Friday, April 22, 2011

Ajeeb Amar ki Gazab Kahani

Amar Singh is a real clown. He imagines he is on a comeback trial. He was all over the television channels yesterday. This time he has found himself a brand new brother in Digvijay Singh. Together they held a press conference to discredit Shanti and Prashant Bhushan. And Singh forgot he was implicating himself as a patron of corruption when he decided to bell the Bhushans. I think the man is beyond caring now. All he wants to do is to claw back into public consciousness. He has met the predictable end of all fixers who outlive their purpose. They make the mistake of believing they have formed deep enduring bonds with those who they service. But once they have served their purpose, they turn into embarrassments for the very same folks they were on backslapping terms with. Like in the case of Singh, the Bachchans who never tired of acknowledging that Singh was family were quick to dump him no sooner did he have a fall out with his political mentor Mulayam Singh Yadav.

A couple of years ago we had a journalist from Lucknow visiting us. She had me in splits over stories of Amar Singh. Apparently he had this palatial house built for his good friend Jaya Prada on the banks of Gomti. Whenever they are in Lucknow, they are found in the balcony of this ‘Taj Mahal,’ soaking in the sunset. The whole thing sounded like my favourite fairy tale- Beauty and the Beast.

Singh is a born entertainer. He has even acted in a Malayalam film with Dimple Kapadia. Imagine the man keeps on getting humiliated and snubbed in public by someone or the other be it Sonia Gandhi or Jaya Bachchan or Mulayalam Singh Yadav. And then he gets to spend time with the most beautiful women in the country. I guess life always finds a way to compensate. The journalist also told me that there are these ‘Amar Chalisas’ available in UP. They are a bit risqué but very entertaining. If anyone has a copy, please mail it to me. I am dying to read it and since I am an adult I am allowed to.

Singh is in good company when he decides to give himself more importance than he deserves. Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Santosh Hegde are faring no better. What is all this nonsense about the government trying to discredit them and how hurt they are by the whole thing? They opted to take on the responsibility of framing the bill. Surely they weren’t naive enough to believe that they can take on the establishment and the system will respond with a lot of grace. They should get real and get on with doing the job they are meant to do. We all have skeletons in our cupboards and no one is naive enough to believe that the members of the civil society as they like to refer to themselves are an exception to this rule. They should stop throwing these silly tantrums. Besides they are just going to be drafting a bill. No one has empowered them to do anything more. For that they have to go and fight an election and win without bribing the electorate. It’s as simple as that. And the Bhushans should be replaced in the committee by some young and upright lawyers. Maybe someone who has just graduated from the National Law School and has all the legal knowledge to make a valuable contribution. By being rigid on this, they are just mirroring the behaviour of the politicians they oppose. Bas...bahut ho gaya. Ab kaam karo. Press conferences mat karo.

If I am sounding irritated, it’s because of this new Tanishq advertisement that has Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan in it. They are terribly affected...even more cloying than they were in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. I hope it’s not one of those sequel kind of ads where Abhishek and Aishwarya would also make an appearance at a later date.

If that happens I will definitely smash my television set.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Child Sexual Abuse

Talking about it leaves you slightly sick in the stomach. It’s like coming across a badly mangled dog on a highway that has been run over by a passing vehicle. You immediately look away pretending not to have noticed. And yet it registers somewhere in your psyche and makes you want to throw up whenever the sight comes back to haunt your memory. Sexual abuse of any kind is tormenting enough. Be it a look, a touch or more. But when it happens to a child, the aftermath is all the more devastating.
I suspect just as we have more people than any other country, the instances of child sexual abuse are also that much more. I am sure our cities have more children living on the streets than anywhere else and they are preyed on constantly by the adults around them.

The most sheltered of environment is no deterrent for the pervert who picks on children as victims. Most families hide the shameful secret of a relative or friend who has messed around with their child or at least tried to. So imagine the fate of those children who don’t have anyone to look after them.

The plight of young boys is as bad if not worse than girls. We are always more careful about the girls in our family. There are greater restrictions around them. With boys, our conditioning is that they can manage. Even to acknowledge something like this can happen to them is difficult to accept for us. And most abuse victims tend to internalise the guilt of the abuser. They fall into the trap of believing it is their fault. With boys, this tends to happen much more. Men feel more ashamed to talk about themselves as victims. So the chances of the crime against young boys going undetected are much more.

We had this neighbour when I was a young and he pretended to be very fond of children. If he came across a group of us playing in the street outside, he would pick one of us and hug that child tightly and go on mumbling ‘should I bite your cheek.’ All of us felt uncomfortable with him but the entire neighbourhood thought of him as this guy who was really fond of children. If any adults were around, they would just laugh at our discomfiture. Then we had this class teacher in Class IV in the missionary school I went to. This was a co-educational school and his way of punishing us for not doing our homework was to make us turn our back to the class, force us to pull down our pants and briefs and deliver five or six blows on our bare butts with a ruler. The caning didn’t hurt as much as the humiliation.

The girls had to lift their skirts to get the same treatment. The only concession given to them was they didn’t have to pull their underpants down like the boys. There were also days when he felt affectionate towards us. So one by one, we had to go and sit on his lap while he kissed our cheeks and moaned how much he loved us. I can’t figure out after years what felt worse. His love or his punishment. All I know is that for years I blocked out the memory of that painful year as the rest of my classmates must have. I changed my school in Class VIII and that too helped me to forget. But I know today if I came across him anywhere I will physically assault him. I wish him dead.

One thing that makes me absolutely furious is this soft pop psychology approach about how the abuser abuses because he has been abused himself as a child and needs counselling rather than punishment. It makes no sense whatsoever. Abuser are usually highly intelligent people who manage to prey on the victims by cleverly side stepping the boundaries and norms laid down by society. If they are devious enough to work through all that, they should work through their issues as well and ensure they are not contaminating others with their sickness.

There is a lot more that can be said about this subject. One of the first plays I wrote and directed, ‘Shadows on the Wall’ dealt with this subject and I remember how stressed the actors would get during rehearsals. It was an all women cast and I think they had to deal with their own set of painful memories. After all, all the women in this country have been abused in some way or the other; at the very least by a look or a touch or what passes off as ‘eve teasing.’

‘I am’ directed by Onir supposedly deals with this subject. His last film was a total rip off from an Almadover classic. I hope he has not borrowed this one from ‘Bad Education.’

Will let you know after watching the film next week.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Barkha, Kapil and Anupam...and Anna too...

Some of my well meaning friends are posting youtube downloads on Facebook that show Barkha Dutt being ruthlessly heckled by a mob when she was at India Gate after the Anna Hazare victory. They are saddened by what they perceive to be a fascist outburst. My reaction to the entire episode is what’s the fuss all about? She deserved what she got.

Barkha Dutt is as much a symbol of the malaise of corruption as A Raja or Suresh Kalmadi is. If the defence pertaining to Dutt is that nothing has been proved against her and she was merely doing her job, then surely we can allow Suresh Kalmadi to get away too. The courts have not pronounced him guilty as yet. What if he had landed up at the site where Anna Hazare was fasting? I am sure the treatment meted out to him would have been a lot worse.

We, the English speaking elite of the country, tend to lose perspective when it comes to one of our own. Like in the case of Dutt. She went to a school just like ours. We can vouch for her middle class roots. That makes us feel like taking her side. We tell ourselves, at worst, she was guilty of social climbing. After all, the most ridiculous thing about us is that we take great pride not in who we are and what we have achieved but who we party with. The whole page 3 culture is about this phenomenon of name dropping. ‘You know I was standing close to so and so celebrity and could hear her fart. It smelt nice,’ kind of a thing. But the X tapes proved Dutt is guilty of far worse than just seeking a place next to Radia at a cocktail dinner. She played her part in foisting a corrupt minister on this country. She was a power broker after the last elections.

If she turns up at a venue where enraged citizens are celebrating their victory against corruption, what did she expect? Air kissing from the irate mob that had gathered there? If you show a red flag to a bull, it’ll chase you. You are lucky if it doesn’t gore you to death.

I am ready to believe anything about Nira Radia’s four a.m. friend. Including that she landed at the venue in order to first garner attention and later sympathy from us. I am sure the television channel that employs her has other reporters they could have sent to cover the event. Why did she have to go?

I am hoping no one is stupid enough to play the gender card here. Both Radia and Dutt look as if they can take on half a dozen men at a poker game and walk away smiling. That’s about the only thing I like about them. They are power women and I respect them for that. But since they have misused their power, they deserve to be treated badly by the citizens of this country just like a Raja or Kalmadi.

Somehow whenever I am on the topic of Barkha Dutt, I think of Kapil Sibal. Maybe because they look very comfortable together. The first time I noticed their chemistry was in one of those celebratory shows after the UPA government won the last elections. Dutt egged Sibal to recite one of his poems. It was a very bad poem. Neither did it rhyme nor did it have a deeper meaning. Kuch bakwas tha. But both of them looked very pleased at the end of Sibal’s recitation. Barkha more than Sibal. Like he had written it for her or something.

The next time I saw them together on a show was after the 2G scam broke out and brought to light the not to so insignificant part Dutt played in the entire shenanigan. I think she was under some kind of pressure to be tough with Sibal in order to protect her own image. But she couldn’t sustain the tempo with her poetry spouting pal who kept on looking adoringly at her whenever she shot a difficult question at him. Very different from the way he looks at Arnab Goswami.

So instead they started talking about how sensitive our honourable Prime Minister is. The expressions on their faces resembled that of the parents of a ten year old boy,when they are sharing with dinner guests their prodigy does not like cricket but plays the piano beautifully. The whole nonsense was very painful and manipulative.

Like that bald Anupam Kher in that Goswami show after Anna’s victory, correcting that activist lady about her body posture without realising he has one of the worst postures among the Bollywood hams. But that’s okay. Kher is paid to be a clown but Dutt and Sibal aren’t.

Anyway just as Dutt was heckled by Anna supporters, Sibal was heckled by Anna himself. When he decided to take the wind out of Anna’s victory by making pious statements about how the Jan Lok Pal bill is not going to help the cause of poverty or education, Anna told him to resign from the committee. Sibal ki to phat gayi. He forgot poetry and made all the right noises to toe Anna’s line. I think this Anna is rather clever. Almost as clever as Sonia Gandhi.

We should be a bit careful about him.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Make Anna Redundant...Seek the Leader Within

Time for stock taking, now that the euphoria is over. Been reading the different perspectives on the movement. There are plenty of dissenting voices and there are some valid arguments being put forth by those who oppose Anna Hazare and mock those who supposedly got carried away.

One myth I would straight away like to bunk is that all the protesters look at Anna Hazare as some kind of messiah to deliver the nation from corruption. I for one don’t. And a number of people I have been talking to, feel the same. Anna is clearly the man of the moment and helped us mobilise our anger and rage against a corrupt government. His action of fasting at the capital to draw attention to the menace and malaise of corruption was inspirational. But I will draw the line at saying I am inspired by the man.

If he is endorsing Narendra Modi’s model of development, then Anna is clearly fallible. Modi’s actions post Godhra revealed corruption of the worst kind. Corruption is not just about money, it’s about misuse of power and a chief minister who was complicit in a state sponsored genocide can’t be resurrected however forward thinking his actions are, post his misdemeanours. Until he serves time for his crimes just like Raja and Kalmadi ought to.

Anna himself has been at the receiving end of state terror and it’s a bit silly of him to label what happened in Gujarat in 2002 as ‘communal disharmony.’ It was more like communal carnage. He should have a dialogue with Mallika Sarabhai, one of his biggest supporters, on this. And maybe also check with Nitish Kumar about how Kumar feels about being bracketed with Modi on the issue of rural development. The Bihar chief minister abhors his counterpart from Gujarat like most ‘civil’ Indians of the ‘civil society’ do.

Coming back to the more pertinent issue, does Anna having his own pair of feet of clay devastate me or make me feel silly for having supported it doesn’t. My support for him was over a particular issue, at a particular moment. It is not for all times and over all issues. I endorsed his stance and his actions because I was fed up of being taken for granted by this government and I wanted to remind the people in power, we hold the reins in a democracy. Now that the message has reached those who it was intended for, I would like to go back to playing it by the rules and respecting the constitution. I am not an anarchist for all times.

I will be disappointed of course if Anna turns out to be another Manmohan Singh. But I don’t think it would pose a hurdle to my own set of commitments regarding corruption. Nor should it hamper anyone else who’s in the same boat as me.

The true victory is always about finding the leader within you. And all of us have a dormant one within with a set of unique values and beliefs.

It’s time to evoke that leader and persist. Let's make Anna redundant now.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

How Anna transformed Yeddyurappa, Sushma Swaraj and Narayana Murthy

Anna’s revolution has not only galvanised the common man, it has also transformed some very powerful individuals in the country.

The chief minister of Karnataka Yeddyurappa who so far has been reeling under one charge of corruption after another has decided to turn into a new leaf. He is currently drawing up a list of all the assets he and his family have acquired including the land they have grabbed. Once the exercise is over, he plans to return all the ill gotten wealth to the state. And that’s not the end of it. He also plans to give up the chair of the chief minister that he has been clinging desperately to for so many months now despite the opposition from his own party. He has decided to spend the rest of his life emulating the Gandhian Hazare and leading a frugal existence. He is giving up his obsession about cricket and cricketers. Instead he will plant a million saplings across the state to raise awareness about environmental degradation.

How do I know all this? Arrey baba, If he wasn’t planning to do all this, why will he come out publicly in support of Anna Hazare? No one can be that out of touch with reality.

The leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj has also turned into a new leaf. You remember how way back in 2005, she had threatened to shave her head if Sonia Gandhi became the prime minister. Well Sonia didn’t...and Sushma lost her chance to shave her head. But now she is determined to get her mundan done as a mark of protest against all the illegal mining activities of the Reddy brothers. She is no longer interested in patronising them. She has realized how wrong she was in supporting the brothers.

How do I know all this? Arrey baba, if she wasn’t planning to do her mundan, why will she come out publicly in support of Anna Hazare and also talk about an all party meet to combat corruption. No one can be that duplicitous.

The chairman of Infosys, N R Narayana Murthy, has asked his leadership team to draw up a list of the land his organization has acquired in Karnataka, Andra Pradesh and various other Indian states by demanding it from the respective governments. He raised the pertinent question about how much land does an IT organization need for running the business. “Surely not hundreds of acres,” he thundered in a specially convened board meeting. His wife Sudha Murthy who is a board member was present in the meeting. She also chipped in by saying “We must be wise...not otherwise.” Mr Narayana Murthy also pledged that Infosys will go back to its initial vision of creating wealth for all its employees and to this end he and his family members would personally distribute more than 70% of the equity they hold to the employees of the organization or liquidate the shares to build more schools, roads and other infrastructure facilities in the cities where Infosys has offices.

How do I know all this? Arrey baba, if he wasn’t ready to put his money where his mouth is as most businessmen and industrialists are fond of saying, why will he come out in support of Anna Hazare and his crusade against corruption? No one can be that contradictory.

Now all we need to do from our side is to find out what time frame have all these worthy leaders set for achieving these personal milestones.

I am keenly awaiting their next set of public declarations. Are you?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Not a shallow victory

The naysayers may be shaking their heads in mock dismay. But Anna Hazare cleared the fence yesterday. He smashed a sixer drowning the celebration of Dhoni and his IPL team. KKR and the government have one thing in common. The tag of underachievers sits easy on both of them.

The cynics would have us believe there is more to this victory than meets the eye. Maybe there is. Maybe it is not as simple and straight forward as it looks. Maybe as the whispers go, Anna Hazare is nothing more than a pawn in the hands of someone more powerful who’s pulling the strings. My response to all this negativity is so what?

As things unfolded in the past few days, it wasn’t left to a frail old man fasting in the capital and his band of initial supporters to champion the cause of a cleaner system and to put an end to corruption. You and I were part of it too. The nation joined in with a hitherto unknown frenzy. We can question the mob hysteria with all the irony at our disposal. Was it really an uprising as the television channels painted it out to be or was it just a ‘comic revolution of an obsolete man’ as the editor of a popular weekly called it. We can go on arguing till the cows come home without the two sides reaching a consensus. But does any of that really matter.

For me, what happened in the last few days is nothing short of remarkable. Not because I ever believed this one movement would put an end to the malaise of corruption. Or that the Lok Pal bill is going to achieve this feat. All we managed together as a nation was to get a feudal political party and a corrupt government to climb down from their high horse and engage them in an eye ball to eye ball contest. They blinked first. I woke up this morning feeling triumphant about that.

No one bribed me or misled me to be part of this movement. I was aware of its limitations and I didn’t expect things to change miraculously at the end of it.

There is a long road ahead but I am prepared to walk on it now. I don’t care whether the man who started it all will be with me on this journey. I am prepared to walk alone if it comes to that.

I am committed to nail each and every lie that Manmohan Singh and his ministers come up with in the future. In my own way. Through my writings, through discourses and debates, through songs that would be sung and dreams that would be dreamt. I am as committed to do this with any other government, any other party that will succeed this one.

I am going to do my damndest to ensure the country in which my son transitions to adulthood is cleaner, has less corruption than the country in which I turned into an adult. And being part of every confrontation, every movement that leads to this.

That much is enough for me. More than enough.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why we need Anna Hazare

It’s not about corruption. It can’t be. Because if it was only about corruption, then none of us are exempt from it. We have all lied, bribed, taken unfair advantage of a situation in some way or the other. It could have been a ticket that we have bought in black. It could have been the commission we had to pay to jump the queue. It could have been the stack of cash under the table we have slipped for a licence. The scale may have varied but we have all played our part in nurturing corruption. And it’s not as if by admitting to our role in fostering corruption we have won ourselves some reprieve. In fact Anna’s crusade is as much against us as it is against the politicians. So why do we feel compelled to support this old man who has been doing his best to make us look and feel bad.

I think the dam simply burst. Just because we have been corrupt does not mean we have liked being in that position. Especially since most of us have been bribing rather than getting bribed. We have been paying rather than getting paid. And increasingly we have been discovering that whatever honour there was among the thieves who were looting us, looting the nation, has fast disappeared. It’s not as if India has not had bad governance in the past. But we have never had this level of deviousness from the ruling classes. Increasingly we have started to believe that not only have we been short changed but we are also being mocked for being in a position of being cheated. That it was our fault somehow to have landed ourselves in this situation.

And the man who has done this to us is none other than our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Here is a man who had a mandate of the entire nation behind him. We took him to be one of our own. As someone who had to compromise his integrity because he was forced to. Just like us. We believed his sense of purpose was so strong that he will first achieve whatever he had to and then ensure that we will transition into a cleaner system. Instead he has let us down like no other politician has. The decency we attributed to him has been arrogated by him and turned into an infuriating smugness. He was meant to liberate us. Instead the government he leads has mired the nation in one scam after another. And to add insult to injury he has remained totally immune to the charges levelled against his ministers. Forgetting that sooner or later the nation would wake up to a concept called collective responsibility that is not selective in affixing blame.

We no longer believe that the Prime Minister was not aware of what has happening right under his nose. We know now he knew and ignored what has happening to stay in power. Sonia Gandhi didn’t do this to him. He did this to himself. In his crusade for capitalism he seems to have forgotten all norms of basic human decency. What sense does a line like inflation is inevitable in our quest for growth make to a starving man unable to manage one square meal a day because of the unchecked price rise? How different is it from asking if they can’t afford bread, why don’t they eat cakes?

Make no mistake about it. Anna Hazare represents the greatest threat to this self serving government and its leader. For one the Gandhian has taken the wind out of the sails of the careful brand building of the Prime Minister. He has also emerged at a time when the personal credibility of Manmohan Singh is at an all time low. Sonia Gandhi has not appealed to Anna Hazare to end his fast out of humanitarian considerations. She has probably seen her dreams of positioning her son as the next Prime Minister go up in smoke if she does not assuage Anna’s feelings. And the feelings of the entire nation. The ruling classes are on their knees and for a change we, the citizens of this country, are feeling smug. While they squirm.

That’s why we need Anna Hazare.

Anna Hazare versus Manmohan Singh

There’s something called the real thing. Something that cuts across empty rhetoric and stops at nothing short of action. The real thing is not reactive. The real thing is not mealy mouthed. The real thing does not believe in running with the hares and hunting with the hounds. The real thing is not Manmohan Singh. The real thing is Anna Hazare.

For months now we have been subjected to one scam after another and one blatant lie after another to cover the scams. We have seen how there are no exceptions to the rule of the corrupt politician in this country including the honourable prime minister with his dubious halo of personal integrity. As if it’s all right to be an honest leader of a gang of thieves. Today he stands exposed stripped of any personal glory. His image carefully cultivated by his party and nurtured by his own careful public declarations lies in shambles. He has done what he has always done when confronted with something that has the potential of damaging his image. He has gone into hiding and sent out the usual suspects to do his bidding. So now we have to endure Barkha Dutt interrogating Kabil Sibal on how the government is going to respond to the mass movement swelling on the ground. Talk about supreme irony!

There are many who are questioning whether the cause over which Anna Hazare has gone on fast and the entire nation is rallying around is big enough. Whether having citizen representation for the Lokpal bill will take care of the corruption in this country. I don’t think anyone believes that including Anna Hazare. But revolutions always come to life over a symbolic gesture.

We know now a 73 year old man can get the government scurrying. We know now how we can come together cutting across religious, political, parochial lines to take on the common enemy personified by the sleazy politician, oily babu and grasping corporation.

We know now we can go beyond the sham Manmohan Singh and look for some real inspiration from Anna Hazare.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Afridi & India

Shahid Afridi is the new poster boy for Pakistan bashing if there can be such a thing. The media is out to crucify him over his contradictory views on India and Indians. After the semi final loss to India, the captain of the Pakistan team graciously conceded defeat after the match and spoke like a harbinger of peace. But once he went back to Pakistan he called Indians petty and small hearted. Apparently he was riled by Gautam Gambhir’s comment that he wanted to dedicate the world cup victory to the victims of 26/11. Afridi interpreted Gambhir’s comment to be political and attempting to show Pakistan in a bad light. The small detail that the world cup final was played in Bombay completely escaped him.

All Indians were hurt and angered by what happened on that fateful day in November in India’s largest metropolis and if one member of the Indian cricket team was moved enough to dedicate the cup to the victims, it does not mean he was being political. Afridi, on the other hand, has emulated a wily politician by changing his stance like a chameleon. But I don’t think we should be hasty in condemning him.

Firstly, there is the man himself. I remember there was a huge controversy about his age when he started to play for Pakistan. Afridi claimed he was 15 and the rest of the world took it with a pinch of salt. I don’t know whether he was as young as that when he started out, but the cricketing establishment in Pakistan was very keen to prove that he was younger than Sachin Tendulkar when the master blaster made his test debut. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then and we know where the two cricketers stand today with regard to each other not just where the game is concerned but as human beings too. One has stood up to Bal Thackeray and went on record to say Mumbai is for all Indians. The kindest conclusion we can draw about Afridi’s comments is that he has buckled under pressure exerted by the clergy in Pakistan.

In one of his Initial tours to India after he started playing for his country, Afridi was linked to an upcoming starlet of that time Sonali Bendre. Those days Star TV had a program on Pakistan that was aired on Sundays. Afridi was interviewed in the show and when he was quizzed about the link up, he preened “ Mujhe lagta hai Sonali ne hi mere bare mein yeh afwah faila di.” He sounded juvenile then. He hasn’t grown up much now.

And yet it’s not just about Afridi. It’s about Pakistan. About how an entire nation has just refused to grow up. I love Muslims. I love Urdu. I have huge regard for Islam, the first religion to foster equality. I love their food and I dare say if I ever visited Pakistan I will fall in love with the country too. That’s one country I really want to visit. Despite 26/11. Despite Kargil.

Because we have done a lot of unsavoury things to them as well. It’s like a family feud. If the younger sibling has displayed the occasional delinquent behaviour, we as the older sibling have been too quick to condemn them without getting to the root of the problem. We were hasty in labelling Pakistanis as enemies when the truth is we are family. I guess they carry that hurt and occasionally that leaks out in subversive acts. But how different are we to them? Once upon a time they sucked up to the US. Now we do the same. And the truth is the US took them for a ride and dumped them when it suited their purpose. We don’t need the Wikileaks to tell us Uncle Sam will do the same to us if we let him.

Pakistan has always needed our compassion not our condemnation. We know what one Bal Thackeray can do to the liberal ethos of Bombay. Forget the common man, how even the rich and powerful in the city are forced to play ball with him. Or for that matter what lies behind the progressive facade of Narendra Modi . Pakistan has many such Thackerays and Modis. And the state backs them. We know what’s been happening to liberal politicians in Pakistan opposing the blasphemy laws. They are shot down in cold blood. Even if Afridi wants to he can’t stand up to the bullying.

After all, he is no Tendulkar.