A Bur­den That the Ass Does Not De­serve

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

The Ass has al­ways got a raw deal. Ex­cept for a ten­dency for its nat­u­ral vo­cal ar­tic­u­la­tion to sound a bit like the mind­less laugh­ter of a drunk­ard, it of­fers no ready rea­son to be la­belled as be­ing men­tally de­fi­cient. Yet, it has al­ways been dragged into ar­gu­ments it could prob­a­bly have no stake in. The law is an ass — that phrase goes back to at least 1838, when Charles Dick­ens wrote Oliver Twist and Mr Bum­ble in the novel ut­ters these words, al­beit with­out care about the ap­pro­pri­ate ar­ti­cle to pre­cede a vowel. Bi­har chief min­is­ter Ni­tish Ku­mar’s op­po­nents have pa­raded asses wear­ing signs that iden­tify them­selves as Ni­tish Ku­mar, to reg­is­ter their protest at al­leged mal­prac­tice in the con­duct of aca­demic ex­am­i­na­tions. And now Akhilesh Ya­dav has dragged these four-legged frol­ick­ers into an un­seemly po­lit­i­cal con­tro­versy, draw­ing on a Gu­jarat Tourism pro­mo­tional video fea­tur­ing a herd of gal­lop­ing wild asses of the Rann of Kutch. The Gu­jarat model has been so as­sid­u­ously pop­u­larised that any­thing to do with Gu­jarat is au­to­mat­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with its three-term chief min­is­ter and cur­rent prime min­is­ter. The very Ass-oci­a­tion sought to be evoked by Akhilesh re­lies on the­o­ries of cog­ni­tion that call for an IQ that no ass would dis­dain. An­i­mal test­ing is a strict no-no in cos­met­ics, these days. That should be the case in pol­i­tics, too.

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