The Indecency of Decency

Ravi Shanker Kapoor That intolerance has become the defining feature of the governance becomes evident, if any more evidence was needed, from the so-called advisory the Information & Broadcasting Ministry recently issued to TV channels regarding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Independence Day speech this year. It may be the first ‘advisory’ in history that is accompanied with the threat of “penal provisions.” The ‘advisory’ said that “it had come to the notice of Ministry of Information & Broadcasting that certain TV channels attempted to denigrate the Office of the Prime Minister of India by constantly trying to compare the speech of the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India with the speech of other political leaders on 15th August, 2013.” The charge is based on two assumptions. First, “the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India” is a heavenly figure whose utterances need to be grasped in a state of reverence, while other political leaders are lesser mortals. Second, comparison is denigration. While the first assumption is anti-democratic, the second one is outright arbitrary. The prime minister is not a celestial creature with a divine right to rule. Therefore, the Ministry’s contention militates against even the suppositions of the government. And it surely is an affront to basic principles of democracy: the prime minister is one of us and is elected by us; he enjoys the high office so long as we, the people of India, deem him fit to rule the country; he derives his powers from our consent, and not from gods as many kings claimed to do in the past. As for the second postulate, equating comparison with denigration is as idiotic as it is arbitrary. In fact, it is nothing but an abuse of language, just as calling a threat an ‘advisory.’ The operative part of the Ministry’s advisory was in the third paragraph: “…as per Section 5 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, read with Rule 6(1 Xa) & (i) of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, as amended from time to time, no programme can be transmitted/re-transmitted on any Cable Service which contains anything [that] offends against good taste or decency; and criticizes, maligns or slanders any individual in person or...

Swaminathan Aiyar is insensitive – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Swaminathan Aiyar is insensitive – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar is considered a champion of open economy, which—as a natural corollary—also implies great concern for respect for individual liberty. And since liberty is inextricably linked with individual self-esteem and the rule of law, one expects Aiyar to promote these concepts. He has, however, done quite the opposite in a recent article with self-explanatory title, ‘Slums are hubs of hope, progress and dignity’ (The Times Of India, March 31). “Yes, slums are dirty, but they are also entrepreneurial hubs where India’s poor are climbing up the ladder of opportunity and income,” he wrote. “The census report shows that 16.7% of slum households are factories, shops and offices. These are humming commercial centres, not dead-ends.” He derives a specious conclusion: “filthy slums” are the “entry-points of the poor into the land of urban opportunity. See them as havens of dignity for dalits and shudras. See them as hubs of rising income and asset ownership, which have already generated several rupee millionaires.”He goes on to show how conditions in slums are better than those in villages: “No less than 70% of slum households have TVs, against only 47% of total Indian households. The ratio is just 14.5% in Bihar and 33.2% in UP. Even Narendra Modi’s shining Gujarat (51.2%) and Pawar’s Maharashtra (58.8%) have a far lower rate of TV ownership than our slums!” That somebody should see squalid habitats as the havens of dignity for the poor is not just in bad taste; it also smacks of egregious insensitivity. In slums, men and women live like cattle, bereft of the basic civic amenities. Privacy is practically non-existent. There is scarcely any plumbing; toilets are either very dirty or in the open. The smell of garbage and excreta is all-pervading. Children have no place to play; many of them are forced to earn a livelihood; a large number of them are abused. It is a tribute to the fortitude and enterprise of slum-dwellers that many of them become rupee millionaires. But this is in spite of living in slums, not because these dwellings are entrepreneurial hubs. Slums numb human sensibilities, degrade all feelings, and create an ecosystem in which all but animal instincts are...

Cameron is right – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Cameron is right – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

We have been so badly brainwashed by Marxist historians, who fatten on Congress patronage, and dogmatic intellectuals that we are unable to see the past as it was—and view it from the prism made of Leftist biases and chauvinistic absurdities. Unsurprisingly, there are subjects that occasion jingoistic spasms and orgasms among us. The Jallianwalla Bagh massacre of 1919 is one of them. UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s refusal to apologize for the incident has many of us angry at his supposed insensitivity. This was despite the fact that he called it a “deeply shameful event in British history.” Later, he justified his refusal to saying sorry. He rightly pointed out that the incident took place 40 years before his birth and it would not be “the right thing to reach back into history and to seek out things you can apologize for.” Cameron’s position is right because acceptance of the position of those who want to correct the wrongs of history would open Pandora’s box—more such demands, more unnecessary controversies, much unpleasantness between nations, groups, etc. To begin with, if the British should apologize for the 1919 outrage, and maybe the 1857-58 atrocities and the Indian conquest before that, why shouldn’t same demands made on Iranians, Afghans, and many other Muslim invaders? Nadir Shah, termed the Napoleon of Persia, is still remembered for his general massacre (qatl-e-aam) in Delhi in 1739. In one single day, March 22, the Persian Emperor’s troops killed 20,000 to 30,000 Indians. The Mughal king at that time, Mohammad Shah, abjectly begged for the stoppage of the carnage. This was apart from the plunder Nadir Shah and his soldiers perpetrated. The booty included the fabled Peacock Throne and the Koh-i-Noor and Darya-ye Noor diamonds. Such was the magnitude of the loot that Nadir did not need to tax his subjects for three years. Yet, neither Iranians have ever said sorry for the conduct of their ancestors nor has anybody in India demanded any apology from them. A few years later, the hordes of Ahmad Khan Abdali, who is regarded as the founder of the modern state of Afghanistan, descended upon northern India. In the Third Battle of Panipat (1761), the...

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