The Ministry of Culture recently decided to grade artists and writers across the country to ensure that the best get to represent India at events and platforms across the world. Of the metrics used by the ministry, O (Outstanding) stands for the highest score, followed by P (Promising) and W (Waiting).
Knowing the ministry's fondness for artistes, historians and writers of a certain ilk, we wondered what chances India's best-known English-language writers have in the new grading system. Our speculations, let's say, were not very P.
Chetan Bhagat (O): Author of books such as The Three Mistakes of My Life, Bhagat certainly didn't make the mistake of writing anti-national stuff. So pleased is India's beloved prime minister with the country's most beloved author, he tweeted a selfie with him on his birthday a couple of years ago.
Rajiv Malhotra (O): With a distinguished list of books under his name, a good number of which have been borrowed from the work of others, he is a mascot for the saffron brigade in the US of A, home to Hindutva's latest pin-up boy, Donald Trump. An obvious O-level star, if there were any.
Arundhati Roy (W): Not many women writers impress the ruling government anyway but this Booker Prize winner has made too much trouble for almost every dispensation over the years. Speaking out and writing against the construction of large dams, illegal mining, repression in Kashmir, and even criticising the Supreme Court: she has done everything to be condemned to W for life.
Vikram Seth (W): He may have written a bestseller called A Suitable Boy, but Seth is a thoroughly unsuitable candidate for any ministerial bounties. He proved himself to be a poster boy for anti-nationals when he supported the reading down of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which occupies a warm corner in the heart of every political regime that has ruled this country for the last 150 years and more.
Amitav Ghosh (W): Sigh. Another trouble-maker type writing about things like the environment and climate change instead of Bharatiya sanskaar. How are these Western concepts worthy of any attention when the national animal, the poor cow, is under such dire threat?
Durjoy Datta (P): His dimples may have stirred and shaken many hearts, but every Bharatiya sanskaar dies many times over in the pages of his bestsellers. Titles like Of Course I Love You! Till I Find Someone Better and Oh Yes, I'm Single! And So Is My Girlfriend are unlikely to give him a good rep with the ministry of culture. Of late, he's been writing more about true love of the forever kind, for which he perhaps deserves a P.
Amish (P): His Shiva trilogy, inspired as much by piety as by research, is but an ode to the star god in the Hindu pantheon. But his pot-smoking, hard swearing, no-nonsense Shiva may not exactly gladden the hearts of our cultural custodians.
Ira Trivedi (P): She writes books with the words dating and sex in the title but also leads a record-breaking 35,000+ people, including our very own PM, on World Yoga Day -- very, very P indeed!