I would not say Virender Sehwag and Yogeshwar Dutt are illiterate. I don’t know who Randeep Hooda is, so cannot comment on his literacy levels. I would, however, say that Dutt and Sehwag do not understand the nuances of English language like Shashi Tharoor does.
However, this does not make the two sporting icons unintelligent or inferior beings by any stretch, as the supremely learned Javed Akhtar has insinuated.
Sehwag’s wit is often as natural and brilliant as his batting. This has helped make him a Twitter sensation. In fact, the batsman-turned-social media nawab has effectively monetised his virtual presence – something many loss-making e-commerce unicorns have failed to do.
War Is The Enemy
“Pakistan did not kill my dad, war killed him,” Gurmehar Kaur said. Had she made this statement in the US or the UK, where English is the norm, many would have understood the crux of what she wanted to convey.
Irrespective of the countries involved, war is always the bigger enemy. Families suffer on both sides. There are of course exceptions, such as Donald Trump, who propound preposterous thoughts – such as all Muslims are terrorists unless proven otherwise.
India-Pakistan, A Complex Subject
Gurmehar, an English Literature student of LSR, a top college, may be adept at the language; but it isn’t easy to comprehend the dynamics between India and Pakistan. This has nothing to do with her intellect, as the Indo-Pak relationship is a complex subject, the solution for which has evaded even dedicated analysts.
For instance, when we talk about Pakistan, do we see it from the prism of vast sections who want peace? Or do we look at it as a failed state – one where the Army, the ISI and non-state elements control strategy, politics and foreign policy?
In an ideal world, it would have behooved better if Gurmehar’s post was perceived as just semantics, deserving of sympathy and sensitivity – given the fact the young girl has grown up without a father who died defending us against an enemy. Unfortunately, we do not live in simple times anymore.
Trolls on a Rise
Sehwag’s swipe at Gurmehar was innocuous. In hindsight, it was perhaps the wrong subject to pick.
In cricketing parlance, it would have been best if he let the ball pass, rather than provide fodder to right-wing opportunists, subsequently allowing them to take centre stage.
These are the chaps who are like to proudly label themselves as Modi bhakts, gau rakshaks, upholders of our national esteem, and protectors of our rich cultural moorings.
Unlike our brave soldiers, who face real bullets, these cowards wage a virtual war through their laptops or mobile phones. These finger-happy cretins want to fool us into believing that they are saving India on the online terrain. They love to pick on soft targets such as Gurmehar, who can be browbeaten, abused, forced to apologise and retreat.
The fact that a young girl is speaking her mind angers the misogynists even more. In their vacuous worldview, all women need to be shown their place, often violently.
Be it Bollywood, Sania Mirza or MF Hussain, we’ve seen this pattern of bullying a number of times before. Alarmingly, the bullies are growing bolder, because they believe that they have the establishment on their side in the form of the BJP, the RSS and the Modi government. This basically means the cops choose to look the other way.
It is an unsavoury trend that needs to be checked. To start with, Sehwag and Akhtar can and should deploy their wit or felicity with the language in order to show the hyper-nationalists their true worth.
(Siddharth Srivastava is a Gurgaon-based journalist and author of two novels ‘Blogging the 40s’ and ‘An Offbeat Story’. He can be reached @SiddharthWriter. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)