From: Radha Rajan
Date: Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 8:09 AM
Subject: The rage over Sadhvi Niranjan Jyothi
During a debate on Reservation and the Mandal Commission Report, more than a decade ago, Mani Shankar Aiyar shouted at a member in the audience, "Don't call me a Brahmin. I eat beef and my wife eats beef". Don't-call-me-a-Brahmin Aiyar seemed to think that his defining feature and that of his 'global' family was beef eating and he too, like the judge assumed that his beef eating perversion was of interest to all the world.
In the same vein, Amitava Kumar is seeking an audience to express what he thinks is his defining feature – marrying a Pakistani Muslim. He is announcing to all those who care to know that he married a Pakistani woman at the height of the Kargil war and he thinks his marriage to the 'enemy' (his words, not mine) is a marriage for world peace. Swapan Dasgupta hit the nail on the head when he called this moron a poseur. Amitava writes a book with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Let us all get something straight at the very outset. American think tanks be it Brookings the Rand Corporation, or the Rockefeller Foundation or any American university for that matter will not/do not offer grants or fellowships to Indians espousing Hindu nationalism. These institutions offer fellowships and grants only to those persons undertaking such studies or projects as serves their national interest.
So the Rockefeller Foundation offers a grant to Amitava because he has the distinction of having married a Pakistani when his country is at war with Pakistan; just as Admiral Ramdas was offered the Magsaysay for 2004 because he has a Pakistani son-in-law. The idea probably being, to encourage all Indian Hindus (not even Indian Muslims) to marry all Pakistani Muslims for lasting peace between India and Pakistan. Even as bad Bollywood scripts go, this scripting for peace is still the pits and the arithmetic awry. But seriously, institutions like the Rockefeller Foundation will certainly offer grants and fellowships for any 'critical' (read abusive) study of the growing Hindu nationalist movement and Amitava is a case in point.
Sandhya Jain and Swapan Dasgupta have dealt effectively with this poseur's pretensions at intellectualism. Ashok Chowgule has exposed his dishonesty. Elsewhere I too have shown that our secular intellectuals are not wined, dined and feted for their intellectual ability. They are being rewarded for their anti-Hindu, anti-nation rhetoric and for their English language abuse of Hindu nationalism, the RSS, the BJP and the political Hindu. Therefore I will not go into the intellectual dishonesty of Amitava disowned by his own mother for converting to Islam just so he could marry a Pakistani woman. Let me take up the picture he paints of an RSS functionary whom he claims he met in the U.S and what he is seeking to do by reporting on this meeting in his "Lunch with my enemy: Exploring the roots of ethnic strife".
Those of us who use words purposefully know when and how to paint a portrait, how to draw a caricature, how to parody, how to lampoon, and how and when to dip words into acid and when to sharpen them to a knife's edge for effect. Amitava claims he is presenting a portrait of this RSS functionary; what he is actually doing is presenting a caricature, intended to raise a laugh, his contempt and his ignorance clothed in abundant verbosity. Either he is doing it deliberately, in which case he is dishonest about his intentions or he is so consumed by hatred that what started as a portrait ended up as a caricature, in which case Amitava is both dishonest and a failed writer.
Backed by the Rockefeller Foundation and Penn State University, it is patently clear that Amitava is addressing an audience which would like to see the RSS and all those politically conscious Hindus to be really like the pathetic caricature of Amitava's hope and imagination. That would enable them to dismiss us in real life with the same ease with which Amitava dismisses this RSS man and the RSS in its entirety in his book. 'Husband of a fanatic' is written with the same objective as 'The God of small things'.
Amitava's self-indulgent pretensions bordering on the neurotic would not have drawn much attention except for the fact that he is abusing the RSS and all that it represents and glorifying himself and his marriage, which like Aiyar's beef-eating penchant, doesn't interest anyone. Except again, that both of them are placing their personal fads in the context of an ideology which frightens them, hoping to raise trivia to the heights of an ideological war. And what better way to overcome your fear then by lampooning the object of your fear! And this lampooning is done with a great deal of self-conscious condescension of a well-to-do English educated 'secular' NRI who has chosen American academia to bank-roll his self-indulgence.
Amitava and Mr. Jagdish Barotia, in Amitava's imagination, are a study in contrast. Amitava confesses that Barotia is not the real name of the RSS functionary. The juvenile duplicity begins here. The first false note is struck. Amitava says Mr. Barotia is the Organizing Secretary of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh and then goes on to say Mr. Barotia is not his real name. If I know the person in question is the Organizing Secretary of the HSS, how long does it take me to find out the real name of the functionary if Barotia is not his real name, for heavens' sake? So why give the actual designation of the person and then hide his name? Having said that Barotia is the OS of the HSS Amitava falls back upon familiar claptrap – "Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, the overseas wing of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or National Voluntary Organization), a militant group to which the murderer of Mahatma Gandhi had belonged".
Now what are the characteristics of these RSS murderers of Mahatma Gandhi? They are foul-mouthed and abusive. They don't speak normally, they always use invectives and expletives. They abuse everyone who is 'different from them' from Gandhi ji to people like Amitava, in the choice language of brand Hindi film villains – 'harami, kutta'. Amitava forgot 'kameena'. The three go together as any film buff will tell you. Amitava is harami kutta while Gandhi ji is saala harami. Amitava is comfortable though with the Hindi expletives. This foul mouth matches the physical stature of Mr.Barotia who, in Amitava's description, is short, with a round face. The 'fat' is implied.
Abusive Hindi is ok by Amitava but he finds Sanskrit slokas abhorrent. A 'fat' RSS man, sporting a tilak spouts Sanskrit slokas at Amitava for whom the down-to-earth Hindi film abuse by Barotia is a relief. We RSS people of Amitava's imagination, are a joke – we either speak pedantically in Sanskrit slokas or else speak the rough Hindi of film villains. And RSS men lack the finer social graces. Barotia is a poorly educated, down-at-heel immigrant 'worker' living in an apartment where the corridors are poorly lit and reek of 'musty' carpets. Barotia, the RSS man is also 'a retired immigrant worker eating in a cheap immigrant restaurant'; he 'eats with gusto', 'stuffs' pakoras into his mouth and drops his food down his shirt front as he stuffs his mouth with food. Look at the class condescension in 'worker'. Barotia (and the RSS by implication) is to be pitied because he is not an English-educated academic in an American university, gazing forlornly at the glass ceiling and pecking fashionably at his food with knives and forks. Amitava forgot to mention Barotia ate (horror of horrors) with his fingers and then licked them clean! 'With gusto' let me add. And with gusto again and to Amitava's utter horror belched loudly in contentment. Amitava belches in Queen's English.
Amitava is not the first upstart to belittle Hindu nationalists in this fashion. Sandeep Pandey, the Magsaysay awardee in 2002 wrote something similar. "In the end at Phaloudi when the bomb supporters (Hindu nationalists) were forced to make way for the Global Peace March, their patriotism proved to be only skindeep as it was outweighed by their love for bhang, cricket and gambling". Amitava, Pandey and their ilk are being paid/rewarded to belittle nationalism.
One can only laugh at the intellectual standard of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Penn State University that they can actually fund and support this juvenile delinquent snobbery. Amitava is aspiring to be white. He knows that at best he can only be 'dark white' and so his darkness which he finds repulsive compels him to mock at those who have no sympathy with such aspirations - the Indian nationalists. And Amitava, stung by this rejection arrogates to himself and all English-educated Nehruvians the power to deny us our place under the Indian flag. That's interesting. The Indian flag is the symbol of post-independent India and Amitava declares that the likes of him have denied Hindu nationalists their space in the Indian nation and that is why we hate him. 'Al Qaeda is bad, al Qaeda hates us' said Bush.
God and the Rockefeller Foundation save me from this puerile, asinine gibberish which is being passed off as a work of literature. The rest of Amitava's imagination about garden lizards being Muslims and Muslims chopping off the legs of Hindus is in line with Praful Bidwai frightening his western patrons with the spectre of 'aryan supremacists' overrunning India. Praful Bidwai won the Sean Mcbride Peace Prize. Amitava is hoping to do a Roy or at least a Bidwai. Allow me to puke.
Radha Rajan 22nd September, 2004.