The Lower House of the Indian Parliament, The Janata Sabha (People’s House), was witness to an extraordinary debate yesterday afternoon, September 12. More than 72 years after Britain was forced out of India, a number of Indian Parliamentarians from the ruling party, HOPE, provoked what at first was furious outrage when they argued that the time was wholly ripe to bring colonialism back. Some members of the Indian Trotskyite Communist Party (ITC), joined by lawmakers from other opposition parties, started pounding their desks in fury and shouted, “Shame! Shame!” Thereupon, the Parliamentarians from the ruling party at once hastened to add that they had been grossly misunderstood. Speaking on behalf of the group advocating for colonialism, the former Raja of Piplinagar put forward the case eloquently if succinctly: “Britain has shown that it is wholly unfit to govern itself. White heathens have made quite a display of their buffoonery; they act like children, unnecessarily inflicting wounds on themselves. They say that their House of Commons is the Mother of Parliaments, but no one understands motherhood as well as we Indians do. Long before Parliament was invented, we had village republics where people peacefully governed themselves.” Before he could go on any further, the House erupted in cheers.
Since there have been very few moments in the living memory of this reporter when lawmakers from HOPE (Hindus Opposing Pakistani Extremism) and ITC were able to find common cause, the average reader would doubtless gain something from understanding the finer points of the debate. Mr. Anand Savarkar, who was elected from the Phune constituency in Maharashtra, began with some incontrovertibly true and barely controversial remarks. He noted that the English, judging from their food habits over the centuries before the advent of the 20th century and the arrival of Indians in Britain, were practically savages. They lived on the uncooked meat of various dirty animals and called it steak, and, God knows from what source of inspiration, later in their so-called evolution added “kidney” to come up with something which they fancied an edible delicacy: “steak and kidney pie.” Mr. Mooli Paranthewallah, who represents the Jatlok constituency in Haryana, asked at this point to be recognized by the chair and his wish was granted. “Sir, while I am in agreement with my friend, I must say that he is nevertheless somewhat ill-informed about what the British construe as a ‘delicacy’. I would like to bring to the attention of the member from Phune that their real delicacy is what they call “HAG IS”.
Mr. Savarkar interjected, “Sir, we have not yet descended to the level of depravity of the English people. I grant that the wife of an Englishman is generally a HAG, but in our culture we have brought up to treat women with respect. Every woman is a goddess; note how often a woman goes by the name of Devi. [Disclosure: This reporter’s mother also goes by the name of Devi.] Moreover, even with their love of irony, my friend is stretching the point in suggesting that to the English HAG IS a delicacy.” Mr. Paranthewallah, visibly agitated, replied: “The Honourable Member from Phune, while doubtless learned in our epics and the Sanskrit language, has some serious shortcoming in his appreciation of English. Now if my friend had permitted me to continue, he would have learned that HAG is a rather dry stew made up of the minced heart, lungs and liver of a sheep . . .”
Mr. Savarkar, no sooner had he heard these words, was wracked by a violent fit of vomiting. Several other members felt nauseous. All business came to a standstill as the doctor on call was ushered in and a number of peons came in with buckets of waters and some rags. Mr. Savarkar was duly attended to and soon the discussion resumed. Mr. Savarkar, apologizing for the interruption, sought to explain that he was of somewhat delicate constitution and no one in his family had for at least eight generations even so much as tasted an egg, what to speak of the intestines or lungs of a sheep. He reminded his colleagues that his ancestors were in possession of several hundred of the choicest recipes for the preparation of vegetables, and noted that the English thought that carrots and peas could only be consumed by boiling them. (Cries of, “Well said! Hear! Bahut Thik Bola!)
Mr. Savarkar then continued, “I think it would not be unjust to say that the English were known the world over for having the worst food. Even the Germans have been of that opinion, and that’s saying something. Though Hitler was a great admirer of the English, he thinks that they would have been unconquerable had they, like him, remained vegetarians. But, Members of the House, I do not stand here to pass judgment on whether the Germans, who themselves feast on pigs and take great offense at having their sausages called pigs, or the British should take the greater responsibility for their wretched food habits. I think that all fair-minded people understand that Britain had to colonize India so that its people could start eating well. Imagine, they had what they proudly call the Magna Carta, but what use are all these rights if, at the end of the day, the hard-working man comes home to a plate of boiled peas, mushy carrots, and the intestines of a pig. And if he complains, the HAG is . . .”
Mr. Savarkar was on a roll and had scarcely finished but the words, “hard-working man”, caught the attention of Mr. Palkhiwallah of Ghazni Nagar constituency of Ahmedabad. He sprung to his feet and chimed in with some indignation, “Honorable Members of the House, I very much object to the characterization of the average British as hard-working. My esteemed colleague has evidently not been reading the newspapers, or he would have known that British Airways has gone on a 48-hour strike. Now, I ask you, is that what one would expect of hard-working men? They say that men and women of this generation no longer believe in the spirit of hard work, but I beg to differ. The problem, Honourable Members, is that this welfare state has spoiled the British and Europeans. They have a 35-hour work week, and I now hear talk of 30-hour work weeks. What are honest, hard-working men to do the rest of the time? Sir, I say that the problem is with these lazy natives of the British Isles. They should look to the example of the Indian farmer, who tills the land, breaks his back on the plough, and toils until the sweat comes down as rain. We have the moral responsible to bring the Hindu work ethic to these men and we will yet make men of them.”
(At this point, one of the attendants blew his bugle and the house adjourned for lunch break. The Speaker announced that the debate would continue during the late afternoon session.)