INDIA THAT IS BHARAT
THERE are some things that, by their very nature, don’t mix. Like fire and water. Like India and Bharat. Like Mulayam Singh and Ram Mandir. So secular Satiricus was shocked to near-death the other day when he read in the papers that a VHP delegation had called on Mulayam to request him to mediate on the Ram Mandir issue. Hey, Ram! How ridiculous of these VHP people! Their weird argument for going to him was that he was the most “acceptable” political leader to Muslims. Acceptable? Calling him just acceptable to Muslims was almost an insult. For has he not worked hard all his political life to achieve the venerable status of being hailed as Mullah Mulayam? Has he not established his Muslim credentials beyond the shadow of a doubt by giving a clean chit to SIMI in the teeth of the court verdict that it was terrorist? So when a prominent leader of the VHP delegation ‘claimed”, as the report pointedly put it, that Mulayam Singh had agreed to mediate, Satiricus knew the truth—that it was just a claim, and because it was made by a Hindu, it was a fake claim.
Now Satiricus has no idea if Mullah Mulayam is going to file a defamation suit for besmirching his secular reputation, but it is certainly a grave enough matter. Why else would the state’s Muslims (a.k.a. minorities) Miniser Azam Khan feel disturbed enough to point out that the very fact of Mulayam meeting a VHP delegation had sent a wrong message to Muslims? In a statement on this alarming incident Azam Khan said, “Shaking lands with such persons (as Ashok Singhal) has sent a wrong message among Muslims. I hope Mulayam will not compromise his image, which he has achieved after a long struggle.” How true! Mullah Mulayam’s secular struggle against Hindu communalists has not only been long, it had also been fierce. He had even to fight a gun battle with Ram-bhaktas and shoot his way to victory.
Still the Hon’ble Minister, who is a leading Muslim Samajwadi (that is, Muslim first, Samajwadi later), was anxious enough to salvage Singh’s secular status as to point out that “such reports (about mediation for Ram Mandir in Ayodhya) have reopened the wounds of Muslims….There is no sense of any mediation….When Muslims hold Singhal responsible for the demolition of Babri Masjid, we cannot expect civilised behaviour from them. However, if the mediation was for reconstruction of Babri Masjid, then it could be considered.”
See? By saying mediation for the Mandir makes no sense Azam Khan tried to bring Mulayam Singh to his secular senses—at the same time pointing out that mediating for the Masjid would make sense. By the way, Satiricus was somewhat surprised at Khan’s statement that Muslims cannot expect ‘civilised behaviour” from Hindus like Singhal. For according to Pakistani history books Hindus were uncivilised before Islam brought an “elegant” civilisation to this country. Then has this civilization not yet been able to civilise the inelegantly uncivilised Hindus? Frankly, this makes no sense to Satiricus. But maybe that is because Satiricus has no sense—except to write nonsense.
THESE are fashionable times. There are fashions in everything—in dress, in shoes, also in journalism. And the respected rule is that nothing is fashionable unless it is weird. At least that is the criterion laid down by a leading newspaper for spelling Indian names. Take, for instance, this daily’s daily reports on this IAS lady Ms. Nagpal. What is her first name? Of course it is Durga Sakhti. Now Satiricus is communal enough to know that Durga is the name of a Hindu goddess, and a common female name. But what is Sakhti? Satiricus does not know. As an illiterate journalist he is too ignorant to spell a simple, common name adequately fashionably. For a running week every day he watched this fashionable paper reporting on Sakhti, not only in small type but also in big, bold headlines.
Admirably enough, this paper’s dedication to fashionable spellings of Indian names seems to extend even to outside contributors of write-ups. One day, for instance, there was a piece on the lady by somebody, illustrated with the photo of a Hindi newspaper page showing her and giving her name in Hindi. But did the Hindi name prevent the English write-up from making it fashionably English? Of course not. Rule is rule, no exception! But alas, exception proves even the strictest rule. One deplorable day the paper carried a double-column piece with a heading that was unfortunately unfashionable. It was Durga Shakti.