We are a country of free thinkers: we covet our freedom more than anything else. But this ‘freedom’ is not be confused with the one we gained in 1947: this is all about the freedom to break laws and question authority.
Show us the rulebook and before you can look up the sections and sub-sections, we’ll think up of at least 20 inventive ways to avoid a challan or open our bags for scrutiny. So it is no surprise that Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan found it quite odd when he was detained for “secondary immigration” at the Liberty International airport in Newark, US.
But don’t blame Shah Rukh Khan for making a mountain out of a molehill. He is just a product of our ‘VIP’ culture where the best way to circumvent rules and authority is to say that you are the brother of the cousin of someone powerful in the government. It is pretty routine for most in Delhi to flash their genealogical links with some government official or politician, the moment he gets caught in a legal jam.
Or in which country would you get a long list of people who are exempt from standing in a queue to cross a tollgate or airport security checks? Just after his detention, Mr Khan called up his friends in the right places and the media was duly informed to drum up support for him. Was he angry at the behaviour of the US officials? More surprised than angry, we think.
The correct reaction to the incident, however, came from someone who does not grace these columns very often: Salman Khan. “What’s the big deal?” he asked, “we all have gone through this”. That’s called checks and balances.