A democratic exercise but an atmosphere of fear

By Humra Quraishi. Dated: 5/23/2019 2:01:01 PM

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

Filing the column at a rather stressful juncture - declaration of the election results are just a couple of days away but already exit-poll results are causing not just dismay but carrying forewarnings of very eerie build-ups. Doing the rounds the theory that the exit poll results swinging in favour of the BJP is actually one of those ploys to ready the masses for the well-planned results! So that there's no real shocker for the masses if the BJP does 'win' even in the States where its been hated and shunned; after developmental promises turned bogus and hollow.
Correct me if I'm wrong but never before there's been this level of panic and apprehension before the declaration of the election results. Lurking in the background is the failing trust in the EVMs, in the electioneering bandobast, in the very system that prevails in the Election Commission. After all, even the terror accused have been allowed to fight elections and come forth with terror- dripping dreadful utterances.
In fact, whatever be the results the danger that confronts us is the rise of the Right -Wing fascist forces in the country. If the BJP wins, then, of course these destructive forces will overtake the very governance and sane elements would be shunted out. And in case they are halted from the government formation by a coalition government, they will still pose a major threat to the well- being of the country and all of us.
I have before me this latest book of A.G. Noorani - 'The RSS- A Menace To India' ( Left Word) where Noorani quotes Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru - " It would appear that the declared objectives( of the RSS) have little to do with the real ones and with the activities carried on in various forms and ways by people associated with the RSS. These real objectives appear to be completely opposed to the decisions of the Indian Parliament and the provisions of the proposed Constitution of India. The activities according to our information, are antinational and often subversive and violent." This is what Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru conveyed to RSS chief, M.S. Golwalkar, 10 November 1948.
In fact, this volume starts with a very apt and hitting comment made by Dr B. R. Ambedkar - I quote him from this volume - "If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will, no doubt, be the greatest calamity for this country…Hindu Raj must be prevented at any cost."
RUSKIN BOND TURNS 85 and there's no stopping …
Ruskin Bond turned 85 on May19 …And through these years there's been only an increase in his writing prowess. He carries the typical Taurus traits, which came through each time I had interviewed him. In fact, what I loved about him was his childlike simplicity and that uncomplicated style of conversing, discussing even complicated issues in the most un- complicated way…Absolutely down to earth, no shying away from talking about the twists and turns and those lonely phases in his life, even describing himself to be very backward! 'I have always been very backward. I write by hand instead of working on a computer. I listen to the radio instead of watching the television. I don't know how to operate a cell phone…Also, sometimes, I read books upside down. If I have to read a modern novel, I will read the last chapter first, usually that's enough. And sometimes, I walk backwards.'
And his views on loneliness are equally stark, in the backdrop of the fact he opted to stay back in India although he could have moved to the U.K, also he didn't marry and has no constant companion- 'My mother did send me to England but I returned. I wanted to be back and live here in India. I chose Dehradun and later moved to Mussoorie, because earlier my mother and step-father (my mother had re-married, a Punjabi businessman) lived there. Later, I didn't want to live in a town which was too far from New Delhi, because of my writing and meetings with my publishers…I stay in Mussoorie with an 'adopted' family, so that way the apartment is full of people. The apartment has four rooms and we are twelve people living in it. The family consists of a set of parents and their two sons who are both married and have children. Also, this profession - writing - is such that you can only pursue it in solitude. You have to be alone so that you can write. In the evenings I do go down to some friend's home for a chat and a drink. I have two or three such close friends…Didn't marry, couldn't find love…nah, couldn't find love. At times those weekly horoscopes in the various publications predicted love on way but no love came up …'
And when I had asked him to comment on the near -nil portrayal of sexual romance in his writings he quipped- 'You're saying this, but once, during the Emergency, I was hauled up in court on charges of obscenity. Yes I was, for my novella titled 'The Sensualist'. I had to appear in court, though I was later acquitted. And I must tell you that there was nothing explicit in the book - maybe some sexual references in a romantic context.'
I had also asked him about the spurt in rape cases. 'This could be because of sexually explicit films being screened on the television, affecting young minds. Then, they are never told that romantic love is one thing and sexual anarchy is different. Our society is too repressed; people try to break free and go on a rampage. Crime is worsening here...'
*(Humra Quraishi is a freelance columnist based in Delhi and is currently a visiting Professor in the Academy of Third World Studies in Jamia Milia University).

 

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