Once upon a time we had a leader who fasted for our independence and peace. He was not into birthday bashes and cakes; rather he was concerned about poverty and lived like the poor. And in France there was a Queen, whose famous words, “Let them eat cake,” when she was told there was no bread for the starving millions, eventually led to her head being chopped off.
We now have leaders who want their cake and eat it too. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati and her Delhi counterpart Sheila Dikshit seem to like big birthday bashes where sycophants and colleagues arrive with cake and presents while millions of children all over this land are malnourished. What impression does this give to the voters? Is conspicuous consumption something our leaders want to highlight at birthday bashes? It is difficult to understand what makes them tick.
Mayawati’s birthday bash does not surprise one, after all it is in character of someone who can say that the crores she has accumulated were presents from her followers. But one really thought Dikshit was different. We hoped that she would tell her friends and colleagues: “Look folks, the best way you can celebrate my birthday is not with cakes and gifts but give cheques for a shelter or school or a hospital.” We have so many of those in Delhi and in need of money. Surely, our leaders could have set precedence by some good gestures even if in their heart of hearts they feel that charity begins at home.
And instead of a photo showing an obscenely big cake being cut at a birthday bash, the media then would have had a chance write feel-good stories about the charities that were funded. Now what a vote-getter that would have been.