Secularism and shit

Have we exhausted all options that political parties are fighting over who spoke about sanitary facilities first? If this is a necessity, then go and build those toilets instead of throwing up nonsense.

In his now familiar style of useless rhetoric, Narendra Modi told a group of 7000 students in Delhi:

"My image is that of Hindutva but I'll tell you my real thinking. I have said in my state: pehle shauchalaya, phir devalaya (toilets first, temples later)."

It is not his image that is the problem, but his fake attempts to wipe that image when and where it suits him. Addressing a young audience in the capital is different from repeating these words before the RSS, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and his own party, the BJP.

Will Modi say this in Ayodhya? Will he say this while talking to the sadhus who blessed him at the Maha Kumbh? Will he make this into an electoral issue and expunge any reference to temples? Will he be able to sell this idea at the woo-the-minority rallies and add other places of worship too?

It is not only Hindutvawadis who need to use the facilities.

He further stated:

"I define secularism as nation first, India first. Justice to all, appeasement to none. No votebank politics - a poor man is a poor man, where he prays is immaterial."

Why is this only about the poor? The majority that lives in the rural areas have figured out how to use waste as manure. He knows that the poor do not vote if they are promised toilets. They first need something to eat before they can digest it. They need water, they need jobs, they need healthcare, they need electricity, they need roads. They are not looking for a special place to take a dump. Not until their other needs are fulfilled.

And they really do not spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about where they can pray. They just raise their hands when they want rains, and they fall to the ground when they want the earth to sustain them. They do not need temples or mosques or churches.

Justice is not only about toilets. Modi should know that.


Not to be left behind, the Congress has joined in to claim credit for the toilet idea.

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh is on surer ground here, though. He had said this last year, and now recalls:

"When I spoke, Rajiv Pratap Rudy said I should respect the fine line between faith and religion. Then he went on to say that the BJP maintains that one should not get into the debate of whether a temple or toilet is more important. Prakash Javadekar also attacked me. Activists of the RSS and VHP came to my house and left bottles of urine. I wonder where they are now when Mr Modi has suddenly discovered the value of toilets. I still believe we need more toilets than temples. I wish Modi had discovered this 20 years ago, then we would not have had the Babri Masjid episode."

The point is, has the Congress done anything about those toilets? Talk is cheap.

After the demolition of the Babri Masjid, there were many ideas floated by Indian citizens, not politicians. Among those that suggested building hospitals and schools, some even mentioned toilets.

I personally think this is reductionism. Nobody is really interested in these non-controversial issues unless they are used to promote 'development'. Imagine a basic facility being touted as development. Worse, it is not the ones who are supposed to benefit making the demand, but those with all the amenities. They start the fire and then use the smoke. A stinky smokescreen for secularism again.

© Farzana Versey


Images: GujaratIndia & New York Times


  1. FV,

    The spirit in which things are said matters as much as the literal meaning, as you would no doubt concur.

    Exempli gratia, 'Justice to All, Appeasement to None' is a perfectly secular, earnest and logical guideline for governance! And Babar ki Aulad is no more or less demeaning than Sooar Ki Aulaad.

    A smiley would be in order! :)

    I do not think anyone would differ on the grave issue of lack of sanitation facilities in many parts of India, regardless of whether it was a Congressman or a Swayamsevak who brought it up.

    I hope you will not interpret this as typical double standards of a NaMo fan. Firstly, there is no reason for you to believe I am one. Secondly, you too had given this issue a miss the last time when Jairam Ramesh had said it.

    I wonder what it is about NaMo that makes people want to get into the same picture as him!

    Another smiley! :)

  2. Hey, FV ...
    I remember checking the blog, and found Comments Allowed Only to Members *reject* ...

    Now I see a new template, posts thro TWmissed days too, comments possible,
    One hellowa confusion.

    Anyway, thanks for being around and buzzing.

  3. Bee:

    No confusion. I had disallowed comments from August 1 for a while, and the only 'member' allowed was me, and I did not misuse that authority!

    Hope you like the new look, and buzz around yourself whenever you wish. Thanks.

  4. F&F:

    Has one disputed either the spirit and the content? I am questioning ghe motive and the feasibility. 

    {Exempli gratia, 'Justice to All, Appeasement to None' is a perfectly secular, earnest and logical guideline for governance! And Babar ki Aulad is no more or less demeaning than Sooar Ki Aulaad.

    A smiley would be in order! :)}

    I thought you did not like the secular, and questioned the earnestness of those who profess it. How does one individual saying it become a "logical guideline for governance"? 

    Re name-calling, where did that come from? Even so, there is a difference between an animal and a ruling king. Try and understand. 

    Thank you for the smileys, but your next one is wasted. Admit that you love Modi, just as I admit I do not. 

    I had not spared Jairam Ramesh when he said it, too. Here:


    As you can see, Modi is good for target practice, but is not the only one I am in any picture with. See you at the movies :)

  5. FV

    Close but no cigar. You have taken potshots at Jairam. But they are for his sexist comments on a female actor and not for the temple-toilet argument. I know it is your personal choice whether to take a position on an issue or not. But it does reinforce the belief that many in the media love to bask in NaMo's reflected glory any which way, especially since it saves them the hard work.

    You could do with some reflection as well about how many posts have you done on Badal, Dhumal, Parrikar, Oomen, Gehlot or Sheila. Remember NaMo was just another CM and not a PM nominee until a month ago.

    BTW I still do not know why you call me a NaMo fan. Seemingly, there is tough competition for the title and I am not running!


  6. F&F:

    {"But it does reinforce the belief that many in the media love to bask in NaMo's reflected glory any which way, especially since it saves them the hard work."}

    What do you mean by this? I cannot speak on behalf of the media, but I don't see the need to bask in any glory, and I don't think one gets it. What one gets is abuse and assumptions, like the one from you. Writing about anything or anyone may come easily to some of us because we are naturally analytical and, if I may say so, occasionally felicitous with words. If anything, Modi gets mileage. Perhaps he says and does things geared for that?

    I write about Lady Gaga, too.

    Of course, it is my prerogative about who I choose to write and how I express myself. It is just that you prefer to read some stuff over others. But, then, that is your choice.

    It does not matt to me whether you are a Modi supporter or not, but you do come across as an enthusiast. Don't see you as excited when I quite about Rahul Gandhi or Sheila Dikshit.

    PS: Re Parrikar, his statements a while ago were about Modi. Tchah. Basking in reflected glory.

  7. FV,

    Let me assure you that I read every post. I, however, comment on the ones that come with extra toppings of scorn, bias and vitriol.

    Spicing up dishes is a routine culinary shortcut to increase footfalls, as any foodie or gourmet would test-ify! :)

  8. Wonder what spices our finance minister needed to use when he criticised Modi. I am sure it helped him in his portfolio.

    Footfalls for Mallika Sherawat pre-Happy B'day Modiji days was much more. And, yes, N.D. Tiwari, too.

    PS: Some of us gourmets believe in letting the main ingredients cook in their juices and go slow on the spice. That the aroma itself is tangy is quite another matter!


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