February 18, 2006

Ever forward

"If we cut down on the use of ... gadgets," a Mrs D'Costa (name changed) said to the Mumbai Mirror recently, "we will only be going backward in a developing and growing country." She was reacting to the proposed Government appeal to citizens of Bombay to decrease their electricity consumption.

Now I really don't know why Mrs D'Costa is worried about going backward. Because by my reckoning, the country is only making rapid strides indeed, forward. And nothing can stop that. Not even the prospect of cutting down on the use of certain gadgets.

For example, it was only ten years ago that a painter called MF Husain painted the goddess Saraswati topless. In response, a man called Thackeray editorialized in the newspaper he edits that Husain needed to be punished, and to do that, his fingers "would have to be cut off."

Ten years on, a man in Denmark produced a cartoon poking fun at the prophet Mohammed. In response, a minister in the Uttar Pradesh government, one Haji Yaqoob Qureshi, told the press that "the cartoonist should be killed." He also announced that the successful killer would be weighed in gold and given a reward of Rs 51 crore (over $10 million).

Ten years: we've moved from calling for fingers to be lopped off, to offering huge rewards for killing artists.

Don't know about Mrs D'Costa, but to me, that definitely seems like progress, like going forward.


When a disgruntled starlet agrees to pay Rs 70,000 to a hitman to murder a Bollywood director, she gets arrested and charged under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 115 (abetting an offence punishable with death or life imprisonment) of the Indian Penal Code.

But when a Minister in a state government offers to pay Rs 51 crore to anyone who murders a cartoonist, he is not charged with anything. In fact, the Principal Secretary (Home), one Alok Sinha, says the Minister has only expressed "the sentiments of the people ... it doesn't constitute any criminal offence" (Hindustan Times, February 18 2006).

Must be that going forward stuff, once more. Who needs to use gadgets, eh?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'But, Congress is a secular party’

I think I can safely call this week going-by as the ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ week in the history of ‘secular’ India.

But, before that, let me tell you something: ‘Congress is a secular party’

Don’t you forget that! Bhool naa jaanaa, ……….

Here is how the week started: While I believe in the respect for all religion and had some inkling of what the repercussions of the Danish cartoon controversy might/would create, this thing is going on and on and still surprised me. One after another country faced Muslim riots and property was burnt/destroyed and India is no exception. As of now, I think many people have died in this. This UPA govt has sent strong note to Danish govt on this. Didn’t I tell you: ‘Congress is a secular party’

One of the Election Commissioner, Navin Chawla, an IAS officer, a hero of the Emergency Era under Indira Gandhi, and a close friend of Sonia Gandhi has been found taking money from Congress MPs. He flatly refused taking money from communal BJP MP, Sahib Singh Verma because we all know that ‘Congress is a secular party’

Raja Bhaiyya is re-inducted into UP cabinet, in the august company of criminal dons like Mukhtar Ansari, Afzal Ansari, et al. This is the same SP which is supported by Congress in UP. But then, what to do to keep BJP out? Unlike BJP, ‘Congress is a secular party’

The same SP plans to bring a No-Confidence motion against this UPA govt and make a third front over the issue of Iran Vote. After all, how can the UPA govt vote against Iran, a Muslim country, especially when ‘Congress is a secular party’?

Meanwhile, UPA govt announced the formation of a ‘Ministry of Minorities’ under A R Antulay, the same person accused in the cement scandal 30 years ago. BJP predictably alleged the govt of indulging in a lot of minorityism. But, what the hell, because ‘Congress is a secular party’

The secular President in his address unveiled a 15-point program for the minorities (read ‘Muslims’); the details are awaited. BJP claims that this is sheer Muslim vote Bank appeasement. Let them say anything, because, ‘Congress is a secular party’

After failing in their efforts to bring 5% reservation of jobs in private sector and after a rebuff from the Allahabad Court on the non-minority status of Aligarh Muslim Univ, HRD Minister, Arjun Singh assured Muslims that UPA will bring a bill or amend AMU Act to ensure reservation for minorities (read ‘Muslims’). After all, Muslim votes ka sawaal hai kyonki ‘Congress is a secular party’

Then, out of the blues came the news that UPA govt, with the help of Justice Sachar committee, has asked the armed forces to do a head-count of Muslims, after the same had been done in Navy and Air-Force. NDA claimed this is a preposterous, atrocious and divisive move, while Pranab Mukherjee claimed that the secular nature of army would stay and blamed BJP of vote bank politics. Many army-men and veterans have also expressed apprehensions and strongly disagreed with this exercise. Imagine what would our ‘secular media’ would have said if BJP had asked for such a thing. This is only to bring about a quota for Muslims in the Armed Forces because ‘Congress is a secular party’

The doyen of media and the owner of newspaper, ‘The Hindustan Times, Shobhana Bhartia was nominated to Rajya Sabha by the UPA govt. Simple! Because ‘Congress is a secular party’

Then we saw on Zee TV, the ‘Sting Operation’ news of the ‘Tapping of the phones of Justice Variava in Sept 2005’ at a time when he was looking into the fodder-scam case of ‘secular’ leader, Lalloojee. The govt denies this, just as it had done in Amar Singh phone-tapping case. At an emergency meeting of the Home Ministry, the Home Secy asked Secy DoT and Delhi Police as to how the hell details of this could reach Zee TV and asked DoT to come up with more stringent guidelines so that this information may not reach private channels in future (when next Phone-Tapping takes place). After all, ‘Congress is a secular party’

Not deterred, another TV channel, CNN-IBN showed the live pictures of a SP MP, Mehboob Ali, openly offering his services and services of his Lal-Batti kee car for ferrying heroine in his car for a hefty fee. But, kya Karen? Congress is taking and giving support to Samajwadi Party in UP and like SP, ‘Congress is a secular party’

A SP MP in the Rajya Sabha, Shahid Siddiqui rushed into the well of the house and tried to tear his clothes. Congress MPs kept quite because ‘Congress is a secular party’

Another news item: Sonia woos minorities in Assam, with sops and assurance for illegal Bangla Deshi immigrants and Muslims. I told you naa kee Desh kee neta Sonia Gandhi and ‘Congress is a secular party’

With Tarlochan Singh, Chairman, National Commission of Minorities retiring, UPA is considering appointing Tahir Mehmood as the next chairman, though he has already been the Chairman several times. After all, you’ll also agree with me kee ‘Congress is a secular party’

As a result of the Danish cartoon, a Pakistani cleric, Qureshi, announced a $ 1 Million bounty on the head of the cartoonist who drew Prophet Mohammed. The local mosque, his religious school and the local jeweler’s association would give this money for the cause. Remember similar fatwa on Salman Rushdie during Congress regime? I know, Baba kee ‘Congress is a secular party’

Now, not to be left behind, UP SP Minister, Yaqoob Qureshi in Meerut announced a ‘Supari Killing in a Foreign Land’ award of Rs. 51 Crores, in a large rally, for ‘anyone who eliminates the Danish cartoonist who dared to make the caricature of Prophet Mohammed’. Not only this, he promised the assassin gold equivalent to his weight and for this, people of Meerut and Muslim women were ready to sell their gold jewelry to contribute for the reward, he declared. But, Congress can’t do anything because Law & Order is a state subject and ‘Congress is a secular party’

But, what takes the cake in this whole episode is the role and statement of Principal Secretary (Home), UP, Mr. Alok Sinha, an IAS officer, that ‘Qureshi was just expressing the sentiments of the people of Meerut and this does not constitute any criminal offence. There is no offence to make such an announcement about a person living in a distant foreign country’, Sinha told reporters. BTW, the Indian law provides for 7-year jail, but in India, you know, ‘The law takes its own course’. And, what that legal course is, you all know so well from Narsimha Rao’s time, don’t you? Kya yaar, bhool gaye kee ‘Congress is a secular party’

I am not able to decide whether to laugh or to cry at this secular ‘Theatre of Absurd’.

But, one thing is decided about which we all can laugh and cry kee--‘Congress is a secular party’