Tripura has spurned the modest Manik Sarkar for the expansive Biplab Deb, and now it is the duty of every citizen of the state to stick up for the new chief minister’s bold claim that the internet connected the battlefield to HQ in the Mahabharata era. How else could Sanjaya live-tweet the battle to Dhritarashtra? To dispute this would be “narrow-minded”, Deb feels. Nevertheless, it is only human to question. Would it be narrow-minded to ask about the revolutionary drains of the Indus Valley, historically more real than the national epic, and celebrated by all — nationalists, archaeologists and modern Indians who live without the benefit of drains? Weren’t they really optical fibre conduits? And aren’t the Harappan inscriptions indecipherable because they were written in archaic machine code?
Other questions relate to the Mahabharata itself. If Dhritarashtra was getting status updates from the battlefield, why haven’t the archaeological remains of his Facebook page been found? Why did Duryodhana and Yudhisthir have to sit down to dice, when they could have gamed remotely like all civilised gamblers do now? Most significantly, why did Ganesha have to put in a marathon scribal performance when Ved Vyasa’s smartphone must have supported speech to text technology? Why would a sage put a god to unnecessary trouble? Sages are presumed to know better.
Inured as we have become to tall tales which must be endorsed, for anything less would be anti-national, Deb may have thought that his claim would sit quietly amidst others of plastic surgery of the head and neck and antique flying machines. But it’s a hoot, and it’s being hooted at all over. Except from where it matters. Vinton Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee, fathers of the internet and the Web respectively, are strangely silent. But of course, it’s beneath their dignity to educate Biplab Deb.