From “Et Tu ?” To “Me Too”

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Unlike my RSS brethren I’m pretty vague about history: I only studied the subject briefly so that I could attempt an easy paper for the IAS exams. (It worked.) And even this was so long ago that what was Current Affairs in my time is now taught as Ancient Indian History. Even with this limited knowledge, however, I detect a similarity between the current #MeToo movement (it’s more a twitch, actually, than a movement ) and the Et Tu moment of Julius Caesar: shock, surprise and anger that the worm could turn, or bite the hand that, well, fingered it. But whereas Caesar accepted that the game was up (“Then die, Caesar!”) our present day mandarins are more in the denial than the dying mode. Take, for example, Mr. MJ Akbar, who appears to have studied history more closely than I, and has therefore detected another similarity – there is a conspiracy behind the whole thing, just as there was in the killing of Caesar ! Come to think of it, he may just have a point. These 16 ladies (at last count, with more jumping on to the bangwagon every day), all hard working professionals scattered throughout the 2 million square kilometers of this subcontinent, obviously have nothing better to do than to target an ageing rogue well past his sell-by date. Mr. Akbar has not yet revealed why they would conspire against him: was it the editorial couch or the editorial ouch!- the proof reading, the copy writing, the rejected by-line, the trashed article? Did the former editor wield his pen ruthlessly, or did the moving finger write, and having writ, move on to other off- limit places?

MeToo MJ Akbar

Back in the late 1960’s, in St. Xavier’s College Calcutta, we all knew that Mr. Akbar was destined for great things for we could hear the testosterone sloshing around inside him when he walked past us. But none of us imagined that he would reach this ultimate pinnacle of success – giving an interview to a lady journalist in a five star hotel in a bathrobe, or receiving one in underclothes. Wow! Move over in your grave, Hugh Hefner! It doesn’t get much bigger than this, if you get my drift. And it is precisely this peculiar sartorial sangfroid that, I believe, landed him the job of junior Minister of External Affairs. Not his editorial skills. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but not mightier than the sod. For who could be better qualified to conduct affairs, external or internal, than an editor who bounces more interns than cheques, who puts to bed the paper along with the reporter every night, who thinks the wee hours of the night are also the prime “ouie” hours? These, mind you, are the as yet unsubstantiated allegations against Mr. Akbar, but they only establish how well qualified he was for his ministerial assignment. If experience matters – if the Agriculture Minister should be an agriculturist, the Education Minister an educationist, the Industry Minister an industrialist, and so on – then of what possible use is an External Affairs Minister if he has not had affairs? So we should stop all this whining and complaining and allow the man to get on with his job. He may not know his history but he’s well clued up on anatomy.

[Sadly, even as I write this word has just come in that Mr. Akbar has resigned, accepting immoral responsibility for things he claims not to have ever done. He has thrown in the towel, thus depleting his skimpy wardrobe even further. Maybe we shall soon see him in sheep’s clothing, something he should have donned much earlier, instead of baring himself every-time his bell rang. He could have saved himself a lot of grief had he done so. The nation too would have gained: now we’ll never know whether his international reach would have exceeded his grasp, or clutches, as the case may be. Maybe he would have been better off just hugging the Prime Minster, as Rahul Gandhi did; he could then have proudly proclaimed “Me Too!” and it would have been Mr. Modi saying: “Et tu, Akbar?” And here’s another piece of history I still recollect: remember that other Akbar who walled up alive the lovely Anarkali because she dared to express her love for his son, Salim? Well, guess what? – it’s now pay back time for the Anarkalis. I guess I’ve got my history a bit mixed up here, but as I’ve already confessed, it was never one of my strong points.]

Avay Shukla retired from the Indian Administrative Service in December 2010. He is a keen environmentalist and loves the mountains.....he has made them his home. He blogs at

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