December 27, 2000

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Varsha Bhosle

The year ends... with more sickness

Although much has happened since my last column, you're still gonna get a diet of khichadi today. For, even three days after rediff's Christmas bang, I'm in no condition to concentrate on any one issue. Every bone in my body is still aching, and I honestly can't remember what exactly I did that night. Some foggy bits drift back to mind, and they scare the crap out of me. Point: I'm a profligate. And so it's entirely natural that Bharatmata's evolutionary dead ends, collectively known as the Sangh Parivar, should get on my nerves again.

But first, the good news (and there's just this one). Rejoice, India ain't just a pretty face; she's brilliant, too! Frankly, after Aishwarya and Sushmita, I'd stopped counting the incoming beauty crowns. I only hope that Vishwanathan Anand's World Chess Championship title will inspire many more towards such cerebral pursuits. Which is not to say that I'm contemptuous of beauty queens, no. Hell, if I could've cut it on the ramps, I'd have gladly traded in my dictionary set for a pocket hairspray. After my battles with the weighing scale, I hold the babes far more in esteem than I do Ayn Rand. Umm, it's just that I'd like Indians to be all-rounders in the international field. We have the brains, but we lack the killer instinct. And those who do have that go-getting perseverance, those who approach beauty as a career prospect and then steal a march over the chicest in the world -- the blasted Parivar condemns.

The VHP, Bajrang Dal and ABVP warned that there would be no public felicitation for the homecoming Miss World, Priyanka Chopra, "since winning a beauty contest is no great achievement." Now, I can understand if a Hema Malini says that, but the Matrons of the Dead End...? To top that, the Napoleon of Economics, Rajnath Singh, banned beauty pageants in UP after he sussed them as manifestations of the imperialism of MNCs. Which pearl of infinite wisdom promptly adorned the Panchjanya masthead: Apparently, the sudden emergence of so many beauty queens is a devious strategy to boost the sales of non-swadeshi cosmetics...

I have just one question: Why didn't The Great Satan make Chinese women Miss World/Universe...? Or aren’t MNCs in awe of China's potential and market??

The pinkos are correct when they call these jokers anti-democracy, anti-thinking, Fascist and barbarian. I guess, preventing a low-caste woman from drawing drinking water from a well, the burning of brides, the pernicious dowry system, the lack of medical facilities, the defecating in public, the sale of underage girls into prostitution -- NONE are against "Indian cultural values." But, beauty contests are.

The stark reality is, these Saffron Stalinists are not the least interested in the welfare of Hindustan or Hindus. Their sole interest is in establishing control over that which they can/will never control: our lives and destiny. As my friend Gopal exclaimed, "Who says the duffers are cowards?! They are so brave when it comes to harassing 18-year-old girls."


Four bomb blasts rocked Pakistan, in Lahore, Faisalabad, Hyderabad and Kharian. Punjab police chief Malik Asif Hayat said, "We were anticipating some terrorist activities in Punjab, especially after the attack on the Red Fort in New Delhi. We are absolutely in no doubt that India is sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan." Punjab law minister Khalid Ranjah said, "We had information there will be Indian-sponsored terrorism in retaliation and that has happened."

I say: Are the guys of RAW finally earning their salaries...?


More from the Evolutionary Dead Ends: The VHP's Ashok Singhal has advocated communal electorates if Bal Thackeray's proposal of disenfranchisement of Muslims can't be implemented (which, incidentally, wasn't what Balasaheb proposed). "Even communal electorates would help end the vote bank politics as the Muslims would be electing people of their own community and there would be no need for the majority to woo them for votes," quoth Hinduism's Bismarck.

Question: Can monkeys constitute a legitimate electorate? If so, are there enough to vote in the Parivar?


On Monday, the prime minister launched a Rs 60,000-crore rural roads project and a scheme for ensuring food security for all. He said the projects would be implemented on a time-bound basis and that the requisite funds would be arranged. The food scheme would provide 1 crore poor families with 25 kg of grain per month at Rs 2 a kg for wheat, etc, etc.

To name just ONE problem that's holding India back: Indian farmers are in bad shape not because they can't/don't produce, but because what they produce does not reach the market in time. Infrastructure. Roads. However, the announcement of the two projects was pushed by the venerable The Times of India as "adding Rs 2,300 crore to the subsidy burden on his government" under the heading, "On his birthday, PM gives nation a costly gift."

Question: Do you recall the ToI using words like "costly" or "additional annual subsidy" or "burden" when the Haj subsidy was raised...?


The Indian Express is making a case for the eviction of the Indian Army from Delhi's Red Fort, which "is just a case of tenant not wanting to quit prime property." It quotes -- always unnamed -- sources saying that the Army doesn't even know the "sensitive spots around Red Fort" and that there is little military or tactical importance of the army at the site.

Who could these erudite sources be, I wondered. And up came: "Heritage conservationists have been wanting the army out for a long time." Ok, so which groups are these? Other unwitting publications piped up: "The Delhi high court directive came on a petition by the Society for Protection of Heritage and Culture, which alleged that hundreds of unauthorised constructions had come around the monument." So, are these orgs governmental? Nope. I found that SPHC has also filed PILs against the ASI in the past. Ok, pesky, non-governmental, anti-army and with Press support. You know what that indicates.

After 50 years of Independence, the PM of India does not have a permanent residence. Because the first, dedicated one has been dedicated to the memory of Jawaharlal Nehru. Heritage conservation. It's all right if young countries do such things, but can you imagine what would happen to London or Florence or Athens if every structure with a past is made into a museum? Exactly what's happened to Delhi -- the City of the Dead.


On Friday, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the Jamaat-e-Islami leader and an unequivocal pro-Pakistan supporter within the Hurriyat, divulged the details of the Hurriyat's 6-hour-long Thursday meeting to a 250,000-strong congregation in the Grand Mosque, Srinagar: "No one would be allowed to sell out the sacrifices the people have made since 1931. The meeting accepted that the Mujahideen are our source of strength and they must back us always." Wunderbar!

It was reported that Hizbul terrorists had appeared at the mosque and "before leaving, they shouted pro-Pakistan slogans and fired shots in the air." However, says something I more readily believe: "Fierce and virtually uncontrollable pro-Pakistan sloganeering by the crowd... marked the Hurriyat's main public exercise in this [aaarrrrgghhhh....] holy month of Ramzan." Great stuff, Hajpayee's peace initiative.


On December 9, a 45-year-old Qazi was sleeping inside the mosque at Palayamcottai in Tirunelveli district of TN, when a group of men, armed with crude bombs and sickles, pulled him out and hacked him to death. The news bulletin of the Markaz Ad-Da'wah Wal Irshad -- mommy of the Lashkar-e-Taiba -- noted: "It sparked incidents of violence in two Muslim-dominated areas in the south of the state. Such incidents of violence against Muslims are taking place despite the Indian government's claim to have tightened the security in several sensitive parts of the country due to the anniversary of the demolition of the Babri mosque in northern India by hordes of Hindu fanatics on Dec 6, 1992."

Exactly 2 weeks later, the ToI reported – in less than 190 words – that the murder of Abdul Rashid and the "attack" on the mosque was the result of a family dispute: The Qazi's own [Muslim] son, along with 3 [Muslim] cronies, had murdered the man over a spat involving a girl.

How many times have we seen reports like this? Remember the "Hindu fundamentalists," 15 of whom were Christian, who raped the nun in Jhabua? Remember the abducted and raped nun of Sahibabad who was not abducted nor raped? Remember the now-conveniently-forgotten case of Sister Francesca who is guilty of maiming four children by scalding their hands with a hot knife...? Seven-year-old Karabi Mandal, according to doctors, had "sustained injuries, including burns." Know what "sustained" means? Remember the statement of Francesca's boss, the holy Sister Nirmala, of the holier Missionaries of Charity? Francesca had "given wholehearted and free service to the poor and sick children and their families. For this, we and the poor are grateful to her."

But what did the Press focus on? Not on the cruelty of the Christian missionary towards the children, but the protests from "fundamentalists." One human rights body even stated, "A whole order should not be blamed for the mistake of just one junior nun." Then, why is the entire Hindutva movement blamed and condemned -- without fail -- for crimes committed by Christians and Muslims, who then conveniently become "miscreants," while Dara Singh remains not only a "Hindu fundamentalist" but also a Parivari???


The Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmad Bukhari, delivering his sermon on the last Friday of Ramzan, threatened to approach the Arab nations to impose economic sanctions against India if "the temple is constructed under the supervision of the present government" at the spot where the Babri stood. Just five days earlier, the Organisation of Islamic Conference had said, "The organisation has noted with deep concern the recent statements of the Indian leadership that encourages the construction of a temple at the site of the destroyed Babri mosque." Hmm... how cozy.

The Imam has a right to think differently on the Ayodhya issue, of course. But when an (I assume) Indian talks of approaching other countries to impose sanctions against (I assume) his own country, what does that make him...? Naturally, no political party, no columnist, no editorial has spoken out on this aspect. In fact, The Hindu buried the report on page 15, while "Chief Minister advised to rest" stayed on page 1.

I missed the report. But it was brought to my attention by reader Prasanna thus: "I request you to write about this episode and if possible explore ways to book Bukhari under anti-national activities or any such similar laws so that it sends a clear message to all such people that national interests come first and that there is no place in India for radicals like him." Any takers among the Ban-the-Beauty-Pageants jokers...?


This is how sins come home to roost: "The Lashkar-e-Toiba wants General Pervez Musharraf to grow a beard in conformity with Muslim customs." LOL, just wanted to end on a comic note. See ya next year!

Varsha Bhosle

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