Monday, November 28th, 2022 10:08:15

Secular Meaning

Updated: July 12, 2014 5:00 am


AGAIN and again, journalist Satiricus comes back to the core of his profession—Illiteracy. He honestly thinks it is only because he is adequately illiterate that the rubbish he writes is readable. But Satiricus’s ignorance is self-taught. He did not have the advantage of hands-on education as a staffer of a big newspaper, nor of learning the required ignorance in a journalism course. Now, on the other hand, there are eminent illiterates who not only write India’s biggest English-language newspaper but also run their own journalism school. There they teach that a word has two meanings—one is the true meaning and the other is the secular meaning and the secular meaning is the truer meaning.

As for instance, their unfailing use of the term “Muslim clergy”. But is there such a thing? Not to Satiricus’s poor knowledge. Even the dons of the dictionary don’t say so. They say “clergy” specifically means a priest in a Christian church. So as per this simpleton’s simplistic understanding, Muslims don’t have a clergyman in a church, they have a mullah or maulavi in a mosque. Then why not write so? Because, my dear stupid Satiricus, calling a mullah a mullah is a no-no under Indian secularism. So apparently the wannabe wordsmiths in this newspaper’s journalism school may be learning how to distinguish a word’s true dictionary meaning and that word’s truer secular meaning.

While this leading paper is thus teaching the prime and primary principle of secular journalism by actually abiding by it, it also does something more : It goes beyond words to letters, and practises literal illiteracy by meticulously misspelling even simple words in Sanskrit, the world’s original communal language. The other day, for instance, the paper’s report about the late Shri Munde’s mortal remains placed in an urn had the headline calling it his “asti kalash”. See? It was obviously on the strength of its devotion to secular journalism that magnificently motivated this paper to duly distort “asthi” to “asti”. Could there be a more illustrious example of illiterate journalism?

While on the subject of the integral relationship between journalism and ignorance, Satiricus was interested to recently read an article in New York Times titled “Bringing back ignorance.” It hit the nail on the journalist’s head with the very first sentence—”It has never been easier to seem well-informed.” Aha ! The secret of Satiricus’s success has been revealed—“seeming” to be well-informed without being well-informed. And how is this trick done? The article’s answer : Thanks to Google, we have come “perilously close” to a “knowledgeability that is really a new model of know-nothingness”. There you have it—know-nothing journalists’ know-all secret.

Devilish Change

SATIRICUS has heard of a change of heart, but is there a change of brain? Not having one, Satiricus is not sure. But it does seem like it. Look, for instance, at the serried ranks of secular intellectuals who wrote columns after learned columns during election time eruditely explaining and direly warning how, if the BJP in general and Modi in particular came to power, the country would surely be doomed to devilish depths. Now that has happened, the same columnists are equally eruditely explaining to Prime Minister Modi how to run his government. Satiricus is flummoxed. What happened to those deep, dark depths to which the country was sure to sink, thanks to Modi? The only explanation this ignoramus can think of is that this mass of intellectuals must have had a massive brain-attack.

What is all the more confounding for this confused cuss is that not only India’s English media but even the media of the English has suffered an alarming change of brain. Look, for instance, at the critical condition of the Economist, the celebrated English economic journal of the English. Only the other day, during the elections, this celebrated journal wisely warned the Indian voter to vote against BJP and sagely advised to vote for the Congress. But what happened? The moronic mass of the Indian electorate massively voted against the Economist. Was that the end of this journal? Did it write a mournful obituary of India under BJP? Nothing so logical happened. On the contrary, it suffered change of brain and wrote a headline proclaiming that “Reviving India’s Economy” was “Modi’s Mission”, and going from bad to worse its second headline unashamedly assured that Prime Minister Modi “has a good chance of resuscitating the country’s underperforming economy”. The Economist even went to the extravagant extent of calling Modi “India’s strongman”, whose “amazing victory gives India its best chance ever of prosperity.” Oh, my ! How times change—and how time-servers change with changing times.

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