I used to sit on the 21st floor. Now I am retired

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I am feeling uneasy since the time I saw "Time for Hindus to protest".

Generally, I disregard such statements from various blogs and people. Because most of them are either from punks, who anyway have no clue. Or they are part of some obviously political group, which don't deserve our notice.

However, Sambhar Mafia is generally a thoughtful blog. Most of the times, it raises pertinent issues (be it on business or on a particular Indian state). Here however, the author is getting down to suggesting that the Hindus should start using 'Shiv Sena' type protests. Without much thought, I am assuming. It made me feel uneasy.

Then, following the comments on that same post, I happened to chance upon a ton of misinformed, unresearched comments and posts. About Hussain and his 'outrageous' paintings. I thought this particular issue would have died in the 1990s with the dastardly attack on Hussain's home and Husain-Doshi gufa. All part of an organised campaign, a predatory pursuit of power.

The outrage then, was based partly on a book written by Praful Goradia. A painting merely illustrating a scenario from Ramayan was turned around and interpreted in a silly and obnoxious manner. Other paintings also were given illogical meanings. The writer(s) clearly didn't understand art (not that I claim to do it myself!). Hence, he made tremendous leaps of faith. It would have been hilarious, if not so sinister. Needless controversy and propaganda was generated for a while. Frontline captures it well. Hussain apologised and the lumpen elements moved on to other issues - Gujarat, for one.

Now, the forces have risen again. The bait was obviously provided by the cartoons. How can Islam take away all the news-space with Hindus watching in silence?

That's the clear motivation behind Hindu Law Board promising 51 crore to "Anyone who kills Hussain for making obscene paintings of goddess Sarswati and Bharat Mata, the Danish cartoonist, those in the German company printing pictures of Ram and Krishna on tissue paper and the French filmmaker desecrating Lord Shiva". (Talk about a laundry list!)

If only these organisations, who represent millions of Hindus would go back and read their own stories. But why should they? That wouldn't give them column inches. That's what this is about after all. Not spontaneous outbursts for sure. Not really concerned with religious sentiments or facts. Only designed to get more column inches in newspapers and websites.

This doesn't make me feel uneasy, though. I do not expect any better from such organisations. What makes me feel uneasy is how many individuals with no apparent interest or clear reward from propaganda are falling in line. Refusing to learn, refusing to think through, refusing to read. I can't explain that yet.

P.S. By the way, what I feel about the whole religious sentiments vs. freedom of speech issue has been captured by India Uncut and various other people, so I won't repeat them. Except that saying that Mick Foley is God and I have taken out a fatwa on Time Magazine for not making him Man of the Year. I will give Rs. 11 to anyone who can chop off the phone number of Time Magazine's editors from all telephone directories across USA.


Blogger maverick said...

What i don't understand is how the cartoon leads to unrest in nigeria? and why this hatred is against a country rather than an individual (whether he is right or wrong is another question)?

Thursday, February 23, 2006 12:21:00 AM

Anonymous Maya said...

Countless arguments and counter-arguments on whether the Muslims should (must, can?) get agitated about the cartoons. Making it seem that this is really about the freedom of expression. So the debate gets focused on an issue which is more easily "debatable" and potentially, resolvable. Or atleast, something on which it's simpler to take sides. (Aren't those the kind of debates which make us feel most comfortable? Ambiguity, especially internal ambiguity, can be scary)

But these cartoons are just a trigger. Like an unreturned phone call, the position of the toilet seat, how should we spend Saturday nights? - triggers. A trigger to the argument, not the underlying cause.

We can spend countless hours discussing whether the trigger itself was good enough or not, debate whether it deserved the reaction it triggered. But what's more improtant is the underlying cause. The anger. The fuel to which these cartoons set fire.

Thursday, February 23, 2006 8:24:00 PM


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