"In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. Its an aggressive, even a hostile act. You can disguise its aggressiveness all you want with veils of subordinate clauses and qualifiers and tentative subjunctives, with ellipses and evasions with the whole manner of intimating rather than claiming, of alluding rather than stating but theres no getting around the fact that setting words on paper is the tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition of the writers sensibility on the readers most private space."
Joan Didion, Why I Write.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Do Deshon Ki Aik Awaaz!"

While it might have sounded like the most touching line we heard on TV in the past few months, let me just try and remind you, they were talking about none other than India and Pakistan.

I’m not an Indian media fan, but their music is my weakness. Though it wasn’t Star Plus or Sony this time, it was our very own Jang Group, responsible for this very convincing line, ‘Do Deshon Ki Aik Awaaz’, as a part of their project, ‘Aman Ki Asha,’ in collaboration with The Times of India. Now that was interesting.

For those who don’t know, I’m talking about ‘Chhote Ustaad’. It was a music competition for children under fourteen and was screened on both Geo Television and Star Plus. It was a team competition, each team comprised of one Pakistani Singer, and one Indian Singer, thereby presenting an example of unity between the two nations. It had two judges. The famous Sonu Nigham, from India, and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, who has conquered Indian Film Music within a blink of an eye, represented Pakistan. I couldn’t watch all the episodes, but I had a favorite team, and that team won the competition too. So kudos to me!

During the shows, Sonu and Rahat expressed their deep wishes, several times, about how much they wanted to stand on the opposite borders and sing for their respective countries. Very touching indeed! Once on the set, tanks were placed on stage on which guitars replaced the barrels. Again, very touching!

While I might sound sarcastic, “peace” is a good thing. If that is the only objective! Who doesn’t want peace? But I want you to see more than that.

The show projected one thought several times, that the lifestyle of the people of both the countries are ‘the same’, and everyone was so awed all the time, and seemed so surprised about why there was even a need of partition. They never failed to make me feel how dumb our heroes were.

On a show telecast on 14th August, a formal congratulations was said to Rahat Fateh Ali, by Asha Bhosle, who was a guest that day. And the show went on like normal, while there was a special ‘Azaadi Show’ on 15th August. It was elimination day, but there was no elimination because it was ‘Azaadi ka Din’. Shows kept going on, till it was Eid. It was the elimination day again, and how surely I knew there was not going to be any elimination, because it was ‘Eid ka Din’… Alas! I was wrong.

On one occasion, Asha Bhosle took a promise from a Pakistani female participant, to come back to India every year to perform the “Rakhi” ritual, for her male Indian counterpart. Many times you will find Pakistani participants, touching the feet of judges and guests, a Hindu tradition.

A proud father of a Pakistani participant was asked to express his feelings with regards to the proceedings of the show so far, and his stay in India. He addressed the guest, Asha Bhosle, and said, ‘Coming all the way from across the border, and seeing you, is equivalent to my performing the Hajj.’ Even if he was that ignorant, I wish Geo Television had had the foresight to censor it. Just the way they had censored the gifting of a little idol by an Indian participant to Asha, while her Pakistani counterpart was singing the song.

It was the grand finale now. An Indian kid won the ‘Sound of the Subcontinent’ award. He said that he had enjoyed his time with Pakistani kids, and would cherish their friendships for years to come. It was all well, until he said that he didn’t understand why they had to pay the price for the ‘mistake’ of partition that took place sixty years ago! I wonder how a ten-year old can come up with such a ‘deep’ thought.

These are just a few examples from the few programmes I watched. I’m sure there must be many more.

I don’t mind what Indian media has to say, but since Chhote Ustaad was a collaborative project, I am concerned. We need to be more responsible about certain things. We should know where to draw the line. We cannot say or let say anything just for the sake of saying. Don’t we realize how many times we killed the purpose of Two-Nation theory via the words uttered in this particular programme? We want peace, but not at the cost of our ideology. And specially, in a programme involving children, where the target audience will include children for sure, what on earth are we trying to inculcate in their minds?

Yes, I hope for peace! But I want to make sure we don’t forget that we got this country because we believed that Islam and Hinduism are not only two religions, but also two social orders. Despite living together for more than a thousand years, we continued to develop different cultures and traditions. And in case we have forgotten, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan began the period of Muslim self-awakening, Allama Iqbal provided the philosophical explanation, and Quaid-i-Azam translated it into a political reality.. with the help of countless sacrifices made by our forefathers.

It’s my humble request to Jang Group, to be careful in future, and make sure nothing is said or done, that attacks the ‘reason’ we are ‘Pakistan’. We need to resist any attempts by Indians to absorb our individuality, as much today, as we did sixty-three years ago, maybe more.

Let’s not make a mockery of ourselves. Let’s not let anyone do that!


  1. APPLAUSE! That's what you deserve before I move further. The piece certainly makes a point worth-pondering. I say so despite the fact that I have my own set of reservations about the popular interpretation of the so-called two-nations theory. Moreover, there are certainly more realistic notions about the freedom struggle of India and subsequent partition. Nevertheless, Aman Ki Asha including the 'chhote ustad' episode is more a cosmetic development than a true 'one-step-forward' aimed at peace. I believe that peace is in the interest of people, I repeat, PEOPLE, across the Indo-Pak borders. However, objectivity is imperative to realize this dream (peace) and any true advocate of peace in subcontinent cannot overlook the real reasons that jeopardize peace prospects between the neighbors. Similarly, though people to people contacts, so-called civil society initiatives and in this case the Jang-TTI's Aman ki Asha (read media barons' affair) can give an impression that the paths are being paved, the real advancement would only be conspicous if the governments on the both sides decide to move further -- out of political will and in objective pursuance of peace and not out of expediency.

    I must finish as a comment should not become another blog. Kudos again, good work done!

  2. Thanks:)
    I know! They have everything on their list! Didn't want to go into all that.. it was already too long. lol.
    Just wanted to talk about the people to people contact agenda!
    Thanks for reading :) :) :)

  3. Well done!!

    I think our media is being very irresponsible when it comes to maintaining our National integrity. Morning show hosts dancing on Indian tunes with their guests, Actors and actresses dancing on indian songs in our TV dramas, specially on the private channels, its a common site now on our channels. I mean, hellooooo, have we forgotten all our legendary singers??? Dont we have any songs of our own worthy of being included un our own programmes???
    The problem is, we dont appreciate our own people, we want everything to be "imported"!!! No wonder all our young singers and even established ones like RAhat Fateh Ali Khan strive to get a chance to sing for a bollywood movie because they know, no matter how good they are, they wont get the respect, the money, unless they move to a 'bigger' and a 'better' platform.
    And this isnt just about the singers or the songs, we need to understand that WE are Different from THEM. I guess its time for us to stop negating the fact that the Two Nation Theory was indeed true and it will hold true till the very last day of this world!!!