On 31st July 2013, Shobhaa De tweeted "Maharashtra and Mumbai??? Why not? Mumbai has always fancied itself as an independent entity, anyway. This game has countless possibilities.” This came close within news regarding the decision of formation of an independent Telangana started surfing the news channels. Political parties and Ministers, as usual, took offence at the tweet. A minister taunted her by stating that “what she was proposing was not quite as easy as getting a divorce in the country.” Clearly, this was a personal comment for India’s one of the most renowned and bold writers. Some protests followed by showing banners and shouting angry slogans. Someone else came out with “Who is Shobhaa De? Shobhaa De belongs to the Page 3 culture of Mumbai. She has no understanding of the sentiments of the people of Maharashtra.” And more crap.
If it had been an ordinary citizen, no minister would have bothered to even peek at any status updates. But when celebrities or writers speak their minds, all hell break loose.
Do our ministers know what is being satirical? Why don’t they attack Wikipedia or Google and get some valuable information for their already burdened heads? Well, to lessen their workload, I have done their homework. Satirical is being sarcastic, critical or mocking shortcomings or weaknesses with the intent of shaming individuals/society into improvement. Writers like Shobhaa De have been writing from a long time in magazines and newspapers. She writes in The Week, Asian Age and also blogs on her personal BlogSpot account. She is a former model and a journalist. She is known for her fierce and individualistic writing style. She has written around 18 novels so far. In the old days, when speaking anything on sex was considered to be a big taboo in the country, India had its first female up-front, bold and commercially successful writer who wrote open-mindedly on the topic. She talked fiercely about women rights in a bid to bring it to the notice of the concerned authorities. She talked about things which left some people gaping at her and was slammed as being outspoken. She was criticized for her controversial writing often. But nobody stopped reading her works. Be it her novels or columns. That’s her charm. Love her or hate her, but you just cannot ignore her. Period!
What are writers for? What’s a duty of a columnist like Shobhaa De? They write their honest opinions for the readers and it’s open for criticism/debate. That is their work and they get paid for it. They bring topics for the readers to think upon for the day over cup of tea. India has given right to express thoughts and opinions to each and every citizen in the country. If one doesn’t like it, well then, put your views forward. The platform is open to everyone. But hello! Is it really open to everyone? Can we freely start a debate, ensuring that it will not lead to abuses and chair-throwing incidences, like it happens in our parliament sessions? Is there any guarantee that pointing out loopholes in the governance will not lead to any physical harm to any individual? Can we bring out the faults of the government without fearing for our lives? Speak about potholes in the city and what’s the bet that politicians will listen? Zero. But what if celebrities write about such cases? A different story. They get fired at by accusing them of trying to divide the nation/readers. But readers and writers alike have right to speak and to be heard after all.
De has appealed to the ministers to “forget tweets, fix potholes.” She tried to bring the pitiable state of Mumbai in front of the ministers, in a time when everybody is busy in preparing for elections. Not for the first time. In a sarcastic remark, she opined that if the government cannot make the city a better place to live in, why not just separate it? A very easy game for the politicians nowadays. In the namesake of progress, new states and new reforms are being formed. Free distribution of laptops, new meals for rupees 12 or 14, formation of states……a bit of a coincidence, with elections around the corner, don’t you think? Something or the other is brewing up in order to get more publicity and votes. With elections around the corner, lots of political parties are taking advantage of the situation. De put her finger on it and got slammed in return. Doesn’t she has the right to point out her view on Twitter? Can’t she make her readers see what’s cooking up? If anybody got a problem with that, well they should tweet their anger as well. Nobody can stop anybody from doing that. Angry outbursts, passing personal taunting comments, useless protests and dirty slogans just show how one is trying to suppress the voice of a citizen. That is an act of cowardice. If one doesn’t like to hear the truth, he/she tries to suppress or avoid hearing it. This time the ministers are trying to suppress the voice of an author, who doesn’t give a damn to nonsense and can’t be intimated.
Dear ministers, why don’t you leave her alone and go do your jobs instead? A harmless writer is doing her job, why don’t you do yours as well so straight-forwardly? Because the potholes are still there on the Mumbai roads every day, today included. And even in Chandigarh, Mangalore, Delhi and Hyderabad. I apologize in advance if I have left out any other cities. It needs a job doing. I don’t want to pay tax every month for walking on roads that are impossible to walk on my high heels. Can you please fix it? And oh yes! There are always power-cuts in my home town in Uttar Pradesh. Look into that as well. Also my aunt complains about irregular water supply in Ghatkopar. See to that too. If you solve all these, you might land up with a new twitter update by Monday. Or wait. The list of problems is more. Better I upload it on Twitter myself. It’s guaranteed now that you people read those updates nowadays anyway. So why waste time in writing here, right?