In the City of Joy for a few days last week, I noticed a news item somewhere that I wish I had had the presence of mind to clip and keep. It told me that the lustrous West Bengal government -- yes, the same one whose resume is already graced with Nandigram -- has decided to "ban" protests in that state by Tibetans around April 17, when the Olympic torch comes through India.
Right. That's the way to drum up support for Olympics in Beijing: ban the protests. I'm sure Tibetans are all over the world are now just longing to attend the Games.
But even more important, I'm sure the idea of free speech is bolstered by this step. After all, wasn't it Voltaire who said, very pithily: "I detest what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it, unless it's a protest against my ideological chums, in which case I will ban it till the cows come home ... and pigs fly ... and death to the running dog imperialists ... and long live the glorious rotation sorry revolution of the protozoan sorry proto-lariat sorry proletariat!"
Apparently the country's government is unable to see the wisdom in this splendid initiative by the West Bengal government. They have told China that there will be no ban on "anti-China" protests.
Still, that small niggle aside, it's time we all applauded the WB Government. Clap clap, tali bajao and all that.
Sorry, what's that? Applause is banned too? You mean ... tali-ban?