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Indians have no sense of humor By Justice Katju

Justice Katju humorously recounts his experiences of facing backlash for his jokes about Bihar, Odisha, and Sikhs, highlighting the lack of humor in India. He advises Indians to avoid making jokes to stay out of trouble, emphasizing the country's sensitivity to perceived insults.


Justice Markandey Katju

7/7/20243 min read

Indians have no sense of humor

By Justice Katju

Most Indians lack a sense of humor. I can say this from personal knowledge and experience.

A few years back I put up a Facebook post stating that since Pakistanis often demand Kashmir, let us have a deal with them. We will give them Kashmir if they are also willing to take Bihar with it.

Now anyone with even a little common sense would understand that this was said as a joke. I am a retired person, who am I to give Bihar to Pakistan ? And is it possible to give it physically ?

But no. Biharis made a huge hue and cry and hullabaloo about it, saying it was a big 'apmaan' ( insult ) to Bihar. They took out demonstrations against me, burnt my posters, burnt my effigies, and if I had been in Bihar at that time it is quite possible they may have burnt me too. Many called for my arrest, and a criminal case was filed against me on a charge of sedition

The Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, condemned me

And a political leader of Bihar filed a criminal case against me.

Ultimately I decided to apologize to get out of this mess.

A few days thereafter I met Mrs Meera Kumar, then Speaker of the Lok Sabha, at Delhi airport lounge, where we were awaiting our flights to different destinations. I told her about this incident, and said I was only joking. She smiled at me and said “ Katju saheb, ab kuch din aap Bihar mat jaaiyega “ Justice Katju, please don’t go to Bihar for sometime “.

Some time thereafter someone asked me to say something about Odiyas. So I posted this on my fb page, this time taking care to write at the end that this was just a joke.

'' I was asked to write about the Oriyas ( Odias ). What is there to write about these poor chaps Ever since they got a thrashing at the hands of Emperor Ashoka in the battle of Kalinga they have been a dejected lot. Now all they have with them are a lot of pots ( Patras ), big pots ( Mahapatras ), and supposedly intelligent kings ( Patnaiks ). And of course they have Lord Jaggannath, to whom they pray every day for revenge on the abominable Bihari Hari Om

P.S. Odias, this is just a joke, so dont file a case against me ''/

But again demonstrations erupted in Odisha, ( and even in front of my flat in Noida ) against me, my posters and effigies were burnt, and again I decided that discretion is the better part of valour, and quickly apologized.

Once I cracked this joke on Sikhs :

'' A Sardarji was invited to a dinner party. The invitation card said “ Black tie only “.

When the Sardarji reached the party he found people wearing shirts and pants also ''.

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court praying for an order banning Sardarji jokes. The Court referred the matter to a retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice H.S.Bedi, for his opinion. Justice Bedi, himself a Sikh, said that the matter was frivolous, as Sardarji jokes are only jokes, and he himself relates them often. The petition was then dismissed.

So my recommendation to all Indians is : never joke. It is dangerous to do so. You may get embroiled in a criminal case filed by someione whose '' feelings have been hurt ''. And always have a funereal, sullen, morose, surly, melanchloly, humorless, gloomy, grim, stony, dour, forbidding aand sombre countenance.

That is the only way to keep out of trouble in India.

And like Gandhiji's 3 monkeys, shut your mouth, eyes and ears

Justice Markandey Katju is an Indian jurist and former judge of Supreme Court of India who served as chairman for the Press Council of India from 2011 to 2014. - Join our official Telegram group for engaging community discussions on contemporary issues. Stay updated with our latest articles and write-ups, which are crafted after thoughtful discussions within the group. Be a part of our vibrant community and contribute to meaningful conversations.