A happy ending. What more can we devotees of Bollywood ask for? Patriotism has been vindicated. An utterly marginalised regional party’s fortunes are suddenly looking up and blackmail and the threat of violence are back on the table as effective weapons in Maharashtra.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis engineered a double coup. Never mind how myopic his strategy, he has not only got rid of the mushkil from Karan Johar’s Diwali extravaganza (imagine, I was contemplating suicide at the thought that I wouldn’t be able to see this quadrangular love story on Diwali night) but also managed to give the Shiv Sena a good shake-up, just in case they thought the BJP could be held to ransom. Not to be outdone, Uddhav Thackeray then proposed that the PM invade Pakistan and make it a part of India.
The MNS or Maharashtra Navnirman Sena had tried various ploys to regain clout since its dismal failure in the Maharashtra elections. Since vilifying Biharis no longer worked, its members defied high court orders regarding the height of the Govinda pyramids during the Krishna Janmashtami festival. When that failed to capture the public’s gaze, they fell back on the Ganapati celebrations and insisted that schools close for five days — but that too did not gain traction. Then, out of the blue, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (ADHM) was about to be released and believe it or not, it had a Pakistani actor as the second lead.
No sir, no way would the MNS permit the multi-crore Karan Johar film to be released and dishonour the tremendous sacrifices of the Indian army on the Kashmir front. ADHM had to be banned.
A last-minute compromise-solution was devised. The saviour was Devendra Fadnavis. No Pakistani actor would be allowed to desecrate Bollywood in the future. Not just that, Shri Johar was coerced to do prayashchit and pay a penalty of five crore rupees to the Army Welfare Fund Battle Casualties.
Luckily for the country and its democratic values, it is the Indian army which has once again called the MNS’s bluff, a senior officer reportedly saying: “Don’t play politics with the army, which has a strong apolitical, highly disciplined and secular ethos. The armed forces do not want to be dragged into such low-level wrangling.”
Think about it. What an incredible contrast there is between the armed forces of Pakistan and India. The former
rule the country while the democratically-elected prime minister is a puppet in their hands. They sponsor and support terrorism through their intelligence services, not only against India but against their own people. From the time we won independence, how extraordinarily fortunate we have been to have Thimayya, Thorat, Manekshaw and all the other top Indian army brass, which set the finest example and supported the supremacy of democratic civilian rule.
Isn’t it tragic that the majority of Indians don’t even know who the enemy is because they prefer to buy into the
humbug dished out by demagogues and the likes of Arnab Goswami and his out of control, belligerent media bullies?
The Pakistani populace is not the enemy. The Pakistani army, and especially the ISI, the Inter-Services
Intelligence Directorate, are. Who should know this better than us? Remember 26/11 and the conversations of the terrorists with their handlers, the attack on Parliament and all those before and after.
We don’t need a Chanakya to tell us that we require a highly nuanced strategy against Pakistan, beginning with a multi-pronged, aggressive and relentless diplomatic offensive against the Pakistani army and especially the ISI, and the use of every variety of pressure from our friends in the US, Europe and elsewhere, with one proviso — an “armed confrontation” as an absolute no-no, unless the other party chooses all-out war. Secondly, we should have an innovative and earnest soft-power engagement with the Pakistani civilian population at every level, so that they too enjoy the benefits of peace.
Our strategy at home must be completely re-thought. We are perpetuating multi-generational enmity when Kashmiris are killed and children blinded with pellets. Plus, we are playing into the hands of the ISI and alienating even our friends. Kashmiri Muslims must get the best educational facilities and they must have access to jobs. When they have a stake in this country, neither the ISI, nor Salafi money can alienate them.
Simultaneously, we must confront the propaganda and dangerous precedents set by our political parties. Let’s never
forget, there is only one sacred text in the public life of our country: The Indian Constitution. And the ultimate arbiter of the Constitution is the judiciary. The independence of the latter must be inviolable. The question is, how come political parties get away with defying the principles enshrined in the Constitution? How dare a party or an individual prevent a whole industry from engaging Pakistani actors? Where does this kind of fabricated patriotism and censorship stop? Is Manto going to be forbidden reading? Will I be told that I am not to listen to Nusrat Fateh Ali or Malika Pukhraj? Do we have any idea what risks the wonderful Kabir bhakts in Pakistan take when they sing his dohas? Do we want to emulate Pakistani intolerance?
Freedom of expression is one of the pillars of our Constitution. The same document allows anyone to employ whoever they want. It’s worth asking how come even the judiciary sometimes fails to act against those who are flagrantly guilty. The answer is not new. The price of democracy is eternal vigilance on the citizenry’s part. We are guilty of being comatose, even as our freedoms and Constitutional rights are forfeited in the name of bogus patriotism.
Democracy is not a gift. It has to be earned. Every single day.