Not 'Hramzade', it's 'Ramzade' that pinches 'secularists'
By Amba Charan Vashishth
One should be discreet in the use of one's words. Think before you speak, is another good sermon. This is more apt for persons in politics. One's opponents are always prying for the slip of tongue to put one on the mat. They wish to milch the opponent's cow hard enough to squeeze out the blood of political mileage.
This is more true in the recent controversy that has erupted because of the utterings of Union Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti who while addressing a public meeting in Delhi is reported to have said that the Delhi voter has to make a choice between Ramzadon and Hramzadon. Later, clarifying on her remarks she is reported to have said that in India everyone is the child of Lord Ram and all others are those who changed their mode of worship. This created a great furore and functioning in both houses of Parliament was disrupted by the opposition. For obvious political reasons, her detractors remained unsatisfied even when the Sadhvi clarified in Parliament: "My intention was not to hurt anyone. If my speech outside the House has hurt anyone, I express my deep regrets".
But this didn't close the matter. The Opposition wants the head of the minister; she should resign or be dismissed. They — and the media — have gone to the extent of dubbing it as "hate speech" and against the Constitution of which she had taken oath. They further demanded that a criminal case be registered against her.
The hypocrisy of the opposition is not new. When Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi in an election meeting in 2007 had described the then Gjujarat chief Minister Narendra Modi as maut ka saudagar, for our 'secularists' and 'liberal' media it did not amount to "hate speech" nor did it hurt the 'secular' psyche.
The opposition and the media stand on the same pedestal on the issue. The former wishes to fish political capital in the trouble waters and the latter, to thrive in grabbing a higher TRP by whipping up flames of controversy. In their heart they know they are only flagging a dead horse.
Zade is an Urdu word which has come to be used in Hindi too when one speaks of Shahzade (prince), Sahibzade (offsprings of a great ancestry), and conjoined with other words to give a particularly special meaning, like hramzade and the like. Ramzade means the off-springs of Lord Ram. He is a god to an overwhelming majority of Indians. Every religion, Hindus included, says that all human beings are the children of god, be it the Christians, Muslims and so on. Nobody challenges this claim. India is a land of Hindus where people have the unchallenged liberty to adopt whatever form of worship they like. Within Hindus there are numerous forms of worship, yet all remain one: Hindu. After the invasion by Muslim and Christian raiders, a section of the people adopted Christian and Muslim ways of worship. The Hindus respect it. Why, therefore, should the use of word Ramzade hurt any section of society? All Indians are the children of god whomever they worship or have faith in.
The dictionary meaning of the word hramzade is bastard, rascal, scoundrel, and ill-begotten. This is the word people use in their everyday life to describe certain individuals. Namakhraam is a word in common usage. By using the words Ramzade and hramzade the Sadhvi just tried to draw a distinction between men of god, gentlemen and civilized persons on the one hand and bastards, rascals and scoundrels, on the other. Do the media and opposition wish to make us believe that among we Indians there are no bastards, rascals and scoundrels at all? Is it, then, a crime to call upon people to choose between men of god and scoundrels?
Needless to call the famous quote of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru: Aaraam hraam hai. Nobody has felt — and should — offended by these words.
Similarly, halaal is a common Urdu word. Everybody knows its meaning and connotation. When in rage, people are usually seen threatening others: Main tujhe halaal kar rakh doonga (Will slaughter you like a goat "in accordance with conventional prescription").
It is a political travesty of the democracy and 'secularism' that in India with a population of more than 80 percent Hindus the very word Ram pinches very hard the delicate heart of our so-called self-styled liberal-secularists. It is a 'crime' to take His name. Whoever does is branded a fundamentalist 'communal'. A Hindu doesn't have the right to proclaim that he is proud of being one while all other non-Hindus have this privilege.
The writer is a Delhi-based political analyst.