It can be said effectively that no one would ever have heard so many of words written in the mainstream Indian news media on such an innocuous term ‘beehive’. After Rahul Gandhi drawn a ‘beehive’ analogy to his India vision during Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)’s annual general meeting on April 4, 2013, the term has become a buzzword, making headlines, making political pundits to get more grandiose and getting politicians to get more verbose.
Beehive – let’s see what the Wikipedia has to say on its symbolism: “The beehive is a commonly used symbol dating at least to Roman times. In medieval heraldry it was considered a symbol of industry. In modern times, it is used in Freemasonry. In masonic lectures is explained as symbol of industry and co-operation, and as cautioning against intellectual laziness, warning that “he that will so demean himself as not to be endeavoring to add to the common stock of knowledge and understanding, may be deemed a drone in the hive of nature, a useless member of society, and unworthy of our protection as Masons.”
What Narendra Modi said reacting on Rahul Gandhi’s words on need of industriousness among the Indians? (Based on an NDTV post):
“I happened to listen to a speech by a Congress leader two days back, whose words are considered to be very important for that party. I was deeply shocked and pained when he compared India to beehive. For you, this might be a beehive but for us this country is our mother. The hundred crore people of this country are our brothers and sisters. This is a sacred land of saints and seers. Friends from the Congress, please do not insult our country. If you do not understand the language of people of India, go and learn from somewhere. But due to your ignorance, do not try to destroy the culture and tradition of this country.”
So what Rahul really said (or did he realize what he wanted to say) that made Modi to react like this? – The ‘beehive’ reference could not be found in the press release on Rahul’s full text in the CII event. But a report on the Daily Telegraph has put it like this:
In a storyline resembling a TED talk, he said – India was like a ‘beehive’ buzzing with complexity and energy. The country’s challenge was to harness this hive of energy with better infrastructure and education for all its 1.2 billion people. The country’s leaders were ‘sitting on an unstoppable tide of human aspiration’, and must ‘provide roads on which our dreams are paved’, but not roads which ‘have potholes, they can’t break down in six months’. The ‘complexity’ of India’s problems, he said, alluding to corruption and slow bureaucracy, had in fact given its business leaders a competitive advantage over rivals in the United States and Europe who had emerged from a more ‘simple’ environment.
“The beehive is a good analogy, you are masters of complexity, this buzzing sound you don’t like, these newspaper stories which drive me nuts, this is your training, developing you to deal with complexity. This is what’s going to give you the competitive advantage like nobody has ever had before. When you go out into the world and you have dealt with this complexity and you’re dealing with competitors in the United States, France and Germany, you are people trained in complexity dealing with people trained in simplicity. I tell you who is going to win – you are going to win.”
What the ‘beehive’ symbolism as defined by the Wikipedia (certainly based on credible sources) says could not have been the essence of what Rahul Gandhi said though he could well have intended for this only. Somewhere, the thoughts and the words got entangled, it seems.
Even in common cultural references, bees are referred to as an industrious species with a disciplined work regime. A ‘beehive’ is a well-defined pattern of work efficiency.
In his speech, Rahul, on one side, seems to talk about this symbolism (of industry and co-operation), but on the next moment he contradicts it with referring it to ‘the complexity of the beehive’ with negative intones making the negativity a motivator of the ‘competitive advantage’ over the businessmen of the developed economies (he was addressing a gathering of Indian business leaders).
To add the misery (and sadly, truly), the 1.2 billion Indians don’t represent ‘an unstoppable tide of human aspiration’. To bring the billion strong Indians out of misery, we need to be realistic. And the reality says, 80 per cent of these Indians don’t even think to aspire after a point of time in their lives because they are crushed by the requirements of survival in a System created and run by politicians like Rahul Gandhi or Narendra Modi. Take any vital social indicator and see their relevance in the lives of majority of the Indians – one is bound to see the sorry stats and the status (minus the political manipulation of the statistics). Mr. Gandhi, creates situations first where the majority of Indians can feel free to aspire.
But, anyway, now the Congress party had to swing to act and it came in colourful ways when Manish Tewari said: “Beehive metaphor denoting energy diligence and cohesion completely went over heads of some self appointed jingoists.” He further elaborated his point in a tweet: “FYI One of the Avataras of Devi- Mother Goddess is Bhramari the honey bee according to the Puranas Temple of goddess in Uttarakhand” (Had Rahul’s speechwriters thought on this line? Were they aware of this fact?)
Then we had yet another Congress party’s obvious presence at such occasions. Let’s see what Kapil Sibal had to say: “Public will give an answer to this in the 2014 election. There are people in this country which I don’t want to name but just want to say that they lack in common sense.”
Narendra Modi’s jibe at ‘beehive’ was too in demeaning terms for something that signifies industriousness and collaboration. It was more of political targeting than due to his concern over Rahul insulting the mother India imagery. This reflects in the BJP’s statement as told by one of its spokespersons.
Balbir Punj response on the episode: “The comparison made to a beehive is correct according to the Congress. What is there in a beehive? There is a queen bee, and all the other bees toil and gather honey, the taste of which is taken by the others and the queen bee does not do any work. The Congress has only this imagination about this country. What or who is the queen bee here? What is the honey here? But the ordinary bees here are the country’s common people for sure”.
So much demeaning for the hard-working bees! Isn’t it? The queen bee (or the association of queen bees collectively) should seriously think of filing defamation suit?
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/