While Smriti Irani might bristle with faux indignation at the newspaper report, it is very clear that just as Teacher's Day was hijacked by her boss and a day of celebration became an assignment, the first attack on Christmas as a holiday has been made in the war on India's cosmopolitan way of life, says the Mango Indian.
Just what kind of hatred do you need to have in your heart to steal a child's Christmas cheer?
Thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's human resource development ministry, helmed by the eminently qualified Smriti Irani, this may no longer be a rhetorical question.
Here's the news, as it appeared in The Times of India:
'The Union human resource development ministry wants to celebrate the birthdays of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Hindu Mahasabha leader Madan Mohan Malviya by observing 'good governance day' on December 25. The BJP government wants CBSE to carry out various activities, like an essay competition, so that students' participation increases.'
Television bahu turned Marxist-education hater Irani has, of course, clarified that the schools will remain closed. And that the online essay competition is 'voluntary.'
Here's the fine print. The ministry's circular to the deputy commissioner, Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, says, 'You are requested to encourage participation...'
And 'You are requested to ensure that Good Governance Day is celebrated in all JNVs under your region... Action taken in this regard is to be communicated.'
JNV stands for Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas -- the roughly 546 schools set up across the country to give gifted rural children access to quality education.
So, while Irani might bristle with faux indignation at the 'malicious' newspaper report, it is very clear that just as Teacher's Day was hijacked by her boss and a day of celebration became an assignment, the first attack on Christmas as a holiday has been made.
Why should children observe good governance day?
Why should they have to mug up about a prime minister?
Wasn't that kind of personality cult a specialty of the Congress?
So children should know about the Hindu Mahasabha, which opposed the Indian Independence movement. When Netaji Subhas Bose was preparing to hit Britain where it hurts, the Hindu Mahasbha supported Britain's World War II effort. When the country was preparing for Mahatma Gandhi to give the Quit India call, Hindu Mahasabha leaders were helping the British govern India.
Go check Wikipedia before the able H brigade cyber army takes those references down.
Just the other day on Facebook, I came across a blog, headlined 'Why I support Narendra Modi' or some other words that conveyed the same meaning. It started with a disclaimer: 'I am no rightwing Hindu fanatic' -- or some other words that conveyed the same meaning.
It was written by someone like you or me. Apart from sadly hilarious declarations of ignorance, it spoke about how Modi was a metaphor for what the average Indian wants: Good jobs, money in the bank, good roads, the latest mobile phone, you know the drill.
Meanwhile, Madhu Kishwar, the firebrand feminist publisher-turned-firebrand Modi-model espouser, seems to think someone has done 'black magic' on our prime minister.
Meanwhile, the US dollar seems to have not understood yet that Modi is prime minister.
Meanwhile, the loony fringe of the Hindu Right seems to have understood only too well that Modi is the prime minister. From love jihad to ghar wapasi, ever more creative phrases that fan the hate are making themselves at home in our day to day conversations.
Meanwhile, there is a lot of talk of India's culture being upheld.
Popular video games are being banned because they have gay characters, and in the name of banning porn, the government is working to enforce Internet censorship a la China and Saudi Arabia, and, via its non-State arm of the bizarre Right, to enforce societal moral codes a la the Taliban.
So, you see, those who lament the lack of big bang reforms even 200 days after the ascendancy of the Arjuna focused on nothing but the fish-eye of development, have got it all wrong.
There are very big bang reforms underway to change the cosmopolitan Indian way of life.
Pity, because no culture or civilisation that tries to project itself as superior and tries to erect walls around it can survive the onslaught of time.
Pity, because Atal Bihari Vajpayee would have made a nice Santa Claus.
Image: Children at a school in Gurgaon dress up as little Santa Claus for Christmas. Photograph: PTI Photo.