Soft targets

The attack of Swami Swaroopanand, the Shankaracharya of Dwaarkapeeth on Saibaba and his devotees prompted me to pen this long overdue post without further delay. For a pretty long time, I had been planning to write this blog. Swami Swaroopanand’s targetting Saibaba made me feel that the time has become ripe to put my relevant thoughts on paper.

The way anybody and everybody in today’s India is free to curse Mahatma Gandhi and say any confirmed or unconfirmed derogatory thing about him and term him only as responsible for the woes of our country, the same way Swami Swaroopanand has found a soft target to attack in Saibaba. We don’t know whether the stories spread about him are true or not but the thing is that a sizable number of people get solace by visiting his temples or worshipping him. The devotees of Saibaba neither criticize or attack any other religion or faith or followers of any community. Hence this non-violent and peaceful community has become a soft target for Swami Swaroopanand, the same way Mahatma Gandhi has become a soft target for several Indians who either feel aggrieved or show off as aggrieved by the nation’s troubles.

This concept finds its application in several spheres of life. The aggressive people have to find out soft targets to vent their own violent feelings out. Since there must be an excuse also to do so, real or imaginary facts are found or cooked to prepare ground for the already planned and decided attack.

Caste-based reservations have become a sacred cow for the political parties of India and vote banks have been created and consolidated in the name of Dalits, backwards and Muslims. Considering the power of these vote banks and the aggressiveness of their leaders, the personalities or brand names of such groups and whatever they did in the past, cannot be criticized or even questioned (leave aside saying anything derogatory about them) but the poor revolutionaries who laid down their lives for the nation and who, unfortunately, also did not belong to any community who is considered a strong vote bank now, are soft targets and any derogatory thing can be said about them. Years back, the then lady CM of Uttar Pradesh had termed Mahatma Gandhi as the devil’s offspring and Chandra Shekhar Aazaad as a terrorist while comparing them with Ambedkar who became a sacred cow during the nineties on account of the vote bank he is said to command in the poll-based Indian politics. Poor Chandra Shekhar Aazaad might not have dreamed while sacrificing his life for the nation that there would come such a day when some vote hungry politician would term him a terrorist and nothing would happen upon that. Well, he does not belong to a solid vote bank, else the situation would have been different. Nobody can dare say such a thing about an equally great martyr Sardaar Bhagat Singh because of the fear of backlash by the Sikh community. That’s the irony of India. The Paarsi community can be mocked in movies and TV serials despite making a great contribution to the country’s productivity because they do not form any vote bank. The are diminishing in number with the passage of time with nobody giving a damn for their survival. They are a soft target. Celebrities belonging to the glamour world are also a soft target for the extortionists and the nuisance-lovers.

It happens in day-to-day life too. You can criticize and call names to Bush or Obama because they won’t come and catch your throat for that (in fact, whatever you are saying for them, won’t even be known to them) but you can’t dare to say anything adverse for the local hooligan in a normal situation because he’s a hard target whereas the faraway sitting celebrities are soft targets.

Many of the arts which are a part of our rich cultural heritage are soft targets only and they are being made to die mercilessly by the market forces. Circus has entertained the masses for centuries but it has become a soft target for the so-called animal activists who are making it to perish in the name of the rights of the animals with the poor circus-workforce finding it difficult to earn and survive in the cruel world. Such people only have now forced the moviemakers not to use living animals in their movies (filmmakers and artists are also soft targets only). However these self-proclaimed animal-lovers can’t do anything about the numerous slaughter-houses in which these poor ones are killed for the sake of their flesh and skin or just because they have lost their use to the humans because the market of flesh and skin of animals is not a soft target, it is a very hard target instead. Finally, the poor dumb animals are also soft targets only for the insensitive mankind who can exploit them as well as kill them at its will.

In Indian offices and factories too, soft targets are identified by those who have to climb the ladder of success by riding their shoulders. Such people ensure that they only should get the credit for whatever good happens to the organization whereas the pinpointed soft targets are victimized by holding them only responsible for whatever bad happens to it. For so-called schemes implemented in the name of organization’s welfare but actually to show the might of those holding big chairs, the people selected to be disturbed / harassed are always those who are considered as soft targets with no backing for them.

During riots, the minorities or the peace-loving ones become soft targets for the majority or the violent and the mighty. Since riots are no less than a bonanza for the anti-social elements to carry out killings, loots and rapes; soft targets are identified by the rioters in advance to gain at their cost. Once the victimization is over, who listens to the soft targets in the insensitive and stone-hearted bureaucratic set-up ? It takes minutes (sometimes even seconds) to victimize someone but it takes the whole life of the victim to get justice and in most of the cases, the life of the victim is over but the justice is not rendered. To gain justice also, you must be rich and resourceful. If you aren’t, you are definitely a soft target.

These things bring us back to square one, i.e., the harsh fact that is underlined and highlighted again and again that the Law of the Jungle only prevails everywhere. Hence to survive and escape any kind of victimization, you have to be a hard target. Remember, straight trees only are cut first.

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About Jitendra Mathur

A Chartered Accountant with literary passion and a fondness for fine arts
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8 Responses to Soft targets

  1. It is almost unbelievable that anybody would target Sai Baba or his followers.People from all communities go to Sai Baba temple, or for that matter to the dargah of Salim Chisti. It escapes me why should anybody dictate who should worship whom.

  2. Sha'Tara says:

    Your point is well taken, although I have difficulty thinking of US ex-prez. Bush as a “soft” target! Every illegitimate system requires scapegoats to function; to focus attention away from its own criminal activities. I think you find that well explained in Machiavelli’s “The Prince”. The Nazis hid their crimes in racism, as does America. A scapegoat or soft target needs to be either a vulnerable or undefended popular figure, or a specific, identifiable group that can be easily demonized without any danger to the bully doing the demonizing.

    • jmathur says:

      Hearty thanks. I fully endorse your views. I have illustrated Bush and Obama as soft targets in Indian context because they can be abused in India without any fear or hesitation as the names callers are well aware that Bush or Obama won’t come and catch them for whatever they are saying.

      • Sha'Tara says:

        Ah, of course, I forgot to factor in your context, and of course it is a safe thing to do. We do it here (Canada) too! Now imagine if we already lived in a globalized political context where no one, anywhere, would be safe from official reprisal if she/he spoke against any authority!

  3. Amit Agarwal says:

    Following a faith is a strictly personal matter which must not be allowed to be meddled with.

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