A Hypocrite Has No Horns

With the ever growing and expanding electronic-print and social media due to IT bloom these days, things and events not only get publicity worldwide at a remarkable speed but also “who will say what” among the known players too has become so obvious and predictable. You name an organization, outfit or individual, and anyone with reasonable awareness and knowledge would predict what they are up to and what would be theme and contents of their media interaction.

So it is not surprising when Doha, Qatar based Al Jazeera television news channel recently interviewed Javed Akhtar and Mahesh Bhatt duo, Indian celebrities and well known critics of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the outcome of the media interview was as anticipated. Javed Akhtar lashed out at the Indian Prime Minister with his usual vigour, calling him a 'fascist' in response to a leading question from the interviewer: "Of course, he is. I mean, fascists don't have horns on their heads. Fascist is a thinking. An thinking that 'we are better than others and whatever problems we have, it is because of these people'... the moment you hate people in wholesale, you're a fascist". Mahesh Bhatt too was equally vibrant in suggesting that the Modi led Bhartiya Janta Party indeed hated Muslims, in the context of a query if India was Islamophobic.

Undoubtedly, Javed Akhtar is a well-known Indian celebrity poet and screenwriter and doesn’t need any introduction, and, in fact, I really like some of his literary creations as also his contribution as screenwriter of the bollywood films like Janjeer, Sholay and Trishul. However, with the advancing age and probably less work, he has become more active social and political platforms. Javed Akhtar’s Wikipedia account reveals some interesting facts with introductory term “political activist” preceding all remaining feathers in his cap. Some more fascinating facts include: He belongs to a pedigree of poets and Islamic scholars; his original name was “Jadoo” and his official name Javed was given later, which is very close to the former in meaning; he grew reading and greatly influenced with Ibn-e-Safi’s Urdu novel series “Jasoosi Dunya”. Incidentally, even I was a voracious reader of Safi’s spy thrillers as teenager, perhaps the only commonality with the illustrious celebrity. Though he was born and brought up as a Muslim but now he considers himself an atheist and rationalist. As Islam permits multiple wives, he married twice but divorced his first wife Honey Irani subsequently; currently, he lives with the second wife, Shabana Azmi, an actress and celebrity herself.

Ordinarily, an atheist is a person who does not believe or lacks belief in the existence of God/gods or if you put it other way an atheist rejects the belief that any adorable deity exists. So for him, any religion - Islam, Hinduism or Christianity - should not really matter now. Now about his second attribute, a rationalist is one who forms his (or her) opinion and action on every subject based on knowledge and reasoning rather than any religious belief or emotional response. By being both atheist and rationalist, he indeed appears a virtuous human being; and the way he has now tweeted against another celebrity director/actor Shekhar Kapoor multiple times on attributes of an intellectual, he appears to have joined the famous club of Indian intellectuals too. With this background, it will be interesting to see how atheist and rationalist he really is in spirit and deed.

Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar duo had worked together on the screenplay, story and dialogue of some two dozen films through 1970s and early 1980s, and majority of them were successful and hits; later they separated reportedly on ego issues. While Salim Khan remained apolitical but Javed Akhtar got more and more involved with social and political activism. Salim Khan being away from politics takes no sides and in one of his lucid talks in an interview to a senior journalist of the popular magazine “India Today” few years back, he so aptly defined in his own way the personality, role and contribution of Mr Narendra Modi as Chief Minister of Gujarat. He reminded dozens of communal riots in various parts of the other Indian states in the past and 1984 Sikh massacre in Delhi with the Chief Ministers of Congress and other political parties, many of which were worse in intensity and casualties than the Gujarat riots of 2002 yet people do not remember them and portray only Modi as devil incarnate for 2002 riots.

He also referred to continuous agricultural growth of 10-11% in Gujarat, rural electricity supply 24X7 in all 18,000 villages, construction of Asia’s biggest solar plant, high speed broadband services in all villages, World Bank’s observation of Gujarat roads being of international standard, lowest unemployment rate in the state, and a host of many other achievements and developments of Gujarat during the long years of Modi’s leadership. He also reminded that Gujarat is the only state where there was not even a single riot from 2003 to 2013 when Modi was still the Chief Minister of the State. On the other hand, Salim Khan's long time associate Javed Akhtar only finds a “fascist" in Modi and, therefore, he constantly condemns and criticizes him at various forums. This is the difference between the outlook and response of two closely associated people, where one is apolitical and impartial while the other becomes political activist with a lopsided vision.

In fact, many detractors and critics like Javed Akhtar call Narendra Modi communal and fascist, and constantly run a vicious propaganda campaign to shame and bring him down. So Modi is communal because he does not throw lavish Iftar parties, woos the particular community and politely declines to put on a netted cap offered. During his regime, one communal riot took place in Gujarat and he became communal and stigmatized forever but dozens of for more serious riots in many other states and even 1969 riot in Gujarat with chief ministers of Congress and other political parties are not remembered even. Modi is communal because he is neither ashamed nor pretends about his Hindu identity and publicly endorses his devotion for his preferred deity. And yes, he is fascist too because he is a true patriot and a nationalist, tolerates no nonsense, and is tough so much so that even the world’s most powerful President Donald Trump admits time and again that Modi is a tough negotiator when it comes to his national interests.

But at the same time, in over two dozen highly ambitious welfare and development schemes at the national level during the last five years to ensure everyone has a bank account, free gas connection in poor households, free housing for all poor and weaker sections, an ambitious health programme for all low-income people, agricultural crops insurance, piped water supply in cities and villages and last mile connectivity of roads and electricity supply, and a host of other measures, in his endeavour to improve the quality of very Indian's life. And while doing all this, his government has not made any discrimination or distinction whether the beneficiary is a Hindu or Muslim, or for that matter any other community member. He constantly makes his intention clear with an appeal “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas” but people like Akhar do not consider this at all; instead, they only remember and remind 2002 Gujarat riots constantly stigmatizing him despite various investigating agencies and even the Supreme Court having absolved him of all charges and doubts in this regard.

Javed Akhtar might take pride in calling himself an atheist and rationalist. He is a proclaimed atheist, who looks at Hindutva (while even Supreme Court has effectively clarified it) as a threat to Indian secularism and often found engaged in Hindus bashing for the very reason but is unable to see any evils with Islam and radical/extremist Islamists involved in global terrorism, India being among the worst affected. So nice that his soul cries when a heinous crime is committed against a minor girl of one community in Kathua, Jammu but it’s not the same for him when another girl of other community in Hyderabad is brutally raped and murdered. He calls himself rationalist, equates Gujarat 2002 riots to a holocaust but would seldom talk of the plight of five lakhs Kashmiri pandits driven out of Valley for no fault after large scale killing, rape, and such other crimes at the hands of Islamic jihadis. One can notice his constant digs at the nationalist RSS but will seldom find any reference to a score of of Islamic organizations engaged in anti-India chorus and activities. He finds CAA against Muslims perhaps even without understanding the Citizenship (Amendment) Act but forgets the plight of lakhs of Hindus, Sikhs and Christians facing constant persecution in Pakistan, who die, convert or are forced to leave the country due to systematic persecution by Muslims. Besides, almost every other day is a news of girls' abduction and forced marriage to Muslims from the same communities. The list of these contradictions is large but one may better end up to close this simply by adding that “a hypocrite too has no horns on the head”.

More By  :  Dr. Jaipal Singh

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