A Darshan of Two Swamys in My Dream
It was almost 1 am and I was tired after hours of debate with my friends (over several rounds of scotch, of course) about the situation in Sri Lanka and the way some ‘national’ news channels manufactured consent as well as content. We called it a day and returned our homes. Happily drunk, I hit the bed and fell asleep in a flash. And I entered dreamland.
There I was, one of the guests of a talk show on KDTV, a national news channel*. Darkha Butt, a famous TV journalist, was the anchor. The topic of debate? My pet subject.
Butt: Welcome to our show ‘Face the Country’ and we are live from Chennai. We have with us Mr. Subbuni Swamy, leader of the Jaalra Party, Mr. Jho Raaswamy, commentator on Tamil Nadu politics and Mr. Karthick Ram, activist.
The recent defeat of the LTTE and the death of Prabhakaran elicited different responses from various sections of political parties in Tamil Nadu. Many of them are in a state of denial, claiming that the Tiger leader is still alive. So Mr. Swamy, what do you think about the reactions in Tamil Nadu after the rout of the LTTE?
Sub: It is all a humbug. All those people who staged demonstrations were on the payroll of the LTTE. They are now frustrated that they’ve lost a source of income. Every Indian should be happy over the death of Prabhakaran.
Butt: Mr. Ram, how would you react to that statement?
Me: Well, I guess I’m not Indian then. Jus kidding.. Mera bharat mahaan. See, the so called “rout of the LTTE” – it was achieved at a terrible cost. Over 30,000 Tamil civilians were killed since January. The final operation was nothing less than a blood bath. The Lankan govt’s war is something beyond the military defeat of the LTTE – its objective is to humiliate the Tamils who dared stand up against the majoritarian state. The reactions in Tamil Nadu, condemning the genocide of Tamils, is owing to sympathy among the people here for their suffering brethren across the Palk Strait. There is no funding for sympathy, as Mr. Swamy alleges. And please call me Karthick. I don’t like to be called Ram.
Butt (laughing): Ok Karthick. But why are Tamil Nadu’s politicians in a denial mode over Prabhakaran’s death when even Tiger sources have confirmed it?
Me: Well, there are just too many unanswered questions and too many speculations around Prabhakaran’s death. The Lankan govt has given too many versions with too many loopholes for us to take its word as the truth. As for the Tiger’s version of events, they are something to consider. Personally, I’m not sure what to say right now.
Butt: Mr. Raaswamy, what would the Tigers do next? Can they make a comeback?
Jho: The Tigers are a decimated outfit. There is no coming back. Sri Lanka has shown the world how to deal secessionist-terrorists with an iron fist. India should learn from them in dealing with our own secessionist problems.
Butt: I think you have a point there. Mr. Swamy, there are many who claim that there is now a humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka and that India has a moral responsibility towards the Tamils. What do you think India should do, now that the Tiger threat is over?
Sub: Some pro-LTTE elements try to paint Sri Lanka’s legitimate war against terrorists as a humanitarian crisis. Many English media outlets like your channel, many progressive newspapers, and popular intellectuals like myself and Mr. Raaswamy have repeatedly exposed their hollow accusations. Of course, some anti-national people like Arundhati Roy and Medha Patkar have spoken in favour of the so-called Tamil cause – but we shouldn’t take these terrorist supporters seriously. So what if some civilians die? This kind of things happens in all wars. National integrity is most important. As a responsible neighbour, India should extend all possible support to Sri Lanka in its efforts at reconstruction. After all, even the Sinhalese have umbilical cords with India.
Butt: What is your take on that Karthick?
Me: What ‘legitimate country’ uses its air-force to bomb its own civilians? Which democracy herds displaced people into camps which are little better than prisons? Don’t you know that Sri Lanka ranks among the lowest when it comes to press freedom and human rights? Sri Lanka is not a democracy – it is an ethnocracy where the state works for the majority community and disempowers its minorities through brute force. And India’s decision to back Sri Lanka in the UN Human Rights Council convention at Geneva speaks volumes about the moral standing of Gandhi’s country.
Jho: India opposing Sri Lanka is out of the question. We cannot lose a strategic ally for a bunch of Tamils. Also, if someone raises the Kashmir issue, we will be in soup.
Butt: Besides, LTTE killed Rajiv Gandhi…
Me: For how many years are you going to say this same thing? Till the Tamils are wiped out in Lanka? I don’t think supporting the butchering of ordinary Tamil civilians today just because some suicide bomber blew up one of your leaders in the past is the right thing to do. But then again, you’re the national media – you have your own rules and you bend them as and when you see fit. Your channel and a particular ‘progressive’ (in a sarcastic tone) newspaper based in Chennai cry bloody murder if Israel targets Palestinian civilians in their operations against Hamas. Are Tamil civilians lesser human beings? Have you no sensibility? Or are you just worried that you will lose your government ads or run into trouble with your pro-establishment corporate sponsors?
Butt (sheepishly): I.. ummm.. we are… err… ah! Mr. Swamy wants to say something.
Sub: I don’t think you should pay much heed to the words of these fellows. They lack credibility.
Me: Did YOU talk about credibility Mr. Swamy? This coming from a person who loses his deposits each time he contests from Tamil Nadu is a bad joke.
Sub: Do you dare question my credibility?
Me: Actually, I’m questioning the credibility of these so called national TV channels. I mean, lets face it. You are a non-entity in Tamil Nadu’s politics and Mr. Jho Raaswamy is at the most a comedian – his commentaries on politics are becoming sick jokes as he gets older. The section of population in Tamil Nadu that are likely to back you are a numerically insignificant lot. Yet, you talk as though you have the backing of 6.5 crore Tamils. And these English channels lap it up as though you two guys were the voice of Tamil Nadu. I’m not sure who are the clowns here – you guys living in a delusion of being politically relevant, or the news channels that give bigots like you the space to rave and rant.
Sub: You terrorist scum, you! I will sue you! I’ll have you booked under the NSA, USA, RSA, BSA etc. etc.
Me: No you can’t. You’re in MY dream. And that, my friend, is beyond the long arm of your laws. Haha hehe hoho…
I woke up laughing.
*All character that appear on the TV show, including the channel itself, are figments of my imagination. Any resemblance whatsoever to real persons or organizations is purely coincidental.