And that is, my dear, how we arm-twist a nation!
So the controversy is over. Karan Johar can release his latest film, ‘Ae Dil hai Mushkil’ without any trouble from MNS, Maratha Nava Nirmana Sena, who had been threatening any theatres who dared release the film with protests and unrest.
In a new turn of events, Karan Johan and Mukesh Bhatt met the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr Devendra Fadnavis, and MNS leader Mr Raj Thackeray. What they discussed behind closed doors will remain a secret, but the outcome is public: MNS will not oppose the release of the film. Suddenly, the presence of Fawad Khan, the Pakistani factor in the film and the so called shame of a nation, is no longer an issue. To make the future clearer, Mukesh Bhatt issued a statement saying that the Producers’ Guild has decided not to work with Pak actors or talent in the future.
It was also settled that Mr Karan Johar will make a heartfelt – not arm twisted- contribution to the Army Welfare Fund, irrespective of the fate of ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ at the box office.
All that ends well is well.
But the question here is: ‘Has it ended once and for all?’
If you look at the bigger picture, you will see that things have only started. The national scene is reminiscent of the George Orwell Novel ‘1984’. The initial resistance to injustice slowly gives way to acceptance and soon it becomes the law of the land and people become obedient to the regime, until the inevitable uprising happens. And India, my dears, is the living example of the collective brainwash.
Why was Karan Johar targeted? Just because anything in India is viral when it comes to Bollywood and Cricket and banning both is a surefire way of getting some much-needed publicity. As rightly opined by Renuka Shahane and Anurag Kashyap, banning a movie is not the way to show your nationalism. The movie was made well before all the unrest happened, when Narendra Modiji was embracing Nawas Sheriff like a brother. Fawad Khan left India, taking his remuneration. Only Indians will suffer from any such bans. And if you really wanted to show solidarity, why not ban all cross-borfer trade and affairs?
Trade still continues as usual, according to the provisions laid down by GATT and the MFN principle. Since 2006, an additional trade agreement between India and Pakistan has come into effect, falling under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA). As per these agreements, trade is conducted without any hindrance by road, rail, sea and air. According to the latest data, bilateral trade has increased to $2.4 billion, which might reach a record $6 billion within the next two years.
Imagine the disaster that would ensue if any restrictions were now placed on any of the goods exported or imported. So the next best way to proceed is by banning a movie which is, after all, not an essential commodity, and neither is it a trade chain. It also gives you so much mileage.
Now, the RSS has demanded English to be taken off as the medium of instruction from all educational institutions, instead to be replaced by respective mother tongues. English, I agree, is not the epitome of cultural perfection, and there are many countries where education is imparted in the national language, in France and Germany for example. But in a country like India, where each of its constituent states has its own language, the HRD ministry should think twice before even meeting an extremist political body demanding an unrealistic change in the system. Do they actually merit a polite reply to these demands?
“IIT, IIM and NIT should introduce education in Indian languages.”- SSUN ( Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas, educational cell of the RSS) demands impractically. Why not ban everything, from Pakistani actors to even the use of English, cut off all ties with the outside world?
Let’s all go back to our villages, wear dhotis and sarees, do Kheti and live like the true Indians we are! Like in Vedic times!
While our Prime Minister is busy visiting all the countries in the world before his tenure ends, and claims to bring undreamt-of amounts of foreign investment to India, his and other allied parties are busy pulling the nation backwards to a Veda Yug, as though dragging a reluctant cow by its noose.
The same ire shown to Karan Johar was directed toward Aamir Khan when he expressed his concerns over the prevailing atmosphere of intolerance in the country, narrating his wife’s doubts about whether they should move to another country, fearing for the safety of their children. Those who have watched the video would realize he was only expressing his worries, in perhaps a dramatic way. He got his answer from the nation’s Defence Minister during a book launch. Mr Manohar Parrikar asserted that ‘Anyone speaking against the country should be taught a lesson the same way an actor and an online company were taught’, the actor in this case being Aamir Khan, and the online company Snap Deal, which didn’t renew his contract for fear of repercussions. How could any reaction answer Mr Khan’s question more completely?
When the defence minister of a nation boasts about teaching a lesson to a normal citizen ( Amir Khan is known for obeying even the smallest rules) , owing to a concern he raised in a public forum, you know you are entering forbidden territory, AKA Islamic State. If you don’t proclaim absolute loyalty to the idea of a Caliphate, Islamic State will punish you, torture you, enslave you, rape you, imprison you, until your will is bent to theirs, or until you depart this life at their behest.
The setting might be different, circumstances might be different, but the ideology and the threat are the same. The way is fearsome – the model is a Hindu State instead of an Islamic State, but shrouded in the delicate layers of the democratic nature of the nation. When the defence minister of a nation acts like the leader of a gang of goons set out to teach any voice of dissent a harsh lesson, we know the nation is going astray and the people need an answer. And we have Arnab Goswami for that!
The loudest voice one can hear these days is that of Mr Arnab Goswami who finds his voice as a one-man court when prosecuting anti-nationals; the criteria for being branded one is raising your voice against those in power or marching in protest against what you feel is injustice. In front of Modi or anyone in power, he becomes Mary’s little lamb, while he doesn’t spare his vocal cords when he brands people like Kanhaiya Kumar and Om Puri as anti-nationals.
Arnab at first caught us by surprise, voicing his opinions above the collective media din, but soon bullied his way into prime time. We looked at him in amazement; his live talks where a show of his vocal strength over others and anyone who tried to talk in his show got the repeated warning ‘Don’t try to subdue me on my own show’. No wonder he got shown middle fingers on national TV. We were never used to his brand of journalism, where the verdict is already decided before the discussion and the victim only gets short, minuscule breaks to prove his or her innocence. Arnab is the America of India, passing judgements on anything and everything and determining what is right or wrong for the nation. The nation, in fact, might need a break from him, not any more answers! But the danger is that his voice is fast becoming interpreted as the voice of millions of Indians, lazily surfing through channels for entertainment and controversies.
Mohammed Akhlaq must be turning in his grave now. This is the same country where an army officer’s father is killed because of the grievous crime of eating beef, while one of the accused in the crime gets a tricolour flag-covered burial and a huge sum for his family from the government as compensation. Beef seems to be the pressing issue. Every day, one hears of youths being tortured, beaten or tied up, their crime being transporting cattle, which is quite a normal thing in any civilized country.
The majority want a beef ban everywhere because we are not supposed to eat beef, but export it in huge quantities, holding the number one position in the world in beef exports. But wait, we export only buffalo meat, which is not a holy animal by any means. At this rate, Jains might want an onion ban, Muslims might ask for a pork ban and fitness freaks can ask for a junk food ban.
This modern India seems to be a place where the order of the day is determined by a religious majority and the party representing it. Any dissenting voice is anti- national. So,
- Anurag Kashyap is an anti-national since he poses some really upsetting questions to the government and Modi. How dare he question, in the first place?
- Aamir Khan is an anti-national since he shares his worries over the state of affairs in the country.
- Renuka Shahane, Abhay Deol and everyone like them belong to the same group.
- Mohamed Akhlaq is anti-national since he ate beef.
- All Muslims are anti-national since they already chose Pakistan and if they want to live in India, they have to adhere to the new norms. You want to protest? Go to Pakistan.
- Anyone who writes against the powers that be is a Presstitute, anyone who talks positively about secularism is a Sickular, new terms coined for anti-nationals.
While all this happens, the ministry goes ahead, making the much-needed changes to establish complete reign over the psyche of the nation. So, we ban a documentary as it’s a shame for us to let the channels show- India’s daughter, the documentary by Leslee Udwin on Nirbhaya, shot legally in India with the consent of authorities and Nirbhaya’s parents, the unfortunate victim of carnal desires of India’s rowdy youths. Key positions in institutions get filled with party cronies; the Film Censor Board and Pahlaj Nihalani, FTII and the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan, need we say more?
But it’s no wonder when the Education Ministry was headed by Smriti Irani, whose educational credentials were a source of dispute and who doesn’t have any pedigree of work except those in Hindi soap operas. Sedition charges against students, the suicide of a Dalit Student, a decision not to support the off-campus centres of Aligarh Muslim University, closing down the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle in IIT Madras, a bid to introduce Sanskrit in IITs, good governance day on Christmas- the lady made quite a stir before vanishing into oblivion.
But Smriti cuts a far better figure than Dinanath Batra, a noted RSS educationalist, whose textbooks for schoolchildren sparked controversy a while back.
His textbooks were full of fantastical stories about Rishi- Munis, Dev-Daanavs and ancient mythological heroes, and that, dear reader, is history according to him. Famous historians like Romila Thaper, Irfan Habib etc, find this not only ignorant, but very dangerous to young India.
“Young minds are exposed to misinterpretations of the past and even the present” Irfan Habib told the Hindustan Times.
So it comes as no surprise when in schools in some states as of 2014, it was taught that Japan dropped nuclear bombs on the USA during World War 2, and that Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on 30th October 1948. They even go further:
“They (non-vegetarians) easily cheat, tell lies, forget promises, are dishonest and tell bad words, steal, turn to violence and commit sex crimes.”
“Instead of celebrating birthdays with cakes and candles, we should follow a purely Indian culture by wearing Swadesi clothes, doing a Hawan, and praying to Ishta Dev, reciting mantras such as Gayatri mantra, feeding cows…”.
What about children from other religions? What should they do on their birthdays?
The absurdity continues:
“The Indian map should include countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Burma, as it’s all a part of Akhand Bharat. Undivided India is the truth, divided India is a lie, “- There goes the political lesson.
“The pilot and the Indian together thrashed the Negro and tied him up with a rope. Like a tied Buffalo, he frantically tried to escape, but he could not. The plane landed safely in Chicago”. Such a beautiful portrayal of Racism.
“A donkey is like a housewife. It has to toil all day and, like her, may even have to give up food and water at times. In fact, the donkey is a shade better” – an inevitable comparison of a donkey to a housewife in Rajasthan text books.
Homosexuality is a disease, Lesbians are nymphomaniacs and there is no need for sex education till the children are of marriageable age, and getting married without a bad name is every young girl’s dream.
Its only after a big hue and cry that the government appointed special committees to rectify the errors and bring a much proper curriculum to the schools. Even then, people like Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya whose main claim to fame is his role as an RSS Pracharak are mentioned as great economic thinkers.
While the congress reign, happily corrupting the money away and getting involved in scams, let the dragon of India continue in deep slumber, the new reign seems to have woken it from the sleep ready to engulf everything is its path in deadly flames. During the Congress reign, one could protest and raise your voice and march against inflation, lentil price etc. But under the current scenario, pressing issues like the rise of lentil price ( contributing factors could be many), the petrol and diesel prices even when the international crude oil prices are much lower than it used to be, etc. seem to be no matter for contention. Government says the extra tax levied on oil, is reinvested in infra-structure which is mostly invisible as of now.
A study by the European Transport Federation found that- ‘every billion of tax revenue shifted from labour to fuel can produce some estimated 11,000 jobs’. Where are the jobs? Inflation will fall sharply, if the retail fuel prices are lower, which will give room for RBI to cut benchmark rates and lower the cost of borrowing, a fact RBI has been at loggerheads with the Finance Minustry for a long time now. There is no agitation, no protest except by Rahul Gandhi’s dismal performances on national TV.
There was a time when you could protest freely with no fear. Now, even a Facebook post about the powers will land you in trouble.
A 22 year old youth is arrested for an alleged Whatsapp message on beef, which has the potential to incite communal riots, according to the authorities, and while in custody, dies. It is not long back that a girl from Mumbai was harassed for a post about the hullabaloo in the aftermath of Bal Thackeray’s death. An interesting fact is that anyone who had to face the ire is not from the ruling party, but another voice of dissent.
While these happens, the ruling party members and even ministers go about making controversial statements which could ignite an entire state in to rioting.
In a dismal performance of ignorance and backwardness, Sadhvi Prachi, a VHP leader, urges people to elect Raam zades instead of Haraamzades, asks the nation to boycott Khans from Bollywood as they always go for Hindu girls, refutes Gandhi’s ways of nonviolence in achieving freedom for the nation, accuses Muslims of love jihad to trap Hindu girls and convert them, attributes the cause of Nepal earthquake to Rahul Gandhi’s impure visit to the country (he should have taken a dip in ganga first). And in Rourkela in 2016, she proclaims- “Now that we have achieved the mission of a Congress- Free India, it’s time to make India Muslim Free. We are working on that”. Where is the police, where’s the arrest? Or is the statement not communal or inciting riots? I am confused.
The fallacies don’t stop there. VYAPAM scam rocked the nation for a long time before losing its steam in the media. The number of unnatural deaths is still mounting and the accused roam free.
Madhya Pradesh BJP chief Nadakumar Chouhan said, in 2015-“There is no regret on VYAPAM. Only 2000 recruitments have been faulty and only 31 died. Shivraj Singh is as pure as Ganga”. The yesteryear actress Rekha might be laughing, she also made As-Pure-As-Ganga statement about Akshay Kumar when allegations of an affair between the two surfaced. People still die and we have learnt to live with it. While all of AAP leaders get arrested one after another for smaller crimes, the ones from the ruling party roams free, making controversial statements and creating havoc and communal hatred. And it all seems to work fine.
So the idea is clear, my friends. They come at you in different ways. They first touch your food, your most primitive need. They tell you what to eat and what not to. And when you don’t listen and you protest, they will come at you, beat you, thrash you.
Next you will be told what to think, what to say and how to interpret the things around you. Your choice of clothes would be the next step. They will have a detailed outline of your dressing choices and if you adhere to this, you are better off.
Like the scene in ‘1984’, where Big Brother continuously streams propaganda, folks like Arnab Goswami, Anupam Kher and their ilk will tell you continuously how to be a patriotic and how not to be an anti-national.
You might protest, especially if you are young. They will ban all your forums and try to curb your spirit with charges of sedition and other criminal charges. Your actions at schools and colleges will be controlled by their watchdogs.They will use all available channels to tell a collective story to a majority controlled nation, be it via Facebook, Twitter or other news channels.
They will make expert use of the cult feeling prevalent with the major groups. This ranges from religion, food choices, and inter-country relationships to who you marry and what you preach. They will create a sense of unity among the majority, thereby making them forget the pressing issues the nation faces: poverty, unemployment, the rising number of crimes and rapes, since otherwise the majority will turn against them in the absence of an enemy.
When was the last time that any of these issues became a national debate? I don’t remember and you probably don’t, either. They are forgotten amid the banter about banning, seditions and calls to ‘Go to Pakistan‘.
As the best strategy, they will catch your children young. Their impressionable minds will be taught what they want the kids to think. Thoughts become beliefs and later become actions. While your children grow up with a resolute mind, looking for the glory of Akhanda Bharata, your protest will well be over, the new order of the day will already be set and you will start believing that you were in fact wrong all along and this, in fact, is the reality. (Almost like when you start thinking that a bad movie is in fact a good one, when everyone around you goes gaga over it and you feel you must have been mistaken.) This is exactly how events happen in ‘1984’ too, and in many times and places around the world as well.
In a chapter entitled ‘Internal achievements of Nazism’, the school textbook projects Hitler as a true leader: “Hitler lent dignity and prestige to the German government within a short time, establishing a strong administration.”
Meanwhile, in another part of the world, a young and charming Prime Minister proclaims “I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that I firmly stand against the politics of division, the politics of fear, the politics of intolerance, or hateful rhetoric. If we allow politicians to succeed by scaring people, we don’t actually end up any safer. Fear doesn’t make us safer, it makes us weaker.“
I hope Karan Johar decided to donate a big sum to the Army Welfare Fund, not because of fear, but because he felt the need to do so from his heart. I hope every future producer feels the same way as they are dictated to donate an amount of 5 crores if they want to work with the Pak talent.
The saving grace:
” Don’t play politics with the Army, which has a strong apolitical, highly disciplined and secular ethos. The Armed Forces do not want to be dragged in to such low-level political wrangling.” In a befitting reply to MNS, Army expressed its disappointment on Saturday at the forceful donation from film producers by MNS to Armed Welfare. ” We only accept funds that are donated voluntarily, not through coercion or extortion” Another proud officer added. Take a bow MNS, that’s how gentlemen operate.
PS: I salute the Army for providing me the freedom and security to write this in peace.