It has almost become routine to slight Hindu sentiments — our smart-set do not even notice the slights they administer. Recall the jibe of decades: ‘the Hindu rate of growth’. When, because of those very socialist policies that their kind had swallowed and imposed on the country, our growth was held down to 3-4 per cent, it was dubbed — with much glee — as ‘the Hindu rate of growth’. Today, we are growing at 9 per cent. And, if you are to believe the nonsense in Sachar’s report, the minorities are not growing at all. So, who is responsible for this higher rate of growth? The Hindus! How come no one calls this higher rate of growth ‘the Hindu rate of growth’? Simple: dubbing the low rate as the Hindu one established you to be secular; not acknowledging the higher one as the Hindu rate establishes you to be secular!
Or M.F. Husain. He is a kindly man, and a prodigiously productive artist. There is no warrant at all for disrupting all his exhibitions. I am on the point of sensibilities. His depictions of Hindu goddesses have been in the news: he has painted them in less than skimpy attire. I particularly remember one in which Sita is riding Hanuman’s stiffened tail — of course, she is scarcely clad, but that is the least of it: you need no imagination at all to see what she is rubbing up against that stiffened tail. Well, in the case of an artist, that is just inspiration, say the secularists. OK. The question that arises then is: How come in the seventy-five years Husain has been painting, he has not once felt inspired, not once, to paint the face of the Prophet? It doesn’t have to be in the style in which he has painted the Hindu goddesses. Why not the most beautiful, the most radiant and luminous face that he can imagine? How come he has never felt inspired to paint women revered in Islam, or in his own family, in the same style as the one that propelled his inspiration in regard to Hindu goddesses?
‘In painting the goddesses, he was just honouring them,’ a secular intellectual remarked at a discussion the other day. ‘It was his way of honouring them.’ Fine. It is indeed the case that one of the best ways we can honour someone is to put the one skill we have at the service of the person or deity. But how come that Husain never but never thought of honouring the Prophet by using the same priceless skill, that one ‘talent which is death to hide’?
‘Has Mr Shourie ever visited Khajuraho?,’ a member of the audience asked, the implication being that, as Hindu sculptors had depicted personages naked, what was wrong with Husain depicting the goddesses in the same style. Fine again. But surely, it is no one’s case that the ‘Khajuraho style’ must be confined to Hindu icons. Why has the artist, so skilled in deploying the Khajuraho motifs, never used them for icons of Islam? The reason why an artist desists from depicting the Prophet’s face is none of these convoluted disquisitions on style.
The reason is simplicity itself: he knows he will be thrashed, and his hands smashed.
Exactly the same holds for politics. How come no one objects when for years a Muslim politician keeps publishing maps of constituencies in which Muslims as Muslims can determine the outcome, and exhorting them to do so? When, not just an individual politician but entire political parties — from the Congress to the Left parties — stir Muslims up as a vote bank. When Muslims start behaving like a vote bank, you can be certain that someone will get the idea that Hindus too should be welded into a vote bank, and eventually they will get welded into one. Why is stoking Muslims ‘secular’ and stoking Hindus ‘communal’?
And yet perverted discourse, even the stratagems of political parties, are but preparation: they prepare the ground for capitulation by the state to groups that are aggressive. And in this the real lunacy is about to be launched, and, with that, the real reaction.
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