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December 06, 2016

A Really Spicy Sarkari Romance: Three cheers for IAS toppers Tina Dabi and Athar Khan rocking conservative boats

They say you know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams. Well, here’s a real life love story of New India that trumps Bollywood romcoms. She’s the first female Dalit topper of the UPSC exam. He’s a Kashmiri Muslim who was ranked second in the same exam. Jab they met in North Block, it all clicked.
Tina Dabi and Athar Aamir-ul-Shafi Khan haven’t hidden their romance from the public, posting lots of cutesy couple pics on social media. In colour coordinated clothes, no less. If she’s wearing a blue sari he’s sporting a blue tie.
Old schoolers are grumbling that civil servants must keep a low profile. In their time romance stayed behind the banyan trees and recessed arches of Lodhi Gardens. But now it’s tender on Tinder. Larking about in the metro. Taking selfies of kisses. Grandpas, you can’t hold back change. The sarkari setup has got to let go of its screens, veils and masks. Dabi and Khan, keep walking the path of transparency. Don’t look back.
Of course every self-respecting love story must have a villain. And that role is being psychedelically played by the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha. Usually this organisation is busy doing havans for The Donald and crusading against Valentine’s Day. They also campaign to get Gandhi off the currency notes because, hmmm, how to say this one, their hero is Gandhi’s killer Godse.
Now they have somehow gotten it in their head that they can run the personal lives of two IAS toppers. They are calling the Dabi-Khan relationship ‘love jihad’ and insisting the marriage must be preceded by ‘ghar wapsi’ of Khan. But these two officers and lovers have made it clear that neither of them will be converting. As for what the future holds, while the odds are that any child they sire will be just genius his/her religion is also none of the Mahasabha’s business.
Like Maya Angelou wrote, love recognises no barriers; it jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope. Differences of religion, caste, language, whether one is vegetarian or non-vegetarian, voted for Modi or not, comes from village or metropolis, got educated at a convent or madrasa, favours demonetisation or curses it – love finds a way.
New India wants to break out of old identity silos. So if love jihad means marriage across communities, bring it on. What Tina Dabi has accomplished today was unimaginable for Dalits in Old India. Athar Khan will be a role model for the youth of Kashmir. They are the future while the Hindu Mahasabha and fellow fundamentalists of all religions still crawl under a prehistoric rock.
Change is underway even in the primeval dowry markets of cowbelt country. Where IAS grooms were akin to blank cheques, IAS brides are revising the power equations. No one can miss that Tina Dabi is No 1 and her man is No 2.
DISCLAIMER : This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.
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