Newspapers give space to writers like Khushwant Singh mostly for antique value. I read this piece with the same mindset as I approach an antique piece: possibly priceless but I won’t risk buying it. Singh has made no secret of his support for the Congress party and hasn’t protested when he was termed an establishment liberal. Equally, he has been quite open about his distaste for the RSS/BJP “brand of politics” citing the usual “secular” reasons. However, nothing quite explains the hatred that oozes from the piece I linked above.
He singles out L.K. Advani as the choice-target of his hatred and calls him a Nikamma (useless) in a veiled manner. Singh’s glee at Advani’s self-created downfall is almost palpable.
I have no regret over Advani’s discomfiture and imminent fadeout from national politics. He has done grievous harm to our efforts to create a truly secular India. He described Manmohan Singh as nikamma – useless. It so happens, Manmohan is still much in use, while Advani’s own erstwhile colleagues have pronounced him as of no use any longer. It is as comic a tragedy as any we have witnessed in recent times.
But that’s not the focus of this post.
Khushwant Singh speaks in a tone of expert authority on the vast, complex, and multi-chequered topic of Hindu revivalism. His musings on Islamophobia as a defining feature of the RSS is measured only in equal terms by his ignorance of the Hindu revivalism. While the RSS does have some unforgivable shortcomings, the likes of Singh become cleverly blind when you mention their range selfless social service minus the caveat of conversion.
For a person who derides Hindu revivalism, he asks some of the most basic questions over which he is “losing sleep.” Some fine critical analysis without an iota of knowledge of the subject he criticizes! He asks the readers to help him answer something as commonplace as this:
Readers, Please help
For quite some time I have been puzzled by so many of our national holidays having numerals attached to them, e.g., why is it Basant Panchmi ? What is it the fifth (panchmi) of? What is Janam Ashtami, the eighth day of? Or Ram Naumi, the ninth day of? I have asked many scholars and professors but got no answers. I wrote to the publishers of Jiwan Diary which has all religious festivals in Gurmukhi, Hindi, Urdu and English to tell me where they get dates from – and what gundmool of which it records the beginning and the end means. No answer. Can anyone enlighten me? I am losing sleep over it.
This unenlightened senile eminence has gone to scholars and professors to find the answer to something, which a calendar that also prints Hindu equivalent months and dates can provide him! I hate to make assumptions but I’m forced to suspect the knowledge and credibility of these scholars and professors.
Postscript: I leave it to the intelligence of my readers to figure out the answer.