When an enterprising American wants a patent on the Paschimottanasana, we in India say by all means go and grab that copyright. And while you are at it, why not create royalties on the P.V. Narasimha Rao pout, the Shah Rukh Khan stutter and the Kapil Dev mumble. Not to forget the dance of the eyebrows in Kathakali. We Indians have been generous to a fault. We do not exert our material rights on such trifles as Pakistan or the Kohinoor.
But the materialistic West just won’t listen. They’ve taken our neem, haldi and tulsi. Now they want to dispossess us of the Kama Sutra as well. Now 1.2 billion people will tell any casual observer that no one understands Vatsyayana the way Indians do, despite what the Durex surveys would have us believe. If a certain gent in California takes it upon himself to be the originator of secrets to keep the king’s harem in gainful employment, he will forever carry the burden of reversing the West’s declining fertility rate.
Take everything, we say, but leave us to decide on creating just one patent: on the zero. Pattanjali’s asanas are passé, as is Panini’s grammar, Dhanvantari’s medicine and Shankara’s advaita. But give us back Brahmagupta’s zilch. It would give an altogether new twist to the game, wouldn’t it? Think of the hordes of Occidental millionaires dreaming of becoming billionaires. For every zero that warms their hearts, there would be several adding up in an Indian coffer. Forsooth, ex nihilo was conceptualised first in the land of the naked fakir. India has given the world the mantra of a long life and the yoga to make it a fulfilling one. We want nothing of it, but kindly return to us our nothing.