I think the following is one of the best humorous writings by Khushwant Singh.
He is all praises for YSR Reddy for not being obsessed with his Christian identity (instead showing himself as Hindu in name and looks ) and his Christian 'contribution' to India's welfare which he wants leaders of other communities to emulate. Can India bear such contributions, if all the other communities also follow him suit?
I think the saying "Ignorance is bliss" was formed for our Indian journalists only!! The other day, Ms Kanimozhi's visit to a Newspaper office in Chennai was reported by the paper with all the ingredients of an innocent observer. But it is not possible for us, the readers – the laymen – to don such innocence however we may try. We guessed what is to come soon. It came out today in the form of 4 full page government ads. That shows what has happened to that newspaper. The last of resisting columns of the 5th pillar of democracy has fallen in this rational land of Karunandhi.
From now onwards we can expect them to make jokes like Kushwant Singh and tow the line of The Hindu.
Learning from YSR
TILL HIS tragic death on September 2 not many people outside Andhra Pradesh knew that Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy was a Christian.
Names of members of his family do not reveal their religious identity: His wife is Vijayalaxmi, his son Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, his daughter Sharmila.
As Chief Minister he was not known to attend services in churches of towns or cities he visited. He went to Hindu temples and Muslim dargahs to join their religious celebrations and happily sported a daub of vermilion powder Hindu priests put on his forehead.
He regarded religion a strictly personal matter not to be flaunted in public. By contrast Chief Ministers of other states, barring Communist, make a great show of going to temples, mosques and gurdwaras or seek blessings of some godmen the day they are elected. You may well ask, so what? The point I wish to make is simple: In any society which pretended to be secular, public figures should not assert their religious identities because it creates an unnecessary gap between them and people of other faiths.
This brings me to the role of religious minorities in India minus Parsis who are too minuscular to count.
Christians form around 3 per cent of the population of India. There are not many very big Christian landowners or Christian industrial houses. The only really rich Christian family I know of are the Matthews who own the Malayala Manorama group of papers.
Nevertheless, the community enjoys 100 per cent literacy and has done more for education and medical services of our country than others put together. I would hazard a guess that crime rates including corruption among Christians are probably the lowest.
By contrast, Sikhs who are the richest minority, forming around 2 per cent of the population, have 30 per cent illiteracy, high rate of crimes of violence, and probably the highest incidence of liquor and drug addiction.
Worst of all is the plight of the largest minority, the Muslims who form about 13 per cent of our population. Although they have a few multibillionaires like Azim Premji, Hamdard family, Shahnaz Hussain and maybe some others, they also have descendants of erstwhile ruling families of Nizams of Hyderabad, Nawabs of Bhopal, Pataudi, Malerkotla, Junagarh and vast wakf properties. Their literacy rates are the lowest, particularly among women. A majority of them continue to exhibit their separateness by clothes they wear. It used to be Fez caps, now it is skull caps and Awami salwar kameez for men, a high percentage of their women folk in urban areas continue to wear hijab, either full length burqas or head-scarves which cover more than their heads. Instead of getting on with things that matter like education and health-care, their leaders waste most of their time asserting their separateness.
I regard Rajasekhar Reddy as the best example of what a state Chief Minister should be and the Christian contribution to India's welfare as something other communities should emulate.
Kani's vote is for `Ms' only
She is a Muse in the sense she is a protector of arts, a poetess in fact. But that does not stop her from being very strong in her views on gender and caste discrimination, or less determined in her fight to bring down established male bastions. But how do we address her? "Simply as Kanimozhi, with the prefix of Ms, if you wish," she says with a smile.
That is a throwback to the `Thirumathi' controversy that recently racked Tamil Nadu politics. "We should do away with titles like Mrs," she says even as she takes a dig at the AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalithaa who has been at a hill resort, away from the maelstrom of state capital politics. But, at the same time, Kanimozhi believes that the political standoff between the two major Dravidian parties should not extend to destroy social niceties.
"MGR could do it. In fact, he had beautiful relationships with all people. He used to call up my dad (chief minister M.Karunanidhi) and my dad would call him to wish him on many an occasion. The Left leaders keep in touch even today. Moopanar was like that regardless of which side of the fence he was on.
The Periyar-Rajaji friendship that transcended politics was a famous one in our state," she says wistfully.
In the cause of political etiquette she even extends an olive branch of sorts when she enquires of Jayalalithaa's health. Would she call on her at Kodanadu if she were ill? "I would if her party and her partymen allow," she says, perhaps tongue in cheek. But, make no mistake, we know her very strong DMK political views, which are reflected in her passionate and logical defence of the free colour TV scheme.
"It's not as if that is the only scheme. This is a media creation. The DMK government has excelled in setting up social welfare schemes and is unmatchable in its commitment to education and health. The state supports infrastructure. It's not as if our roads are bad.
The industries are flocking here," she points out.
Kanimozhi is equally strong in her views on the NorthSouth divide in politics and life.
"Yes, it exists. What happens in and around Delhi is all that is important for them. Understanding is needed and it is not a problem of language. They must make an effort to reach out,"
she says of North Indians.
Would she learn Hindi to create that understanding? "I would rather like to learn so many other things. People can understand English," she says firmly in favour of the South which she feels is still discriminated against.
She virtually confesses that she is fortunate to be in her position in politics today. "I am not from the grassroots. I know how tough a world it is when you are not planted from above in politics.
Where are the women in politics? All parties are male bastions," she says.
Also, austerity drives, quite the flavour of the season, may not be her cup of tea because she knows no other way. She came to the Deccan Chronicle office in an ordinary car with no sign betraying she is a VIP, a Member of Parliament. By the time her interaction with DC journalists is over she has lost even that car to family chores and has to be dropped home. Her simplicity is absolutely disarming.
And just in case there is a general belief that dynastic politics is all about bringing sons and daughters into the power center of politics with plush cabinet posts, Kanimozhi's statement of her ambition, or lack of it, proves that not all chips off the old block are the same.
In reply to a question whether she aspires to emulate her dad in leading the state, she says with stunning honesty, "I have no such ambitions. I am happy with what I am doing."
In an hour, she has outdone even Dale Carnegie in making friends and influencing people.