Nupur J. Sharma
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
It’s difficult. You see right-wingers are as high-nosed as anyone who is first among equals. A little like the elites they criticize. They ought to put cause ahead of self; blow wind to voices in the society. Those who could step in when they leave. For this is a long overhaul. One life-time is not enough. They are battling an entrenched monster. There is need to harness. Less preening, more scouting.
You cast your eyes around and it gets stuck in three dimensions: Social Media, Academic, Debaters. I don’t know who are the right-wingers in languages other than Hindi and English. Isn’t that sad? I am also leaving out backroom worthies: websites, historians, field-workers, organizers etc. True, they are a mighty force. But this is about individuals.
Here I name my Playing Eleven, captain and all. There are also support staff and motivators. Inevitably, those out would be miffed. But I promise this is an annual list. So there would be another in 2021. (In bracket, you have their twitter accounts).
Openers: Swapan Dasgupta. Swati Goel Sharma
It’s a kind of Gavaskar-Sehwag choice. One, orthodox, steeped in academics, never caught on wrong foot. Other, flamboyant, swings hard, stares down the bowlers. While Swapan (@swapan55) could be run-less for long hours, Swati (@swati_gs) is a busy-bee, swatting propaganda on lynching and riots. The two are not of the same kind.
Swapan could be irked to see Swati as his partner. My criteria is who contributes more to the “team” – in terms of rattling the Lutyens’ agenda. Swapan could be too politically correct at times, tries too hard to be neutral, and in my view that’s a bit underwhelming to the cause. (Truth to tell, I like Swapan the debater better than the writer). Swati doesn’t carry any such baggage. She puts her skin in the game.
Middle Order: Amit Malviya, R.Jagannathan (Capt), Aravindan Neelakandan
All three are my favourite and I put them in that order: At number 3, 4 and 5.
Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya), of course, is the IT cell head of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But his value to masses lies in TV debates in which he chooses his facts and words like Rahul Dravid did with his flicks and drives. Pretty well-organized. He could be nasty without a snarl on his face. His directness is unnerving to the likes of Rajdeep Sardesai.
R. Jagannathan (@TheJaggi) is heads and shoulders above the rest. A Sachin Tendulkar of this team. He brings so many dimensions on so varied subjects that it’s almost unreal. A most original thinker. An erudite man who in my opinion is the best journo in the country. Swarajyamag is lucky to have him on board.
Aravindan Neelakandan (@arvindneela ) who? Well, look for him in swarajyamag.com. He takes up the most contentious issues which Liberal-Leftist forces are fond of passing as truth. There’s a certain rootedness in his pieces which convey the essence of India, be it on architecture, archeology or even in culinary domain. A most credible voice who prefers his work to do the talking.
ALL-ROUNDER: Dr Anand Ranganathan
Dr Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72 ) is the Jacques Kallis of this “team”. Could defend and attack as it suits him. Immaculate with his facts. Sarcasm and poison comes easy to him, as does humour. But sometimes “labours” with his idioms and metaphors. Prefers a monologue than to a real debate. But he’s a work in progress—I sincerely hope the “professor” takes this comment in the spirit it’s said. Life is rewarding to those who are its’ students.
WICKET-KEEPER: Rahul Shivshankar
Rahul Shivsankar (@RShivshankar) hands down is the best anchor in the business today. A MS Dhoni, if you may. He brings on nasty Left-Liberal forces on his show and then schools them with facts. Ups a mirror which reflects their ugly visage. Puts everyone at ease, irrespective of their bent. Extremely good with words and expressions. Earnest to a fault. Doesn’t let a debate flag.
BOWLERS: Arnab Goswami, Dr. Subramanian Swamy, Tarek Fateh, Pushpendra Kulshreshtra
Arnab Goswami is often rash, a sledger, who arguably isn’t as good as he once was. But he was a trend-setter. His put-downs make no distinction between a Rahul Gandhi or a Shashi Tharoor or with people he once shared the studios with. These days he gets his runs like Steve Waugh, often ugly, but, as said, the opposition hates him, and that’s good enough.
Dr Swamy (@Swamy39) has too many distinctions to his name. He does some “real” damage to biggies of India’s political landscape. Gandhis and Owaisis amongst present times. Karunanidhis of the past. He could make legal hawks like Ram Jethmalani twitch on TV debates. Some of India’s biggest headlines–UPA Scams, Ram Janmabhoomi etc—bear his imprint. Indefatigable. Brutal with his words. Erudite. Quite a bit his own man. Friends and foes fear him in equal measure.
Tarek Fateh (@TarekFatah) isn’t often seen on TV these days. But his value lies in exposing the “muddled” mindset of Muslims. He defends Islam but believes it’s hostage to Mullahs and Jihadis. He doesn’t as much spew venom as he spits it. Few have put Islam under as sharp lens as he does. If Islam needs a “Reformation”, Tarek Fateh could be its’ Martin Luther.
Pushpendra Kulshreshtra (@Pushpendraamu @PushpendraKul ) has kind of burst on consciousness in recent times. A former journalist, he is excellent in front of camera. Has a good grounding in Quran. History is his armour. Logic his shield. Words his halberd. He is a rage amongst Hindi-speakers and that’s a sizeable number to help the team’s cause. Needs to be more Social Media savvy though: Has two twitter accounts!
Post script: These 11 are in people’s eyes. But the support staff and philosophers are no less significant. Madhu Purnima Kishwar (@madhukishwar) is unlucky to miss out the first XI. Rahul Roushan (@rahulroushan) and Nupur J. Sharma (@UnSubtleDesi) are excellent for OpIndia. I like Abhijit Iyer-Mitra (@Iyervval) too. Yaajnaseni (@yaajnaseni) is a rising star but you won’t believe it looking at numbers who follow her on Twitter. Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri (@vivekagnihotri) and Shefali Vaidya (@ShefVaidya) are popular. Among philosophers, True Indology (@TlinExile) is brilliant. Dr Koenraad Elst (@Koenraad_Elst) is without peer. Rajiv Malhotra (@@RajivMessage), David Frawley (@@davidfrawleyved) and Subhash Kak (@@subhashkak1) all are shining lights. Go out and look for them if you don’t already.
This is a piece about a cartoon and an anchor. Both are interchangeable: a cartoon could be an anchor; an anchor could be a cartoon. Both could invite ridicule and stay unrepentant.
On Friday (January 4, 2019) Times of India published a cartoon (see picture above). It mocked Hindus for stopping menstruating women enter Sabrimala temple. A priest is seen invoking Gods to “do away” with “menstruating unclean women.” Gods asks “With retrospective effect?” The priest says “yes.” Next, “poof” the priest is smoked out of existence (since all of us come from a woman’s womb).
We would come to this mis-information on “Sabrimala and menstruating women” in a bit. First, I would like you to look at the picture again. This has been retweeted by Faye D’ Souza of Mirror Now with apparent glee: “Teeheeheee.” Now look at the black circle I have made at the end of the picture: The time it shows is 8.31 p.m. The date: January 3, 2019: the evening before Times of India went to print.
Having been an ex-Times of India guy, I know how it works. The editors think of an idea and call up in-house cartoonist/illustrator to sketch it out for the morning’s editions. Faye D’ Souza apparently came to see it in the evening itself and couldn’t control her “teeheeheee.” The pretences to neutrality dropped around her like clothes. She couldn’t wait for the morning—she needed to tweet her “teeheeheee” moment rightaway.
“Teeheeheee” is “Ha Ha” in dictionary. It means uncontrollable joy. Utter joy, as Faye D’ Souza must have seen, at the “stupidity” of Hindus. That Faye is a Christian, it carried communal tones. Times of India might have been the original “communal” instigator but Faye was no less in her contempt for Hindus. She is lucky she is in India where Hindu majority are tolerant beyond belief. A Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar was sacked by his hotel employers in Dubai for his “anti-Islamic tweet” recently. JW Marriott sacked Kochhar on fear of hurting “local” sentiments—and their profits–in the Islamic state. Kochhar’s tweet–admonishing actress Priyanka Chopra for ignoring Islamic excesses in India—was honey compared to Faye D’ Souza’s poison-dipped tweet.
Anyway, what caught my eye was a surgical tweet by the editor of OpIndia, Nupur J. Sharma: “Don’t think people who believe in virgin birth should be talking about menstruating women. No?” (image below)
Some scholarly tweets were no less devastating. A tweet handle (see image below) quoted The Bible (The Book of Leviticus: 15: 19-30) to show what Christianity thought of menstruating women.
Another tweet quoted The Book of Ezekiel 36: 17 (Hebrew Bible), to stress the point of how Christianity viewed menstruating women (see image below).
I checked up on Islam. This is what it says on menstruating women doing prayers: “It is haraam for a menstruating woman to pay both obligatory and naafil prayers, and they are not valid if she does them. She does not have to do a particular prayer unless she was pure or became pure with enough time to perform a complete rak’ah, in which case she has to do the prayer, whether it is at the beginning of the time for it or at the end.”
“In al-Saheehayn it is also narrated from Umm ‘Atiyyah that she heard the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “Let the girls who have attained puberty, women in seclusion and menstruating women go out – i.e., to the Eid prayer – and witness good and the gathering of the believers. But let the menstruating women avoid the prayer place.”
The above instances above are not meant to say that menstruating women are unclean. It’s that most religious texts have a similar opinion on them. It now brings me to the “Sabrimala and menstruating women” bit and the “misinformation” propaganda on it.
The Sabrimala deity Ayyappa has other temples at Kulathupuzha, Aryankavu, Achankovil where he exists as a child, as a married person with a wife and as an ascetic. There is no restrictions on entry of women in these temples. In Sabrimala, Ayyapa is present in the form of Naishtika Brahmachari (celibacy). According to the rule of Naishtika Brahmacharya, its practitioners besides celibacy are also required to maintain absolute restraint over all their senses—including non-contact with women, especially of reproductive age.
One of the beauty of Hinduism is that at it allows everybody to follow whatever route or faith they believe it. The truth is one but the routes are limitless. It has millions of gods because a devotee could choose his own way for “moksha.’ Hinduism thus accords a similar space and respect to Islam and Christianity.
To hold Hinduism as practicing gender inequality is a rotten propaganda. All rituals must be done with your wife beside you. Mahakali, Mahalaxmi, Maheshwari are all manifestations of how Hindus treat its women. All its gods are shown together with their wives—Sita-Ram, Shankar-Parvati etc. Why, it’s even Mother India (Bharat Maa) when Hindus mention their motherland. “Vandematram” is another one proof.
It’s been nearly 48 hours. Neither Faye D’ Souza has issued an apology or deleted her tweet. Times of India too hasn’t shown a remorse on the offensive cartoon. This impudence flourishes because majority Hindus of this country are liberal to a fault.