It will be my lasting regret that I never achieved the eminence of a George Bush, Chidambaram or L.K. Advani to be honoured by having a shoe flung at me.
I must not grumble too much about being overlooked in bestowal of the honour of the chappal which is recognised as equivalent of a Nobel Prize or the Bharat Ratna. I have been the recipient of other honours equivalent to Padma Shri, Bhushan and Vibhushan for articles I have published.
When Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was on the rampage in Punjab, I wrote articles criticising him and warning Sikhs against the spurious demand of Khalistan. He put me on his hitlist but his sopariwala failed to get me. I also got a lot of hate mail. It did not upset me. However, one letter from Canada became a memento. It had the foulest Punjabi abuse accusing me of all manners of incestuous relationships. They were in Gurmukhi. Only the address was in English and very brief: “Bastard Khush-want Singh, India”. I was most impressed by the efficiency of the Indian Postal Service in locating the address of the one and only bastard in the country. I showed it to all my friends with great gusto. Then in utter disgust my wife tore it up. What a loss!
Most hate mail I got is when I tried to give the Pakistani view of Indo-Pak problems and criticised the injustice inflicted by fundoos on Indian Muslims. They were invariably post-cards in Hindi or English. Most repeated words were: “Go back to Pakistan; Pakistani kutta and Pakistani r*ndi ki aulaad.” I stocked them to show them to my visitors. I have not received any for some months and feared I was slipping in my job. Then I got the Oscar of all hate mails from Uma Bharati. She is very gussa with me. She has a volatile temper. This time I was at the receiving end. I had ascribed the venomous utterances of four ladies including her against Muslims to sexual frustration. In a letter written in florid Hindi she accused me of misogamy (bias against women). I wish that was true because it is my liking for women which has made me notorious. I have little doubt if I had been anywhere near her, she would have given me a resounding slap on the face as she did to one of her supporters in a fit of uncontrolled rage. And not bothered to make amends by kissing me as she did to her supporter. Instead, with the letter she sent a phial of (Gaumutra) cow’s urine to drink. I don’t subscribe to urine therapy: the very thought of taking urine, be it Morarji Desai’s, her’s, my own or that of the sacred cow brings vomit to my throat. I flushed it down the toilet.
Dear Uma Bharati, you must know that krodh (anger) is the second among the five deadly sins listed by our ancestors.
The Burmese Connection
We Indians are reasonably well-informed our neighbouring countries because our print and electronic media gives a lot of coverage to events in Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. We also have friends and relations in these countries. One notable lacunae in our information is Burma which is also our neighbour. Most of us know next to nothing of what is going on there and our media tells us very little about it. When I questioned myself on the subject, I was ashamed to admit that what I know about Burma could be written behind a postage stamp. All I know is the name of Aung San Su Kyi, leader of the National League for Demoracy (NLD) who swept the last general elections and was promptly put under house arrest by army generals of the junta. She was given the Nobel Prize for Peace, The Nehru Award and many other accolades from other parts of the world for her heroic struggle for the restoration of democracy. Yet every show of protest is ruthlessly crushed. The country is in an unholy mess.
Why the Indian government has shown no desire to help the forces of democracy in Burma remains a mystery. Is it because of Chinese interests in the region? Or our problems with our north-eastern states?
The first thing to do is to get to know more about Burma, renamed Myanmar, and its problems. I do take a look at Mizzima News, a weekly published from Kolkata but understand little of what it has to say. Then I chanced to read Nandita Haksar’s Rogue Agent: How India's Military Intelligence Betrayed the Burmese Resistance (Penguin). It was an eye-opener. Did you know that we had over 30 Burmese freedom fighters in jail in the Andamans and Kolkata who were not brought to court for many years? Every attempt to do so was frustrated by our military intelligence which did not divulge the reasons. All this skullduggery is spelt out in detail by Nandita Haksar who won the support of the legendary Colonel Sehgal of the INA and Ashok Mitra, ex-finance minister of West Bengal. It is a highly readable book written in a very personal racy style which holds the reader's attention from the first to the last page.