Saturday, October 6, 2007

Left not on the right track

I have always been a leftie and a fellow-traveller. I was an active member of the Civil Liberties Union, a Communist Party front organisation, and my first foray into the literary world was a small booklet in praises of Stalin. I canvassed for a Communist candidate against an Akali in the Punjab state elections during British days along with Sohan Singh Josh and Teja Singh Swatantra, both of whom occasionally milked me for cash. I gave shelter to Communist leaders on the run—Dange, Ajoy Ghosh and Danial Latifi. I mention all this as credentials of my being a Communist sympathiser. I remain so to this day as I share many of their views on subjects like the negative role of organised religions, revulsion against religious and caste distinctions, the need for revolutionary changes in society by levelling of classes, the unhealthy adulation of money-bags and much else. But I no longer subscribe to the politics pursued by Indian Communists and am particularly dismayed by the line chalked out by its present general secretary Prakash Karat on the proposed Indo-US deal for nuclear wherewithals and joint naval exercises with fleets of other nations, including that of the US.

Prakash Karat
Prakash Karat: Staunch critic of the nuclear deal

Indian Communists’ allergy towards everything American is juvenile; their enthusiasm for everything Chinese because they are ruled by Communists is pathetic. Not only will it cost them dearly in the General Election, it will boost reactionary elements in our country. Prakash Karat, who has become the one-man think-tank of the party, will have much to answer for.

I am sure many members of the party he leads disagree with him. The rigorous discipline they impose on themselves does not allow them to open their mouths. Even the Communist Chief Minister of West Bengal and its legendary ex-Chief Minister Jyoti Basu have questioned Karat’s opposition to the deal.

The problem is simple. We urgently need more electrical energy to meet our growing demands for civilian use. Neither thermal nor hydroelectric can meet these demands. Nuclear energy can, and the U S is willing to help us produce it. The deal in no way comprises our rights as a sovereign independent state.

On the other hand, the Chinese betrayed our trust, we fought a war against them which we lost, and they still lay claims to some of our border territories. Is it not in our interest to have the world’s most powerful nation and a democracy our ally? The hoo-ha created over joint naval exercises makes even less sense. All nations which have naval fleets periodically have such exercises to learn from each other. Many of them, including the US, have more advanced techniques which our naval personnel can profit from. In no way do these gatherings of warships, aircraft-carriers and submarines encroach on the sovereignty of any country.

Prakash Karat needs to think again; otherwise his tenure as general secretary of his party will be brief and forgettable.

Lahori pride

I am an Indian Lahoria. Lahore was my home till August, 1947. I would have been living there but for the partition of the country. When Indian Lahorias get nostalgic about the city they lived and loved, the first thing they recall is Anarkali Bazaar—a long row of non-descript stores and eateries.What Chowringhee is to Kolkattan Bengalis, Chandni Chowk to Dilliwalas, Mount Road to Madrasis, Marine Drive to Mumbaikars, Char Minar to Hyderabadis, Anarkali is to the Indian Lahorias. Pakistani Lahorias don’t share the same nostalgia for Anarkali with us. For them heart of the city is Bhati Gate — its inhabitants the elite of the metropolis.

I received this information from a Pakistani Lahoria settled in the US and homesick for his hometown. He does not identify himself but has compiled an ABC for Lahorias. I quote some of them: ‘A’ is for androoni shehr (the inner city). Its 40,000 households are real Lahorias.

‘B’ is for Bhati Gate. Anyone claiming to be a Lahoria has to come from Bhati Gate. This is where kite-flying festival of Basant is at its highest pitch. ‘C’ is for Cloney — ‘Gulberg Cloney’, ‘Defence Cloney’ etc. There are no colonies where Bhati Gaters have settled.

‘F’ is for Fackage. Though it sounds like a bad word, it is just the front of a building with backside being the backside. ‘H’ is for Ho Jayega Badshaoe. The moment you hear it, you can be reasonably sure it is not going to happen. ‘J’ is for Jeevay Punjab, and if there is one person who knows how to live to the fullest, it is a Punjabi from Lahore. ‘K’ is for Koi Gall Nah (never mind).

‘L’ is for L’hoRe, and Jinney L’hoRe nai wekheya oh Jammeya ei nahin (he who has not seen Lahore was never born). ‘N’ is for no problem ji. The same as under ‘H’. ‘O’ is for Oye which can be a surpise Oyye! A greeting Oyy. Anger Oyy. Pain Oy Oy Oy. ‘P’ is for punj mint—-means any length of time and never five minutes.
‘W’ is for Whan, as in Whan (when) I was in Lundun. ‘X’ is for many X-rated words that flow freely in the all Punjabi conversation. ‘Y’ is for Yaar, which is anyone from whom one wants help or free favours.

Perilous embrace

A policeman was suspended from service

For in violation of Departmental Bar;

He shook hands with and hugged Sanjay Dutt, his favourite filmstar;

Everyone aspires to meet a celebrity, may be a godman or a thug;

No wonder, a friendly cop went out of way a convict to hug!

(Contributed by G.C. Bhandari, Meerut)