The same old V-Day laughing stock
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The same old V-Day laughing stock

Now the same Muthalik who few people outside the slums of Mangalore had heard of is known across the length and breadth of the country because every TV channel, every national daily and magazine carried his picture. Overnight a non-entity became a celebrity, writes Khushwant Singh. Spl: India in love

columns Updated: Oct 09, 2009 13:47 IST

You must have noticed that the handsomest of men and the most beautiful of women begin to look ugly when they lose their tempers and utter hateful words. I noticed this when watching Pramod Muthalik, Sri Rama Sene leader who looks like a non-descript, middle-aged, bald man, until he starts justifying his goons roughing up young women drinking beer in a Mangalore bar. He reminded me of the snarling Tasmanian devils of Australia, probably the ugliest of animals in the world.

In the meantime, Renuka Chowdhury, for whom I have a soft spot, looked younger and more alluring when she took up cudgels on behalf of Muthalik’s victims and rubbished him for defending his goondas as preservers of Indian culture. She is right. The Muthalik types are as far removed from any kind of culture, Indian or foreign, as the North Pole is from the South.

Now the same Muthalik who few people outside the slums of Mangalore had heard of is known across the length and breadth of the country because every TV channel, every national daily and magazine carried his picture. Overnight a non-entity became a celebrity. Having discovered the formula to quick fame, he is now launching a campaign against those celebrating St Valentine’s Day. No doubt his followers will rough up a few young lovers, wreck shops selling Valentine’s Day cards and hotels organising special meals and cabaret shows for the occasion. He has learnt through experience never to mind his own business. What other people do is his main business.

Frankly I find sending Valentine’s Day cards, inserting ads in newspapers, proclaiming love for one’s sweethearts, downright silly. But who am I to decide what others should or should not do? It is a free country in which every adult, male or female, has the right to do what he or she likes, provided it does not physically hurt anyone else. Followers of the Shiv Sena, the Bajrang Dal, the Sri Rama Sene and some other groups don’t understand this maxim.

What can we do to make them see common sense? Renuka thinks those who transgress the laws of the land should be put behind bars. I don’t agree. That is one sure way of turning villains into heroes. Only those who use violence should be put in jails. Those instigating them should be treated with scorn. The most sensible way of dealing with them is to make fun of them: treat them as jokers in a nautanki or clowns in a circus.

Laugh at them, make them into a laughing stock of the country so that no one should ever take them seriously. That will be an effective way of ending this nuisance.

Chain reaction

The birth anniversary of Lala Lajpat Rai (1865-1928) on January 28 went unnoticed. His inspiration was Swami Dayanand, founder of the Arya Samaj.

Lajpat Rai was the moving spirit behind the resurgence of our Aryan heritage and gave it institutions designed to preserve it for posterity — notably the chain of DAV (Dayanand Anglo-Vedic) Schools, colleges and technical institutes. In the 120 years of its existence, the governing body of the DAV has set up over 700 institutions — probably the largest of our country.

What is amazing is that unlike other educational institutions, the DAV group is comparatively free of factionalism and corruption. This is largely due to the number of men who made service to humanity their mission in life.

The best example of self-effacing dedication was Hans Raj who took over as headmaster of the first DAV school set up in Lahore in 1896. He refused to draw a salary and spent all his life building up the school. He was honoured with the honorific ‘Mahatma’. Hans Raj College in Delhi is named after him. He was succeeded by an army of distinguished presidents: Lajpat Rai, Balraj Bhalla, Mehr Chand Mahajan, G.L. Dutta, Suraj Bhan, Ved Vyas and T.R. Tuli.

Of the hundreds of thousands who have been educated in DAV schools and colleges, some names deserve mention: Nobel laureate Gobind Lal Khurana, ex-PMs I.K. Gujral and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, cricketer Kapil Dev, singer Jagjit Singh, actor Shah Rukh Khan, and revolutionaries Sardar Bhagat Singh and Bal Mukand.

At the helm of the DAV educational empire today is its current president Padma Shri Gyan Prakash Chopra. He graduated from Murry College, Sialkot, and did his MA from Government College, Lahore. He was Professor of English at Murry for four years till 1947. He was offered professorship in other colleges run by the Scottish Mission but he decided to take up teaching in DAV college, Hoshiarpur.

In 1948, he moved to Delhi to help build Hans Raj College and was principal of the college for 15 years till 1985. Shortly before retirement he was appointed secretary of the managing committee and for the last ten years has been its president. It is the calibre of men like Chopra that converted the dreams of men like Swami Dayanand and Lajpat Rai into a living, vibrant reality.

True lies

The husband got late returning from work, so his wife who was busy cooking asked her 6-year-old son to ring Papa’s office and find out. Ten minutes later the son said that he had rung the office several times, but each time a lady came on the line, and so he could not get through.

The suspicious wife got very annoyed and the moment her husband returned confronted him about the girl in his office working so late with him. The husband was perplexed as he was working alone. So he called the son and asked him what the lady on the phone had said. The son replied: “Each time I phoned, the lady said: “All lines on this route are busy”.

(Contributed by Rajeshwari Singh, New Delhil)

First Published: Feb 13, 2009 21:22 IST