P C Sorcar was a magician of great repute. After every act of mesmerising magical trick, he would pick up a jug and say “water of India!” This was a really mysterious jug. He would over- turn it and water would pour out of it. Next act and water of India! The jug in full view of the audience would yield water though having been emptied earlier. But the real magic happened when the jug would fill a bucket- the last act!
Politicians are like this magician. But the writers/journalists on the left side of the uneasy Indian political balance are the ‘faceless magicians’. A name carries no face with it. But they have one axe to grind. Hindutva! Lacs of words have been misused and will be misused to convince the world that the Hindus are monkeys of the 5th kind.
If a saffron wearing person says: My artificial plants died because I forgot to water them, they immediately receive a shot in the arms. A mad rush to disprove his joke will end in the conclusion: Hindus are definitely monkeys of the 5th kind. The beauty is that the original prankster will admit to the conclusion on the TV!
As young, newly appointed persons, Coffee House was the one spot where friends and strangers would meet and enter into endless discussions. The less serious and happy-go-lucky types would regale us with jokes to liven up the atmosphere. Once a joke was placed on the table: A scientist wanted to know about marriage and the associated happiness that goes with the duty of breeding. He married. After some time, he said “Good! But I can’t now understand what science is all about?” A guffaw filled the House and all craned their necks to satisfy their curiosity. It was during one such get-together-beget situation that I was introduced to the humour of Krishan Chandar.
I am told that Krishan Chandar lived in Kashmir for some time. I laid my hands on his novel: ‘An autobiography of a Donkey’ some time in ‘75. It turned out to be a gripping story. In this novel he portrays the plight of an ordinary Indian who can’t match his wits with the Indian bureaucracy. And the things have not changed for the better. It happened with me as well.
In the sweltering heat of May 2016, I came to Delhi to meet with the satraps of HRD Ministry to tell them a very simple fact. It so happened that a conman in Europe, in order to overcome the rest inertia of real math, suggested that zero is a number and introduced number line math. Now this logic tells us that 2 is greater than -2. It follows that if one number is greater than the other number why should they add up to zero! The number line is actually a thermal scale and zero is the triple point of water. Therefore, the ordeal! But it deals a paralyzing effect on the thinking abilities of the teachers-students alike. Almost all parents sweat at the mention of this subject even in freezing cold. You have to hold a PTM in camera to get a feel of the situation now ruling our schools.
My first attempt to meet any officer in the Shastri Bhawan ended in a failure because it turned out a holiday. Now imagine the disappointment experienced by a 69-year-old man in temperature which hovered around 450 C. My next attempt also ended in a fiasco. I was stopped at the gate. I showed them my ID as also documents I wanted to hand over some responsible officer. The idea was to brief the officer about the need to reforming teaching of Mathematics as also to make it an essential part of the new educational policy which was being forged by clerks and head clerks. I was asked to get in touch with some receptionist on intercom. I related my request to allow me to enter the gates to meet with officers. He curtly told me to deposit my documents with the receipt office inside the premises.
“But I have come from Jammu to meet personally with those who want to educate masses but fail repeatedly.”
“That is not my job. Please deposit the papers and it will reach us.”
“Look this building was constructed by the British. Postal service was also initiated by them. Like today the Indians were manning the gate when the Brits were here. I could have just mailed it from Udhampur were it not serious. Now tell me what have you added in 70 years?” He snapped the phone. And I left.
Next, I went to the residence of the then HRD Minister Smt Smriti Irani. But at the gate I was informed that she was on election duty in Assam. So, I returned with nothing but a burden of failure.
Faced with a situation where you may choose to quite or continue, I decided to continue to persuade a very gullible Indian population to lend an ear to the problems being faced by their kids in schools. This became the chief cause for me to initiate a Parallel School, surprisemajor.com. It was also to tell the Hindus that Romilla Thapar, Irfan Habib and others have twisted the narrative of the Indian History at the fundamental level. This has resulted in twisting the political narrative and pushed them into a well. These scholars of the Indian History are, to quote Karl Marx ‘below the level of History, beneath any criticism but they are still objects of criticism like the criminals who are below the level of humanity but still an object for the executioner’.
Logic in popular form is very dangerous. In Indian subcontinent it has taken strong roots. The British left but we willingly wore chains of popular logic, fostered by politicians. India is in the grip of febrile secularism. Pakistan in active Salafism. Recently Pakistan’s Urdu media carried a joke: There are so many Mosques in this country that if all Pakistanis decide to offer Namaz at one time, still many mosques will be empty!
Now back to the story of the donkey! It so happened that a hypothetical donkey ran away from Barabunki to escape the drudgery. He seeks refuge with a washerman, who thought it prudent to extract free service from him. The donkey would carry the load of clothes to the bank of Yamuna river every morning, fend for himself by eating grass and carry the load of washed clothes in the evening. One day it so happened a crock in the river caught hold of the washerman and swallowed it. Once the wage earner died, the family started to go hungry.
The plight of the family moved the heart of the donkey. He wrote a petition and started his journey from municipality to higher offices to seek compensation for the bereaved family. But the bureaucratic rope tricks bluffed him every time.
Next, he thought of meeting J L Nehru the Prime Minister. Making a recee of the Teen Murti Bhawan earlier, he manages to hoodwink the sentries at the gate and enters when Pt Ji was taking a walk. The scene unfolded something as follows:
“I called from behind -Pt Ji”
Pt Ji turned around but saw none. He resumed walking. I again repeated his titular name.
He turned back, seeing none remarked “I don’t believe in ghosts.”
I said “Believe me, Sir. I am not a ghost but a donkey.”
When Pt Ji saw me talking he was amazed. But soon became ecstatic. “I had heard about a horse in Italy who would solve the problems of Algebra! But I am witness to the existence of a talking donkey for the first time. Science can accomplish miracles. Tell me what do you want?”
“Sir, please give me sometime so that I can interview you.” He replied “Many donkeys come every day for sound bites. I won’t mind answering you.”
The donkey related the tragic story of the washerman’s family. Pt Ji was impressed and removed a hundred rupee note and gave it to him adding that he was helpless to do much more. Then Pt Ji delivered a sermon and a debate ensues…..
“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence” Mark Twain. I was amazed when Amartya Sen was decorated with Bharat Ratna. It is true that he was stamped with a Nobel Prize to make him acceptable to South-Asia so that he could sell American foolishness to poor people of that region. I don’t know what new did he discover/invent which was practised in India with positive results.
The farmers tell us that nature hasn’t advanced the ripening dates of crops. They still sow and reap at fixed intervals each year. Since all humans consume farm products, agriculture serves as the basic engine which fixes the speed of economic growth.
Apart from farmers, the State produces paper money and sets into motion an economic activity of exchange. While the farm production has to negotiate many variables like availability of water, pesticides, fertiliser, favourable dry conditions during harvesting etc, the paper currency doesn’t suffer any hiccups. Paper currency outsells the Farmer globally!
It is quite clear that things won’t improve because agriculture won’t become rewarding. So, let us take things easy. And people are practising it. Every caution is thrown to winds. People are attracted more towards cheats than honest people. If I tell father of a kid that your child is short changed in schools, he looks up and shrug shoulders.
The availability of phones has deprived people the skill of writing letters. It is no wonder that they forget to even acknowledge a letter you send them. Culture has degenerated into cavalier attitudes. For a change we require humour. In humour you can pass on truth in its savage form. But that savagery is bloodless- even acceptable!
“Common sense and a sense of humour are the same things moving at different speeds. Sense of humour is just common-sense dancing.” KC was, what people say, a progressive writer. But I have found him to be a serious writer. There are only two types of writers – serious and casual writers. But fiction is as much an essential input to serious writing. Humour is a weapon of criticism. And it will never replace criticism by weapons!