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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014
An expert on sedition
Manas Chakravarty
September 15, 2012
First Published: 22:10 IST(15/9/2012)
Last Updated: 22:13 IST(15/9/2012)

TV Reporter: Would you like to comment on the recent muzzling of the freedom of expression?

Me: As a senior editor, it’s my job to pontificate…er...I mean comment on everything under the sun.

Reporter: What do you think of the sedition imbroglio?

Me: What? Oh, I think it’s a lost art. Given the right technique, you can achieve the results you want.

Reporter: I get your point about the art of cartooning. But should people get into trouble because of it?

Me: Look at Casanova, Don Juan, Mata Hari or Bill Clinton.

Reporter: They got into trouble over sedition?

Me: Of course. I don’t think cartoons will work. What you need is a romantic environment — light music, wine, good food, perhaps candlelight. That creates the right atmosphere for seduction.

Reporter: Seduction? I was asking about sedition.

Me: Eh? Oh.

Reporter: So what do you think of sedition?

Me: I….ummm….don’t mind it, if you have a bit extra to spare.

Reporter: Sedition, in case you didn’t know, is saying or writing nasty things about the State.

Me: Oh that sedition. Of course you have to respect the State. Take the police — people pay them their hafta regularly, right? That’s respect.

Reporter: Are you saying you agree with Hegel that the State is heaven on earth, dialectically speaking?

Me: You mean Higgins, not Hegel. Henry Higgins was the professor in My Fair Lady. He was the one who knew all about dialects.

Reporter: Hegel was all for the State. He was the guy Marx stood upon his head.

Me: Yes, Marx is quite the yoga guru. Sirsasana, he called it. He’s Bengali, you know.

Reporter: He was German.

Me: That’s typical disinformation spread by the Trinamool Congress. Believe me, Marx is alive and well in Kolkata.

Reporter: We have strayed far from the topic. What’s your view about the insult to national symbols?

Me: Whaaat? Which idiot has dared to insult Bollywood?

Reporter: Not Bollywood, sir.

Me: Oh, somebody insulted Tendulkar?

Reporter: No, no.

Me: Then what? Butter chicken?

Reporter: Nobody has said anything against butter chicken.

Me: I get it. You mean the Victoria Memorial. Or Gateway of India?

Reporter: Those are British symbols. I mean Parliament, the flag, the rupee.

Me: See, if you have a problem with them, you could protest by sitting in the nearest river, or in the sea. It’s the rage these days.

Reporter: And what do you think about disrespecting the Constitution?

Me: Somebody dared to do that? Did he have the temerity to say that half the country’s kids are malnourished, 65 years after Independence?

Reporter: That’s true, isn’t it?

Me: So what? It’s a slur on the Constitution.

Reporter: I’m afraid we’ve run completely out of time. Any profound parting thoughts?

Me: I had written down a quote for this interview. Here’s what the great French writer Gustave Flaubert warned about the constitution: “Happiness is like smallpox: if you catch it too soon, it can completely ruin your constitution.”

Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
Views expressed by the author are personal


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