Qualities for an award
India That Is Bharat
REPUBLIC DAY has come and gone, and the Padma awards have been duly distributed among celebrities. Now Satiricus, although wallowing happily in his ordinariness, quite agrees that you have to be famous to get the award. But being a wordsworth, as journos are justly called, he thought famous and infamous are opposites, and what the famous deserve, the infamous don’t. But then, what does an illiterate pen-pusher know about the real meaning of words in this age of virtual reality? Surely not as much as the government does.
Look at what happened last year. An NRI by name Chatwal and film actors Amir Khan and Saif Ali Khan (with his daddy thrown in for good measure) were honoured with these awards. And what happened? Some foolish fellow damnably declared that such people being given these awards exposed how this award business (like everything else) had become a brazen exercise in nepotism under the UPA dispensation. And his stupidity didn’t stop there. He actually filed a PIL, in which, listing the number of allegations against these and some other nominess, he crassly claimed that they did not deserve this high honour. To make matters worse, noted billiard player Yasin Merchant wrote to RahulG asking, “Are these the role models for our children? ”
For Satiricus, the curious cuss that he is, this pernicious PIL raised two questions : One, do government awards go to the deserving? Two, what role models do we want for gen next? Even for a simpleton like Satiricus these were simple questions with simpler answers. The answer to the first question was that the definition of “deserving” depends upon whether you are a devout follower of the official religion of secularism – or a scion of the Dynasty (which the present scion of the Dynasty recently defended). This is so even for Bharat Ratna, our highest award – for which both Savarkar and Mookerji were clearly “undeserving”. As for the role models, even a child in Tinsel Town knows that the roles our filmi heroes play are the ones that count today. That the factory where these roles are manufactured, namely, Bollywood, is steeped in sleaze, corruption, and anti-nationalism masquerading as secularism is irrelevant and hence does not count.
This being so, it was in the fitness of things that some writer in the South was recommended for an award for denigrating Draupadi, while not long back a journal had mentioned ex-Indian MF Hussain’s name in connection with India’s highest award, Bharat Ratna—probably for scaling the ultimate height of secularism by painting a picture showing—and specifically naming—Hindu Goddess Durga having sex with an animal.
Finally, an astounded Satiricus found to his amazement that this ‘award’-winning story of last year’s awards did not end here. The thrilling climax came when the UPA government discovered a secret celebrity in Kashmir who was worthy of the honour. It happened like this: When the Padma awards for 2010 were announced, Ghulam Mohamamd Mir from Kashmir had made it to the top of the list for his “public service”. Who was he? How come nobody knew such an outstanding Kashmiri? Not even the state government. The closest memorable name was that of former Congress Minister Ghulam Ahmad Mir, except that he had been arrested for his involvement in the Srinagar sex scandal a few years ago. Finally the mystified government asked the police to look for this eminent awardee, and they took four days to solve the mystery. And what did the police find? They found a murdering gangster with his feared but derogatory nickname Muma Kanna—a name that had become synonymous with extortion, torture and murders across Kashmir during the initial years of militancy.
Kanna’s entry into the dangerous world of counter-insurgency had to do with more than simple patriotism. He had informed a local CRPF camp about an improvised explosive device in his village in 1989, when the militancy was still in its infancy. But once the mililtancy took a serious turn, the government suddenly encountered a total lack of ground support for counter-insurgency, and announced hefty awards in lieu of information. Kanna joined, promising to be an informant. Soon his ambition transcended that role, and he set up a private militia ostensibly to fight militants. While Kanna did help security forces, he simultaneously brought together a group of notorious criminals who started a wide ring of extortion, torture and even murder. The police still talk of Kanna’s sway across central Kashmir and how his torture chambers forced dozens of local boys to join the ranks of militants.
The bottom line: If Satiricus wants to qualify for an award he must be either a reel-life hero or a real-life gangster. And that would be enough only for an entry-level Padma award. But if he wants to qualify for Bharat Ratna, he must either choose the right parents or hate the gods and goddesses of Bharat from the bottom of his secular heart.