The “fake news” in our mainstream English dailies is a slow poison. This venom seizes our brains; paralyses our actions, manifests itself into a kind of plague. This wind is then seized by off-shore forces which then returns with terrifying ferocity and sinks truth into a bottomless pit.
The expansion of H.D. Kumaraswamy’s unholy government in Karnataka on Wednesday was one such news. Karnataka is important to Indians in many respects: it’s a template for opposition unity; alligators and hippos sunning together. The 6.41-crore people of the state have suffered a thousand cuts; being treated no better than cattle. First, made to lock horns; then kiss each other’s butts and finally, left to numbness inside a deep freezer. A 37-seat party chief was hoisted as Chief Minister in a 224-seat state. All in the name of “saving democracy.”
When the gates of Supreme Court were opened after midnight; it wasn’t for democracy. When Rahul Gandhi went abroad, it wasn’t for democracy. If Kumaraswamy and Congis parked themselves in the Capital, logging air miles, it wasn’t for democracy. If no portfolio has still been allocated after nearly a fortnight, it isn’t for democracy. If some ministerial berths have been left vacant, to accommodate dissenters, it isn’t for democracy.
Now look at how our mainstream English dailies have gone about their task on Thursday. Nearly everyone has headlined: “expands cabinet”. What cabinet? What expansion? Who all were there in the first place to merit the tag “expansion”? And all without portfolios?
Indian Express, which specializes in making dead bodies appear kissable, unsurprisingly took the cake in its “fake news.” It spelt out all the data: how many ministers, how many Vookaligas, who Lingayat, who Muslim, who woman, who Dalit in the “expanded” cabinet. What it skillfully hid from its readers’ view is that the event marked an open revolt among senior Congress-JDS leaders. No mention, not even a vague line as its comrade-in-arms The Hindu casually slipped in: “(it) triggered protests by the supporters of the ministerial aspirants.”
So Indian Express didn’t know about the protests. It didn’t know that HK Patil, who won the Gadag assembly seat, a minister in the outgoing Siddaramaiah government, hailed as “Tiger of Hulkoti” has openly rebelled? It didn’t know MB Patil, former water resources minister, said after the swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday: “I will call on the former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara to know why I was not included in the Cabinet…my self-respect is hurt.”
Three-time MLA from Hirekerur, BC Patil said: “MLAs who indulged in blackmail politics and those with money power have been given Cabinet berth.” Patil, an actor, producer and director, has said he would consult his constituency before taking next course of action.
TB Nagaraj, MLA from Hoskote, BK Sangameshwar, from Bhadravati, too criticized party leaders, threatening to quit party, if he didn’t get a “suitable post.”
- Satyanarana, MLA for Sira, said: “My name was on the list till last night…I am very much pained.”
Senior leader AH Vishwanath, for Hunsur, remarked: “I won’t accept the post of the Deputy Speaker (even if it comes my way).”
These are just a few MLAs. Trust me, I am leaving out almost as many who are protesting and dissenting as I have mentioned.
(As an aside, do any of your readers remember what happened to BJP’s call for a day’s strike on May 28 in Karnataka? Well, it couldn’t go ahead as Kamal Pant, ADGP, Karnataka, had put his foot down: “Calling for a bandh is illegal.” You are unlikely to have read it in your morning’s newspaper.”)
So tomorrow, when these dissenting MLAs quit, and the Congress-JDS alliance is in minority on the floor of the House, these very presstitutes would go to the town, claiming “murder of democracy.” Rahul would decry Modi-Shah duo for their fascist tendencies. The New York Times would comment that Indian democracy is subverted. Archbishops of this country would worry about the sanctity of Constitution. The “Mombatti-gangs” would hold protests around the country. A few former Election Commissioners, Chief Justices would write sanguine pieces in edit pages of “journalism of corrupt.” Randeep Surjewala, in his irritating high-pitched tone, would chew out such words: The nation can’t take it any more.
But then, be beware of the strike of the silent. You all are out there in open in your full glory. The sight is not pretty for the citizens of this country. Your echo-chamber would be of little use. Down you must go. All.
(You must know another update on “Mahagathbandan”: Mayawati and Akhilesh skipped the Iftaar Party which Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) had thrown on Wednesday. Even as celebrations of Kairana win are still on. No wonders, most MSMs have ignored it).
Angoorlata Deka, the newly elected BJP MLA from Batadroba constituency in Assam, has made front-page headlines with her oath in Sanskrit language. The newspapers are shocked at her audacity for don’t we all have given up the language as dead?
Our ignorance deserves a reality check. Sanskrit is one of the 22 languages listed in a Schedule to the Constitution. It’s the official language in the state of Uttarakhand. Since 1967, Sahitya Akademi has been giving award for literary works in Sanskrit. It’s true of adult as well as kids’ literature.
In all, there are 15 Sanskrit universities, thousands of Sanskrit colleges. Features films are being made in Sanskrit, the ones on Adi Shankaracharya, Bhagavad Gita and Mudrarakshasa (a film on great emperor Chandragupta Maurya) instantly come to mind.
An animated film in Sanskrit, “Punyakoti” is scheduled for release in 2016. There are more than 75 dailies, weeklies and monthlies in Sanskrit. We have television news in Sanskrit. No less than our Prime Minister tweets in Sanskrit. In Karnataka, two villages of Mattur and Hosahalli has everyone speaking in Sanskrit to this date.
All the 125 major languages and 1500 minor languages of the country can trace its origin on Sanskrit. It’s not just India alone, Nepal’s motto is a pick from Valmiki’s Ramayana. There’s Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the word Angkor meaning “City” in Sanskrit.
Initially, Sanskrit wasn’t known by its present name. It was called Bhasha. This was a fact at least till the 6th century BCE. It was essentially a spoken language. When rendered into writing, various different scripts were used. The use of Devanagari is of a recent vintage. In its grammar, letters and words freely merge to form compound letters and compound words. Two of these principals are called sandhi and samasa.
The greatest proponent of Sanskrit language was poet Kalidasa. His classics, such as Malavikagnimitram (the love story between King Agnimitra and Malavika), Abhijnanashakuntalam (the famous Shaknutala story) and Meghadutam (Cloud as messenger) haven’t lost its lustre till this day.
It’s a fallacy to believe that Sanskrit was only spoken by Kshatriyas and Brahmans in ancient times. Instances abound where commoners were known to use the language. In the Rig Veda, 21 out of 407 rishis were women. There was no gender bias in the use of the language.
Since 2003, India has a National Mission for Manuscripts (Namami). Its task is to list, digitize, publish and translate manuscripts at least 75 years old. As of now, Namami has a listing/digitization of three million—the anticipated stock of manuscripts in India is 35 milion. There are at least 60,000 manuscripts in Europe and another 1,50,000 elsewhere in South Asia. Ninety-five percent of these manuscripts have never been listed, collated or translated. To give you an idea of the enormity of the task: Since the advent of printing only an estimated 130 million books have been published in all languages of the world.
We don’t know the treasure waiting to be rediscovered. Take the instance of Arthashastra for instance. The classic on political economy and governance was written by Kautilya (350-275 BCE). But it was rediscovered by R. Shamasastry in 1904, published in 1909 and translated into English in 1915. We don’t know how many Arthashastra we have lost in all these centuries.
Same is true of many variations of scripts of Sanskrit. The sharada script, popular in Kashmir at one time in history, is completely lost. Same is true of Paishachi language and a very famous work in this script, Brihatkatha. Both are lost to us. Many Buddhist and Jain texts were written in Sanskrit too. And lest we forget, Ayurveda, the treatises on medicine, the work of Charaka (2nd century CE), no longer survives.
And here is the surprise of all surprises: “A Companion to Sanskrit Literature,” authored by Sures Chandra Banerji, has an entire chapter on the contribution of Muslims to Sanskrit. This volume traverses 3000 years of Sanskrit literature.
Naheed Abidi was bestowed with Padma Shri in 2014 for her contributions to Sanskrit literature. Her first book in 2008 titled “Sanskrit Sahitya Mein Rahim” is an account of the Sanskrit leanings of renowned poet Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khana. Another bookof hers, “Sirr-e-Akbar” is a hindi translation of 50 Upanishads, earlier translated by the Mughal prince, Dara Shikoh into Persian. Naheed has published a Hindi translation of Vedanta, translated into Persian by Dara Shikoh and also the Sufi texts by the prince.
There is no denying the crisis though. The last Census in 2011 still don’t tell us how many speak Sanskrit in our country. The Census of 2001 had put the number to 14,135. There is an initiative from the government for the long-term vision and roadmap for the development of Sanskrit. Angoorlata’s act of oath has brought the Sanskrit language into popular mainstream and we ought to be grateful to her.
(The background of this article is largely based on Dr. Bibek Debroy’s speech in Paris on the occasion of International Mother Tongue Day, organized by UNESCO on March 3, 2016).