from New Quest, May-June, 1989, 75, p165-167.
you, St. Tamas, for
WE WISH TO
SHARE some of our anger with you. This anger is over the serial Tamas. No doubt you have enjoyed its gripping, if gory, depiction of the human
saga that went with the communal fury that formed part of India's partition. We have enjoyed it too. No doubt you feel the sincerity of both the writer and the producer-director in trying to attempt such a bold
topic and appreciate his frank and fearless depiction of events, sparing none. We too are with you in feeling so. No
doubt you wish to congratulate Doordarshan authorities for bringing such a fine serial on the
screen and allowing you to dispassionately view the misdeeds of the communal elements of both sides then who still rear their
ugly heads today. We cannot agree less. No doubt you wish to apportion blame, have decided who are guilty and want a wider
articulation of the same. We too - wait, here we do not probably agree.
And that is why we are angry.
all the bravos and plaudits showered on this T.V. serial, Tamas, has
anybody thought of the ideas it gives to those whose wounds are reopened by such recounting? Or those who may be bent
on creating communal strife only to prove their strength or, worse still, just a point? For such individuals can set mischief
afoot once again and, paradoxically enough, the serial's suggestions themselves may be taken to carry them out. Can you guarantee
us that if any one of them tomorrow thinks of killing a pig and leaving it at the door-step of a mosque it will not be enough
of a pretense to start a riot once again; or for that matter hanging a leg of beef in front of a temple? And in either
case the perpetrator of such an act can be a member of either community. In fact the serial having already inflamed
the passions of those who only need a spark to ignite the seething fire of hatred and revenge lying unresolved within,
a mass conflagration would be easily brought about. And to match the raw power of past wounds would vie the raw ulcers of
new and freshly inflicted ones.
We hate to suggest
it to you, but then all you drawing-room easy-chair appreciators of the idiot-box, its serial-makers and their enthusiastic
supporters, will just sit tight in your drawing-rooms under lock and key and cry for police and state protection. And none
will have the guts to march out to face the fury of the communalists whose ire will be let loose on the unprotected poor,
living already exposed to poverty, squalor, greed and lust of the most depraved of either community. For they have no alarm
systems or telephones to contact the police; they have no means of self protection even (which, probably goes hanging
in hand with a poor sense of privacy, if any); and most of them have to sleep either in the open or in ramshackle tenements
which offer only a roof above with hardly any security below, from marauders as much as champions. Do we not know how it is
such as these who often bear the major brunt of the offensive of a communal riot, and persons such as these belong to either
No, we hold no quarter for the communalists
and do not feel like defending them one bit. But we must warn you that your smug hailing of this serial has ramifications
of which you are probably unaware. And we are not ready to buy anybody’s
thesis that the bigotry of the communalists can be fought by the equally bigoted beliefs of others, howsoever
reformist may be their outer cover. The difficulty is further compounded by the fact that the former at least make no
pretense, or a poorly camouflaged one, if any, the latter have appeal and take themselves and you for a ride with their messianic
fervour all the time.
It is of course fashionable in this country to make the RSS-BJP- Vishwa Hindu Parishad combine
the whipping boy for all the communal ills that this country faces; and also, probably as an after thought, the 'intellectual'
includes the names of the Muslim League-Jamaat-E-Islam
and other muslim organizations, just
to appear fair in apportioning blame. The serial's picturization of elements only enhances this image. That is the reason
for the pique and for the vandalism resorted to by members of the RSS-BJP group in Hyderabad and elsewhere: that is probably also the reason the communal combine on the other side was smirkily laughing and enjoying
their predicament, resting content to lie low and allow the other group to further earn a bad name by their irresponsible
show of anger and frustration. What is also understandable is the behaviour of the Congressites and the other so called progressives
who must enjoy the spectacle of the serial that glorifies them as well as ensures the angry reaction of the RSS-BJP combine,
because the latter's reaction, whether legitimate or otherwise, just the very fact that they condemn the serial
or agitate against it, is enough to confirm the communal label being slapped on them once again. And in all beliefs, as in
half-truths and lies, repeated reaffirmation of faith with coloured viewing of events is a must, for it keeps alive illusionary
and vapid theories built up to support self-serving ideologies. In this context the misfortune of the Indian Hindu
comes through glaringly who, to prove his secular bonafides, must take every available opportunity to deny his own Hinduism.
That the leftist must do so is understandable, for he is constantly fighting his own rightist inner leanings. That the Congress
should as well fall a prey to this is not only deplorable, it is the most unfortunate thing that could have happened to Hindu
society as such. On the one hand this gives credence to rank communal elements amongst the Hindu society to swell their
ranks and further carry out their protectionist-confrontationist activities; on the other it involves both the Congress
and the progressives on the left in an unholy alliance to keep alive a secular image of the Indian polity which, more often
than not, only amounts to Hindu-baiting. The results of this are obvious to those who wish to keep their mental faculties
open. Whilst the Hindu today has tended to deny his Hinduism and shies away from any pride in it, howsoever legitimate, the
Muslim need have no such pretensions
for he can continue to remain as unaffected in his socio-economic beliefs as in his religion, his sacred code itself giving
him such legitimacy. This is not to discount the true progressives on either side whose secularism is board. But that is because
they are humanists essentially and consider them-selves Indians first, next and only then Hindu or Muslim. Such individuals
do not come within the purview of our comment here. This is not to deny their importance, it is only to stress their
minority status today for which probably we are all to blame.
These then are the bare facts
as they occur to us. And they are better faced today or it may be too late tomorrow. We do not consider this an essay in apportioning
blame or cynical crystal ball gazing. But the writing is there clear on
the walls for anyone who is willing to look there and remove his blind-fold.
Now, if you too are angry along with us, don't do the obvious. Do
you vent your ire on the serial, or its makers, or members of any community? Vent it, if possible, on yourself and
all those self seekers who by their facile theorizing have only muddled perspectives. And for God's sake, when angry,
think. If the serial could have done even an iota of good, it is to make you think for yourself. And do not any longer
pawn your brain to anyone, for your own judgment is the only precious commodity left to pride over in this scarcity-ridden
This is not only
the best way to get rid of your anger. It is also the best way to preserve it for future use, for the right reasons. For,
preserve it you must.
Thank you, St. Tamas, for favour granted.
AND SHAKUNTALA SINGH