one could see him driving in CP where there were hardly any cars on the road those days. This was quite a sight. At that time MF Hussain who turned into a great painter had just become famous and soon became a darling of the art circle. He was called Pablo Picasso of India!
He became so famous for his horses and modern art that some of his paintings sold at a mind-boggling price- one of his creations was sold for USD 1.6 million in 2008, setting a world record at Christie’s South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art sale.
Later in India, his talent earned him the Padma Bhushan in 1973, the Padma Vibhushan in 1989, and a nomination to the Rajya Sabha in 1986. So the man was more than big enough for any boots.
But he had a peculiar habit of not wearing any footwear, not even chappals. This was entirely a matter of choice and his argument was that he was bare feet because he liked to feel the earth under his feet.
Because of this during the peak of his career he was denied entry seeing his bare feet by a club in south Bombay – now Mumbai. No shoes no entry. Some clubs to date do not allow sports shoes and insist on collared shirts- tucked in – period. You may be anybody, rules of the institution are rules for everyone. You can’t go to the court and say, ‘it is my freedom to dress the way I want and I will wear chappals and come’. A man like this whose autographs were sought by the rich and famous was asked to go back. Though the media made some headlines he had to retreat.
The same MF Hussain was seen in boots in UK or New York during winters to protect his feet. Sensible no- he knew that frostbite doesn’t spare anyone including the rich and famous. He was neither finicky nor foolish and knew where the line needs to be drawn with rules as well as nature.
Of course, you are free to wear or not to wear shoes but you need to follow the rules. This freedom for freedom is being stretched to a breakpoint in modern times. And don’t give this ‘Convoluted Constitutional’ argument which seems to have run out of steam as a point of deflection, defence- it now looks flimsy. You cannot say I will wear Tommy Hilfiger underwear and a dollar vest to my class in school or college as it is hot, because so and so section of the constitution gives me freedom!
With the same logic if a teacher asks you a question in the class and you turn around and say:
‘I invoke my right to remain silent’ or the teacher says ‘please go and sit down in the class’ and you say ‘Sorry sir, Article 19(d) of the constitution gives me a right to roam around anywhere within India!’ when the result comes and ten out of 60 students fail, the ten who failed to give an application ‘you must pass all of us under the right of equality.’
If one has rights one also has responsibilities. One has to respect the law and respect the institution one goes to go to. Instead of making a school that teaches children to do better in life a place to be grateful for one should not think one has bought the teachers and the institution by paying the fees. No one is doing a favour- remember they are working to better our life and our children’s future.
Where will this end?
This is heading towards doom. There are plenty within the peer group to instigate children and many from the outside for their petty gains are exploiting children – our children.
Along with the heady ideas of freedom and rebellious attitude being shown in films, and the liberal brigade coaxing us, it will spell doom for the parents. Remember, governments will come and go, judges will go but our children will be ours forever. We have to take charge of our sons and daughters and support the teachers- remember if teachers go, we will have illiterate and arrogant, ill-mannered people now kids and tomorrow adults. We should not create any ill feelings in our children and should not outsource values to schools- it is our job and if we don’t the lightening will first fall on us. Remember we in a family have two or four kids to tame, the school teachers handle in hundreds. We should not make their task more difficult.
So to all the parents who are watching some tamasha or the other on some issue or the other in the society every day involving children, need to smell the coffee. All this will boomerang and wreak havoc on us only. And then there will be nowhere to go. Teachers will raise their hands, the government will not be able to do much and courts will say that it is not their job.