By Kunal Anand:
What are the chances that someone reading this article hasn’t heard and laughed on at least one of the zillions of Santa Banta jokes doing rounds in SMSes and Internet? The chances are nil. It’s practically impossible to miss on India’s favourite “jokers”.
Every rib tickling slapstick about how dumb a husband, a customer or for that matter, a human being can be, is almost sure to have Santa as the protagonist. Some people are braver; they prefer to use the word “Sardar” instead of Santa. We all laugh and revel at these jokes, we forward them to our friends (me being no exception). In the end, it’s all about spreading joy right?
I don’t think so. I don’t find any proper explanation as to why we should have so many “Sardar” jokes and so few of “Bihari, Bengali, Marathi, Pathan and Christian” jokes. Why do we all try to be politically correct when talking about every community but the Sikhs? If Santa Banta jokes are all about laughing at how foolish this particular community is, then, trust me, we can safely conclude ourselves to be the most ignorant people on earth. I bet none of us knows a Sardar who goes nuts at 12 noon. The reason-there is none! Similarly, all those dumb jokes about how Santa, who had come to a hospital for urine check-up started crying after he heard from Banta that they had cut his finger for blood test are stupid to say the least. In America, they portray blondes as dumb heads for no apparent reason, in India; we do the same to Sardars.
A community which has given the Indian Army the maximum number of Chief of Staffs and martyrs. A state which has fed the entire nation for decades by yielding bumper harvests year after year. A religious minority which, unlike every other caste and faith has never demanded any kind of reservations and a group of people who are respected all over for their honesty, hard work and entrepreneurship, surely deserve better from their own countrymen. It’s not that they want us to change; they hardly have time for this. They are too busy shaping our economy and saving our frontiers. They are too happy breaking into a Bhangra whenever India wins in Hockey and Cricket. They are too busy celebrating LIFE to give a thought to what we think of them. That’s why they never initiated protests or cut off arms on the pretext of blasphemy. For all those Santa Banta joke lovers, try replacing the word Sardar with Bihari, Marathi or Pathan and get ready to be branded as communalists and regional bigots.
Punjab suffered the most during partition. Later, the entire Sikh community bore the brunt of the madness of two Sikh bodyguards who shot down Indira Gandhi. But they never let that scar their psyche. Compare this to how the entire valley boils for months over “alleged” killings of civilians and how we all vouch for each other’s blood on the name of language and statehood. A few Punjabis tried similar things at the behest of ISI in 1980s. Another Punjabi (K.P.S Gill) nipped them in the bud. Today, Punjabis form one of the richest and most influential communities in not only India but also Canada, US and UK. They have proved their mettle in every sphere of life.
A Sardar revolutionised our economy when it was on the verge of collapse, the same guy is now India’s Prime Minister. 90,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered before a Sardar (Lt General Jagjit Singh Aurora). Bhagat Singh gave an entirely new life to India’s freedom struggle when he walked down the gallows on 23rd March, 1931. A motley bunch of 90 Punjab regiment soldiers dared an entire Pakistani regiment of 600 in the Battle of Longewala, 1971 and won! These are a few things, which, believe me, only the Sardar can do. But there’s one thing they will never do-asking us to stop the derogatory jokes we crack about them. Why? Maybe because they don’t care, or maybe they care too much to stop us from stealing those few moments of laughter in our otherwise boring and mundane lives. Under any circumstance, such community specific jokes cannot be acceptable in any responsible society and it’s time we start valuing the Sardar, because, this country could never be what it is today without our beloved Santa.
The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.