Reality Bites: Freedom House Awards for 2021 to three champions

For championing freedom and democracy, the annual awards this year have been conferred this year on three outstanding Indians

Reality Bites: Freedom House Awards for 2021 to three champions
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Rupa Gulab

There is a fabulous new phrase in the world lexicon that has Indian origins, but before I reveal it, I must give you the background. Let’s go to an old phrase first: “To speak with a forked tongue.” It can be traced far back to ‘The Book of Genesis’ where the serpent in the Garden of Eden spoke with a forked tongue: that is, the serpent lied through its fangs.

In the books and comics I had read on Red Indians (native Americans) in my childhood, they frequently accused the White invaders of speaking with forked tongues, saying sweet things when they meant something else altogether. Of course, these were written by White Americans, so that probably explains the Biblical references. PS: I’m coming to that fantastic new Indian origin phrase soon, hold your horses!

Which brings me to the G7 meeting in the UK in 2021. The UK had invited the Dear Despot as a guest because it badly needs trade agreements now that it is on its lonesome ownsome without the EU. Sadly, the Dear Despot couldn’t be there in person because of the second devastating wave of Covid in India. He was cleverly persuaded to avoid travelling, and had to settle for a virtual appearance. Someone on the G7 planning committee had a terribly wicked sense of humour and suggested that the Dear Despot make the opening speech on a subject that is not dear to his heart: Open Societies that defend human rights, freedom of speech, democracy, etc, both online and offline.

As we all know, the Dear Despot has no sense of irony, so he grabbed the opportunity and got one of the hypocrites in his team to write a load of crock. How we howled with laughter when we heard him speak so earnestly on freedom! And how deaf he was not to hear the entire nation guffawing in one voice—that laughter probably created more good vibrations than all the thaalis that were clanged by his obedient supporters in 2020.

Now to the new phrase (cue fanfare of trumpets): “Brown Indian speak with forked beard.” Yes!!! His stylist has recently given him a devilish forked beard (I doubt it was deliberate because none of the people the Dear Despot surrounds himself with have funny bones). Hurrah, hurrah— this is yet another marvellous first for the Dear Despot! A mention in a dictionary is so much more valuable than all his entries in the ‘Weird People Who Do Weird Things Book of Weird Records’.

I’m wondering why the Ministry of External Affairs is keeping mum on this astounding achievement—come on, its boss inspired a whole new phrase! Its silence is all the more shocking because the MEA is known to coerce leading national dailies to make front page headlines out of trivial things like “Biden said hello to the Dear Despot during a routine telephone call.”


We must urge External Affairs Minister Jaishankar to call political campaign strategist Prashant Kishor. Remember all those kiddy books that Kishor published when he campaigned for the Dear Despot in 2014—those cringe-making stories about him wrestling crocodiles and other such nonsense? Jaishankar should ask Kishor to put him in touch with those writers and hire them to do a new series called ‘Brown Indian Who Speaks With Forked Beard’. It will be an international hit, I can bet on it!

Twitter will probably promote these “Forked Beard” books for free, considering that Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has been attacking it relentlessly before and after the Dear Despot’s speech, and even sent cops to its offices. For the past few months Prasad has been flaring his nostrils as wide as a human being possibly can on camera, and threatening to ban Twitter. Sometimes I wonder if Prasad and his cabinet colleague Nirmala Sitharaman are the same person in different clothes—both do the nostril flaring thing with, well, flair.

Can anyone explain why Prasad is determined to shout at Twitter so loudly that the entire world realises that the Dear Despot lied at the G7 meeting? Is there some sort of internal plot to defame or (gasp) dethrone the Dear Despot, or is he merely following the Dear Despot’s instructions? Either way, the world is laughing its head off at Brown Indian who speaks with forked beard.

(Any resemblance to real people and events is a coincidence)

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