Congress and the Elite: Comrades-in-arm?
Veteran actor Anupam Kher, Madhur Bhandarkar and Ashoke Pandit led a 'March for India' to protest against the voices being raised over "intolerance"
The old order changeth, yielding place to new, and, God fulfills Himself in many ways, Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it till death. - Voltaire.
All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second,it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. - Arthur Schopenhauer
I remembered these words of wisdom uttered by some of the best minds of the world when I read in the newspapers and heard the news channels about the number of writers, historians, scientists, film-makers who have returned their awards conferred by the State and its various bodies. All of them have mentioned “ the climate of intolerance” and “ a rash of bigoted acts” as the reasons for this act. Some of them have said “ the recent incidents were being seen as an attack on core values of science, scientific temper and rationality.”
They have specifically mentioned the killings of intellectuals like Narendra Dabholkar and M.M. Kalburgi, and a Muslim, Mohammad Akhlaq for allegedly eating beef. All these atrocities are law and order problems and they are under the jurisdiction of the states. If the state administration is not fast enough to act against the criminals, it is the legacy of long Congress rule in these states. It is time the police is equipped with man-power, tools and functional autonomy to deal with these issues. The police should be given autonomy and held responsible for maintaining peace without political interference. One wishes the intellectual elite had asked police reforms rather than return the state awards.
“If there is one thing that the writer’s revolt has proved, it is that freedom of expression in India,” observes veteran journalist, Tavleen Singh, “never been more robust.” She recalled how writers and poets shared prison cells with the politicians during Emergency declared by Shrimati Indira Gandhi. How family planning programme was executed, especially on Muslims, and the how the Muslim quarters like Turkman Gate in old Delhi turned into rubble by bulldozers under the leadership of her son. Singh also mentioned the innumerable Hindu-Muslim riots happened during the Congress regime and the killings of Muslims.
All these ghastly things never stirred the heart of these intellectuals to return their awards. In reply, one of the writers said, “ no writer can be directed when he should express resistance.” Another writes, “ The country cannot afford Dadri and Babri. The government insults intellectuals, does not want to give us a right to speak against them.” Their views and comments are all over the media, and there is no ‘emergency’ in the country. It is not clear what is it they are complaining about.
The well-known economist and Niti Ayog member, Bibek Debroy, has mentioned how Jagdish Bhagwati, University Professor of Economics, Law, and International Relations at the Columbia University, and Dr.B.R.Shenoy, member of Planning Commission for the Second Five-Year Plan, and he himself was treated by the Congress-Leftist establishment, during days of the Congress regime in an interview to the Times of India ( Nov.5,2015). Jagadish Bhagwati migrated to USA, and Dr.Shenoy went to Sri Lanka. He has also mentioned how he was questioned by Mrs.Sonia Gandhi when he invited Sheshadri Chari, editor of the Organiser, a weekly newspaper, was invited for a seminar. He observed that intolerance always existed.
Congress treated BJP, RSS and the associated organizations as ‘untouchable’. It is the Sangh parivar which had different worldview than the Congress and all the other so called opposition parties. While the Congress had a vague western-oriented worldview Sangh parivar had India-centric worldview. It has been rightly called conflict of ideologies. It is the same as Labour Vs Conservative in UK or Democratic Vs Republican in USA.
What is the motivation of the intellectuals?
The action of these intellectuals can be interpreted in two ways - the awards were the patronage extended by the Congress regime, and they want to support the previous ruling party which has been conclusively defeated by the people of the country for not keeping its promise to abolish poverty ( garibi hatao) made in 1971, and, repeated again and again. Now, almost 400 million people are below the poverty line, devised by the Congress government, which is supposed to be around Rs.30 per day. The achievement of the Congress rule of 60 years was summed up by a newspaper headline recently; “ For 368 posts of peons advertised in Uttar Pradesh, as many as 17.50 lakh people applied so far. PhD holders, engineers line up to become ‘chaprasi’. They are complicit in the regime that was thrown out by the people, and they want to resurrect the same before Modi government establish his credentials to the people.
The other meaning of their action is their hostility to the NDA government headed by Narendra Modi in spite of the popular mandate. One wonders whether these people are democrats or just fundamentalists of socialist and secularist variety. Of course, everybody has to accept their definition of these concepts, as Alice found it in the wonderland. Their commitment is to their brand of ideology rather than to the welfare of the people and the democratic system enshrined in constitution.
The British Vs Indian world-view
We can also discern a deeper meaning. It goes back to the year 1831 when the famous minutes of Macaulay were published, and enforced later in India. Macaulay said, “ that a single shelf of a good European library is worth the whole national literature of India and Arabia.” He also added that the British should train a class of Indians who can transmit and interpret European literature and culture through them - as he put it, “ a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinion, in morals, and in intellect.” The English have succeeded in their mission to a large extent. Their agenda is being carried on by ‘brown sahibs’ trained by them, and they find nothing worthwhile in Indian culture, languages and literature. Our education is full of western ideas, ideals and concepts.
The British historians first mooted the idea of Aryan Invasion of India which has now been proved to be untrue. It is the British who promoted the theory of conflict of Aryan and Dravidian races which is also now been disproved - Indians have the same DNA. The British propounded these theories to justify their rule in India and divide the people. The British world-view was accepted by most of the Indian historians after Independence, and they did not pursue any Indian approach to our history and literature. Sanskrit and Sanskrit literature was neglected and all Indian literature was called myth. The appreciation of Indian history, culture and literature by European and American intellectuals made no difference to the ruling secularist-marxist elite in the Indian academic world. Consequently, Indian students knowledge of their own history and culture was next to nothing. Our children had to learn about our culture and history through Amar Chitra Katha.
“India,“ wrote Will Durant, well-known Philosopher and Historian of USA, in his book, the Case for India (1931), “ was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit, the mother of Europe’s languages; she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through village community, of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.”
The British legacy and its acceptance by the Indian elite has been explained well by the famous US linguist, Edward W.Said, University Professor at Columbia University of New York in his famous book, Orientalism, Western conceptions of the Orient. “The relationship between Occident and Orient”, he wrote, “ is a relationship of power, of domination, of varying degrees of complex hegemony, and is quite accurately indicated in the title of K.M.Panikkar’s classic Asia and Western Dominance.” No wonder, there has been no research on Ancient Indian history and culture during the Congress regime. The satellite pictures of the Saraswati River and the Ram Sethu at Rameshwaram, or the discovery of submerged Dwarka in the Gujarat coast does not evoke any curiosity among these Indian historians.
These intellectual elite promoted by the Congress regime have internalized the Orientalist worldview which gives the Western scholars the right to interpret and define Indian culture and literature. It is no surprise they hailed and celebrated the book, The Hindus : An Alternative History by Wendy Doniger. That it had many factual mistakes and distortions did not matter to them. It was withdrawn by the publisher only after the educationist Dina Nath Batra took it up with the court of law.
Development agenda of Modi
2014 is the year of destiny for India. Narendra Modi, who changed the face of Gujarat in 10 years, with his development agenda, swept the polls, belying the predictions of pollstars’ and the elite journalists, soothsayers and politicians of a hung house. Modi’s words of development were backed by deeds. Gujarat was the first state to have 24-hours of power and water to all its villages. He wooed industry with passion to create more employment. He regularly organised Investment Conferences of Indian and foreign businessmen. He is the first Chief Minister who sent an sms to Ratan Tata inviting him to Gujarat for ‘nano’ factory which was unceremoniously driven out of West Bengal by Mamata Banerjee - a graveyard of industry created by CPM. - He had the imagination to provide solar panels on Sardar Sarovar canals to save water and to provide power to the villages. He invited the agricultural experts from Israel, a country which made desert bloom, to provide advice to the farmers on the crop, seed, fertilizers and soil fertility. He encouraged farmers to conserve water with water-sheds and bunds. And Gujarat, a semi-arid state, was able to notch almost 10 percent agricultural growth for 10 years.
After winning the general election, Modi has embarked on a mission to involve and encourage people to join his vision of a prosperous and peaceful India. He has initiated programmes such as Jan Dhan ( every Indian to have a bank account), Jan Suraksha ( Insurance), Atal Pension scheme and many others for the poor. The Mudra Bank seeks help small businesses. Give up subsidy for LPG has received overwhelming response. ‘Make in India’and Skill India will create employment. Digital India can provide easy access to government services. Smart City programme and AMRUT ( rejuvenation of cities) can change the urban scene. ‘Swachh Bharat’ programme has multiple benefits - health, tourism and employment. Modi and his ministers are striving to complete these schemes in every possible way. The stagnant railways has now plans to expand with investment from India and abroad, thanks to the Railway Minister, Suresh Prabhu.
These and other initiatives take time to fruictfly. UPA and their friends in politics and academia know that if these programmes succeed, they will be in the dustbin of history, and that is why they try to catch every straw in the wind to halt Modi express. People are awake and they know consequences of the Congress-Socialist-Communist policies of the last 60 years. They want education, skills, jobs, houses, roads, and they will support NDA and BJP for this to happen.
* The author is a commentator on current affairs.