New meeows - 33

Should any person holding high rank in the government take the oath of office in the name of god, any god? In secular India that boasts of being a khichdi culture and tolerant society a student, Kamal Nayan Prabhakar, filed a petition against the Jharkhand Governor Syed Ahmad for taking the oath by uttering “Allah ke naam par” (in the name of Allah). When the High Court dismissed his petition, he appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Bench pronouncing the verdict said:

“Your client has come with a sinister motive. He has tried to draw a comparison with the Constitution of Pakistan. World over in the mythology, god is described as formless. Why do you want to confine him to a name or image? It is very sickening.”

This is the problem. The petitioner has, technically, the rulebook on his side.

The petition says, under Article 159 of the Constitution, the Governor or other constitutional authorities can take oath only in the name of “god or Eshwar” or he/she may “solemnly affirm.”

This means that in India the formless god has got to have an English or a Hindi/Marathi/Gujarati kind of name. On what grounds is Eshwar permitted? Or even god?

It is fairly obvious that this young man was not merely invoking the law:

The petitioner submitted that if the trend goes on, it might encourage others to use their choice of personal deities like Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Hanuman, Ganesh, and Christ at the time of taking oath. 
“A new trend will emerge and will be continued whereby the Governor or any other dignitary of high post having faith in different religions would start taking oath in the name of different gods/spirits according to their beliefs and then there would not be proper following of forms of oaths which may lead to a Constitutional crisis.”

Why will it lead to a Constitutional crisis? Our politicians fall at the feet of godmen, and often follow their advice. They consult astrologers, numerologists, aura readers, and they do use various deities to get into power, even if it means causing mayhem.

Why has this issue been raked up only when someone invoked the name of Allah? Why not Eshwar? Only because it is permitted? Then the ssue of one religion taking prominence should have been raised. It is time that any godly reference is removed and the oath is taken with a mere “solemnly affirm”. We all know they aren’t solemn or affirming anything. On the other hand, since we know that, we may as well allow them to take the name of some god or the other, who we can subsequently blame for any “Constitutional crisis” that might arise.

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Anna with communists and Hindutvawaadis

Another Constitutional crisis or constipated one? Joining the Anna Hazare bandwagon for political gains is like putting the cart before a lame horse. You aren’t going anywhere with this one.

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Amina bint Abdulhalim Nassar was beheaded in Saudi Arabia for practising witchcraft and sorcery, which are banned. One is not quite sure whether she really was a ‘witch’ or she merely did something that a patriarchal society cannot digest.

Many women are considered witches and exorcists are brought in to purge them of the demons that have taken over their bodies. Rather strangely, while the woman in Saudi was killed for it, often such people, including our tantrics, kill to practise such sorcery. Haven’t we heard about the blood of infants to cure impotency? Or children, women and those of lower status killed to solve everything, from financial problems to getting rid of the evil eye or the enemy?

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Those still on the 'Kapil Sibal is an idiot' trip, especially from the media, do tell us how many of the editors/ channel owners allow all kinds of views? Do media houses not push one particular position? Do they not promote political parties and their agendas? Are not certain industrial groups favoured in matters of coverage? Don’t glossies make it a point to ‘like’ some socialites and shun others when their chips are down? Don’t we know of stories that are planted?

So, how does this qualify as freedom of expression when you are a pawn in different games of different people? Does this not amount to pre-screening?

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Does Bombay Times not know the definition of plagiarism? Hindustan Times lifted one of its major pieces (yes, something about two people from the entertainment industry saying they are "just good friends") with the byline. They have not passed it as their own. This is a matter of attribution here, not plagiarism, unless BT has patent over anyone saying they are just good friends. Why HT would pick up something like this at all is a bit strange. Apparently, the media world was abuzz about the writer having quit to join HT. Now is this not earth-shattering? Isn't it like saying Neil Armstrong landed on Mars and not the moon? 

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Reading some of the obit pieces on cartoonist Mario de Miranda one is left with a bit of bitters. Comparisons are fine, but I found in them a sort of tangential and quite unnecessary put-down of R.K.Laxman. Here are excerpts from two pieces:

  • "It is the ideal example of two great cartoonists working together in the same publishing house. Much of the credit for the fact that they could do so must go to Mario, for the wonderful human being he was. He made sure his work never clashed with Laxman’s. Laxman handled the newspaper, Mario the magazines. Laxman was primarily a political cartoonist, Mario excelled in the social cartoon."
  • "That he was to the magazines of the Times of India what Laxman was to the daily paper. And, dare I say it, that Laxman was the Lata Mangeshkar who subtly ensured that the pedestal was not for sharing?"

This is such rubbish. The TOI had shifted Laxman’s column to the inside pages quite sometime ago. He is ailing and now lives in Pune. Would these same people have written such words had he been active and around in the TOI premises inside his cabin? The newspaper needed him; he did not need it. The TOI of course uses him when it wants. One rarely ever read paeans about Mario Miranda’s work earlier. We heard more about his attendance at parties. And Page 3 was always about events. Always. A small clique of people who propped up each other.

It is a pity that in death Mario is being used as an example of the approachable person he was as opposed to Laxman. Pity because he had his own style, which many later tried to emulate. It was something you could emulate – he used stereotypes, and there was no cheep about sexism where the secretary always wore cleavage-popping frocks, which was often understood that she had to be a Catholic or a Parsi.

He often illustrated a story or told a story, and his travel series were the best. Even his wayfarers and vagabonds seemed to be having a good time. They really were not common men. I am sure Miss Nimbu Paani will feel left out with his exit, but her kind always move on and find someone else to hang around with. That Mario lived in some heritage mansion and not in a rundown little apartment block in Goa just added to the society pages armour of a cultural ambassador.

He probably knew that this is a tail-wagger’s world, which is why the dog was omnipresent in his work. 

The quiet yelp will be the only true test of fidelity to his being.

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