(This first appeared in the Sunday Guardian)
A few years ago, a rent-a-mob ‘protesting’ a book attacked the institute where the author had done his research and destroyed important historical artifacts. A few months ago, the Indian government lodged an official protest with the US state department over a joke on a teevee show. A few weeks ago, an MP from Gujarat threatened a toll booth operator who dared to ask him to pay the toll. A few days ago, members of the Pune police force physically attacked organizers of a music festival who refused to provide them with free tickets to a concert. These disparate events are connected not only by their absurdity, but by the feeling of entitlement present in the attitude of each of the perpetrators.
We’ve become a society of entitled individuals.
Our politicians feel entitled to living a privileged life on the taxpayer’s expense. Why pay for anything ever again when someone was foolish enough to send you to a legislative body? What do you mean I went for a vacation to Las Vegas? I was there in an official capacity: to study the effects of topless ladies doing amazing circus stunts on the general population. My luggage was a few hundred kilos over the allowed limit because as your elected representative I carry a heavy burden on my shoulders. One of the few times our MPs come together is to either give themselves more perks or to censure a private citizen who has dared to criticize them. Just because we barely show up to work or leave early if we do, doesn’t mean you should be criticizing us. If you think this is easy why don’t you try it? Haha, kidding! If you even think about doing this we’re going to send you into oblivion.
Our police lords over the very people they are hired to serve. The police in this country are like the ‘guardian’ of an underage heir in a 1980’s Hindi movie. Not only does the guardian cheat the heir out of all her money; he also turns her into his own personal slave. What do you mean your car got stolen? Are you sure? Why do you even need a car? You should try walking. Nobody walks to their destination anymore. Maybe the thief did you a favour? No, no need to write down a formal complaint. I’ll remember all the details. They don’t call me ‘Detective Karamchand’ for nothing!
Our governments feel entitled enough to tell us what books we can read or what movies we can see or which words on teevee we don’t deserve to hear. Because in real life nobody ever abuses anybody else and children are born when two flowers suddenly fall on each other. Why should we let you decide what you want to watch or read? Who do you think you are, an adult? The government can also place any restriction on the Internet because they’re entitled to their own interpretation of the law. You can’t see this because . . . terrorism?
One of the major myths in this country which has become part of the conventional wisdom is that old people always know better. This is the sort of thinking that empowers arbitrary groups like the ‘Khap Panchayats’ to make decisions for other people, especially the young. A bunch of old, entitled men sitting around, making idiotic pronouncements which their community takes as gospel truth. A group of people so wise that they force members of the same family to kill each other for violating their ‘code.’
We’ve also convinced ourselves that we’re entitled to everything that we want. Whether it’s the parking spot someone else has been waiting for, or the first place in the line. If we don’t like something in the public domain, we’re entitled to break public property to protest against it. We’re entitled to discriminate against people based on an attribute of theirs we don’t like, but when other people do the same then they’re being racists. We’re entitled to use loudspeakers for our early morning prayers because what sort of heathen would object to worshipping god?
Nowadays, everyone seems to be entitled to their own facts too. Foreign investment equals colonialism! Global warming is a hoax! Eating crappy Chinese food makes you want to rape!
Now please excuse me while I let my dog out so he can relieve himself on my neighbour’s car.