What has come over the American media? Some weeks back Time blasted India in a cover story. And now Washington Post blasts our PM, Dr Manmohan Singh, calling him a “tragic figure”, blaming him for the stalling of the economic liberalisation process, the corruption and everything else. We sent an official protest to the paper, which was a silly thing to do, but here I’m writing of a new approach to such criticism.
If Dr Singh appears a tragic figure in not accelerating economic progress, Barack Obama was equally a tragic figure in his handling of the current economic mess in the US. Industrial development down, more and more unemployed, recession in all key industries. And unlike the situation confronting Dr Singh, the Republican Party in the US did not even stall the functioning of the Senate and the Congress. Obama and his followers came out with all sorts of excuses at the recent party convention at Charlotte, where the president was not the holy warrior of 2008, but a broken, bruised, tragic figure. Can Washington Post deny this?
Indirectly, by calling Dr Singh a tragic figure, the Post had honoured him and put him on a pedestal because Indian myth, legend and history are full of tragic figures who were admired and even worshipped by people. Take Lord Ram of Ayodhya, wasn’t he a tragic figure? Heir to the throne, he was banished to the forest for 14 years, his queen Sita was kidnapped to Lanka, he had to collect an army of monkeys, invade Lanka and rescue his wife who had to prove in public later that she was chaste. For the most part of his life, Ram remained a tragic figure yet was worshipped by millions of Indians. To this day, his temple at Ayodhya remains a controversial spot leading to communal tensions. Dr Singh should be proud to be bracketed with Lord Ram. Who knows, this comparison could make the BJP, VHP, RSS cadres switch allegiance to the Congress!
There are many other tragic figures, Prince Nala, Harishchandra who always told the truth and suffered for it by having dozens of movies made on his life. Dilip Kumar, acclaimed as our greatest film actor, excelled in tragic hero roles.Of course, Washington Post would not know how popular Shakespeare was in India, forced down the throats of thousands of university students. Hamlet, featuring a tragic prince, was easily the most popular play even among those who did not understand what it was all about and yet went around muttering “To be or not to be, that is the question”. Hamlet was staged all over India, in all regional languages with the hero muttering: “Revun ya na revun, yej sawal che” (Gujarati) or “Irukattuma, vendama, adu dan kelvi” (Tamil) and so on.
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.
I wonder if Washington Post people know all about our Holi scripture-Ramayana,Shri Ram,Devi Sita,monkey army,King Nala and Harishchandra etc.reportedly passing through the same state of affairs and calling them tragic figures with whom the author has attempted to compare the said tragic figure Dr.MMS, That was the era of Satyuga and as we all know all above personalities fought against evils,falsehood and to end dishonest policies prevailed then. Is Dr.MMS who is surrounded by so called honest leaders is fighting with the same spirit ?. Keeping mum and watching just what is happening with closed eyes can not be said to be the right policy in the interest of nation.
P.Gautampurkar,Sawai Madhopur ,Rajasthan,India.
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