ENDANGERED ENTITIES

Rupa Gulab

There are a number of organisations that worry about the future of tigers in India. Even if some of the tigers are serial maneaters, our hearts bleed for this endangered species and we support the cause with a generosity of spirit. I sign petitions on issues that range from allowing Saudi women to drive to sacking a patriarchal High Court judge in India. It’s become a daily habit, like brushing my teeth. I must make it clear at the very outset that I do not sign every single petition that waits hopefully for me in my inbox. If there was one on saving rats, lizards, cockroaches or a politician’s Lutyen’s bungalow, for instance, I certainly would not sign it.

These are good days for petition-writers. There are so many horrific things happening that make my blood pressure shoot to the moon. Here are a few issues I would like addressed as soon as possible. 

Save Tandoori Chicken: In Mumbai, fast food joints and restaurants are being forced to offer only vegetarian fare in residential areas dominated by vegetarians — it helps if the MP or MLA of the area is a strict vegetarian, of course. This is becoming a scary trend. The rise and rise of food fascism has now hit a new high (or rather, a new low)— even a popular reality show, MasterChef India, has vowed to dish out only vegetarian fare because one of the obscenely wealthy sponsors absolutely insisted on it. I’m curious about whether the viewership will take a beating. Me, I’d rather cut my toenails than watch a bunch of people prepare karela or mattar paneer. 

Save English Grammar: Like it or not, English is one of India’s official languages and a very aspirational language at that. Even authors who are fluent in regional languages prefer to write in their peculiar version of English. My heart goes out to copy editors at publishing houses who are forced to clean them up. Several of these copy editors have been driven to drink and periodically spend quality time at an Alcoholics Anonymous centre closest to them. My question is this: shouldn’t these authors work on improving their English instead of whining about grammar being elitist and severely damaging the vital organs and bank balances of salaried slaves? Do they know how much a liver transplant costs? 

Save Foreign Languages: I have no problem with difficult classical languages being taught in schools, now that I’m not in school anymore. I do have a problem, though, when the authorities insist that you have to study Sanskrit as a third language whether you like it or not. If you don’t give people a choice, they will have no choice but to not like you. 

Save People From Godmen: Of late, several godmen have been in the news for the wrong reasons. Rape, murder and political connections seem to be par for the course. What upsets me more is the ugly manner in which they exploit their devotees. In a recent incident, devotees were used as human shields and six or seven were killed. I’m just hoping that they did not die with their treacherous godman’s name on their lips. I also hope that some of these alleged godmen attain Tihar instead of nirvana. 

Save Our Media: It’s very disconcerting when the media acts like a PR machine, instead of staying neutral and giving us what we want to hear: real news. If singing praises is all that they’re capable of, why don’t it’s deliver the news on Aastha channel instead? At least that’s being honest. 

Save Our Liberals: Liberals are a dying breed these days. I’m guessing that petitions to save us will soon become more plaintive and more frequent than appeals to save tigers. Be nice to us: we don’t bite, scratch or kill.   

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: DECEMBER 2014