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Curtailing the tongue     

LifestyleCurtailing the tongue     

So now there is a gag order on a list of words which are deemed unparliamentary by our honourable Parliament. Wonder who was authorized to muffle and smother, for the most, run-of-the-mill, plain vanilla words! Have no intention of swallowing up space by reproducing the booklet of banned words, or get into how the producers of this pamphlet have outlawed words which were visibly on a knife-edge, emotionally speaking, when the fuming protests became ear-splitting. Seriously, words such as corrupt, hypocrisy, drama, betrayed and abused to be shown the door?! If certain acts are considered `corrupt’ then which other word would you fish for to say so?! Here we are talking of government, political parties and corruption, abuse of power or whatever are everyday fare—not only in India—but the world over! There is `betrayal’ of the trust reposed by the citizens’ representatives, `hypocrisy’ where you can, at the drop of a hat, abandon your party for the other, with an ideological identity that is 180 degrees at variance from the one you jumped ship from, for greener pastures.
Read: lucrative ventures. Methinks, given the new set of rules, you might as well think of carrying a pocket-sized thesaurus to assist them in whipping out synonyms for forbidden, expelled expressions. On second thoughts, a Lilliputian wordfinder, would not work as well as a brick-sized thesaurus, since it could be banged on the benches, loud and vocal in its protests, the ostracized, black-listed words back with a bang, courtesy the pounding of this book. However, to momentarily forget the treatise and pause at the questionable matter of how many of our MPs and MLAs are educated enough to skim through a book?! This said, in all seriousness! Coming to maintaining decorum, is the expulsion of 40-odd words, supposed to be the magic wand, furnishing the requisite decency, providing the protocol to be adhered to by our Parliamentarians?! Our Constitution clearly states that we the People elect our Representatives who have to attain a degree of maturity, should at least be 25 years of age, bearing a sound mind and of course, no police record of any kind.
Yet, how many have a clean chit, swim in the crystal waters of their constituencies. Then how is it that once our Parliament or Legislative Assembly sessions commence, pandemonium is the order of the day?! Nothing like agree to disagree! Getting into brawls, that in a few short minutes morph into free-for-all fist-fights. Scuffles that come to blows, a common sight. Unmeasurable, unconscionable mayhem. And there we have a helpless, upcreek-without-paddle Speaker rapping his gavel crying out Silence, Silence, Silence…to our `servants of the public’. But how would they hear, even when they are not hurling pamphlets at each other’s faces?! In the midst of shouting, the Speaker goes unheard and if, by chance, the plea for silence reaches them, the appeal to quiet down falls on deaf ears. Guess so many of them never heard the saying, `Nothing lowers the level of conversation than a raised voice’?! Why, however, go so far…it’s most doubtful that the meaning of `conversation’ has ever been comprehended. It’s simply altitudinous talk, over-talk, talk-down. And quite often the scenario might be altogether different. Heard of members of Parliament, members of Legislative Assemblies dozing off in the middle, or even at the beginning of a session?! Sleep-deprived on account of back-to-back late nights?! Or equally likely, the minutes read out, the issues on hand, the circus of bickerings, acting like a lullaby, sending one off to sweet sleep. And what about those who are absolutely apathetic to the goings-on, and just attend to mark attendance or have a heavily subsidized sumptuous meal post the Conclave, if that’s what it can be called. Remember, how a few years ago, an MLA down South, I think, (the locale is irrelevant) was caught watching pornography on his phone, oblivious to where he was.
Then there was, over maybe, well over three decades back, the case of an MP elected to the Rajya Sabha, (if I heard the story correctly) who hailed from the interiors of Himachal. Kinnaur, Lahaul Spiti, not quite sure, who, as it is said `broke all records’ by not uttering a single word or a faint squeak. A case of being stage-shy?! The cat bit his tongue?! Not a clue of what was going on, having been parachuted to the berth?! Me picks the last one! Now to trek back to where we kicked off this trip—yes, even with the humid heat touching an all new high! As if this infantile or I think, childish is more apt the word, recent prohibition of words in Parliament was not enough, another embargo was placed on Parliamentarians. No protests, rallies, demonstrations outside Parliament or within its precincts—howsoever hushed, peaceful, orderly, were ruled out. This two days before the Monsoon Session. Now you might scratch your head till it falls out of its skull, but an injunction on low-pitched agitations, re-eally! Democracy?! Have we collectively gone amnesiac, entirely forgetting that India is a Democracy?! Takes me to Speaker’s Corner in London. For those who have no clue of Speaker’s Corner, in brief let me pass it by you that this is the only place under the whole world’s sky where true Democracy exists, strives, thrives…A part of Hyde Park is allocated, come each Sunday, for anyone as in anyone, Christian, Jew, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Atheist…get the drift, or should I go a bit further to enfold other categories such as Gays, the Third Sex, here they speak whatever they wish to. Blasphemous or not blasphemous or yawningly boring. Speaker’s Corner with so many Speakers setting up their stool pedestals, singing or screaming their lungs out.
A through-and-through marvel, this corner, and if I had any say, would put up nomination papers for this part of the park to be declared a Wonder of a Theatre, staging its ongoing impromptu spontaneous drama, a live icon of freedom of expression, of democratic views and values.
Coming back to our `Dharti’. How is it, that in India, we have lost sight of Max Mueller’s standing applause? “If I were asked under what sky, the human mind has most fully developed….. I should point to India’’.

(Dr Renée Ranchan writes on socio-psychological issues, quasi-political matters and concerns that touch us all.)

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