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Don't stress non-issues

Don't stress non-issues

Author: MC Joshi
Publication: The Daily Pioneer
Date: November 29, 2001

In his write-up 'In the grip of Islamophobia' (November 13) Mr Sidharth Bhatia has said that in recent years, currying favour with the Indian Government and basking at the new found acknowledgement of their presence by their adopted countries, Hindu NRIs have become more vocal at getting their point of view across, especially on issues of culture and occasionally, foreign policy; that they have begun to think of themselves as 'players' wooed by visiting Indian politicians who are very receptive to the needs of their constituents; that if an advertisement, an article, a television documentary or whatever offends one's sensibilities, letters are instantly written to the offending corporation and if there is any perceived tilt towards Pakistan in US foreign policy, the local Congressman is flooded with mail.

When the Salman Rushdies and Taslima Nusreens are on the run, being chased by fatwas on their lives for having offended the sentiments of the community they belong to, and actions said to be against the interests of certain countries are being avenged by razing skyscrapers to the ground and killing thousands who are not even remotely connected with the alleged offence, here we are, charging the Hindu NRIs for 'being more vocal' at getting their point of view across and 'writing letters' to those offending their sensibilities and for taking anti-India stand. The reference of 'recent years' is not difficult to understand and the gist of the story is that if Hindus, here or there, have sentiments and concerns for self-respect and for their motherland, expressing it means they are suffering from Islamophobia.

In an earlier write-up 'Great Muslim vanishing trick' (April 17), trying to smell conspiracy against Muslims in Bollywood, TV serials and advertisements, Mr Bhatia had said: "In the 1950s, Hindi cinema had a preponderance of Muslim heroines-Nargis, Madhubala, Suraiya, Meenakumari, Nimmi, Shakila; the list is endless. These Muslim heroines were backed by Muslim voices-Shamshad Husain (not Husain, but Begum) and Suraiya. In contrast to the plethora of Muslim heroines, there was just one big Muslim star: Dilip Kumar. It was not till 1960s that Hindu women emerged as actresses and gradually, the situation reversed, reaching the point it has today: There are hardly any Muslim female stars while the top males are almost all Muslims ... (Also) where have all the Muslims disappeared from Hindi popular culture? ... And while Bollywood at least gives us the occasional Fiza or Zubeida, television is one long Hindu saga".

Even hardcore Hindus or Muslims have never seen the world of cinema, TV, art and culture though such a communal divide. Where are the Islamic mythological themes to be filmed or serialised? How many Muslim girls can succeed in getting roles in the Bollywood which in fact is like a closely-held family business, having gradually turned from the sober fifties and sixties to the bare-all, dare-all world of the new millennium? Can the Muslim background be fitted so easily in the absurdities of the present Hindi cinema and television? Were not the movies Mughal-e-Azam, Pakeeza and Umrao Jan all-time hits? Were not TV serials based on Hindu mythology produced by Sanjay Khan, and Muslim background TV serials like 'Hina' , 'Adhikar' and 'Sarahaden' among the most popular ones in recent times with large Hindu and Muslim viewerships? Do Bismillah Khan, Amzad Ali Khan, Dilip Kumar, Kaifi Azmi, Basir Badra, Bekal Utsahi, Sabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Mehndi Hasan, Ghulam Ali, et al command less admiration among Hindus vis-à-vis Ravi Shankar, Amitabh Bachhan or Jagjeet Singh?

It is not the Islamophobia of the Hindus but the Hinduphobia of secularists that sees the ghost of Hindutva inside every imaginable closet.

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