Monday, April 11, 2016

Of Youth, Blasphemy & Media Trials


Way into my 60s, my sympathies are with Gen.Next.  India’s become a tough place to live in:  no smiling, laughing, jokes, loving, drinking, no what not.
Only Ram naam japna…... India from sadhudom to dogmatist capitalism. Two of our best-adjudged universities facing bigoted media trials.
Take heart. It was not always like this. Nor will it remain so.  YOU guys need cool hearts and wits to achieve genuine Achhe Din.   Since Time Immemorial, the child has been the father of Man.  Across the world, huge changes have been rung in by Youth Brigades.
Take the caste imbroglio.  Ask the powers-that-be to read the Satyanarayan katha aarti: a Raja outdone by a Bhil woodcutter in faith; a greedy bania coming to woe vs. cowherds’ devotion and more.   Even mythological tales speak of lower castes as better human beings.  
Some twenty odd years ago, writing against the deification of the past, I mentioned Mahatma Gandhi’s “bania non cooperation.” Eyebrows were raised; I explained that Gandhi was born and bred a bania; that molded a thought process the yielded the non-cooperation plan, in which business continued as usual but no taxes paid.  Profit hi profit, dande me, no taxes and huge numbers joining the freedom movement.
Earlier during university celebrations of the Mahatma’s birth centenary, an intercollegiate elocution event focused on facets of his teachings.  Never a great fan, I endured the spouting over all his teachings. My turn came near the end.  Pakoed by all the eulogy, I set aside my prepared speech and asserted that to achieve our goal of all round development for all, India cannot afford to be held back by outdated, rural-based philosophies.  Perhaps it is time to place the Mahatma and all his preachings into a time capsule to be launch into outer space!!
Imagine the reaction to such Blasphemy!  Gandhian judges ready to burst. The crowd parted to make way for me to leave. The next day,  ‘take care,’ or ‘best of luck’ whispers helped pass time waiting for the Principal’s summons.
But I was summoned to the Staff Room, deserted except for the Vice Principal, ensconced at the far end, fingers steepled in front of him.  Staring at his fingers, he read me a half hour lecture….
“As Father of the nation, he deserved homage on his centenary; social niceties demanded that and we were bound by such niceties.  We live in a social circle, people are hurt otherwise etc etc etc…..
The steeple broke into laced fingers in his lap.
“I’m sorry Sir.  It will not happen again.”  
After a silence, I asked “Will that be all?”
At his nod, I started to turn, ‘Just a minute,”
Finally I met his twinkling eyes  “I tend to agree with you,”  he said.
I almost curtsied as I held back a triumphant burst of laughter. Nothing more was ever said.
Perhaps that generation of elders knew that soon enough, I would understand that India’s colossal varieties need a multiplicity of approaches to help them into the 21st century.

Now when will our generation achieve such wisdom? 

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