Marilyn Monroe loved dogs because they never bit her unlike the human beings. Mark Twain was of a similar opinion. “If you pick up a starving dog,” declared the witty writer, “and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” Milan Kundera found his Eden by sitting “with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon.”
Our leaders of the most powerful political party today seem to hold dogs in a slightly different regard. A few months back our Prime Minister declared his love for puppies when he made a subtle equation between them and the victims of communal riots belonging to a particular community. Now General V K Singh, union minister and former army chief, thinks that the Dalits share some genes with the canines.
The dogs are very friendly creatures which are unpolitically selfless. They earned a bad name in India, however, because their general (not to be confused with the General) lot in this country was no better than that of the oppressed and marginalised people. Like the people in the country, the dogs too belong to two classes: the privileged and the underprivileged. The former get rides in luxury cars, treatment in well-equipped vet clinics, and food imported from countries where dog is not an abusive word. The latter roam the streets, scavenge for their food, and – in their leisure – enter the mouths of our Prime Minister and other VIPs when they want to declare their love for certain sections of people.
The great writer of crime fiction, Arthur Conan Doyle, saw in the dog a reflection of the family life. The dog is as its owner is, he said. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, said Doyle, and dangerous people have dangerous ones.
What kind of people are our Prime Minister and the General, given the kind of dogs their rhetoric owns?