Empty slogans and the charade of concern

What was supposed to be a day of reckoning turned out to reveal what a sick society can stoop down to. These were the slogans at the peace march at the Gateway of India.

‘Chief minister, you should have shown the terrorists Ram Gopal Verma Ki Aag. They would have died automatically.’

Not only is this facetious, but by blaming him for taking the film director with him we are in fact making it seem that we have no other grouse against him. But how would these poor people at the rally even know?
‘There are some more terrorists in India. They’re called politicians.’

‘Vande Mataram, Neta Besharam’

‘Our government: Mumbai’s Weapons of Mass Destruction.’

Have you ever heard this after Gujarat or Malegaon? And going by this picture, since terrorists are often referred to as dogs, would this lady let one of them enter her house?

‘Call back the bar girls, maybe they can protect us.’

Cheap shot. These women are earning an honest living. Will these blokes openly acknowledge them at any other time, especially about their hush-hush visits to some seedy bar?

‘Gali, gali mein shor hain, Pakistan chor hai’

Chor hai? Get your slogans right, if you can’t get the facts.

Three housewives from Napean Sea Road stood by the divider hurling the choicest of abuses. “They’ve raped our motherland. We want war.’’

The army is looking for recruits. Send your sons and daughters.

A group of St Xavier’s college students moved around with T-shirts that screamed: ‘No Vote, No taxes!’

You vote? You pay taxes? On what? The Mercedes your Papa gave you on your 18th birthday that you rammed into some innocent in the street?

Media personality Alyque Padamsee said he had three ideas that he was going to work on after the peace march. “If the Prime Minister appoints ministers and they don’t perform within 100 days, we people should get them sacked.”

This is not an ad agency where if your model coordinator who does not get the right gel-filled bikini top can be sacked, okay, Mr. Ignoramus? Let us not forget that this was the same man who I wrote this about:

He got hold of all the right-sounding secularists and roped in the general secretary of the Jamiat-ul Ulema-I-Hind, Maulana Mahmood Madani. The ad man and the mullah sat in the plush environs of his house. He told Madani, “…a fatwa carried weight, and created a buzz. I recalled how Imam Khomeini’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie hit the headlines. I wanted similar publicity for the anti-terrorism fatwa”.

I strongly protest against this picture. We have no business using children. And why are they shown with religious symbols? What are we teaching them - that they have no choice but to uphold their faith?

The smaller news item:

The incident took place on board the Jet Airways Aurangabad-Mumbai flight 9W-114 on Sunday. A passenger asked the flight attendant her name when she was serving him. Recounted a passenger, “We heard him ask and found it strange since flight attendants have name tags on their uniform.’’

The next question was: Are you Muslim?

“She said yes, and this man, who was about 35-years-old, started shouting at her. The man said, ‘Why the bloody hell are you Muslims doing this to our country?’ She calmly replied, ‘Sir, this is my country too.’ He shot back, ‘I don’t think so, because people from your community are behind these attacks.’ She was on the verge of tears, but said bravely, ‘Sorry Sir, they don’t belong to India. They are not Indians.’ After that she quietly moved away, avoiding further conversation. We could see that she did not go towards the cockpit to complain to the commander about it. It was very embarrassing for the rest of us. We felt like apologising to her, but were too taken aback by the incident.”

For me this is the bigger story. A brave flight attendant and a bunch of sensitive passengers. No need for a peace march. Your feelings are adequate, thank you. It is people like this unnamed passenger who will be the real citizen’s movement.


  1. FV:

    I felt like laughing at the initial part but the Jet incident got to me. It is ridiculous. These posters and candles mean nothing. Such real-life incidents matter more.

    At these times, I feel ashamed of being a Hindu and an Indian. Seriously.

  2. I don't know if I should ask this, but many Indians are asking too:

    Did this incident provoke more outrage because it was aimed at the top elite and not the poor?

  3. FV,
    A few points quickly, The jet incident doesnt shock me, infact I can see more of these coming...sad but true...

    Reminds me of an incident in 2006,on weekends in Manila , I used to go to a restaurant owned by a Persian Family and get very warm treatment . My looks somehow told them that either i was middle eastern or Paki and my accent told them that I was an expat...anyway this went on for three months and one day, out of goodwill gesture , I gifted the owner a small box of chocolates on Christmas .....He asked me point blank ...You cant celebrate Christmas brother, you are muslim...it is haraam ...I told him I was a hindu married to a christian ....he had this frown look on his face....I paid the bill as usual and came out ...never got warm treatment again ....

    btw the same guy used to run a pick up joint/night club called Dandasha ....not sure what is haraam ...

    Even in your book, you have mentioned this gifting books on hinduism incident...

  4. I don't get this. Can you explain to me why there were anti-politician slogans? I don't follow the news so much, so I don;t really know how the terrorist incident and the (assumed) anti-government atmosphere is related.

    "Why are you doing this to our country?"
    "Oh I don't know, sir. My superiors in hidden terrorist camps haven't given me the information. But I can give you their phone number and you can ask them directly. I am sure they will be happy to answer all your questions?" :P

  5. You had said before not to expect much,people will use any tragedy.They are giving importance to Alyque Padamsee and that is enough to see through

  6. FV: Firstly, kudos for penning these thoughts. Radical.

    A few of mine follow. Read at your own risk. Or don't approve them if you so wish. :)

    I am not gonna try and justify the various chants. But I will say this: I expected they would stoop so low, but hoped they wouldn't.

    Having borne the brunt of the inefficient Government Bureaucracy at every level, every day, every step of our lives, this seemed like a good place to let out the anger.

    I feel, these chants were an answer to all the files that were not forwarded on time, to all the jaane-do-na-saabs that happen at traffic signals, to the middle men at various govt. offices.

    Maybe I am wrong. Maybe not.

    The mob has no face, they say. And without a face, the voices are the loudest and the shrillest.

    Personally, I'd prefer voluntary army enrolment to a Peace March any day. But there's only so much a crowd can do, no? :)

    Without Wax,

  7. Hello Ms FV,

    This agitation of the people to me looks like the anger that people had for all these days, came out bursting, especially when a few gunmen, could bring in such a major act known in the history.

    Though some of these slogans came more from the immediate anger that people had, see atleast the fact that people came out in unity.

    I was worried about your comment on the photo. Not sure if Unity in diversity is what we all need to learn, let us teach that to our children as well. Let them know that India is a diverse nation and we respect the diversity. If they dont learn it, again once they grow up they will start talking same differences that you and others are dicussing about.

    I totally agree that it was really bad thing to happen to that air hostess. However, lack of acknowledging the differences is what in my opinion is bringing out these things in all of us.

    If there is a difference, let us all have an across the table discussion and sort it out, which is what is not happening at the moment.

    One thing I would definitely like to mention, United we stay (irrespective of Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian or any other religion) we can face those elements which can cause distress in this country.

    Jai Hind.
    An Indian

  8. Thank you for all your comments...even if you don't agree with me. Thank you for rising above abuse.

    Some answers are in the article of mine I am putting up shortly, or shall I say more questions?

    Also, re An Indian's comment on my opinion about the picture of children dressed in religious clothes.

    It is a valid point, but not now. And why don't we teach children ethical behavior instead of religious? And isn't different beyond the religious realm? You can have diverse interest, ideologies, orientations. Do we teach them that?

  9. Dear Farzana,

    Thanks for an interesting post.

    I'm completely perplexed by the slogans. The kind of demonstrations I am familiar with are organized and there is a concrete homogenous message that is given out. In contrast, these slogans seem to be really shouting all sorts of different messages. Completely counterproductive I think. What was the actual aim?

    The flight attendant tale was also intriguing. I think its spells the big everyday truths - ignorance and intolerance. How amazing that it was reported at all. It immediately got me thinking about those encounters I had with people of different religions and how they pigeonhole you and insult you to your face. And it feels surreal then because you have just been made to feel unworthy but the other side is utterly oblivious to it.

    What irked me the most though was the picture with the kids in religious attire! That is just
    horrendous. For several reasons. One important one being that children are only associated with religion via their parents. There are children of hindu parents, children of muslim parents, children of christian parents, etc. To say that one is a hindu kid a muslim kid a christian kid or a sikh kid is to my view WRONG. They do not at that stage understand what on earth it means to be following any of those religions. To link them for life to those ideologies just because they are born into it is no different than a caste system. Or perhaps even worse because each ideology propagates that all its followers are better than those of the other false ideologies. The others are pagans, unbelievers, etc., and are hence less worthy than you. Way to sow the seeds of intolerance right away! I don't see how on earth any lasting feeling of unity and solidarity within the country can emerge if religion dominates the forefront.

    Pardon my bursting out like this. That picture is so damn manipulative and sad.

  10. Hi Anna:

    Very thoughtful comment. I am particularly appreciative that my take on the picture has at least some resonance. Sometimes, one begins to feel one is over-reacting.

    Good to have your views here.


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