Two sardars, one statue
In contrast to Modi’s wont, Patel intervened quickly for Muslims when the Babri mosque in Ayodhya first turned into a legal dispute in 1949.
ATAL Behari Vajpayee did not quote Sardar Patel in Lahore. Had he done that, his summit with Nawaz Sharif would probably have collapsed before the Kargil stand-off could ruin it. Instead, Vajpayee recited from a poem about neighbours by Sardar Jafri, though he skipped a critical line about the fresh breeze from the Himalayas. Sardar […]
An officer and a gentleman
The curious title of the book ‘Sarkari Mussulman’ translates as ‘Uncle Tom’ in the given context.
MOVIE actor Naseeruddin Shah was having a tame chat with an indulgent Delhi audience when one of his two elder brothers seated in the front row rattled him with a troubling question. Why were terrorists almost always shown as Muslims in Mumbai movies? One such movie was a hit in which Naseer played a nationalist-minded […]
Need Ambedkar in Sabarimala
BHIM RaoAmbedkar had the antidote to quell with reason and firm argument the Sabarimala flare-up, which neither the left government in Kerala nor the centrist opposition Congress has the imagination to accept. Ambedkar would probably counsel Hindu and Muslim women, clamouring to enter the shrine in Kerala’s thickly forested tiger sanctuary, to find something more […]
The past in modern idiom
LOOKING at the challenges women face at their place of work or even at home in India or Pakistan, among other venues, I wondered how Prof Kailas NathKaul would have analysed the phenomenon. The late raconteur believed that our languages harboured our ugly past, samples of which may still be lodged in our DNA waiting […]
If democracy subverts itself
The implicit contrariness of democracies is more a respite from singular trouble than an agreeable pact.
AN old-fashioned Marxist sobriquet for democracy we pine for and are frustrated by in turn is ‘bourgeois democracy’. Another word for it, which suits the Western palate more readily since the fall of the Soviet Union, is ‘free markets democracy’. For most purposes both are one and the same thing in usage, not too different […]
What one leaves behind
Why is there fanfare when some people pass away and not when their colleagues with equal merit go?
ATAL Behari Vajpayee’s ashes were immersed in the Ganga. Nehru had his scattered over the Himalayas from a plane. Theatre diva Zohra Sehgal desired no such fuss. She left a stark message for her followers to cremate her quietly and put her ashes in the flush. The electric furnace was malfunctioning as it often does, […]
Can’t kill a good idea
A monopoly on the popular medium of information (and disinformation) has seldom prevented the fall of unpopular regimes.
SUPPOSE Antony had a TV channel at his disposal and Brutus didn’t. Would that change the course of history? Difficult to say, but experience shows that TV is overrated for its prowess, more so in a democracy. People win elections without the support of TV and they lose them despite all the help they get […]
Relief from ‘Mian’ Musharraf
Pro-Hindutva groups are campaigning to foment a Hindu-Muslim divide in Kerala — having failed, they look desperate.
IN my experience leftists and rightists are both good in relief work. Their motives, like their vision for the future, may differ entirely, but their methods are often similar, and derive from ideological passion. When they are in a duel, as they often are, it is a fight to the finish. Without the resolve and […]
Questioning Nehru’s country
There have been brilliant movies about the Muslim quandary in a tentatively free India.
ALMOST all my friends have praised Mulk (country) as a bold movie. I am still debating its purpose. The youngest nephew of Muslim patriarch Murad Ali Mohammed of a Benares neighbourhood gets involved in a bomb blast massacre. Friendly Hindu neighbours turn against the family, which has to prove they are not anti-nationals. Deep-seated communalism […]
Promising tryst gone awry
Both claim to be independent but Pakistan and India have missed the point about being a free people.
ON the 71st anniversary of Britain’s hasty departure this week, most of South Asia remains a seriously troubled region. We have experimented with various forms of governments and ideologies — from monarchies to communist rule, from anaemic democracies to civilian and military dictatorships. The experiments are still on, and that is a source of mortal […]