[MJR] A man chasing his date of birth

02 Apr,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


First they told us he was a victim of an evil government, working overtime to throw him out of his job a year too early. Then he said that it wasn’t the government really but the army which was doing that – even though he was chief of army staff. Then he took the government, not the army, to court, saying he was younger than he said he was (Note to young people whose eyes glaze over when they come across anyone born before 1979: he is very old on both dates).


Half the media then decided that VK Singh had gone too far while the other half decided that a decided patriot was being used as target practice by an evil government. This could be because many of the daddies and uncles of mediapersons under the age of 40 and holding bog jobs in television are in the armed forces. Those of us over the age of 40, most of whom have been put out to pasture, no one ever cared about our mummies, daddies, uncles, aunties and so on.


Gosh, I sound just like the army chief, sorry.


On and on Singh whined about when he was born and on, and on went the media about great patriots and martyrs (I’m not going there) being ill-treated, until the Supreme Court turned down the general’s plea and said he had to now be older than he wanted to be (don’t we all!).


And so the tide turned. Half the media (maybe I exaggerated a tiny bit about so many uncles and daddies in the army having given birth to journalists, although even the army chief has a journalist for a daughter I hear) turned against the general and now he did a bad thing by fighting for his “honour”. Now we hear that whole date of birth fight was not a good thing, brought embarrassment to the army and so on.


The general wasn’t done though. He licked his wounds inflicted by the Supreme Court, not some usual cross-border enemy and as he did that, he got quite cross. So, with a couple of months left till retirement, he started a tandav nritya, flinging accusations of bribery left and right.


This means gloves off time for the media and a free-for-all amongst higher-ups is the best journalistic cannon fodder ever. Patriots, martyrs, cynics, sceptics, haters and baiters, yellers and screamers all joined in and everyone’s now bashing everyone else all day. The army chief remains at the middle of it all, putting his left in and his right leg out, doing the boogie-woogie, ‘cos that’s what it’s all about.


Disclosure: My daddy and uncles are not and never have been in the army and I am well over 40 (closer to the other figure actually) though I am not as old as the general who is not sure how old he is.


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