What do Indians talk about most? God, money, politics and sex emerge as the top four favourites in the one man public opinion poll I conducted last week. Of course, not in the order I have listed them. And with seasonal variations. When a catastrophe strikes or things start going wrong, God tops. When all is tranquill, money manages to push God down to second place. Politics is a national obsession and gets better of both God and Money during elections. Likewise, sex, though it seldom gets the top ranking, manages to insinuate itself in most conversations whether it be about god and religion, money and status or politics and partibazi. Since most Indians have sex in their mind than in their groins, it finds more expression of speech than in action.
Another revelation that emerged from my field study in that whatever be the favourite topic of conversation, most Indians relate it to themselves. When talking about God or religion, they emphasize their own religiousity ot denigrate others as sanctmonious humbugs; when they talk about money it will be of their prowess in making it or the unscrupulous methods adopted by those who have more; when it is politics the undercurrent is always that politics is dirty business because it doesn’t attract cleaner people like themselves And when it is about sex, although it is others we strip naked, what runs through our tittle-tattle about it is the refrain that given the opportunity we could do better.
The ‘I’ is always triumphant.
- From ‘Favourite Topics’ (15/06/1982), Khushwant Singh