I grew up in Lucknow, aware of a Hindi literary icon Shivani who lived in Gulistan Colony, a pristine part of the city which housed bureaucrats and judges among others. Her daughter Mrinal Pande had already begun to make a mark in literary circles. The mother-daughter duo held mirror to everyday life, showing men and matter as they were, without any colour.
The Mrinal Pande of today bears little resemblance to this neutrality. She takes a Congress line which is understandable given the Gandhis afforded her Padma Shri (2006), chair of Prasar Bharati head (2010) and her present position of group editorial advisor, the National Herald Group (Never mind, many of us haven’t seen a copy of its print edition in our lives. The only time we are reminded of its existence is when it’s hauled up in courts for Rs 5000-crore defamation suit by Reliance Group on Rafale lies). The problem occurs when she resorts to lies as in an edit piece today and Indian Express is too happy to lap up to her vomits. That’s how the newspaper and its edit author have chosen to begin the year 2019 with.
Pande is on a bigotry-binge on Yogi Adityanath. She asserts that Yogi is “planning a large statute of Lord Ram as a sort of precursor to building a temple on what is currently disputed land.” If you are not a legal hawk, it would appear that they statue is being planned on the disputed land. That Yogi couldn’t care less about Supreme Court being the sole arbiter of law in this land. The fact is no land in Ayodhya is decided yet on Rama’s statue. In the fantasy world of Pande, the Yogi government would disregard the all-important scientific and technical matter of soil-testing and wind-tunnel testing as long as it could tamper with the disputed land and Supreme Court’s authority.
Pande then rams the lie down the throat of her readers by claiming that Yogi has forbidden “the use of loudspeakers for azaan, citing the disturbance to public peace.” The fact is that it’s Allahabad High Court, and not Yogi acting arbitrarily which has ordered the removal of loudspeakers from religious places in an attempt to curb the noise pollution. In December 2017, state government and UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) were hauled up by a High Court bench for its action on alleged misuse of loudspeakers in religious places. (So madam, it’s not just for Azaan. The court intervention is also against the temples, gurudwara and churches. And if you must blame, blame the HC and not the Yogi government.)
Pande is unstoppable now. She says that Yogi has “banned namaz being performed in any public park in the state.” She ought to be told that no less than Supreme Court in a 2009 order has banned the unauthorized use of public places for religious activities by all religions (and not just for Muslims). And why Namaz, the police has also stopped a bhagwat katha being planned by Hindus in Greater Noida this week. (Rest assured Madam unlike you on Namaz, Hindus wouldn’t make much noise and spread ill-will among communities on the matter.)
Pande further alleges that Yogi has banned cattle SALES to butchers, most of them Muslims. She needs be told that it’s been over a year and half since the rule on ban on sale of animals for slaughter (and not just cattle) has been done away with. If Pande’s sleight of words is meant to point out the ban on cow SLAUGHTER in Uttar Pradesh (and not its sales), she can’t pretend that 19 other states of India have banned cow slaughter. And that it also is not un-constitutional. Article 48 of the Constitution mandates the state to prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle. The Supreme Court’s ruling in the State of Gujarat vs Moti Qureshi Kassab interpreted the article in consonance with Article 51A (g) of the Constitution, thereby justifying a wholesome ban on bovine slaughter.
And if History interests Ms Pande, it was a Congress chief minister in Uttar Pradesh, decades before BJP even existed, which banned cow slaughter in the state. It was Dr. Sarvshri Sampurnanand who banned cow slaughter in Uttar Pradesh in 1955 with the UP Cow Slaughter Prohibition Act. (So madam, please don’t single out Yogi Aditynath and betray your hatred towards him while ignoring what leaders of the party you serve have done in the past).
Pande also has problem about Yogi Aditanath making a “big noise about saving gau mata at all costs.” It would help her to know that a cow indeed is big in Hindu world. She ought to know of Govardhan Puja (a day before Diwali); and a cow being worshipped on the third day of the Pongal. In neighbouring Nepal, a cow is worshipped as Goddess Laxmi during Diwali; Gaijatra in Nepal is dedicated to cows accompanied with a big procession. Gorakhnath (God Shiva) is the protector of cows. He is called Pashupatinath. God Krishna is called Govinda only because of his affection towards cows.
It is not accidental that Mrinal Pande chooses to address Bhagwan Ram as Lord Ram throughout her piece. She chooses a western manifestation on a man who is a “maryada-purshottam” to millions of Hindus. Let her try this trick with other religions and she would know the consequences. In passing, it must be mentioned that Ms Pande in the past had tweeted an image of a donkey to wish PM Narendra Modi on his birthday.
There is another irony which is not lost on readers of Indian Express. The day it chose to make a lead headline of the opposition’s reject of the Triple Talaq Bill in the Rajya Sabha, Ms Pande extols Pt Nehru for the good work he has done in “incremental” changes in the society. Is his party Congress stalling or going for “incremental” change in the status of women in the society? Especially for women of a religion for which Ms Pande’s heart so palpably beats. Was Shah Bano a case of gender justice or gender denial?
So these are you “credible” men and women. The “credible” newspapers. The toxicity which poisons us everyday. With blatant lies and manipulations. Are these so-called men and women of letters worthy of any respect from us?
An Open Letter to Sagarika Ghose
I read your edit in Times of India today (April 26, 2017). You must remember me for I used to sit next desk to you in Times of India in the 90s. You might as well be remembering K.Dutta, then sport head, who I remember for one particular evocation: “Its better we laugh amongst ourselves and correct our copy than be a laughing stock to the world.”
Those at desk who ignore this wisdom and clear your copy without cuts aren’t your friends. At best they are fools or at worst, fellow conspirators. They let hacks like you write on subjects about which you knew nothing; and know nothing. If there was a sensible hand on desk, you could’ve been saved this public shame.
First, you start the piece as addressed to Liberal Hindus. I know there is another Hindu on your mind—the Internet Hindu which is a straight lift of the euphemism which presstitutes of the West reserve for Rajiv Malhotra. Don’t tell me that you haven’t heard of Rajiv or that Internet Hindu is your original.
You call upon these liberal Hindus (of your imagination!) to take on the “strident voices” who call for a “holy war” against other religions. Let me tell you no Hindu, yes No Hindu, liberal or illebral, want a “holy war” against other religions. If it was so, you would have heard the war-cry to change the name of “Allahabad” which continues to be one of the most pious holy places for Hindus. Or question the logic of “Lodhi Colony” or “Aurangzeb Road” given the “war” they carried out against Hindus and their temples. Why, even original “Kashi Viswanath Temple” in Varanasi was converted into a mosque and continues to be one to this day.
Hindus don’t want Hindu first. They want India first. But this simple narrative escapes you, either out of ignorance or plain mischief.
You further state that Hinduism has been an amiable religion from time immemorial. WRONG. Hindus were a splendidly martial people. Wish you had read any of the accounts of Greek writers who accompanied Alexander in his invasion of India and declared that very few in the world could match the courage or fortitude of Hindu warriors. Hindus didn’t turn amiable—only their spirit was crushed under the terrible yoke of British. It would be the fate of any people who are under foreign domination. Why even England suffered the same fate after Romans left them after four centuries of domination. England was poked, raided, looted by all and sundry in Rome’s aftermath.
You then mention Akhlaq, Pehlu Khan, attacks on movie directors, meat-eaters, rationalists as a mark of “strident Hindus” which must be kept in check by liberal Hindus. May be this is your concept of “war” which is mentioned in an earlier para. By this definition, any issue of law and order must be placed at the doorstep of “Strident Hindus.” If I may ask you, why Muzaffarnagar riots don’t form a part of your description? Is it because the then government was headed by Akhilesh Yadav, a non-BJP government?
Why this concept of war doesn’t include merciless hacking of BJP workers in Bengal and Kerala? Why is that calling Maa Durga as prostitute by Left-Liberals doesn’t upset you? Why not a word when the Azaadi brigade keeps silence on soldiers or CRPF men being martyred? Why no reflection on Kashmiri Pandit exodus? But Akhlaq and Pehlu are Muslims and serve your purpose on communal lines. It’s no different than the British Raj who divided India on communal lines. I can see such protagonists are still working overtime to break-up India.
You take your nonsense further by writing that Hindus never sought political power. Which history or religious books you have been reading Ma’am? Hindus have always believed that “shastra” and “shaastra” go together. That’s why you see our gods, Ram, Krishna etc with a weapon in their hands. ALWAYS. It’s not “Krishna, Ganpati are playful” as you mention. “Shaastra” can’t be defended without “Shastra.” Real Hindus know that. It’s been an old ploy to keep Hindu placid and non-violent, that “Amaan ki Aaasha” nonsense, which Britishers made good use of—by also promoting Mahatama’s Ahimsa—that served to keep their subjects docile. Please don’t try this trick on us. Not Again.
You say that Hinduism survived because of its “inwardness” despite enjoying no political patronage. Again which history books have you been reading.? All these splendid temples came up without any political patronage? The trouble is you have been reading books which treat North India’s history as the real Indian history. They had a motive in ignoring Pandyan, Chola, Chera, Satavahana, Pallava, Kadambas, Gangas and Chalukyas history. You are a spokesperson of the same divisive brand. It won’t work. No longer, Ma’am.
There are other inane references—such as “Azaan” issue, social medi trolls—which turn your piece nothing better than a rambling. The “Azaan” issue was not just about one religion. Sonu Nigam had called for a similar restraint on all religious noises. Social media trolls, well but for them, presstitutes would still be up to their tricks. Now they are being questioned and their lies are being made public. Indeed, they are the copy-editors you must submit your copy henceforth.