Kanchan Gupta wrote on November 30, 2015, an article at Mid-Day where he narrates ‘a Cossack folktale (he has) often recounted because it helps explain attitudes and concerns of our times. The tale is about a young Cossack, an accomplished horseman, who bought a magnificent stallion with his hard earned money. The villagers admired the purchase, and the stock of the young Cossack rose in his society.’
And then we read the following in the second last para:
Then along came the village cynic, who was also the local correspondent of Pravda and the designated Cossack ‘intellectual’. He walked around the horse, went back to where he had been sitting sipping vodka, struck a pose similar to Rodin’s Thinker, got up after a while, walked back to the horse, lifted its tail, sniffed and declared, in a stentorian voice similar to that in which judges give their final verdict, in a scathing tone similar to that in which pompous opeds are written, “The horse stinks.”
Kanchanji concludes: “Thank you Mr Aamir Khan for your view of Bharat. It’s a free country and you are entitled to it.”
Incidentally, the Russian word ‘Pravda’ means truth.
This reminds me not of another folk tale, but a truthful tale – truthful not in the communist sense, but in the dharmic sense. It is about the book “Mother India” by Katherine Mayo written in the 1920s, which Mahatma Gandhi described as follows:
“The book is cleverly and powerfully written. The carefully chosen quotations give it the appearance of a truthful book. But the impression it leaves on my mind, is that it is the report of a drain inspector sent out with the one purpose of opening and examining the drains of the country to be reported upon, or to give a graphic description of the stench exuded by the opened drains. If Miss Mayo had confessed that she had gone to India merely to pen out and examine the drains of India, there would perhaps be little to complain about her compilation. But she says in effect with a certain amount of triumph: The drains are India.”
Annie Besant wrote the following about the book:
“Miss (Katherine) Mayo has published a wicked book, slandering the whole of the Indian people…. I have spent in India the greater part of my time since 1893, living as an Indian, welcomed in their homes as though I were one of their own people, and I have never come across the horrors she describes… The writer seems to have merely sought for filth. Does she imagine that if her presentation were an accurate picture of Hindu civilisation that Hinduism could have produced a civilisation in India, dating from thousands of years before the Christian era? It would have been smothered in this own putrefaction.”
S K Radcliffe, who lived in Bharat for five years, had the following to say:
“Many of Miss Mayo’s facts cannot be challenged; and yet the picture, as she draws it, is profoundly untrue. It is a libel on a unique civilisation and a people of extraordinary virtue, patience and spiritual quality.”
The book forced prominent Zorastrians, Hindus and Mohammedans to write a letter which said:
“Our attention has been drawn to the recent publication entitled “Mother India” by the American tourist Miss Katherine Mayo, who paid a visit to Bharat , during the cold weather of 1925-26….. We concede that like all other cold weather tourists Miss Mayo is entitled to form and express her own opinions.
But when a traveller who spends no more than a few months in our country, uses the material gleaned from hospital cases, culled from criminal trial reports, and deduced from her own observations of isolated happenings and seeks to fortify herself with quotations divorced from their context and then proceeds on such slender basis to formulate a general indictment against the character and culture of a great country like India, possessed of an ancient civilization, it is time to protest.”
In a similar fashion to present-day Bharat, The Times of London refused to print the letter, and it was published in The Indian Social Reformer.
The programme of calumny, with deep political objective, which was started by Katherine Mayo is continued by her soul-mates since then. The manufacturing of an ‘intolerant’ Bharat is the latest such effort.
But, for these ‘intellectuals’, an awakened citizen of Bharat is something that they have to confront with. The only weapon they have is untruth (which the Soviet period Pravda was really all about), and they use the imaginary power of the media to take their agenda forward.
Just as The Times of London refused to print the letter of the real civil society then, so today the real sane voices are ignored by the mainstream media. So, when Salman Khan says that the ‘intolerance’ is manufactured, he has to be ignored. But when the other two Khans of Bollywood say that there is ‘intolerance’ the views have to be splashed over multiple pages in the same edition.
(This article was first published on hvk.org on November 30, 2015 and has been reproduced here in full.)
Postscript (July 7, 2019): The Khan Market Gang would be proud to have carried on the tradition of Katherine Mayo forward. And of the Pravada reporter in the Kanchan Gupta article.
Did you like this article? We’re a non-profit. Make a donation and help pay for our journalism.