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Posted at: Jul 16, 2017, 12:14 AM; last updated: Jul 16, 2017, 12:14 AM (IST)
Saba Naqvi
MOCKINGBIRD
Saba Naqvi

The Yogi and the Taj Mahal

Saba Naqvi
Yogi says Taj Mahal is not representative of Indian culture. Which culture then is Taj Mahal representative of? The same culture gave us the Urdu, poetry, literature...
My admiration for Yogi Adityanath goes up day by day. He makes no bones about what he likes and does not like. So far, we know that he likes Hindus and does not like Muslims. Fair enough, free country. And let’s face it even I don’t like many Muslims (and dare I say even many Hindus). So, I’m keeping an open mind on that front. No matter that he is the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, where every fifth person is a Muslim. As long as they can go about their daily lives and not get lynched, it’s ok. 

Some people, who refuse to shout ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ when they are bullied, need to understand that they are lucky to be alive. When friends from Uttar Pradesh call up and say in paranoid voices that they are treated badly if they approach the district administration, I just say, keep your head down and take it easy. There’s a very slim chance that an application with a Muslim name asking for assistance will move in the administration, so just learn to live with it.

My message is blunt: Just remember you are down to the basic need of not getting lynched and as long as that is the status, do not promote the victimhood narrative because some commentators have been saying that is bad for India’s image. My dear Muslim brothers and sisters, you must at every step, while struggling to earn a livelihood and keeping mind and body together, and ducking the hate, be mindful of India’s image. That’s very important: the national image. So don’t sully it with your sad story. 

Some elitist aesthetes are getting distressed about Yogi’s position on the Taj Mahal that till now was considered one of the wonders of the world but now he’s said it is not representative of Indian culture. I wonder which culture then is Taj Mahal representative of? The same culture gave us Qutab Minar, Red Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. The same culture gave us the Urdu language, poetry, literature, the most magnificent structures of northern India and all such useless stuff!

I’m trying to digest the larger point: “Muslim culture” should be separated from Indian culture possibly because in the world, according to Yogi, the most unkind view could be that the entire community is a bunch of potential beef-eating traitors, while the kindest would be that they don’t count anyway, since they don’t vote for the BJP, Yogi or Modi. That’s it really in a nutshell, so nothing to freak out about. 

Do contemplate another possibility. The next time a glamorous western world leader couple drops in on India and expresses a desire to visit the Taj Mahal, the Yogi could waylay them with the Bhagwad Gita. Much more profound anyway and imagine the photo opportunities. Princess Diana is dead and Prince Charles is remarried but perhaps if they had read the Bhagwad Gita instead of visiting the Taj they could have realised that it’s all an illusion anyway and saved their marriage! Barack Obama and Michelle are pretty sorted out but they could have got better insights into life with the Gita instead of taking in the sights such as that very wasteful marble mausoleum called the Taj. Now Donald Trump and Melania are yet to come and they don’t like Muslims too; so the Gita should be fine except it’s not clear if Trump can read. 

And those dismayed that the Taj finds no mention in the Budget speech of the Yogi regime when the cultural heritage of the state was mentioned, don’t panic. You have new tourist destinations coming up in what are referred to as the Ramayana circuit, the Buddhist circuit and the Krishna circuit. Just think of good family vacations at the yet to be built Krishna Museum in Mathura. Remember Ayodhya, Varanasi, Mathura and Chitrakoot are the tourism boomtowns of UP under Yogi and forget Agra, that filthy place with the Taj also full of Dalits and Muslims involved in the shoe trade that also involves leather that comes from dead cows. You get it: Taj not nationalistic enough, while leather of cow very filthy although living cow very holy. Altogether Agra is a very bad choice. 

There’s one more thing to bear in mind. The CM has ordered the cutting of thousands of fig trees along the route of the Kanwar Yatra, terming them inauspicious. Perhaps he associates figs and dates with foods consumed by Muslims during the Ramzan fast. But so far only figs are described as inauspicious… till now, most Indians ate figs as a healthy food but clearly we are all in for more enlightened times.

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