Pseudo-Secularism

Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

A medium of bhais

Satiricus

Satiricus almost jumped with joy. He had never thought the day would dawn when our media would prove the medium for Indian-secularist-Pakistani-Muslim-bhai-bhai-ism. But then, there are more things in heaven, earth and secular India than are dreamt of in his communal philosophy, and one of them is the glad tidings that ‘several’ Indian newspapers have applied to Pakistan President Musharraf for permission to launch editions in Pakistan, their Information Minister Sheikh Rashid said the other day, as part of confidence-building measures. That Indian newspaper-editors have confidence that Pakistani newspaper-readers will have confidence in what they read can be called a tribute to Indian secularism. But tributes don’t come easy, so now Satiricus expects our secular editors to scale new heights of erudite suppressio veri, suggestio falsi for the Pak purpose of deserving Pak confidence.

An interesting test case would be the reporting of Rashid’s terror camp. Of course Rashid has rubbished the report but instead of accepting his disclaimer as gospel truth, our papers publicised our Government’s statement that the said camp was ‘not a secret’, because the Indian Government had kept detailed tabs on it a decade and a half ago.

Now, in the first place it was unseemly for the government of secular India to keep tabs on Pak terror, and secondly it was much more unseemly for our newspapers to print the news about it. When telling the terrible truth about terror is a damnable disservice to secularism, it should have been the bounden duty of the Fourth Estate of the secular realm to report that, in the first place, it was not a terrorist camp but a tourist camp, secondly, a Pak journalist’s claim that the camp was “well known to media” does not include the Indian media, because our secular media chooses not to know such sordid truths, and finally, if it was indeed a terror camp it was not run by the righteous Rashid but by, say, Narendra Modi, masquerading as Rashid. And if there are Pakistani scribes and even Pakistan’s ex-terrorists and retired hijackers of Indian planes who insist it was a terror camp and it was run by the Hon’ble Minister of the Government of Pakistan, our secular papers could (and should) have reported that the abominable accusers were actually RSS demons in disguise. After all, whatever the secular media writes against the RSS, however silly it may sound, become the truth, no?

All in all, Satiricus can say with confidence that a Pakistani editon of an Indian newspaper would be a very interesting piece of fiction. Imagine the fun if and when our investigative journalism becomes imaginative journalism and imaginative journalism developes into imaginary journalism.

* * *

What exactly is the difference between a hidden agenda and an open agenda? Simple. Whatever the RSS wants to do because it promotes patriotism and national pride is a Hindutva agenda, and a Hindutva agenda is (or must be) by definition a hidden agenda. Take, for instance, the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister’s decision to make the singing of Vande Matram compulsory not only in schools but even in Cabinet meetings.

The Chief Minister is a former RSS pracharak, and that automatically makes Vande Mataram Hindu-cum-communal. Strangely enough, this atrocious agenda was not hidden from former Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, for it was he who had approved the singing of the song in Government offices. But of course that has not deterred the Congress Opposition from opposing the pernicious praise of Bharat Mata.

Here Satiricus recalls that not long back prominent Muslim leaders had opposed the singing of this song on the ground that praising and bowing before the motherland was against their religion, as they bow only before Allah. Satiricus wonders if it is the same reason why the Congress is opposing Vande Mataram. Does their religion of secularism require them to bow only before Allah, the God of the Muslim League which they had themselves certified as secular? Or will they allow the song if it is improved upon to read Vande Italian Mataram?

* * *

Satiricus never thought it was so easy to run the Government of India—without bothering to be its Minister. Just write an article about what you want the Government to do, and hey, presto! it is done post-haste. Take, for instance, this example after example of what Comrade Surjeet writes and Arjun Singh obeys. Not that Arjun Singh does not have his own (secular) mind. In fact he had recently taken an admirably independent initiative in ordering 50 per cent reservation for Muslims in Aligarh University. But that was a one-time exception, and he has rightly returned to the safe course of meekly doing what the comrade commands.

The latest of these commandments, as given through the columns of People’s Democracy is that official booklets on Syama Prasad Mookerjee and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya be removed, and Minister Arjun Singh has promptly responded by vowing to scrape saffron off textbooks. And what was sinfully saffron about these booklets? It was that they called Mukherjee ‘a fearless and true patriot’ and Upadhyaya ‘a patron of Indian culture’. That does it.

How can a ‘true patriot’ or a pernicious patron of communal culture be anything but insufferably saffron? Patriotism and culture have never sullied the glorious history of communist agents of the British or of the servile serfs of the divine dynasty. So such wretched writings can’t be prescribed. They have to be proscribed.

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