THIS ABOVE ALL
Price of free expression
war between forces of freedom of opinion vs upholders of
religious sanctity has reached the boiling point on the European
front. Two years ago a Danish cartoonist depicted Prophet
Mohammed wearing a bomb in his turban. It was a deliberate
insult designed to hurt Muslim religious sensibilities. Sunnis,
who form the preponderant majority in the community and even
disapprove making pictures of their messiah, were understandably
offended. To put bombs which were non-existent in his time in
his turban added to the offence. They made vociferous protests.
Undaunted by the protests, the cartoon was reproduced in Dutch
and German papers—all in the name of the right of freedom of
Two years ago a Danish cartoonist depicted Prophet Mohammed wearing a bomb in his turban. There we\re worldwide protests by Muslims
Dutch film producer has made a film entitled Fitna
(Arabic of evil), based on extracts of the Koran, to prove that
it preaches fascist intolerance towards non-believers and
sanctions punishments like beheading, stoning to death and
cutting off hands of offenders. He intends to put his film on
the Internet—all in the name of the right of freedom of
expression. The Governments of Denmark, Holland and Germany are
in a quandary. If they ban the film, they will be censured by
their own citizens; if they do not, they will cause resentment
throughout the Muslim world.
have already been removed from markets in Middle East countries.
There are a large number of Muslims in Europe (and the US). They
come from different countries. In France they are largely
Moroccans and Algerians; in Germany they are Turkish; in England
and Scandinavia they are Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis.
They speak different languages. Their common meeting places are
mosques, which now exist in all large cities, where they
assemble for Friday prayers. Their only common link is adherence
to their faith, Islam.
Does the right
to freedom of expression extend to deliberately hurting others’
religious susceptibilities? Are adherents of different religions
justified in taking offence at the slightest criticism of their
belief ? I think it is a legitimate subject for a civilised
debate, but in no case should it be extended to fisticuffs or
other forms of violence.
considered a virtue, impatience a minor vice. People are born in
one category or the other. It is a rare individual who, if born
to bear things with equanimity and take things patiently, can
cultivate a temperament which compels him to get going in a
hurry. Similarly, one seldom finds a temperamentally impatient
person teach himself to wait and watch without getting upset.
Those traits are not gender-based (both men and women belong to
one or the other category).
In my school
days we used to recite a doggerel with multiple variations. One
went as follows: Patience is a virtue; find it if you can;
seldom in a woman; never in a man.
However, if a
girl recited it, she changed two lines to read: Always in a
woman; never in a man.
If the reciter
was a boy, he turned it round to read: Never with a woman;
always with a man.
I was born
impatient. My wife rubbed it on me by often calling me bay-sabra
or kahla (impatient) Singh. It holds true in my old age.
No sooner do I get up in the early hours of the morning, I start
fretting about what I will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner;
what I must get through in my reading and scribbling; who I will
see in the evening and who I will avoid. If my expected visitor
is more than five minutes late, I start getting irritated and am
often rude to him or her. Obsession with punctuality is an
outcome of impatience.
take their own sweet time to do things. They are usually late in
arriving at parties; it adds to their importance. The people who
are punctual are fuming and fretting; the patient get away with
a cursory "sorry to keep you waiting. How are you
doing?" They keep smiling throughout the evening. That is
why so many of our netas make it a practice of being late
for their appointments.
I have become a
slave to time. I keep a watch in my pocket which I consult every
hour or so. In my bedroom I have four clocks. I have in my
sitting room one wedged between books and shelves; another, an
ancient time-piece, on the wall; one on the mantle-piece; and
yet another in the window facing the dining table. When I have
visitors, I keep glancing at the time-piece and wonder if it is
time for them to depart.
The patient are
winners down the line. There can be no doubt they make better
lovers than the impatient, who are ever-eager to get over with
it. Mirza Ghalib put it succinctly: Gashgi jabr talbi
(Love demands patience). Tamanna beytaab (Desire is
impatient). When it comes to making love, impatience can be a
disaster. What to do? Words of solace come from Granville.
"Patience is the virtue of an ass, that trots beneath its
burden and is quiet."
quality cognac being branded as VSOP — Very Special Old Pale
— the retail shareholders of Reliance Power Initial Public
Offer (RPIPO), which had hastened the nosedive of the stock
market, should also treat the RPIPO as VSOP — Very Special
— Contributed by Col
Trilok Mehrotra, Noida