The Prime Minister speaks!

Acclaimed writer and Sahitya Akademi Award winner Mridula Garg responds to Prime Minister Modi's extremely delayed and callous response to the mob-lynching of 52-year old Mohammed Akhlaq at Dadri, Uttar Pradesh.

The Prime Minister of India has finally broken his silence on the events in Dadri. The question is has his speaking helped improve the prevalent atmosphere of intolerance? Not at all. After all what did he say apart from making the inane statement that Hindus and Muslims should fight poverty and not each other.

Strangely enough or perhaps characteristically, PM Modi did not promise severe action against killers of writers, rational thinkers and ordinary people suspected of eating beef. Or against any of his own MPs and Ministers for making inflammatory speeches and redefining culture. On the other hand, he seemed to put his seal on the non acceptance of beef eating by slamming Lalu Yadav for saying that Hindus also eat beef. How is that an insulting statement? What has one's religion to do with what one eats in a so called secular state?

By the way we need to replace this word secular by something more meaningful. By definition all State power is secular, not spiritual. So secular is a redundant word when applied to State. What we ought to say or mean is a "non religion oriented State." But that is exactly what we are not. Instead of keeping out of all religious functions (by definition in the private or individual domain), our government emissaries turn up at all of them with loud fanfare, destroying any spirituality left after a crass display of money power to show just how secular they are! There is irony for you.

I can't understand the Media's preoccupation with whether the meat in victim Akhlakh's fridge was mutton or beef? Why are we even discussing it? By doing so are we not giving our tacit consent to the belief that beef eating is wrong? Are we not conspirators in the murder of free expression, of freedom to life and all that it entails? Are we not as guilty of killing rationalists and free thinkers as those who actually wielded the murder weapon?

Meanwhile violence with cow slaughter as an excuse is escalating. Is it not time for the government to take strong action? To declare that there is no such thing as a sacred animal for all the people. Each one has to decide for himself what he wants to hold sacred with no right to tell others what to do.

What about law and order? Does the Government abdicate its responsibility in that matter also?

For how long will he go on putting the onus of everything on the people, while giving us catchy but meaningless slogans One example out of many is the slogan Beti Bachao, beti padao! A good slogan! But may one ask, how? Where are the schools? I mean not just in name but schools where actual education is given with non-absentee teachers. Where are the employment opportunities which the parents can avail to send them to proper schools, not run by an indifferent government?

True the people elected him. That onus is rests squarely on them. It was their one colossal mistake. How long are they going to be punished for it? Minimum Five years I guess. And if by that time all democratic and rational institutions are corrupted and right thinking people destroyed, then I suppose forever!

PM Modi is a voluble speaker. He even broadcasts a nationwide Mann ki Baat or Words from the Heart. At least that's what it means literally and superficially. But Mann has larger and deeper connotations in Hindi. It can also mean wishful thinking, something we dream about and spin stories about but are unable to practice. He builds a fantasy world for us in his "Mann ki Baat" and then does nothing to make it come true. If that is all he has to say and is not ready to be held accountable for the distortion of our so called ancient culture and bashing of intellectuals in word and deed by his Ministers and MPs, then I prefer him silent. At least we are spared dodgy slogan mongering.

Mridula Garg
New Delhi