The SRK conundrum

Shahrukh  Khan.

This famous name invokes such reactions from Indian public ranging from women who swoon over his dimples and romantic postures, to thankful producers whose riches grow more by churning movies for NRI constituency, to those who think of him as a ‘poster boy’ of secularism and of course a section that’s mad with him for whatever he does and does not.

He is an enigma, without any doubt.

He has danced at weddings, hosted award shows, done game shows on Television and romanced numerous women without too much of running around trees.

He owns a production house, a cricket team, a beach facing bungalow and several crores in bank accounts. He endorses everything, from colas, cars, shaving cream, phones and attire.

In movies, he has stalked a woman, been a don, has coached a women’s hockey team, defused bombs, danced on top of a train, led a team in a gold heist and generally entertained a vast majority of people in India and abroad.

He dances, prances and romances.

He has slapped his director’s husband, has running duels with mega stars of his generation and invokes aura from the next generation of actors.

He is a devout Muslim but he does smoke and possibly might be drinking as well.

He also has been a very steady family man with a wife belonging to a different religious faith.

Personally speaking, I am no big fan of Shahrukh Khan, but I don’t get to decide his fate at the box office. He is successful, in fact very successful.

Despite such a diversified side to his overall personality, usually, most people are interested in boxing him into two corners – Beacon of Secularism, pride of India – or – Pakistani, anti-national who needs to prove his patriotism -.

I don’t agree with either of the assessments.

Having a successful inter-religious marriage or winning the affection of a huge section of population doesn’t by itself guarantee the ‘secular’. By the same count, he cannot be castigated as a ‘Pakistani’ or an ‘anti-national’ because he chooses to speak on some subjects.  Selectively of course.

Let me first address his naysayers.

The problem with a section of population, mostly Hindu,  is that they measure the ‘patriotism’ of a Muslim by the extent of his Pakistan bashing. Most Muslims are not known to bash Pakistan publicly or even if they do, certainly not stridently.

Islam as a religion doesn’t recognize nationalism as it structured mostly on the notion of ‘brotherhood’.  It is perhaps difficult for a Muslim to bash a country whose population shares a common faith with him.  And also because the average Muslim is too busy eking his livelihood that he has no desire to pass this “litmus test”.

Shahrukh Khan is no exception.  He is certainly pro-Pakistan when it comes to members of his industry or contracting players for his IPL team. He is perfectly entitled to and must not be castigated for his preferences.

The Constitution of India guarantees every citizen of this country freedom of speech, freedom to live and work wherever they want to.  No one should impinge upon this right of Shahrukh Khan whatever his views about Pakistan are.  The attempts to hold up his movie releases or disrupt his work otherwise are highly condemnable. It takes away whatever merit that may be there in opposing his views.

Now, to why Shahrukh isn’t exactly a beacon of Secularism as the media loves to project him.

Rabid politicians on either side of the political divide have made the singing of ‘Vande Mataram’ a communally sensitive issue. As much as a Muslim’s nationalism cannot be questioned because he doesn’t sing the ‘Vande Mataram’ , Shahrukh hasn’t come out clearly on what is his stance. Is he among the conservative elements of his community or does he resonate with the broad sentiments of his country ?

Shahrukh wrote a piece on his “Life as a Muslim in India”.  Again he has every right to do so. But he failed, in my view, to communicate clearly that he is in a ‘dialogue’ with his own country and therefore strongly rejects any unsolicited advice from those quarters which are opposed to his nation’s interest.  For all his pet peeve against those asking him to go to Pakistan, Shahrukh conveniently says nothing about the “invite” from Hafiz Saeed, not exactly an apostle of peace and secularism.

His recent interviews with couple of leading english electronic channels, hardly convinced me that he is “truly secular”. As much as the interviews coincided with his 50th birthday, they also ran parallel to the bitter elections in Bihar.

Shahrukh has always been circumspect about saying anything against those professing Muslim political exclusivity – namely the Muslim League and MIM – but he did shed his prudence,  purposefully some could argue, when he chose to add ‘fuel to the intolerance political fire’ that was raging in the country.

It is laughable for anyone to suggest that the society has suddenly become intolerant except of course if you are suggesting it for political reasons. He is well within his rights to be critical of the Govt and a party, but he cannot, call an entire nation as ‘intolerant’.  A nation that has showered him with praise, success and a huge box-office fortune.

It was an extremely poor attempt by Shahrukh to put the Govt on the back foot, both from content and timing points of view.

There are several instances where Shahrukh didn’t make his “secularism” to work with bigots of his own community. Prominent being the troubles faced by Kamal Hassan over his movie release or the fatwas issued to A R Rahman.

A person who doesn’t examine secularism within his own belief system, in my view, cannot be truly secular. So for Shahrukh to pretend that ‘secularism’ has suddenly taken a worse turn is either a political stunt or reflection of his political bias.

Shahrukh shouldn’t also make a big issue of unintelligent statements, for if he does, he dignifies those who make them and also encourages those who want to use him for political gains.

Shahrukh must be a talisman for his community, urging them to be more mainstream, shed perpetual notions of victimhood and be confident about their rights offered by the country.

While he doesn’t have to be apolitical, he shouldn’t try to provide political capital to a particular party in the garb of being a “secular”.

As a public personality, he has to reconcile to the fact that he’d be subject to some level of scrutiny.  While he may not always be accepting how he gets scrutinized, he should learn to take them in his stride.

The nation too reserves it’s right to accept or reject his views.

To borrow from his movie titles, for both sides, it is ‘Kabhi Haan, Kabhi Naa’

The anatomy of Pseudo seculars

It is not very often that one builds the core of an argument based on what Chetan Bhagat writes. But this time he is right and so, he must get his credits.

Writing for the Times of India, Bhagat recently chronicled the psyche of a “liberal”, which I firmly believe is a “liberal” usage of the word. He argued, that the “liberal clan” is rallying against Prime Minister Modi because they don’t think of him as one of them, that is the elite, English-speaking and worldly-wise group. In other words, he summarizes the movement against Modi and BJP as “elitist”.

Chetan makes a valid point, but I think that the “elitist bias” is just one of the markers of the group, whom I would rather address as “pseudo-seculars” and not liberals.

If we go back in recent history, “pseudo-secularism” was never part of the political lexicon, not until Lal Kishan Advani introduced the term to Indian masses as an effective counter to the ‘communal’ charge levied against him and his party. And with that, I think Advani altered the political landscape of secularism forever.
Apart from the obvious elitism that pervades their thinking, I believe that there are 4 factors that characterize the psyche of a pseudo-secular.

1. Accepting the Abrahamic version of Hinduism without questioning

Hinduism is a rare religion because it represents a fusion of rich heritage of detailing through literature, but without being dogmatic about it. One of the favorite pastimes of the pseudo-seculars is to bash Hinduism because somewhere in the Manu Smriti it is ‘documented’ that “molten lead should be poured into the ears of a Shudra who happens to overhear recital of Vedas”. As barbaric, unimaginable and unjust it sounds; there is of course no recorded history of “molten lead” being actually poured. What the pseudos’ would cleverly not mention is that there is no “ordainment” in the Manu Smriti.

The problem of these religious scriptures is that most of them are in Sanskrit, a language that unfortunately is not the preserve of the Hindus anymore, even the most believing of them all. As the Hindu couldn’t understand the religious scriptures of his own religion, he had to, unwittingly depend on the interpretations of those who would translate and present those parts which are inimical to the interests of the faith in particular, and humanity in general.

The pseudo-seculars have never bothered to develop their own cognitive abilities to understand the texts, question the rationale and assimilate their own views beyond the metaphorical quagmires that abound in Hinduism.

The pseudo-seculars grow up believing the “Abrahamic” interpretation of Hinduism which is hostile and explicitly radicalizing the mindset.

2. Personal experience leading to selective Atheism

The concept of God and the relationship of a human being with his/her maker is quite complex. It is beyond my purview and ability of course, to define it or advice on the inferences that one should draw.
Most pseudo-seculars are born in a family of believers. The starting point of atheism is usually when the “relationship” with God starts to sour, usually when a ‘litmus test’ of the wannabe atheist fails.

Even as a believer, I can’t quite rationalize some of the things that have happened in my life and neither do I accept the “Karma explanation” in its entirety. But I have not become loathsome or bitter about God, because I have reconciled to the fact that the designs of my life will never be revealed to me wholesomely.

But the mind of the newbie Atheist, soon-to-be-a-pseudo-secular is not at ease. He wants the answers instantly and when he doesn’t get them, he starts hating God. And because the God which failed his “litmus test” was a “Hindu God”, he starts hating only them.

The Atheism of the pseudo-seculars never grows beyond this infancy of hating Hindu Gods. As a natural extension, the pseudo-secular develops a virulent hatred for anything, anyone which endorses a Hindu belief.

3. After a point, It becomes fashionable and profitable

There was this proverbial cat which wanted to acquire the stripes of the magnificent tiger. So it takes a hot iron rod and draws stripes all over its body, even as it inflicts great pain. Only after the wounds have healed, does the cat realize that one has to be born a tiger. Even as the cat castigates itself for its foolishness, it also realizes that the hot iron rod has given it a fashionable design.

The case of the pseudo-secular isn’t too distinctly different from the cat. Even as the realization dawns that they are not being truly secular by becoming a pseudo-secular, it also opens up a “world of opportunities” for them, generally aided and abetted by the apologists of jihadists and evangelists.

The new-found recognition and honor, is also not bereft of considerable financial benefits. Who wouldn’t like, for example, fully sponsored international trips, foreign currency payouts merely in exchange for mouthing expletives and unprintables against their ‘former religion’. The access to several intangible benefits and financial incentives makes a compelling case for the pseudo-secular to continue their path of obscurity.

4. False equivalence of an intellectual

The pseudo-secular also enjoys the benefit of getting drawn into a false equivalence of being an intellectual. After all, how any person who has a questioning mindset, however ‘questionable’ it is, be anything but an intellectual ?

In a country like India which huge polarities of views, the “intellectuals” have established their own domain of expertise. That is to express a view on anything and everything. Of course to be an intellectual, you need a few markers – attire – jeans & kurta, personal grooming, or the lack of it and an ability to abuse Hinduism incessantly.

The Vatican canonizes someone only after a long and due process, but an Indian pseudo-secular can be instantly canonized as an “intellectual” only by abusing Hinduism. It is a mouth-watering proposition.

The Hindu population without a strong central religious authority, becomes an easy prey to the evil machinations of the pseudo-secular.

At a time when the country is witnessing a “mild pushback” from an assertive brand of Hinduism, the role of the pseudo-seculars is to ensure that the gullible Hindu is taken on a garden path and made to believe that he is “communal” because he asserts his right to be a Hindu.

The pseudo-secular is a vital cog and a valuable ally in eliminating Hinduism from the land of the Indus.

Time for the ‘right’ Right

The last few weeks have witnessed unprecedented mounting of agenda-driven, hatred-filled pressure on a Govt that is not averse to espousing a justified Hindu cause.

Ever since the landslide victory of Narendra Modi which saw him ascend to the top post, there has been a concerted effort to paint the Indian story in black. A fragmented and deeply corrupt opposition had to come together and create a “make-believe” plank of “secularism” to mount a scathing attack on a Government that still seems quite determined to fix a plethora of problems – core infrastructure, jobs, execution and cleanliness to just name a few.

The idea is quite simple : Since the opposition cannot usurp the ‘development plank’ of Modi Government, they had no choice but to resurrect a new one even at the cost of deepening the fault lines between communities, primarily Hindu and Muslim.

An egregious media which has now taken the form of a mafia is virulently against the government and has succeeded in magnifying what would otherwise be common place events in a less literate, chaotic India. By this, I don’t mean to justify the events but the attempts by media to portray as if India was previously a “garden of secularism” which is now sullied is being too clever by half. Prior to Modi Govt, this is the same India which witnessed the Sikh riots of 1984, a fact conveniently ignored by the media.

Anyways none of this is going to change in the short run and that’s neither the purpose of this post.

I am equally concerned and if I may say even appalled at the response of those who are claiming to support the ‘Hindu cause’ otherwise known as the ‘Right-wing’. Everywhere, be it in the internet or the social media, the “right wing” is caricatured as a lumpen, illiterate, uninformed motley group and derisively labelled as “Bhakts”.

It is quite sad that the ‘right-wing’ jumps to abuse without any invitation at all. Not only does it lower the discourse to abysmal levels but it results in ineffective countering of the evil designs of the pseudo-seculars / intellectuals and the media mafia.

Abuse is an ineffective tool because when one resorts to it, it signals the end of ‘reason’. Of course I don’t include use of wit or non-abusive repartees (even if personal) but indulging in broad brushing and dragging family members etc. are indications of a mind that’s incapable of reasoning.

Also I often find that the “right wing” defends the indefensible. One of the first lessons in argument is not to pick up cudgels for things that cannot be defended. For example, the bane of Hinduism is the caste system. While there are technical explanations of how Varna degenerated into castes etc.., much of this is lost on those who are keen to lump Hindus as a casteist community. Abusing such a person is to no avail. The proper response is to acknowledge the evil of castes but also point out the great strides that the Hindu society has made and is still making. The Abrahamic religions on the other hand have degenerated because they’ve blindly adopted the caste system. The very fact that there are ‘Dalit Christians / Muslims’ is proof enough that there’s no caste fungibility upon conversion.

It is important for those professing allegiance to the Hindu cause to be seen as erudite, saner and a confident community that is capable of defeating the pseudo seculars by force of their argument and not by abuse.
The “right wing” shouldn’t also deter from castigating and ostracizing those lumpen elements who don’t do the Hindu cause any good by their abusive behavior. It will indeed be a very sad day for Indian society if “right wing” becomes synonymous with abuse.

It is time indeed for the “right” Right to represent us.

கவிதைகள் (2)


விடை பெறுதலில் தான்
எத்தனை வலி

ஆட்ட சுவாரசியத்தில்
ஆட்ட விதிகளை
மறந்து விடும் பழக்கம் நமக்கு
முடிவுக்கே வராத
ஆட்டம் தான் உண்டோ

களத்திலேயே இருந்து
தள்ளி நின்று ரசிக்க

நம்மை யார் என்று
சொல்லத் தேவையே இல்லாமல்
நம் மீது
பூசப்பட்ட அடையாள சாயம்
வெளுக்கும் பயம்
புது அடையாளம்
தேடிக்கொள்ள வேண்டும் என்ற
உணர்வு பயம்

அடைமொழிகளில் சிக்கி
அமிழ்ந்து விட்ட நாம்
புது மொழிகளுக்குள் புக முடியாமல்
பரிதவிக்கும் கட்டாயம்

தகுதிக்கு மீறியவற்றை
ஏற்றே பழகிவிட்டு
புது தகுதிகளுக்கு
புனரமைத்து கொள்ள வேண்டிய

நிலை இல்லாததையெல்லாம்
நிலையே என்று எண்ணி
நிறைவுறும் நேரம் வந்ததும்
நிலை தடுமாறும்

கடக்கும் போது
பார்க்க மறந்த பூ மரங்கள்
கடக்கும் போது
சுவாசிக்க தவறிய பூங்காற்று
கடக்கும் போது
கவனிக்காமல் விட்ட உதயம்
கடக்கும் போது
கை நீட்டாமல் விட்ட சிறு தூறல்

உணர்வோடு வாழ்தலை
உணரும் நேரம்
வாழக்கையின் கடை நிலையை

வாழக்கையின் வெறுமை
நோக்கி அல்ல
நீ வாழாத வாழ்வின்
தொடக்கம் என்று கொள்

விரும்பி விடை கொடு
நீ இல்லாவிட்டாலும்
ஆட்டம் நடந்து கொண்டே தான் இருக்கும்
உன் பாரங்களை சுமக்கவும்
புது தலைசும்மாடுகள்
தயார் நிலையில் உள்ளன

இறக்கி வை
உன் சுமக்காத பாரங்களையும்
இறங்கி வா
உன் புகை மண்டல உயரங்களில்லிருந்து
வாழ துவங்கு
முன் இரவில் மறைந்த
சூரியன் உன்னோடு பேச
ஆவலாய் இருக்கிறான்

The ‘porn’ ban

Should it be a duty of a State
Keeping us from carnal pleasure
Must it ban and legislate
Thou ought to control your desire

Governance isn’t about moral teaching
Draping legal wool over our eyes
We don’t want ‘em to be preaching
Those elected to take nation to high skies

A citizen’s private world is all his own
Peeping Toms never ever have a place
Needn’t cheer nor does it have to frown
In matters adult, Govt. has no case

கவிதைகள் (1)

இன்றியமையா இடைவெளிகள்

கரு-கரு மையை தலைக்கும்
வெண்மை க்ரீமை முகத்திற்கும்
பூசுபவன் தான்
நிறங்கள் கொஞ்சம் இடம் மாறினாலும்
கவலை கொள்கிறான்
தலை முடிக்கும்
ஆனாலும் இன்றியமையாததாகிறது


வாழ்த்துபவன் கையிலிருந்து
வாழ்த்துப் பெறுபவன் கைகளுக்கு
கைமாறும் நேரமே
பூங்கொத்தின் பெருவாழ்வு

அந்த ஒரு கணத்திற்காக
வளர்க்கப்படும் பூக்கள் எத்தனையோ

வாழ்த்தின் வசீகரத்தை
ஒதுங்கிவிடுகின்றன பூங்கொத்துகள்

வாடும் பூங்கொத்துகள்
உணர்த்துவது ஒன்றைத்தான்
உன் வாழ்வின் வசந்தத்தை
நீளம் தீர்மானிப்பதில்லை.


தாயின் தாலாட்டு
ஏழ்மையின் விளையாட்டு

காதலியிடம் மோகம்
தண்ணீர்த் தாகம்

அறுசுவையின் ருசி
ஏழையின் வயிற்றுப்பசி

அரசியலின் நாடகம்
முதுகெலும்பில்லா ஊடகம்

பொய்யும் பித்தலாட்டம்
காசுக்காக பேயோட்டம்

போலிச் சாமியார்கள்
தீக்குச்சியோடு மாமியார்கள்

விளைச்சலில்லா நிலங்கள்
விண்ணேறும் விண்கலங்கள்

கோயிலில் குடமுழுக்கு
சாதிக்காக வழக்கு

சுவையில்லா ஆப்பிள்
வருடத்திற்கோர் ஆப்பிள்


நீக்கிவிட்ட நிஜப் பூக்கள்
நீக்கமற நிறைந்த காகிதபூக்கள்


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.