Tuesday, August 16th, 2022 01:23:51

Secularism with a capital S

Updated: August 31, 2013 3:26 pm



 THE other day Justice Katju gave Satiricus a shock. There was this big, bold headline—“India, Pak, B’desh must reunite: Katju.” What on earth! It sounded so much like this absurd “Akhand Bharat” business that Satiricus wondered…. Has he gone over to the RSS? For has not the wretched RSS wanted it, and has it not been roundly and rightfully condemned for wanting it? Then there is that communal past of Justice Katju. He is a scholar of Sanskrit, which Will Durant called the “Hindu” language, and once, when in the Supreme Court, Justice Katju had even relied on Sanskrit scriptures to decide a case before him. Then does his stunning stand now mean that he has gone back to his heinous Hindu roots? But how could that be, when not long back he had publicly declared that he did not mind being called a Congressmen?

So it was with tremendous trepidation that Satiricus read the report below the headline—and was equally tremendously relieved. No, Justice Katju remains a secularist, the secular gods are in their heaven, and all is right with the world, including India. What he said while recently learnedly lecturing on the role of the media in promoting secularism was that “India….could not be run for a single day without secularism”, so “we must not be Hindu nationalist” (like you know who)—and then he made a profound pronouncement: “India, Pakistan and Bangladesh should reunite into one secular country.”

Well, now, when such an eminent Congressecularist says something so erudite, how can a communal cuss like the present pen-pusher presume to question it? But curiosity being the core of journalism, as Khushwant Singh once put it, Satiricus cannot help asking Justice Katju if it was necessary for him to tell those who are running India that India could not be run for a single day without secularism when they are already running it with secularism in full speed?

In fact they are practising secularism literally by the book—the book being The World Book Encyclopedia. This encyclopedia’s entry titled “Secularism” is a part of a bigger entry titled “Political Science”. It says a philosophical movement in medieval Europe, called Scholasticism, had tried to fit the pre-Christian Greek political thinking into the religious framework of Christianity, but the famous politician Machiavelli of Florence, Italy, rejected the Christian framework in favour of “realistic power politics” (now called realpolitik), and later this basic premise was generalised by English philosopher Hobbes, who held that a person’s entire life was a “ceaseless search for power”. “This approach”, to quote the Encyclopedia, “became known as Secularism”. What does this mean? Obviously it means Machiavelli did not know secularism as well as Justice Katju does.

As for his clarion call for India-Pakistan-Bangladesh reunion “into one secular country” Satiricus would like to assure him that our Catholic powers that are already assiduously working towards eliminating the difference between Secularism and Islamism in order to facilitate such a possibility. For this precious purpose they have even prepared a Quran of Secularism called Sachar Report. But the point is, can Indian Secularism become Islamic enough to meet the high Pakistani standards that are required for the reunion? Frankly, Satiricus doubts. For in the first place, if, as it seems to Satiricus, Justice Katju is calling for India’s reunion with the Pakistan that apparently came into being in 1947, the Pakistanis would point out that his knowledge of Pakistan’s history is actually his ignorance of Pakistan’s history. For Pakistan, your honour, did not come into being 60 odd years ago, Pakistan came into being 1,300 years ago. For your kind information, sir, Mohammed bin Qasim, the Arab who came to India in 712 AD, “was the first citizen of Pakistan”. You don’t believe it? Then read history textbooks approved by the Pakistani government and taught in Pakistani schools.

Then again, India was an uncivilized place, mired in cruelty and superstition, and it was Islam that brought it an “elegant” civilization. On the other hand, the Indians, 85 per cent of whom are Hindus, are not only “cunning conspirators” but also “mean murderers”, teach these textbooks. Then how can the civilized Pakistanis deign to unite with us barbarians?

But all is not lost. Pakistan and Bangladesh, acclaimed as “the other Pakistan”, can still unite with India if (rather, when) secular India sublimates into three Islamistans, as solemnly assured by that top-ranking Pakistani leader Hafiz Saeed, whom the Pakistan government holds in awe, on whose head the US government has declared a reward of ten million dollars inanely dubbing him an international terrorist, but whom ministers of the government of India honour as “Shri” Hafiz Saeed. That, your honour, would be the triple triumph of secularism with a capital S.

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