Saturday, August 29, 2009

An appeal to the "Lauh Purush"

My dear Iron Man Part II,

Hope you are doing fine and enjoying your characteristic health and vitality by virtue of which, even as an octogenarian, you can give a person in the prime of youth a run for his or her money. Having set the tone with a few good words about your virtues, I would now like to inform you that my heart bleeds at the sight of whatever is happening to you these days. The very people, who once claimed that you were made of steel and bestowed upon you the sobriquet of "Lauh Purush", have now started generating heat around you with the hope that you will melt like wax. Your sycophants may tell you that you are better off than the retired soldier who has been summarily booted out while you had to simply "step down". But I am sure you see the irony of two incomparable men being talked about in the same breath. The man singularly responsible for the organisation's single-digit to three-digit journey, can in no way be compared with the second-rung para-trooper who, whether in or out of office, has done little more than cool his heels at the hill station he has now chosen over his original desert home! Moreover, your personal integrity and good nature has endeared you to many people who do not even agree with you on anything and hence often your misadventures like the infamous chariot ride are viewed with a bit of sympathy. We all understand the anguish of a person who had been rendered homeless by the numerous agreements reached around round tables which ultimately drove away the Empire in which the sun did never set. On the other hand, our latest rabble-rouser is, at the most, realising the inconsequentiality of his life, dabbling in polemics. Every illustrious career has to come to an end but it is painful to see the end coming with so much of disgrace. This disgrace, indeed, is much more unfortunate than the fact that you had to spend your hey days under the shadow of your less industrious but more ingenious senior partner. But please allow me to say that you have invited this disgrace, simply by ignoring a cardinal principle of the very faith your ideologues proclaim to follow. You forgot the virtue of Silence extolled in the tradition you claim to follow. On the other hand, you continued to put your foot in your mouth both through your tongue as well as your pen. What was the need for making incredible claims of ignorance about the bunch of people who were flown, against their wishes, from the Himalayas to the Hindukush? Did your naive explanations convince anybody? They only provoked your detractors and continue to do so. (Just look at the latest ramblings from the retired soldier, who is being joined by the retired bureaucrat). You could have taken a cue from the inhabitants of your native place, who have not tried to explain away their hour of national shame more than three decades ago. This has given your counterparts on the other side of the boundary the opportunity to kick sand in the eyes of their own people who continue to see people on this side as aggressors while remaining mostly oblivious to the threats they face from their own lords. Only recently, you annoyed many admirers of your sobriety by your vitriolic attacks on the turbaned gentleman and his perceived weaknesses. We know you are reticent by nature and this, perhaps, explains why your attempts at loquaciousness are always disasters. Now, that you may be facing the last major challenge of your life, it may not be a bad idea to heed the suggestion by an old comrade of yours who was shown the door for calling a spade a spade (to be precise, a mask a mask). You must now do yourself and your admirers a service by refraining from soiling your hands in the humdrums. People may now benefit more by your advices than your active involvement in the affairs of the power game. Hope you will take this in the right spirit.

With best wishes,


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

An invite for the Commonwealth Games, 2010

Dear All,
We, the forever emerging Asian giant, who do not believe in complete emergence, are all set to welcome our guests from abroad for next year’s gala sporting event. We will be glad to have the company of our colonial cousins, all of whom had once joined us in bowing down before the Empire whose sun has now set. The nation of over a billion souls welcomes you all with open arms, wide open manholes and potholes, shut eyes and ears and clogged drains and sewer lines.
We promise our would-be visitors that they would be stunned with our resolve to destroy their obsession with our glorious and exotic past, as soon as they set their feet on the ground of Delhi, our proud capital and the venue of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Hence, we have rendered unrecognizable all our monuments of the Mughal era and the legacies of the Raj, simply by taking up construction works that will continue for eternity and renovations that may end up removing every trace of their very sites.
If there is anything that our visitors shall be looking forward to, it is the obvious signs of our growing economy that refuses to grow up. We therefore advise our visitors not to look for any exotic marble structures which senile bards may describe as tear drops on the cheeks of Time. They shall rather be prepared to be greeted by gigantic flyovers and structures of concrete that are likely to remain “under-construction” unless and until these inert beings vow to manifest the Hindu concept of all-pervading Consciousness and start yearning for “Nirvana”.
We would also like to mention our proud national trait which prefers rehearsals to performance. Therefore, only recently, on August 21 to be precise, we tested our preparedness for the upcoming mega-event in which we were assisted by Mother Nature whom we have been worshipping ever since the Universe came into being. True to our genius for invention, we are confident of dazzling you all with the unique training and practice facilities that we will be providing to your respective sporting icons.
Whilst in our colourful land, your athletes need not waste their time on boring regimes at bland gymnasia and stadia. Just look at the three pictures except the one at the top, which shows the most VIP street in the town dotted with embassies of various countries on either sides. We have converted it into a pool! So, your swimmers and canoeists can just cruise along while enjoying the sight of their respective High Commissions for their preparations! Now just have a look at the endless queue of vehicles at a jam-packed street in the photograph at the top. What better practice opportunity can you imagine for those interested in high jump and long jump? And this is not all. Sprinters have the entire city at their service as crossing any of the roads at a busy hour will definitely make them capable of breaking any amount of world records. Gymnasts, Judokas and wrestlers too can avail of an excellent training facility which involves getting in and out of the city buses and the tube rail.
For those who are not impressed, we wish to point out that this is not all. We appreciate the growing worldwide emphasis on the “mental” aspect of sports training and our uncouth citizens, ranging from the hand-to-mouth to the well-heeled, will not be found wanting in offering a nerve-wracking challenge. Make no mistake. Your handsomely-paid and foul-mouthed coaches can never instill the mental toughness into your sportspersons which our ordinary folks can do without charging a penny, with their unprovoked glares, blaring horns on streets busy as well as deserted and squabbles which effortlessly transform into full-blown street-fights.
We sincerely hope to win you over with our unconventional hospitality and quench your thirst for adventure.
With best wishes,
India That Is Bharat

Sunday, August 16, 2009

हमारे फिल्मी चैनल दर्शकों को जाने किस बीमारी से ग्रस्त समझते हैं जिसका इलाज वे घिसी-पिटी और तथाकथित रूप से देशभक्ति पर आधारित फिल्मों की कुनैन से करना चाहते हैंयह भी अजीब है की उनको इस बीमारी की याद २६ जनवरी, १५ अगस्त और अक्टूबर जैसे दिन ही याद आती है। शायद किसी ज्योतिषी ने उनको सिखा दिया है कि इन खास दिनों में कोई देशद्रोही नक्षत्र प्रबल हो जाता है इसीलिए उसका शमन करने के लिए सबका मगज चाट डालोकुछ फिल्में तो ऐसी हो गयी हैं जिनके निर्माताओं ने मानो इन तारीखों के लिए कोई कांट्रेक्ट साइन कर रखा हो - तिरंगा, बॉर्डर, क्रांति और भगत सिंह पर आधारित वे तमाम फिल्में जिनमें मनोज कुमार से लेकर अजय देवगन और बोब्री देओल तक अपने आपको अजमा चुके हैंइधर इस लिस्ट में कुछ नए नाम भी जुड़ गए हैं जैसे मैं हूँ , स्वदेस, रंग दे बसंती और चक दे इंडियाइसमें तिरंगा जैसी फिल्मों का चयन तो बिल्कुल समझ से परे हैफ़िल्म के नाम में ही तिरंगा हैबाकी तो सब केवल राज कुमार और नाना पाटेकर को आमने सामने देखने का रोमांच भर हैइसी तरह से मैं हूँ ना का भी देशभक्ति कनेक्शन आज तक समझ में नहीं आयायदि यह मान लिया जाए की नायक शाहरुख़ खान देश के लिए लड़ने वाला एक फौजी है तो फिर क्यों देव आनंद की प्रेम पुजारी देखी जाए? फ़िल्म का गाना भी है - ताकत वतन की हमसे है इज्ज़त वतन की हमसे है - जैसे बाकी लोग तो केवल देश का बेडागर्क ही कर रहे होंवैसे गाने से यह भी याद आया कि इन खास दिनों कुछ खास गीतों की भी धूम रहती है -

दिल दिया है जान भी देंगे वतन तेरे लिए, सुनो गौर से दुनिया वालों सबसे आगे होंगे हिन्दुस्तानी। सबसे आगे होने का इतना यकीन है तो गला फाड़ने की क्या ज़रूरत है, मस्त रहो! कल एक चैनल ने तो कमाल कर दियाउसने देश के स्वतंत्रता दिवस के लिए चुना स्लमडोग करोड़पति। जी हाँ उसी फ़िल्म का हिन्दी रूपांतर जिसने ऑस्कर में कामयाबी के झंडे फहराये थेलेकिन भइया इसमें अगर किसी को देशभक्ति नज़र रही हो तो वो कृपया हमारी समझ पर पड़ा परदा भी हटाने की कृपा करेहम इस फ़िल्म को लेकर अमिताभ बच्चन की राय से सहमत नहीं है लेकिन इसका १५ अगस्त से क्या खास कनेक्शन हैआख़िर प्रचार तो ऐसे ही हुआ था की स्वतंत्रता दिवस के खास मौके पर देखिये स्लमडोग करोड़पति! इससे भी ग़ज़ब तो यह हुआ कि फ़िल्म ख़त्म होने के बाद इस चैनल की अगली पसंद बनी मल्लिका शेरावत कि मर्डर जाने क्यों कबीर दास का वह दोहा याद रहा है - दिन भर रोजा रहत है, रात हनत है गाय! , , इसको भगवा जुमला समझें कबीर दस का सेकुलरिस्म विवादों से परे हैमगर हाँ, फिल्मों के चयन में हुए प्रमाद से मैं अवसाद ग्रस्त अवश्य हो गया हूँमजबूरन देशभक्ति के इन पर्वों पर मेरा दिल गुनगुनाने लगता है - रहने को घर नहीं है, सारा जहाँ हमारा, चीन अरब हमारा, हिंदुस्तान हमारा। या फिर जिन्हें नाज़ है हिंद पर वो कहाँ हैफिल्मों के नाम पर श्याम बेनेगल वगैरह याद आने लगते हैंस्वस्थ व्यक्ति को ज़बरदस्ती कुनैन दीजियेगा तो पगला ही जाएगा!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

ब्रेकिंग न्यूज़: भगवान कृष्ण का जन्म हो चुका है !!!!!

न्यूज़ चैनलों पर एक जुमला अक्सर निगाहों पर हमला करता रहता है - ब्रेकिंग न्यूज़! दर्शक बेचारा यह सोचता रह जाता है कि इसमें न्यूज़ क्या है और ब्रेकिंग क्या है। लेकिन कल जो हुआ वह उसने यह सोचने पर मजबूर कर दिया कि यह ब्रेकिंग न्यूज़ हार्ट ब्रेकिंग है या माइंडब्रेकिंग (अंग्रेज़ी दान जुमला गढ़ने की मेरी धृष्टता को क्षमा करें)। अपने निठल्लेपन से उकता कर हम रात के बारह बजे एक क्षेत्रीय चैनल लगाए हुए थे और आशा के अनुरूप जन्माष्टमी की धूम मची हुई थी। तभी एकाएक फ्लैश चमका - ब्रेकिंग न्यूज़ -देश भर में जन्माष्टमी की धूम! क्यों भैया इसमें क्या ब्रेकिंग न्यूज़ हो गया? पत्रकार बनने की तैयारी में न्यूज़ की जितनी परिभाषाएं सीखी थीं सब याद आने लगीं। कोई परिभाषा फिट नहीं बैठ रही थी। ज़्यादा से ज़्यादा दिमाग यही सोच पाया की अगर "धूम" के बजाय "शोक की लहर" या ऐसा कुछ अटपटा होता तो शायद न्यूज़ की किसी विकृत कसौटी पर खरा उतरा। थोडी देर बाद एंकर महोदय का क्रंदन सुनाई दिया - भगवान् कृष्ण का जन्म हो चुका। लहजा ऐसा था गोया किसी अवतार का नहीं किसी हाड मांस के इंसान के जन्म की बात हो रही हो जिसमें सुनने वाला यह पूछ बैठे - माँ बच्चा दोनों स्वस्थ हैं न और लड़का है या लड़की? मगर एंकर महोदय इतने में थोड़े मानने वाले थे। उन्होंने अगली घोषणा कर डाली - मन्दिर के अलावा मथुरा के सैकडों घरों में भी कृष्ण भगवन का जन्म होने वाला है। अब तुम्हे कैसे मालूम भाई कहाँ कौन पैदा होने वाला है? इतने बड़े अंतर्यामी हो? और कृष्ण ही हर जगह पैदा होंगे इसका मतलब क्या है। सर कहीं पैदा होगा, धड कहीं और। हाथ पैर कहीं और ही। और अगर इतने सारे कृष्ण पैदा होने हैं तो उतनी संख्या में देवकी, वसुदेव, नन्द और यशोदा का प्रबंध हुआ है या नहीं। जाने इन सब मौकों पर हमारा भगवा ब्रिगेड और उसका सांस्कृतिक राष्ट्रवाद कहाँ चला जाता है? खैर वे तो पुराने प्रमादग्रस्त हैं। सुप्रीम कोर्ट में अनाप शनाप मुक़दमे दर्ज करके अनर्गल चीज़ों को प्रचार दे देंगे लेकिन उनके हिंदुत्व का तमाशा बनने गया है यह नहीं देखेंगे। और चैनल वालों को क्या कहें? कौन समझाए उन्हें? Infotainment (मनोरंजन के साथ सूचना) प्रदान करने की बात करते हैं और भक्ति की अभिव्यक्ति में जो स्वाभाविक माधुर्य होता है, चाहे वह किसी मत के अनुयायियों के द्वारा हो, उसे ही नहीं समझ पाते। अपना गला भी ख़राब करते हैं और हमारे कान भी। कृष्ण जी, यदि आप सुन रहे हैं तो कृपया इस ब्रेकिंग न्यूज़ पर भी अपना सुदर्शन चक्र चलायें!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

An open letter

My revered leader of yore,

Congratulations for your maiden entry into the Exalted House which you had only recently denounced as being unworthy of someone who followed your ideology. As I congratulate you for your latest accomplishment, I cannot help mourning the fact that the integrity and the intelligence that defined you and made you capable of vanquishing giants that earned you your famous sobriquet, have finally taken leave of you. That you have been a man of shaky convictions was never a secret. You blatantly displayed this oxymoronic trait of yours when, at least three decades ago, you first aligned with people whom you would have termed as reactionary and then pulled the rug from under your collective feet by insisting that the reactionaries part ways with their own alma mater. Your shaky convictions once again came into play when nearly a decade ago you proudly chose to convene an alliance headed by the reactionaries, who had by now acquired a new moniker, albeit keeping the umbilical cord which tied them to their alma mater, intact. However, your latest antics are baffling to us even by your own impetuous standards. I have never been able to understand your problem with your apprentice who may not have been your most loyal but, even enemies of yours and him agree, has been by far the most scrupulous. Your first brush with infamy was when you brought to a grinding halt that bustling place which took pride (in fact it still does so) in the fact that it never slept. However, you fought for a cause and many like me, who had not even come into being then, admire you for your feat. Then, during your second tryst with the reactionaries you invited censure from all corners by putting your foot in your mouth. Though I think you were right to some extent as smaller enemies often make our people lose sight of the biggest foe you were referring to. Even during the period when some over-zealous scribes came out with their contrived investigation into a sphere of life hitherto considered sacrosanct, it left you largely unblemished. This last episode exposed the corruptibility of many high and mighty and saw numerous heads rolling. But when it came to you, even the over-enthusiastice detectives too had to concede that "this man is untainted". At the same period came out your first spat with your apprentice when you insisted upon super-imposing that aged femme fatale on the very structure you and your apprentice had raised. I am no fan of your apprentice but I still fail to see merit in your choice. The aged femme fatale scarcely had the ammunition for taking on the mighty rival whom your army had been battling for long and succeeded in defeating only recently. Your unhappiness with your apprentice has, however, since been inexplicably consistent. This is despite the fact that for a brief time when your pocket borough had got caught in a wave of identity-based sentiments, wherein an outsider like you had no chance, your apprentice offered gave up his own stronghold for the sake of your honour and battled out from not-so friendly lands. Even that did not assuage you and you kept complaining that he has been sidelining and even insulting you. You gladly allowed lumpens to use your name for encumbering your apprentice at the time he needed your blessings the most. Your latest disgruntlement was even more baffling. Did your apprentice not request you to choose the Exalted House instead of the more glamorous yet grimier option then itself? At that time you felt the Exalted House was incompatible with whatever remains with you of ideology. It is altogether a different matter that you took no time in changing your opinion. Yet another display of your legendary shaky convictions. I know you have been an impatient man and must be wondering what this scribbler is driving at. I simply want one thing from you - moderation. You owe your achievements to your revolt against the path your ancestors had chosen for you. That path which you abandoned was certainly not an evil one. But your revolt will be counted on the correct side of history simply because that path was and has been fraught with obscurantism and excesses. Please do remember that excesses are possible in all walks of life. Taking extreme positions at all points of life you have time and again dissipated and floundered and embarrassed admirers like us. It is not a bad idea to learn from one's own disciples. Taking a leaf out of the book of your apprentice who has won many hearts, in a place which has for long been cynicism personified, you may learn the trick of behaving gracefully so that those who admire you may not feel ashamed of having done so. You shall not disagree with me when I say that you owe at least this much to posterity.