I was watching a "Hollywood Top Ten" show on Z Cafe today, when there was a reference to a movie about Jane Goodall. For those who came in late, Jane Goodall is the woman who single-handedly demolished our misconceptions about that relative of ours - the Gorilla. She showed, for example, that Gorillas do use tools - something we thought was exclusively human, leading to the modification of the definition of the human from 'tool-user' to 'tool-maker'.
Read more about her here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Goodall
Crediting Jane Goodall is not only why I wrote this post. I wrote this to highlight the difference between two classes of societies - one that respects and truly worships its heroes and the other that pretends to. With due apologies to my friend, 'Anonymous', who incidentally accuses me of being 90% American, we know which the two classes of societies are.
Look at the movies Hollywood has made about American heroes. And I am not referring to war heroes, politicians, or sportsmen. I am talking about your 'everyday' mathematician, scientist, or writer. Many examples abound: "A beautiful mind" talked about the achievements of Dr. John Nash, whose Nash equilibrium is said to be one of the building blocks of Operations Research, "Apollo 13" commemorated the bravery of the Apollo 13 astronauts who against great odds managed to finish their intended mission, why even our own Gandhi was first celebrated by Richard Attenborough in what is the classiest movie made about him. Not to mention all the unsung fire-fighters, policemen and other day-to-day heroes who have been celebrated in so many movies.
So the question arises, why don't we have the same in Bollywood? Is it because such movies don't sell? Or is it because as a society we don't really know how to honour our heroes? Is it because we don't like heroes except those imposed upon us - like the cricketers, film stars or politicos? Or, is it because, as a society and a culture, we don't have a sense of history? Why?
I don't know. But I do know that a society that forgets its history is condemned to repeat it.