Why Don’t Netas Give Up Their Awards…I Mean Rewards…

“Tu Hindu banega, Na musalmaan banega…Insaan ki aulad hai, Insaan banega”, was the ideological refrain of the 50s and 60s. I think the Partition and its gaping wounds taught us a vital lesson: A lesson about the repercussions of not ‘being human’.

Today, ‘being human’ is all about buying a piece of Salman Khan’s merchandise and nothing else. And the musical refrain (with due respect to Sahir Ludhianvi) is now sounding more like ‘Shaitan ki aulad hai, Shaitan banega…” Pretty good progress in the last 30 years, I must say!

The recent acts of a helpless man lynched to death without even being given a chance to explain himself and another one with black ink smeared on his face just because he helped an author of a hostile neighbour country release his book, have stirred the nation temporarily. Two acts which speak of our courage and bravado.

After all, we are all swayed by the talks of fundamentalism, separatism and fanaticism when we are personally affected. But how many of us have the courage to barge into our neighbour’s home, drag him down the stairs ruthlessly and even in his half dead state tear his clothes, beat him and still believe that you haven’t done enough!

These are our today’s heroes who know no fear, who throw shoes, who spill ink, who splash acid on hapless people. Urbane people like are us cowards, because we are neither here nor there. We sit in the sanctum of our drawing rooms and are just happy that we now have a new topic of conversation.

Some foolhardy intellectuals returned their national and state honours protesting against this new ‘religious intolerance’. True to their intelligence, our netajis didn’t understand the logic of this step. The same netas who were mum on the sacrileges are now vociferously tearing down the writer’s actions.

A politician in India just cannot understand how you can surrender your assets as a mark of protest. Our corrupt leaders swing from one scam to another with élan without even surrendering a single drop of sweat. In fact, greater the scam, greater the pile up of assets. So the politician has no clue what this ‘kich kich’ is about giving back the Padma Shris and the Sahitya Akademi awards?

Against this backdrop, I don’t know what to do. I’m not a politician and I have no sprawling assets. I’m not a celebrated writer with distinguished awards. The only honour I have is my husband, Mr Jaspal Bhatti being awarded the Padma Bhushan for his unparalled work in humour. But that is his award.

Somehow I want to emulate the creative writers, who have returned the toils of their own sweat and hard work, unlike the politicians whose assets are actually our hard work and earnings. So what is it that I can relinquish as a mark of protest against this intolerance, this extremism? As an ordinary citizen of India, I have decided to give up my fundamental rights to all the freedoms embodied in the Constitution. Netaji khush???

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