Sundeep Bhutoria

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

When India humiliated Bharat

Virendra Rathore receiving Award from the President of India
Recently I was at the Chambers in Taj Bengal Hotel with few of my Tollywood friends engaged in a chat session. The topic of recently concluded 60th National Film Awards in Delhi came up and we were all startled to hear about an embarrassing incident from one our friends who had attended the Awards function on May 3rd 2013 in Delhi.
I recount the details of the incident which is not only embarrassing but also very demoralizing for those citizens of India who are from a poor and rural social background. The incident concerns child artist Virendra Singh Rathod and his family. Virendra had won the award for the Best Child Artist for his performance in the film Dekh Indian Circus and went to Delhi with his parents to receive the award from the President of India. Virendra is from a poor family from Ludravapur village in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.
The Rathod family was in cloud nine when they arrived in Delhi. The residents of Jaisalmer and the desert state felt proud someone from Rajasthan had bagged a prestigious National Award. But they had no idea what lay in store.
Like other awardees, Virendra and his family were officially put up at one of the five star hotels in Delhi. Their dream journey turned into a very humiliating and nightmarish experience for reasons beyond their control and perhaps due to a glaring oversight by the authorities entrusted with the management of the National Film Awards function.
The Rathods, who have never been a star hotel, were unfamiliar with the rules of the hotel and were neither informed about the terms and conditions of hospitality extended to them. While checking out of the Hotel the family was asked to clear a bill of Rs 6500 towards food expenses. The family was stunned.
They were entitled to a complimentary breakfast but other meals were to be paid for by the guests - a fact which was not known to the family. Also, an additional bill of Rs 3000 was handed over to the family towards transport costs from the airport to the Hotel and other venues. Though this amount was reimbursable, the fact that the payment would be made days later and after official paperwork added to their misery and they were left to foot a Rs 9500 bill.
The hotel authorities refused to let the Rathod family, who requested time to arrange for the payments, to leave without clearing the bill. The family, under immense humiliation and duress, had to turn to their acquaintances, running from pillar to post, to collect the money. The child was unsettled by the situation that made his parents look small.
As soon as I came to know of this incident I used my connections with some of my friends in the banking sector to arrange for Rs 9500 to be delivered to the family much to their relief and just on time to save them from further humiliation.
The National Film Awards is one of the most prestigious events in India made the incident all the more appalling. It brought to the surface the elitist mindset that prevails among a section of the officials running the show. Or else, how does one explain such a glaring omission whereby guests are put up in five-star property without extending full hospitality putting a poor family in an awkward situation for no fault of theirs.
Citizens of India from a humble social background cannot be expected to know the ways of a five star hotel. There are costs which are paid for and then there are costs which are on the guests. It is the responsibility of the hosts to keep the guest informed and ensure there are no faux pas.
This case-in-reference is an eye-opener. A forum of artistes from Rajasthan have taken up the issue and written a letter to Shri Manish Tewari, I&B Minister.
I am not blaming the government or the hotel for the incident. But the fact that there is growing India-Bharat dichotomy cannot be denied. I see this incident as one of India humiliating Bharat, may be unintentionally.
ess bee

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