Let me tell you, dear secret diary, there are spoilsports for every occasion. Indian Express editor Shekhar Gupta could well have stopped his ‘National Interest’ column last Saturday without a postscript, which was quite impertinent, like a bowler appealing for an LBW when the ball was pitched four feet outside the leg stump. I know that IE is not one of my admirers but why rake up old issues, link them with my incomparable commentary and write, “Thanks to Supreme Court activism, Sunil Gavaskar was out of the commentary box. Can that reform be made permanent? We loved his batting but his commentary is as inexplicably dreary as his 36 not out in 174 balls against England in the 1975 World Cup at, where else, but Lord’s?”
Before taking up the current issue, let me clarify I bat, bowl, comment for my own pleasure. My commentary imparts knowledge. What is a pitch, why did it change, even in a Jharkhand vs J&K Under-7 match where I had to enlighten viewers on why the ball reverse-swings only after 11-and-a-half overs and the differences between ‘Merrick’ and ‘Bully Creek’ soil. My authority over T20 and one-dayers cannot be challenged thanks to that immortal 36 not out. In cricket I am the Great Teacher and while I commented, I taught cricket to millions of untutored cricket ignoramuses.
And now I am the interim BCCI president (why interim I can’t say). The BCCI is a nice club, they pay me handsomely while I am on transfer to my new job. Every night, like the close of play summary, I plan to do the same on my day-to-day activities and record it for posterity. Now for something too secretive even for my secret diary. Too hush hush! As the interim president I must know each and every happening in the cricket world. Finance, franchisees, players’ fees, publicity and so on. To make this possible, I am planning to instal secret listening devices so that no BCCI conversation shall escape my ears. In fact, I reread all my books on Richard Nixon to find out how he bugged visitors to the White House and taped their conversations.
So look out for the Sunil Gavaskar era. The Twitter guys will have a field day but with the BCCI paying me for the commentary hours I lost, I’ll have the last laugh. Though an opener, it is for the first time I am a night watchman. Forget John Arlott, Brian Johnston and Tony Cozier, I am one up on them in the box too. For in my case, the SC had to step in and stop my commentary. A great honour indeed!
The Mumbai-based satirist is the creator of ‘Trishanku’; E-mail your secret diarist: vgangadhar70 AT gmail.com
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
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