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Trending in India: A week of insensitivities

If last week was about intolerance, this week insensitivity seems to be trending. From General VK Singh’s dog comment to Mohan Bhagwat dubbing the beef lynchings as “small episodes” we have seen and heard all kinds the week.

VK Singh, with 42 years of distinguished service, should really have thought twice before his politically incorrect sound bite, while commenting on the murder of two innocent children in Haryana. While the Opposition gunned for the minister’s head, all that the Government did was rebuke him for his comment.

One is certain that VK Singh’s foot in mouth disease will only get worse with each passing day; as he has graduated from “presstitutes” for journalists to equating dead children with dogs.
But the General’s comments reminded many of Narendra Modi’s “puppy” comment not so long ago.
On the occasion of Vijayadashami, RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat delivered his customary speech at Nagpur to mark the founding day of RSS. His 55-minute speech assumes significance not only because it was telecast live by the national broadcaster but also since this speech by the head of the Hindutva fountainhead will set the agenda for all its political and social affiliates.

Mohan Bhagwat spoke at length about India’s culture of unity in diversity. He went on to explain that, “Small episodes happen. They get exaggerated and presented in a big way… But it does not distort Indian culture, Hindu culture. Since time immemorial, it respects diversity, coordinates among diversities to establish unity… This is Hindutva.” He was obviously referring to the reports of lynchings over cow slaughter and beef consumption hitting headlines from several corners of the country. Bhagwat’s majoritarian arrogance is not to be missed. After all in a country of over a billion how does it matter if a few are killed, as long as they don’t belong to the majority community.

With his comments today, Bhagwat now joins the long list luminaries in history who have been known for their communalism; racial or political. Hitler in 1920 had referred to Jews as “political bacillus” saying their annihilation is inevitable just as the “eradication of any disease”; so too much attention should not be paid to this. More recently, in 2008 the then Chief Minister of West Bengal, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya had commented on the Singur killings referring to them as “small and unrelated episodes”. We all know that the Singur agitation and State Government approved police firing there was the beginning of the end of the 34 year-old Left-front regime in that State.

It is also insensitive for Uttar Pradesh that ranks 20th among 29 Indian States on poverty index, for freely doling out Rs 50,000 to Bollywood’s first family the Bachchans. The UP government says that they are this part of a pension scheme for all recipients of the State’s Yash Bharti Samman. With Amitabh, his wife Jaya and son Abhishek all having received this award in the past, the State Government decided to pay them a monthly pension of Rs 50000 each, every month. The sensible man that Big B is, he politely requested Akhilesh Yadav’s Government to divert the money for a better cause.

President Pranab Mukherjee has been crying hoarse over the rising intolerance in India, so much so that the novelty of a President prodding the Government has also been lost. But here’s hoping for brighter things to trend in India soon.