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...

IT czars are insufferable – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

IT czars are insufferable – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

What is it with India’s IT czars that invariably makes them insufferable bores and often dangerous idiots? Consider Wipro chairman Azim Premji’s suggestion that the super-rich should be taxed more, a suggestion that was lapped up enthusiastically and implemented quickly by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. However, before analyzing the misplaced philanthropy of Premji and Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy, who welcomed the tax on the super-rich, I’ll tell a joke. Perhaps it can make you do what Budget 2013 failed to do—smile a little. A guest was aghast seeing that the host’s son, a very young boy, was incessantly hammering nails in the drawing room on anything wooden—sofa sets, tables, stools, chairs, drawers, and so on. Horrified by the brat’s activity, he asked the host, “Why don’t you stop the child? What he is doing will cost you a lot.” The host, however, was unperturbed. He replied, “Oh, there won’t be big losses. After all, we own a hardware shop.” Like the harebrained hardware shop-owner, Murthy has also missed the point: the imposition of a surcharge is an abomination, not because it will hurt the rich but because it strengthens the impression that India under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is determined to bring back the bad old days of socialism, the ancien regime which fostered Leviathan, promoted venality and cronyism, discouraged endeavor, and penalized enterprise. The danger is not that Ratan Tata and Shahrukh Khan would have smaller homes or less swanky cars; the real threat is that the predatory instincts of the dirigiste beast will be sharpened. Talking to a news channel, Murthy said, “I am quite happy about this surcharge because at the end of the day, in a country like India where there is so much of poverty, people earning Rs 1 crore shouldn’t crib about paying a 10 per cent surcharge. Therefore, I welcome it. We should all pay reasonable taxes in this country. We don’t pay any tax on our dividends and long-term capital gains tax is zero. So, if you consider all those things, this is peanuts.” Peanuts or dessert, surcharge on the super-rich is bad. For, as Winston Churchill said, “There is no such thing...

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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