Of all the ugly discourses happening during achhe din, the Adarsh Sanghi/Bhakt and Adarsh Liberal posters/cartoon strips are the least offensive and the most amusing. Here’s an example from an article in the Hindustan Times:
An Adarsh Liberal is “someone who goes on an expensive holiday to discuss and understand poverty,” and while he “supports PETA”, he “eats chicken and beef”, “shifts goalposts if losing arguments”, “attacks Hindu gods to become secular”, etc.
An Adarsh Bhakt is a person “who eats beef but doesn’t let others know”, “applies Burnol after every U-turn”, “tries to practice Yoga Asana” and more.
While the Adarsh Liberal vs Adarsh Bhakt/Sanghi hashtag war on Twitter may be new, the content is old. I realised that I knew the workings of an Adarsh Sanghi’s mind in the late 1990s when I lived in Delhi. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present the most adarsh of all Adarsh Sanghis: my former chauffeur, Ravi.
The day he began working for us, Ravi earnestly said that the company’s admin department had handpicked him for us because he didn’t drink or smoke. A halo the size of a truck tyre hovered over his head as he made that pious pronouncement. I scoffed and informed him that we did, and it wouldn’t make a difference to us anyway as long as he didn’t drink on the job. Upon which he sheepishly confessed that he did indeed drink beer. “Hello, beer is alcohol – it’s not juice,” I informed him (while trying very, very hard to suppress a smirk). That threw him – just for a bit, admittedly. The irrepressible Ravi bombarded me with puerile arguments that put beer on the same pedestal as Ayurvedic products. I got his measure right then.
Over the years with I-am-such-a-precious-adarsh-Hindu-boy, I discovered many silly and needless acts of hypocrisy. His fault, not mine – he was terribly garrulous and there were fewer flyovers and more traffic jams in Delhi those days. He swore that he would always choose vegetarian food over non-vegetarian fare but, oddly enough, out of the six prospective brides his family had shortlisted for him, he chose a butcher’s daughter and gleefully informed me that his father-in-law had promised to give him mutton every single day. That was Ravi’s glorious bye-bye, lauki moment.
When Prime Minister Vajpayee was campaigning for a second term, some BJP-wallahs went to Ravi’s mohalla one weekend and did what they usually do: badmouth minority communities. An excited Ravi bounced up to me on the following Monday and said that he was definitely going to vote for the BJP. “And why is that?” I asked (I’m always genuinely curious when people choose to vote for bigots). Ravi reported that the BJP-wallahs said that Muslims produced more children than Hindus and soon they would outnumber us. I had to coldly remind Ravi at this point that he had eight siblings and, given his family’s rabbit-like breeding capacity, India’s Hindu population would never decrease. His cheeks turned crimson, but that wasn’t a blush – it was an angry flush.
So, yeah, I wasn’t particularly fond of Ravi and those tears that shimmered in my eyes when we eventually parted ways were of joy, not sorrow. But I do have to thank him for teaching me so much about his ilk – particularly these days when I’m surrounded by tie-clad, ‘suit-boot’ versions of him. I already have their measure, see?
As you may have gathered, I’m a shameless Adarsh Liberal. I do go on expensive holidays abroad. I do discuss poverty. I’m an atheist and hugely relieved that I’m not influenced by godmen and godwomen. But support PETA? No chance! Like Ravi, I love non-vegetarian food. However, unlike him (and certain ‘vegetarian’ members of the Sangh Parivar who eat tandoori chicken on the sly), I’m not a hypocrite.