I read a FB post by the well known handloom aficionado Laila Tyabji and it did piss me off. I have always looked forward to her sari posts because she has an enviable collection and most times I find her views on other topics very balanced and wonderfully worded. Today’s post was wonderfully worded but in poor taste. Its not just Ms. Tyabji, but there is a section of our society that has huge issues with the current Prime Minister and the BJP in general. There is sudden spurt in the praises heaped on Jawaharlal Nehru, his daughter Indira Gandhi, her son Rajiv Gandhi and veiled praise of course for Rajiv’s widow Sonia Gandhi. Some of the praise definitely sticks – all of them were/are good looking, are well dressed, “ruled” over India for nearly 48 years between them and brought many laurels to India. Was the non-alignment right for those times, probably yes. Was relying on the Soviet Union right for those times, again, probably yes. Was the Hindu rate of growth right for those times, again, probably yes. Was promoting English at the cost of all other Indian languages right for those times? yes and no, as it continued our mental slavery but also put us in the pole position when outsourcing came around and we had the largest English speaking workforce in the world outside the US (they are the biggest outsourcers, UK and others are insignificant). I am scared of going onto what didn’t go well because the list is long and dirty.
The dirtiest laundry of the dynasty was during the last 10 years of the daughter-in-law’s proxy rule and thats probably what is relevant in today’s context and thats probably what has put Mr. Narendra Modi, the much reviled man, in the Prime Minister’s office today.
I love saris and have discovered handlooms recently – I don’t come from a family that could afford to choose the kind of saris they wore, the only criteria being that it was inexpensive. So while my grandmothers, mother, mother-in-law, aunts, all wore sarees, they kept wearing whatever was inexpensive and easy to wash and use everyday. So I never understood that handloom actually meant a loom that was not run by turning a switch on. I wore chiffons and crepes and pure cottons and pure silks – never liked the polyester mixed ones and that was that. In the past two years, I have had a rapid learning curve with respect to handlooms and I have come to deeply appreciate the work done by Ms. Jaya Jaitly, Ms. Laila Tyabji, Co-optex and its current MD, Mr. Venkatesh Narasimhan. I have also become part of certain sari forums where I am learning constantly. I have also realised that Indira Gandhi was a connoisseur of handloom as is Sonia Gandhi. I have always admired their saris, not knowing that they were all handloom saris.
BUT, every time I see Indira Gandhi draped in a stunning handloom sari that supported the utterly poor weavers, I also think about the fact that the very same Indira Gandhi, wearing the very same handloom sari, declared Emergency – only and only to retain power. She was a true dictator. The free run that her son Sanjay Gandhi had is not unknown, its just a selective public memory that’s short lived. Every time I see her daughter-in-law and the longest serving CONgress President (19 years and counting) in her stunning handloom sari, I only see the poor, almost 80 year old Mr. Sitaram Kesri being locked up in a toilet so she could GRAB power and become the CONgress President. The next stunning handloom sari that I see Sonia Gandhi in, I remember the fact that somehow she became richer than the Queen of England. Now some well read person like Shashi Tharoor may eloquently defend that as “the great revenge” on our erstwhile coloniser, but am unable to hold that privileged perspective. I always think of Indira Gandhi’s “garibi hatao” campaign and wonder if Sonia Gandhi misunderstood that slogan, given her poor hold of Hindi and her rather late embrace of India’s citizenship, to mean “apni garibi hatao” ….. well, she has done that splendidly, all the while wearing one stunning handloom sari after the other while the weavers of those saris committed “jauhar” on their poverty pyre.
Ms. Laila Tyabji writes of the terrible statistics of Rajasthani women – the number of rapes everyday, 51% of girls being married off under the age of 15 etc and all that the men can think of is “Padmavati” …. its not just Rajasthan. More than 45% of girls in India are married off under the age of 15. Nothing has been done by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty about it and little has been done by the current government of Narendra Modi. Why are girls married off under the age of 15? Because their parents are illiterate and poor. The deadly gift of the dynasty – keep them illiterate and keep them poor, while chanting “garibi hatao”. The only way this will change is when EVERY child is educated – not through the botched up, dumb “Sarva Shiksha” abhiyan, but by actually working on providing good education. There is also an alarming increase in the Madrasas and Bible flaunting schools – a dangerous outcome of pseudo secularism. Interestingly, the word “secular” was added to the preamble of our constitution by the handloom wearing Indira Gandhi … and I am scared to say I am a Hindu today, because I may be termed as not being secular. Great outcome !
The other comment was about the CM of MP, because he dared to call “Padmavati” as the Rashtra Mata replacing the cow and he had the audacity to say that the roads in his state are better than the roads in the US. A few facts that everyone in India must understand about the CM of MP – He inherited a BIMARU state. Today MP is no longer “sick”. Quoting from a Business Today article “The state’s gross domestic product (GDP) has grown at more than nine per cent consistently since 2009/10, most of it on account of agriculture, which has averaged about 20 per cent growth in these years.” (Read the full article – http://www.businesstoday.in/magazine/features/how-agriculture-growth-has-boosted-madhya-pradesh-gdp/story/217695.html. This man has done remarkably well. Agriculture growth anywhere in the world doesn’t go beyond single digits …. and the roads in MP are really good. We have criss-crossed MP eleven times by road between 2007 to 2017 and the changes are REMARKABLE. What is more, tiny villages implement all the state and centre’s welfare schemes. Toilets have come up in remote areas. Girls are getting educated. If it offends someone’s fine senses that he chose Rani Padmini over the cow, well, atleast he didn’t tote a leather bag made of calf skin while campaigning for PETA !! :(. Also roads in the US are bad in certain areas, have also seen that personally.
The CM of Delhi is “yugpurush” Arvind Kejriwal…. incase someone has forgotten because he has been silent after the spectacular win (?&$%) his party had in Punjab and Goa. I am probably dumb, because I don’t see how the CM never gets blamed for the SMOG and pollution in Delhi while the PM is slammed for not bringing “fresh” air into Delhi. Many of my dear friends also make the mistake of forgetting that AK is the CM of Delhi who has been doing everything other than governing Delhi. NOT a single election promise of his has been delivered on but the PM’s “acche din” is a “jumla” ??? By that yardstick, the biggest jumla has been the dynasty’s war cry “garibi hatao” !!
In my humble opinion (that doesn’t matter one bit to anyone), when you have the privilege of being part of a country’s history, you also need to bring the right perspective into the social narrative without bias. India unfortunately has a set of “fortunate” people who take no pride in our real history and have allowed that history to be distorted to such an extent that today’s generation only knows “Ashoka”, the movie and it’s item number but not the great empire that the great emperor Ashoka built. Please remember that for making a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed, people were killed in France and all of you on FB changed your profile pics …. and for shooting a film titled “Sexy Durga” there is no whimper. Suddenly Secular? Whether Padmavati is real or fictional, Alauddin Khilji was an invader who killed Indians, broke our temples, looted us and raped our women. That part of history is a fact. If a certain community feels offended – why not take their views into consideration? If a Rajput queen didn’t dance in public, and its a historical fact, whether you like it or not, whether its regressive or progressive doesn’t matter – it is a fact, respect facts. Creative freedom in India today seems to be a way to freely demean everything Hindu, denounce Hindu Gods, denounce Hindu practices, denounce Hindu traditions.
I don’t endorse anyone being beheaded for making/acting in a movie or for saying something or for doing anything. If state governments and the central government is snoozing on this issue, it is condemnable and they need to put these jokers behind bars. But, understand that Deepika’s “regressive” comment is also in poor taste as is Ms. Tyabji’s comment about “chopping off body parts is catching up in India” …. Only the ISIS and other terrorist organisations chop people up and behead them.
Public memory is short, and in certain sections of the society the selective memory is even shorter.
Am no bhakt, even though I will be labelled thus, but what must be said, must be said. There are a 100 things that Mr. Modi does which are wrong – he is no saint, and he doesn’t claim to be one. BUT, if you open your eyes and remove the blinkers of your selective past memories of a sick bygone era, you will see the “right” effort he is putting in that is resulting in India becoming better. For the first time, India has a voice in the international forums. The Prime Minister of our country is looked upto by several world leaders and business leaders. There are no government fuelled scams. China and Pakistan are wary. GST has happened … botched up, but also a very responsive government. AND, when Mr. Modi leaves, he will be replaced with someone else, and not anyone from his gene pool.
I wonder – what is it that some folks do not like ?
The fact that he is trying to clean up India ? because once India is clean you can no longer land in Delhi or Mumbai from Switzerland and wrinkle your powdered nose and say “ohh, it was so clean there, its so dirty here” and drop your paper napkin when no one is seeing?
Or the fact that he is trying to identify every single “Indian” with Aadhar? because once everyone is identified then the “refugees” who become voters only during elections can no longer vote? or the dead ones will no longer get their pension delivered to their heavenly bank accounts?
Or the fact that he is trying to replace the “anything-fired” chullah with a gas cylinder ? because some of the rural women will live longer and not cough to death?
Or the fact that he will soon bring the uniform civil code ? And you can’t build 17500 churches, 5 lakh madrasas, marry 5 women, dole out charity without being registered??
Or the fact that every world agency that you respect, seems to see the India story as a successful reform story ? And you can no longer get things done because you “know” somebody?
Or is it the fact that Mukesh Ambani no longer runs this country ? Or that Chidambaram may be proven to be a crook ?
“Acche din” is like the clap which requires both hands. Yours and Narendra Modi’s. Criticise whats not right and what may turn out to be wrong in the future – but just blindly criticising for the sake of criticising is being foolish. Well, being foolish is your birth right and who am I to stop you ?
And Ms. Laila Tyabji can sleep happily with no fear of any of her limbs being chopped, as one of her friends apparently commented…. just remember, the CM of Delhi called the PM of India a “psychopath” and the handloom wearing Sonia Gandhi called him “Maut Ka Saudagar” (more apt for her husband, who allowed 3500+ sikhs to be massacred in the city of Delhi) and they both of them are hale and hearty. So your friend’s fears are unfounded and unreal.
Chill, as the weather is …. and as Ms. Chillar said to Mr. Shashi Tharoor. A different perspective will hopefully be welcomed.