Santa and Banta are humorous fellows, candid enough to crack a joke on themselves… let them be!

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Let’s laugh, or smile a bit first.

Banta asks, “Why is Santa Claus always a man?” Santa replies, “Because no woman will wear the same dress year after year!”

I want to assume that the reader is a Sikh. Did you get offended by the joke? I bet you enjoyed it. Doesn’t Santa have a point? You will chuckle at the joke and move on with your life. A sensible, understanding Sikh will not lose sleep over such harmless, non-toxic jokes. Right to Equality has not been infringed, can never be. Jokes are too light-hearted to affect that.

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There have been innumerable jokes on various Indian communities that have been doing the rounds for ages. There have been the ‘stingy Marwari’, ‘the calculating Gujarati’, ‘the monkey-cap wearing Bengali’, the Gulf-visiting Keralite, and the likes of numerous such stereotypes. Nobody has bothered much, not to the extent of filing a petition with the Supreme Court. Jokes are jokes, for crying out loud.

The ruckus about a recent PIL to the Supreme Court seeking ban on jokes on Sikhs and Sardar could be the brainchild of a stern mind, not willing to accept the fact that he speaks just for himself. Sikh lawyer Harvinder Chowdhury has filed a petition that seeks Sardar jokes be banned online, and if there is compensation, it should be deposited in the National Legal Aid. After a witty banter with Chowdhury, the SC bench has now agreed to examine the PIL. Chowdhury might want to take life easy…

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In the past couple of years, there have been plenty of such peculiar PILs. If I start compiling a list, it will surely make for a good joke. People nowadays file a PIL because they can. Almost every second person in India has grown overtly sensitive. You don’t like a scene in a movie, file a PIL. You don’t like the speech of a particular neta, file a petition and demand for an apology… It’s that easy.

Moreover, you get your 15 minutes of fame! Thankfully, most such petitions stop at that, and they are not enforced as law. All these petitions make for a funny topic as the Supreme Court judges sit over lunch.

Is Chowdhury being Intolerant, is he speaking for the entire Sikh community, is he being silly? He knows better. The SC should know better still. Frivolous PILs cannot be entertained. Quash it, then bring the filer to task for wasting time.

Who mulls over a joke?

When I hear a good Sardar joke, I laugh and that’s just the end of it. That doesn’t necessarily mean I make fun of my Sikh friends or colleagues. Neither does it mean that I question their intelligence or consider them silly. In fact, many of the people I know from this community just shrug their shoulders when they come across such jokes, and say, “Kya Yaar!”

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There are Santa-Banta websites doing wonderfully well. The Punjabi community is known for its tolerant, boisterous attitude. They have for ages taken the jokes with a pinch of salt. It’s bloody nothing, actually.

India, with all its diversity, has many quirks. Every state has its stereotype and every now and then, we make fun of each other’s regional eccentricities. If we all start filing PILs, we will definitely develop a permanent stiff lip. Anatomically, it’s possible!

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