So, we have veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah in the news again. No, it’s not in connection with any of his movie projects or even his personal life. He is in the news because he wronged the “right” with his ‘intolerant’ utterings on intolerance .
Aamir khan had walked down the road , Shahrukh too did so and even Naseer had done it earlier. While the ‘stars’ decided to touch the mute button on these touchy matters and generally observe the rule that ‘silence is golden’ on these matters, the ‘actor’ decided to voice his opinion once again. And boy did it invite the wrath and fury of a tropical cyclone!!
Cyclone Phethai has hit the seas of internet and TV studios were flooded with deluge of debates , dissections and down right cacophony. Naseer was hounded for some more sound bites. One can see a sea of bile flowing through the gutters of twitter.
Project us versus them has reached its peak .What to do ?…. now that the elections are round the corner.
Alas the powers who had captured the power with the slogan sab ka saath sab ka vikaas can boast of neither. Sab ka saath was just a diplomatic jumla. A polite way of convincing the middles classes by donning the mask of moderation . An empty promise. If one looks closely at the slogan one notices that it comes with a ‘conditions apply’ asterisk attached. Condition being muslims need not count on the Government’s saath.
As for as the second part of the slogan is concerned, poor chaps in the power echelons did try every trick in the book to build the perception of development. There was the sudden announcement of demonetisation and rainbow dreams were woven around it. Our worthy prime minister even cracked jokes about common man’s misery on foreign shores. Lakhs of crores of black money was to be brought back into the government coffers with this one stupendous move. One RBI governor was sent packing to pave the way for road roller of demonetisation . Another supposedly pliable one was brought on board who turned out to be not as palatable as expected to be so much later, the Gods of Delhi decided to spit him out.
The exercise proved to be a bigger flop than the thugs of Hindosthan. Figuratively speaking the thugs of Hindosthan were happily fleeing Indian shores finding luxurious shelters abroad, even acquiring new citizenships and generally leading their lavish lives of existence while the self declared chowkidaar was caught napping.
The move it seemed to me was apparently inspired by a pedestrian potboiler movie from down south in which an ‘economist’ donning the beggar robes advocates demonetisation of high denomination notes to root out black money. Or was it done at the behest of a certain bright eyed, green behind the ears team of chartered accountants of Pune?
Any way the source of germination of this idea is not important . What is important is Mr.Rambo 56 decided to carry out the surgical strike on black money with the precision of a hacker performing a delicate brain surgery. The result? Operation success patient dead.
Then came the GST and its shoddy implementation. The ‘ Good and simple tax turned out to be a nightmare for the traders and businesses. Simple became a garangutan complex maze with myriad layers of tax slabs ranging from 5 to 28 percent.
Rules got complicated , traders got confused and Government machinery got muddled. Lawyer finance minister and entire political science prime minister trundled on with brave faces singing bhajans of self glorification . But the masses were unimpressed. Downward slide at the hustings in election after election left the Gentlemen of the Nagpur controlled government worried.
So now the tried and tested trick of whipping up communal frenzy is hard at work at all quarters. Clashes of Saffron and green at every adda are manufactured, magnified and manipulated. The righteous right’s favorite whipping boy , the miyan bhai is paraded down the streets, lynched as and when necessary and generally shouted down from every pulpit ( This inclues Sambit Patra’s comical shouts Maulana baith ja in TV rooms ) for the centuries old wrongs committed by his so called ‘ancestors’. Revenge served karma style.
The right wingers realised rather belatedly that flogging dalits (literally and figuratively ) will adversely impact their poll prospects. So they are forced to maintain a facade of Hindu ektha even though they may detest them in private. But when it comes to the Miyan men and women folk they still need a villain to cast a shadow over their shortcomings of governance. So the project polarization and the othering of muslim monsters continues. The righteous right can’t project centuries’ old sense of victimhood without the muslims. Muslims are the very reason for their existence in the first place.
If one has to win elections again then one has to project ‘Babar ki aulad’ as the villlain of the piece for our great nations’s ills. Never mind the current failures of employment generation , agrarian distress, polluted rivers, toxic air and unkept promises of 15 lakh in every account. Let’s talk about muslims and their misdemeanours is the refrain of TV channel debates. For every short coming of the government there is the muslim bogeyman that has to be dusted out, propped up from time to time and held accountable . Occasionally we will also resort to Nehru bashing in the process but that is only a side dish, our main course is still the muslim monster .
The nation does not need to know about real problems afflicting society. Muslim fodder will keep the debate mills on tvs and social media crunching grinding and churning. Nation needs a tamasha and skull cap wearing bearded miyan bhai puppets are the antagonists pitted against theatricals of a supposedly 56 inch chested and pot bellied ageing matinee idol and his cohorts. Bollywood Block buster pot boiler in the making.
It is one thing when a libtard sickular dissents the present powers that be, but when that libtard happens to go by a muslim name then all hell will break loose. The gaint monster machine of propaganda starts whirring, purring and then roaring. All other noises of reason and logic get drowned under the loud clickety clack of this garangutan transformer toy.
Malice manufactured by it does the rounds of twitter then facebook and then whatapp before turning its gaze on TV rooms.
Naseeruddin shah provided that machine with a perfect fodder that will probably last weeks before cogs in the machine slow down and come to a grinding halt.
Now let us see what Naseer said in that ill fated interview given to karvan-e-mohabbat. Loosely translated it goes something like this :
‘The poison of polarisation has spread far and wide and now it is difficult to put the Djinn back into the bottle again. There is complete immunity and sanction given to lumpen elements to take law into their own hands. Now death of a cow is given more importance than the death of a cop. I am worried about my children who, we brought up without any religion. I was taught about religion in my childhood but my wife Ratna grew up in a more liberal environment . We both decided that we would not give our children religious education as it is our firm belief that being good or evil has nothing to do with religion instead we taught them about right and wrong. I am worried about my children in situations where mobs surround them and ask them if they are Hindu or Muslim because they are neither. They will not have an answer. I don’t see any improvement happening in the forseeable future. These matters don’t scare me rather they make me angry. I feel every right thinking Indian should be angry and not feel scared. After all this nation is our home and who can dare evict us from our home’
Now any right thinking citizen should not have a problem with the angst and anger expressed by Naseeruddin shah. Yes he does exhibit a pessimistic outlook but given the way lumpen elements have started occupying centre stage that feeling is but natural. And yet the amount of viciousness unleashed on him actually validates his argument of hopelessness.
Now let us see a few gems of the vitriol.
His colleague from the industry Anupam kher while grudgingly conceding that every one has freedom to to say whatever one wants to say comes up with a bizzare logic of stating that our country has so much freedom that one can criticize the chief of air staff , pelt stones at army men and abuse the army, how much more freedom does one need? His bizzare logic confirms to the classic whataboutery of right wing arguments when they run out of logical arguments . He somehow equates mob lynchings where the hapless victims are defenceless, with stone peltings against massive weapon weilding armed forces pitted against their own people. He sees proprtional relationship between a verbal criticism of the air chief to the killing of an innocent teenager on a train for wearing his religion on his head. His inverse world does not differentiate between a verbal abuse and a fatal killing of a cop.
A wannabe rookie leader Amit jaani of UP Navnirman sena looking for some limelight goes ahead and buys a one way ticket to Pakistan for Naseeruddin shah. The patriot is offended by anti national utterings of a miyan bhai. I wonder if the genius really tried to understand what Naseer said and what was it that he found offensive to his patriotic sensibilities .
One smart alec on twitter tweets : ‘this is the same guy who signed mercy petition of Yakub memon. Problem is with you Mr.Gulfam Hassan ( A negative character portrayed by Naseeruddin shah in a movie called sarfarosh. He plays the role of a pakistani Ghazal singer with a grudge against India for partition woes) The twitter trigger happy bozo either can’t differentiate between reel and real or thinks he is clever in finding a relationship beween the two. Either way he fails to understand between what Naseer actually said and what he wanted to understand what Naseer said.
All sundry TV news channels exploded with gleeful debates with an eye on TRP ratings and the TV room cubby hole windows filled up with assorted characters drawn from across the spectrum of left to right, passing judgements in favor of and against Naseeruddin Shah. Poor Naseer was hounded again and again for some more sound bites to dig a deeper trench of controversy and ridicule. This tragi comedy circus will continue to hound the viewers until the TV worthies move on to another scapegoat and another spectacle.
I don’t know in which context Samuel Johnson quoted that ” patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” but the saying suits to a T for our present times of mindless debates invoking nationalisim and dragging the armed forces into every argument .
While the space of dissent for all right thinking Indians has shrunk substantially , dissent by an intellectual or even an ordinary person with a muslim name against his photo in his aadhar card seems to have virtually come to a zero. It is not surprising at all when seeds of strife have been assiduously sown by none other than the great orator Prime minister who didn’t think twice before hitting below the belt with his sarcastic farewell speech in the parliament in honour of the outgoing Vice President. Poor chap should have approached the Yogi of UP for a name change from a Hamid to a Haldiram may be, to avoid ridicule by the glib globe trotter.
Muslims are akin to the ‘roaches’ of the popular dystopian tv series called ‘Black mirror . In one of these episodes there is scary portrayal of beast like creatures bearing human like features called the roaches. whatever the ‘roach’ says or does doesn’t make any sense to the normal human beings.
We may even draw parellels between black lives in America and miyan bhai lives in India.
Both occupy the bottom rungs of their respective societies. Both have unusually huge representations in jails. The only difference is that here in India their dalit brethren also stand alongside them in Jails. Both the blacks of America and the neo blacks of India are heavily under represented in government and private jobs. Both of them are dependent on blue collar jobs for their livelihood. Both face discrimination practiced either directly or as an undercurrent by elite members of civil society. Here in India the miyan bhais join the ranks of dalits when it comes to discrimination .The list goes on and on and can be a topic of another article by itself. While the dalits are the classic example of aparthied in India Muslims are the neo blacks of India demonized and dehumanised by the present actors of statecraft.
I am reminded of pastor Martin Neimoller’s poem :
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I was not a communist
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I was not a jew.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
I guess like Naseeruddin shah implored, its time for all right thinking citizens of India to speak out …..not just speak out but shout out so loud that the voices of hatred drown out.
Bio : The writer believes in taking sides and speaking up. He considers neutrality to be intellectual laziness . He is currently in between many things from learning crafts to crafting opinion on all things affecting humankind. He thinks of himself as a free thinker unfettered by dogma.