Is it in the initials?
A few days ago I received an article (Two Nations, Two Choices by Vir Sanghvi, written sometimes in January 2008). Forwarded by an expat friend in the US, the Subject line of the mail was "Sad, but worth reading". The same evening I received another copy from Australia, with the subject line changed to "Vir Sanghvi hits it on the head". I don't know why I am on the second mailing list ... I know no-one named Naseem F Mujtaba. (While I am glad, Naseem, that you F Mujtaba, please take me off the list. Thanks.) Since NFM had committed the common but heinous crime of putting all 118 recipients in the "To:" field, as had the previous 3 FWDers, I know that in this particular chain, alone, 591 people had received the piece. Why had this old piece begun to do the rounds suddenly, I have no idea. But I read it and passed it in on to 27 people, being careful to put all their addresses in the "Bcc:" field as courtesy, decency, and common sense demand. The first of the 17 responses I have received so far (a response-rate marketers would die for!) came quickly. Only one other article I have ever forwarded has been commented upon by so many. Anyway, this is what I was asked in the very first message: Hmmm... I can see why he's hitting it on the head - since he's Indian - but why are u forwarding this rather obnoxious article....? My answer, since others, too, may have wondered but not asked: I forwarded the piece to 3 journalist/columnists and 4 members of my extended family. From the journos I had hoped for some cool, intelligent feedback. I then, on the spur of the moment, added 20 other names. (Sorry, folks!) Now to the responses: Quite a few felt that parts of it are true. Some wrote that it was 'depressing' to read this. A few pointed out that the tone was off-putting. One pointed out that Nehru was a crook and a bastard and slept with Lord and Lady Mountbatten to get Kashmir. (This knowledge will, of course, help cure all our ills!). One said our FO should protest to the Editor of HT, which published it. (I suspect if it does, HT will tell our FO to FO!) The one Indian I passed it on to was splutteringly apologetic and said that while the article was 'perhaps true in some ways, it's just a point of view after all, and every developing country has made mistakes'. She pointed out that the author showed an anti-Punjabi bias, and was 'possibly an RSS agent.' ... (Hmmm, I thought, as I re- read this looking for clues). She also went on to soothe me by saying that "no one takes him seriously, anyway." ... "Not taken seriously? That's carrying your peace-forum apologist attitude too far", I wrote back, and quoted an Indian Muslim's response to another piece by Vir Sanghvi. Chastizing him in he above-mentioned rejoinder to Mr Sanghvi's Counterpoint piece on the Muslim response - or the alleged lack of it - to fundamentalism, someone said:
Many Muslims have been surprised and even hurt at the article written by Vir Sanghvi in the Counterpoint column of Hindustan Times on Sunday, which is without doubt the most read column of any editor in India. The reason is obvious. Had it been written by any other person it would not have mattered that much but Vir Sanghvi is one of the best editors, an erudite and highly respected journalist. Like many others he also puts the onus on Muslims for not condemning fundamentalism of Muslims ... Muslims don’t remain silent and do condemn but our voices don’t reach you. The Delhi-centric (Delhi/Haryana/Punjab) papers never carry these stories. In small cities all over Northen India Muslims protest and raise voice, but who takes notice!Only the 2 gora non-Pakistanis I shared it with asked for the author's or the newspaper's email address and wanted to write back counters to this in the light of their experiences. (Vir Sanghvi can be emailed here.) The absence of any journos' response means that they are mulling over it and either busy writing counters or waiting for it to be erased from memory before plagiarizing from it. I agree with the 2 firangees. The article has been published in well-circulated Indian daily. If there are parts of the analysis (or the entire piece) that one disagrees with - and there are some I do not subscribe to while accepting the truths I cannot deny - it should be countered with facts and opinions. I know too little about the political history of Pakistan to write such a piece - even on my informal blog. My knowledge is based merely on having lived through the mess - with 25 years at sea at a time when access to information was poor, to begin with. So my writing could only result in an emotional, rather than a knowledgeable or analytical, response. That is if I felt any emotion (other than a personal grief) on the subject at all. Finally, pointing out that there is an Indian/Hindu bias, as some did, is stating the pointless obvious. Many of the responses contained a Pakistani/Muslim bias, too. So what's new? Unbiased opinions, anywhere, are hard to come by. Indoctrination from childhood - at home and in schools - nurtures nothing as strongly as biases. 'Religious' leaders and Nationalists (and their inevitable combo-product, the Fascist) continue to fan the flames throughout life. Mr Sanghvi, himself, shows off his unbridled nationalism through his 'need' to compare and compete. Here's one example from a response sent in by someone who, in turn, quoted an unnamed source. I found it funny (though some of you probably will not). Writings like these just reinforce my belief that the majority of Indians out there (and by Indians I mean Hindus more or less) are nursing a deep and ancient inferiority complex. Apart from the give-away word 'belief', the phrase "more or less' had me ROTFL ... Peace! (And don't worry if you can't figure out why this post is titled what it is).