Saturday, January 23, 2010

The elephant , the tiger , the cellphone and my musings - 1

I am reading Shashi Tharoor’s “the elephant , the tiger and the cellphone”. The book is all about India, Indians and Mr. Tharoor’s experiences in India. I am not attempting a book review, for I know I would fail miserably. Just a few ramblings about some ideas expressed in the book.

Mr Tharoor speaks several times about India’s pluralism and Indians’ acceptance of this idea. He gives several crisp examples to prove this. I am arguing against one of them in this post. Mr Tharoor says that when Mr Deve Gowda, the “mannina maga” of Karnataka became India’s PM, his Independence day speech was in Hindi and this is an example of India’s pluralism. He goes on to explain that since Mr Gowda , who at that time couldn’t speak or read Hindi , achieved the feat by writing the Hindi script in Kannada , it showcases India’s pluralism ! I certainly don’t agree with this reasoning. I am proud that a person from modest beginnings worked hard to climb India’s political ladder and being a farmer, represented the whole of rural India. But I don’t agree with Mr Tharoor’s reasoning.

Now tomorrow if I read out a French speech in Paris by reading out from an English or Tamil script , am I showcasing my pluralist mind? We are forcing our PM to read something he does not totally understand. Just try writing a Chinese language script in English and reading the script in a public function in Beijing . Would you be comfortable with it? I am not a language chaunavist and I don’t believe in the superiority of one language over another. Neither am I propagating jingoism. Just trying to reason out. I would be glad if proved wrong.

Pluralism is all about allowing a wide range of thoughts, beliefs, languages ,customs, religions etc to flourish freely in a land and allowing a person to practice them freely. Had we appreciated our PM ‘s speech and his emotions whilst he delivered his Independence Day speech in his mother tongue , it would have showcased our pluralism.

For people who say that the rest of India wouldn’t understand , “ we could have always allowed a translator” or any other senior member of the cabinet could have re-delivered the speech in Hindi. Anyways most of the people don’t watch the Live telecast on TV. For rural India that still listens to the speech on the “All India Radio”, the AIR could have been provided the copy of the script and the speech can be delivered in the language of the land .

I am glad that Mr Tharoor’s book has provided food for thought. I am thoroughly enjoying the book. Several of my further posts would be my musings on this wonderful book.
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