Sunday, August 30, 2020

Laughter – Spice of Life – 4


Laughter – Spice of Life – 4

Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has over 36 million followers on Twitter, used political humour and sarcasm to become broadly appealing and refashion his political style, according to a study of his tweets by a US university. The study has been published in the International Journal of Communication of University of Michigan.

Sometime before, PM Modi lamented and said he missed wit and humour in parliament. One of the leading dailies in India recently captioned one of his stories ‘There is nothing to laugh about in Indian politics while writing about MP Shashi Throor’s latest book –  The Elephant, the Tiger & the Cellphone: Reflections on India in the 21st Century. Shashi Tharoor said in one of the essays in the book that the pickings were slim when it came to political humour.

Nevertheless, the show goes on. The electronic media in India is fully engaged in raising dust and heat to bake their own bread (Roti Sekna) in the name of free and fair press. So much so, on one of the debates on a national TV channel last week, one of the participants, an official spokesman of the main opposition party suffered a massive attack during the live debate allegedly on provocations and slanderous allegations by the official spokesman of the ruling party and died. I am reminded of a quote from President of the USA Harry Truman. He said,My choice early in life was between whether to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference.”

I have observed, of late, people are scared of sharing political jokes particularly with regard to the ruling elite and also the communal formations. I think intolerance, though the vested interests would not agree, on the part of political leaders and also the Dharam Gurus is vanishing fast from our day to day life. It is unfortunate. Any criticism of judiciary is made to be as “contempt of the court”.  Any criticism of the government is projected as “anti-national”. Any disagreement with the majority community is dumped as ‘anti-main stream of the society”. Any advice to the minority communities is immediately frowned upon as ‘anti-secular”. The sense of humour in our day to day conduct is fast disappearing. The age old dictum of ‘Vaad – Vivaad – Samvaad”, the very edifice of an open and democratic society is getting diluted which is dangerous omen for the national health of Bharat. Wit and humour is important to ease the grimness of the situation. It costs nothing.

Anyway, let us do something on our part. Here is a strange case of nationalism in our country – when an Indian gets recognition or a coveted position abroad, we immediately jump to own him or her as a great Indian. An immediate example is of Kamala Harris who has been named as the running-mate of Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden in the USA. But surprisingly, we refrain from

talking about Mother Teresa. Sonia Gandhi is still Mario Antanio and is disregarded and insulted by the so-called Desh-Bhakats day in and day out. It is one of the biggest jokes of our times. Yet another hilarious situation is the on-going case of allegedly unnatural death of film actor Sushant and her live-in partner Rhea. The whole country is up-in-arms, if one goes by the so called free and fair media, as if this is only important issue before the government and the society at large. These issues are floated by vested interests to distract public attention from the real issues being faced by the country. When will we mature and adjust our priorities for the over-all good of the society?

While the corona restrictions are being lifted further with effect from September 1, total tally of positive cases in India has touched 35 lakhs with 63 thousand deaths and daily increase of almost 70

thousand of positive cases.  The reassuring feature is that recovery rate is more than 75%. God willing, we will have the much needed vaccine for the deadly virus in a couple of months. Meanwhile, Corona virus still remains a topic for jokes to lessen the grimness of the situation. Here we are:

कोरोना की इज्जत 5 महीने में जीजा से फूफा वाली हो गई है!
डर सबको है लेकिन परवाह किसी को नहीं!

A Santa-Banta joke on the social distancing:

संता को पुलिसवाले ने पकड़ा और बोला,
मुझे तुमसे दारू की गंध रही है।"
संता: क्योंकि आप सोशल डिस्टैन्सिंग का पालन नहीं कर रहे हो!

One of the fallouts of Corona pandemic is the dented credibility of WHO as rightly depicted in the jok

मैंने अपनी Ex का नाम WHO रख दिया है,
क्योंकि वो भी हमेशा अपनी बात से पलट जाती थी!

अब तो डर लग रहा है कि कहीं WHO वाले अंकल आकर ऐसा कह दें कि...
कोरोना सोचने से भी फैलता है!

I close, as usual, with a poetic assertion from my friend Paramjit, a poet of standing by any standards:

*वक्त, ऐतबार और इज्जत,*

*ऐसे परिंदे हैं..*

*जो एक बार उड़ जायें*

*तो वापस नहीं आते...*







Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Laughter – Spice of Life – 3

Laughter – Spice of Life – 3

A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen, said Winston Churchill. These days this is what is exactly happening in India. What the BJP and its leaders were cribbing about during the UPA governments, say; petroleum prices, unemployment, inflation and price rise, low growth rate, controlling cross border terrorism, dealing with hostile neighbors etc. the present government is

struggling with the same problems with no positive results. The government and the BJP leadership are totally bogged down in explaining as Winston Churchill visualized and said. The hilarious part of this exercise is that Jawaharlal Nehru is blamed for each visible failure of the current ruling dispensation. I don’t know when would we mature and address the national problems with some foresight and vision. Somebody has explained this attribute aptly, in a lighter vein:

छिपकली रात भर सैंकड़ों कीड़े-मकौड़े खाकर सुबह होते ही महापुरषों की तस्वीर के पीछे छिप जाती है, यही चरित्र देश के नेताओं का भी है!


We should rise above the blame game and be serious. I am reminded of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s assertion in the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949 when he said on a serious note,” …let us not forget that this independence has thrown on us great responsibilities. By independence, we have lost the excuse of blaming the British for anything going wrong. If hereafter’ things go wrong, we will have nobody to blame. Except ourselves… “

The funniest part of this is that a large section of the mainstream media is fully engaged and deployed in running news and debates (mostly shouting and abusing each other) on subjects not really of concern and interest to the common man but to raise the dust and

divert attention of the public from the real issues. It is done deliberately in the name of free and fair press. Many of us are now used to listening to these debates for entertainment rather than information and knowledge. People fully understand this. One gem is floating on social media which is a telling commentary on the media of the country:

पिछले 3 दिनों में टीवी ने, राफेल का इतना ज्ञान मुझे दे दिया है कि...
यदि छोटी-मोटी गड़बड़ी होगी तो, मैं ही जाकर ठीक कर दूंगा!

Corona Virus is still potent to support the joke makers. Here are a couple of latest gems in this regard:

(i)                          मित्रो अब कोरोना का अंत निकट है,
क्योंकि उसने अमित शाह से पंगा लिया है

(ii)                       जिस देश में लोग थूक लगाकर नोट गिनते हों और फूंक मार कर लिफाफा खोलते हों...
उस देश में कोरोना को खत्म करना मुश्किल है!


Without comment -

लोग भव्य मंदिर चाहते थे और मूर्ख कांग्रेसी 60 साल से सड़क, नाली, पुल, बांध, स्कूल, कॉलेज, अस्पताल बनाते रहे।

Friday, August 7, 2020

Ram Janambhoomi Mandir at Ayodhya – Let it be an Abode of Peace and Harmony


Ram Janambhoomi Mandir at Ayodhya – Let it be an Abode of Peace and Harmony

The time has come full circle on August 5.  After a long standoff of five centuries and seven decades of legal battle, Shilanyas (Foundation laying ceremony) and Bhoomi Pujan (Earth breaking ceremony) of Ram Janambhoomi Mandir at Ayodhaya was performed by PM Narendra Modi on August 5, 2020 at a carefully crafted solemn ceremony. I have no mind and intension to go to the troubled history of the matter which was settled by the Supreme Court judgment of November 9, 2019 clearing the way for the construction of Ram Janambhoomi Mandir at the site of the demolished Babri Masjid. The fact remains that, one may or may not

agree, the dispute between the proponents of Ram Janambhoomi and the stakeholders in the Babri Masjid, generated much to be avoided heat and animosity and soiled the social fabric of the society. The scars of this divide among the Hindu majority and Muslim minority will remain in the years to come, unfortunately.  It seems, Muslims might have accepted the fact of Ram Janambhoomi at the site in Ayodhya but may not forget the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. Turning the wheel of history and disregarding the secular edifice of the country, the matter has been settled, to my mind, succumbing to the dictates of ‘majoritarian’ approach represented by the demographically majority Hindus and politically thumping majority of the current BJP government of PM Narendra Modi. It will remain a matter of regret that both the parties i.e. the Hindus and the Muslims could not resolve the matter with understanding and accommodation. It would take time to heal the wounded psyche of the Muslim minority in the years to come. Obviously, BJP has registered this as a great success in fulfilling its promises made in their electoral manifesto. But much remains to be done in the larger interests of the composite culture of India. Hopefully, the issue should be out of the way of harmony and
brotherhood in our multicultural and multiethnic society as PM Narendra Modi asserted in his speech at Ayodhaya, “We have to join stones for construction of the Ram temple with mutual love, brotherhood,” he said, asserting that everyone’s sentiments have to be taken care of. “Social harmony was the core principle of Lord Ram’s governance,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while referring to Ram Rajya, a perceived welfare state.

I ventured to write on this sensitive subject not as an expert analyst’ or an historian but as a layman and a humble citizen of India. The issue has been debated and analyzed thoroughly in depth by the stakeholders, religious Gurus, civic society, political parties and above all the judiciary of the country. Forgetting all differences, in the larger interests of the country, we all should accept the ground reality. It will be much appreciated if the Hindu majority shows magnanimity and try its very best to heal the hurt feelings of the Muslim minority in accordance with the cultural ethos of the often proclaimed Ram Raj, constitutional and legal stipulations, secular values and multiethnic edifice of the country. The majority Hindus must reconcile with the history that Babar came, conquered, ruled and assimilated in the main stream of the society. Neither Hindus nor Muslims are to be blamed for what happened. We should cherish the fact that India remained and it shall remain. I am sorry to add that I don’t agree with the former part of PM Narendra Modi’s assertion in his speech at Ayodhaya on August 5 when he said, “Despite efforts to eradicate Lord Ram's existence, he lives in our hearts and is the basis of our culture.” Who can erase Bhagwan Ram’s existence? I don’t understand. Is there any confidence deficit in this regard? I believe in the poetic assertion:

Yūnān o-Miṣr o-Rūmā, sab miṭ ga'e jahāṉ se
Ab tak magar hai bāqī, nām o-nis̱ẖaṉ hamārā

Kuch bāt hai kih hastī, miṭtī nahīṉ hamārī
Ṣadiyoṉ rahā hai dus̱ẖman daur-i zamāṉ hamārā


In a world in which ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome have all vanished
Our own attributes (name and sign) live on today.

There is something about our existence for it doesn't get wiped
Even though, for centuries, the time-cycle of the world has been our enemy.

On the other hand, it is an undeniable fact that history cannot be erased. It is history that Aryans (Hindus) came from Eurasia and made India as their home by step-siding of Dravids and Nagas said to be the Moolniwasis of India. Hinduism superseded Buddhism. Some sites like temples, Budh Viharas and other important remnants of the Moolniwasis and Buddhists must have been looted, demolished, occupied and converted into the sites of the occupying forces. There is no dearth of such examples in the history of mankind. Retaining the civilizational values, we must take these aspects in our stride and learn to live in harmony and peace. If this harmony and peace is achieved in our society and polity, one can tend to say that “Ram Rajya” has been established. The message of the Ram Janam Bhoomi Mandir - let us say Ramalaya should be the meaningful poetic expression of Allama Iqbal:


Come, let's, once again, remove the curtains of unacquaintedness;
let's help the separated beings meet again [and] remove the motif of duality.


The territory of heart is vacuous for a long time.
Come, let's make a new shrine in this land.


Our shrine should be taller than all the shrines of the world!
We should make its spire touch the edge of the sky. 


We should sing, each morning, the amiable hymns
[and] make all the worshippers drink the wine of love! 


[Both] power and peace are implied in the songs of the disciples.
The salvation of the people of the world lies in love!

The Hindu majority must provide a sense of security and belonging to the minorities. The minorities should desist from expecting endless magnanimity from the majority. PM Narendra Modi said that the construction of the Ram temple was an instrument to unite the country. It is a welcome statement. All of us should take it at its face value. There is no other way, if we really want that India shall remain India. The RSS, BJP and their field organizations like Bajrang Dal, VHP among others must understand that their dreams and aspirations have been fulfilled. They should desist from giving undue importance to their ‘creed’ over and above that of the nation. The same is also true of the Muslims and others who sometimes tend to ‘have the cake and eat it too’ to carry forward their agenda by playing a ‘victim card’, against the mainstream of the society. I am reminded of a warning of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, father of the

Indian constitution, which he gave in a speech in the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949. He, referring to the fact as to how India lost its independence in the past, said “Will history repeat itself? It is this thought which fills me with anxiety. This anxiety is deepened by the realization of the fact that in addition to our old enemies in the form of castes and creeds we are going to have many political parties with diverse and opposing political creeds.

Will Indian place the country above their creed or will they place creed above country?

I do not know. But this much is certain that if the parties place creed above country, our independence will be put in jeopardy a second time and probably be lost forever. This eventuality we must all resolutely guard against. We must be determined to defend our independence with the last drop of our blood.”

The Ram Janambhoomi Mandir will be completed in a couple years. It will usher us into “New India: as proclaimed by RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat in his speech at Ayodhaya. We should be back to business as usual to make India ready for the challenges of the 21st century with the slogan – Sab Ka Saath – Sab Ka Vikas and Sab Ka Vishwas. I conclude with a Shabad (Hymn) of Guru Ravidassji which is as relevant today as it was yesterday:

Keh Ravidass Khalas Chamara;

Jo Hum Sehri So Meet Hamara

Monday, August 3, 2020

Laughter – Spice of Life – 2

Laughter – Spice of Life – 2

Somebody has rightly said, “You can't understand Twenty-first-Century Politics with an Eighteenth-Century Brain.” The 21st century brain has really enlivened our life in the run up to understand politics and that too Indian politics. The Meme, I understand is - a funny take on social, cultural or political issues. The Indian political scene has come of age in this regard. Social media is going viral with political jokes – sometimes good and relaxing and sometimes off the

mark and bereft of much needed niceties in public discourse. Nothing to worry, let us sit and smile. The day Abu Abraham, a famous cartoonist and columnist, was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the President of India in the 1970s, his next day’s cartoon was captioned “Oh my God, I did not know President also has a sense of humour”. Needless to say, this isn’t the first time an Indian politician has put their foot-in-mouth with controversial remarks and created unnecessary storms. For the uninitiated, our politicians are notorious for making absurd misogynistic, sexist, racist comments that made news, leaving us often confused whether to doubt their sanity or laugh at their naivety. Lalu Yadav in his rustic style once said in Parliament that he would make roads in Bihar as smooth as the cheeks of Hema Malini. Mulayam Yadav commenting on increasing rape cases blissfully said that we should not bother much as the boys were boys. Recently, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb apologized for his statements comparing Punjabis and Jats with Bengalis, and said he did not intend to hurt sentiments. Deb had stirred a controversy by saying Punjabis and Jats are physically strong but less brainy while Bengalis are known to be very intelligent. Sometimes, jokes are made spontaneously. I remember a real one. It was in Beijing (Peking) sometime in the late 1970s. Some of us at the Indian Embassy, after a couple of drinks one evening, were relaxed and a similar subject of CM Biplab Deb’s foot in mouth incident came up. One Sardarji in the friendly group narrating a story of bravery of Sikh soldiers in the 1971 war in East Bengal (then Pakistan) said that all Sikh soldiers were ready to lay their lives even if they were seriously wounded unlike Bengalis. He intended some fun to tease a Bengali friend in the group. Further in the story, their superiors advised them to relent, retreat and relax and sent them back to recover.  After treatment and recovery, they were ordered to go and join their fellow soldiers in the fight with Pakistanis. But they were reluctant to go. Sardarji added that why was it so? It was so as while the Sikh soldiers were being treated in the hospital they required blood-transfusion and that blood happened to be of Bengali donors. The Bengali friend in a calm and cool manner countered Sardarji and said that yes, it may be true and added that before the transfusion of Bengali blood the Sikh soldiers did not have any brains and that is why they were insisting on fighting even against the advice of their superiors. Bengali blood revived their mental faculties. Sardarji jokes used to enliven social gatherings but the things, alas, have changed. It is an accepted norm throughout the world that self-confident communities like the Sikhs and Bengalis never take ill of jokes on their identity. Laughter, self – deprecation, justifies their self-confidence, an essential ingredient to be a strong and vibrant community.

Many things on the political and social firmament of the country are happening. Pradhan Sewak’s recently proclaimed mantra of “Atamnirbhar” also attracted some gems created in a lighter vein:

अब आप बाढ़ में डूबें या भीख मांगे, सरकार कुछ नहीं करेगी उसनेआत्मनिर्भरहोने का नारा दे दिया है

Yet another one on ‘Atamnirbhar’ which is also a telling commentary on the political on-goings in Rajasthan:

भाजपा को भी आत्मनिर्भर बनना चाहिए, कब तक दूसरों के MLA खरीदकर सरकार बनाते रहोगे!

India is a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society. Today, August 3, is Raksha Bandhan, day before yesterday, August 1, it was Eid and day after tomorrow, August 5, PM Narendra Modi do the honours at the ‘Ground-breaking ceremony – Shilanyas’ of the Ram Janam Bhumi Mandir at Ajodhya, a controversial and much awaited event. Someone has obliquely touched the nerve of the society with the following gem which explains the prevailing communal mood in the country:

इस कदर बँट गए हैं ज़माने में सभी;
अगर खुदा भी आकर कहे "मैं भगवान हूँ" तो लोग पूछेंगे किसके?

I close with Greetings on the Raksha Bandhan and a poetic expression of one of my Facebook friends, Paramjit:

*आईना आज फिर,*

*रिशवत लेता पकड़ा गया..*

*दिल में दर्द था और चेहरा,*

*हंसता हुआ पकड़ा गया...*