Vinod Mubayi and Raza Mir


We begin by wishing our readers a Happy Deepavali. This festival is celebrated all over South Asia by lighting lamps, but this Deepavali, we remember Faiz’s forlorn poem Raushniyon ke Shehr (The City of Lights), where he articulates his worries about the prospect for peace:


Khair ho teri lailaon ki, in sab se keh do

Aaj ki shab jab diye jalaayen, oonchi rakhen lau


[May your nights remain safe, do tell them

When they light lamps tonight, keep the wicks high]


The sabre rattling between India and Pakistan, the periodic border skirmishes that destroy civilian homes and bring out the bile in the cultural nationalist right, has all of us in a state of tremendous tension. In India, the BJP has begun to take the gloves off in an attempt to ratchet up anti-Pakistan sentiment. Of course, at the heart of their agitation lies a crass expression of Hindutva, and its attendant terrorization of minorities. At the recent funeral of a man accused of beating a Muslim to death for possessing beef, his body was shrouded in the Indian flag, and he was lauded as a martyr (no matter that he died of chikungunya). Things would be funny had they not been so bleak.


In a remarkable display of extortion, Hindutva activists blocked the release of the Bollywood blockbuster Ae Dil, Hai Mushkil, relenting only when the producer “donated” Rs. 5 crores to organizations of their choice and dedicated his movie to Indian soldiers killed by extremists in border violence. The film was singled out because it featured a Pakistani actor. The blurring of boundary between politician and thug continues with rank impunity.

One must look for silver linings among dark clouds. For one, Ae Dil, Hai Mushkil was released and is quite successful, going to show that the public at large is not as exercised about right-wing issues as they may hope. For another, we certainly look forward to the November 8 election in the US, where the resounding defeat of Donald Trump will, among other things, drop a dollop of smelly egg on the faces of those buffoons among the Indian Right-Wing diaspora who held a shameless celebration of the candidate in New Jersey in October. We hope they lost their money along with their credibility. Should we feel sad at their plight? Ae Dil, Hai Mushkil.

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