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   People often talk to me about the power of the pen... (December 17, 1990)

People often talk to me about the power of the pen. "After all, you've got the power of the pen." They tell me, looking meaningfully at my right hand. Or they tell me, with some finality: "The pen is mightier than the sword."

At times like these, and they happen frequently, I do not know what to do. I do not like living under false pretences. I know that the pen has little power; most of the time what I write nobody reads, and what applies to me applies to other writers also, the very best among them. I also do not write with a pen. I use a typewriter, and one day in 1991,hopefully I would be using a word processor. So the point about the pen does not apply attack a writer with a sword.

There are other misrepresentations in the public mind. For instance people think that I know not only eveything that is happening in the country but also everything that is likely to happen. They ask me: "How long do you think this government will last?" Or, which puts me more on the sport: "Will this government last?" And their confidence in me extends to international affairs: "Will there be a war in the Middle East?"

But mainly it is this power of the pen. People think that prime ministers and ministers tremble when I write something criticising them. The chances are that the prime ministers may have never read me in their lives. Some of them are near illiterate, all of them have no time. In India, with so few to write about, millions of words are written daily on prime ministers. Which prime minister would have the time to regulary go through all that is written about him, even if his secretary provides him with a good clipping service. At the most, when they are still new at their jobs, they may look at a few of their pictures.

There is no power in the pen. Power comes out of the barrel of the gun, that is why the terrorists in Jalandhar have silenced the pen of AIR's Hindi news-readers and writers there.

 
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