mansur ali khan pataudi was one of the great cricketers that india has produced. so it is no surprise that all and sundry pay tributes to him. shekhar gupta of indian express has as much right to do so as any other. but i am surprised to read the following words in his article. "mansur ali khan pataudi was our rare, in fact almost solitary, muslim star in not just cricket but popular culture in an era when our secular temper was still evolving" (september 24, 2011)
was it necessary to bring in his religion? shekhar gupta goes on to mention that, to be popular and acceptable to india, many of the artists had to change their names. he mentions dilip kumar and madhubala as examples.
i do not know why we have to do it. why are we obsessed with proving ourselves to be secular? the ordinary indian does not think in these terms. it is only because of these so called intellectuals that we are reminded again and again of this distinction and then provided with examples to further their arguments - examples which only go to prove their contention. others are ignored because it does not suit them. did suraiya or noor jahan have to change their names? who has not been moved by the music composed by naushad ali? did he change his name? was 'mother india' movie boycotted because it was produced by mehboob khan under his own name. and talking of politicians, does the name rafi ahmed kidwai ring any bells. and in music, did we ignore bade ghulam ali khan or zakir hussain.
but we have to do it again and again to get accepted in the 'august' group of intellectuals. i must confess that my admiration for anna hazare went down by a notch or two when he chose to break his fast by taking juice from two girls, one of whom had to be a muslim.
it is time that our column writers stop doing this sort of analysis. let the nation move with the times, condemn where condemnation is necessary, praise where praise is deserved, arrest where arrest is necessary without bothering to remind the public that person condemned, praised or arrested belongs to this or that religion. get over your desire and the need to sensationalise. or even to sound different. express your views but do not, please do not, try to bring in external factors which are not germane to the issue being discussed.