Archive for October, 2015

rising intolerance

The BJP has been under attack ever since its inception so the present outrage on the bogey of “rising intolerance” and “minorities living in fear” is hardly an aberration; just that since times are a bit difficult for certain people under Narendra Modi as the current PM, the tension is palpable and with a mostly biased media at disposal, pretty visible as well. Last summer, NDA won a decisive mandate during the elections for the Lok Sabha with the leading partner BJP alone collecting a majority – rare in a multi-party democracy like India. The BJP in general and Modi in particular has been the thorn of the eyes for many  – henceforth referred to as the club and mostly consisting of elements from the media, the art and entertainment industry, etc. and who have self-labelled themselves as liberals, seculars, progressive, intellectuals and the conscience keepers of India. Genuine criticism against BJP and Modi is rare and rather amazingly mostly provided by their supporters. What passes off as criticism by most others is unquantified hatred. The reasons put forth are the bogey of 2002 Gujarat riots, Hindu rashtra, rising intolerance, other daily or periodically manufactured outrages, etc. but in reality it’s the fear that with Modi at helm, the patronage they enjoyed otherwise will stop. Modi, unlike most others in the BJP, isn’t the kind of person who will co-opt the club and use them as a shock absorber in times of need. Modi is also a nationalist and unapologetic of the Hindu faith he practices. The club on the contrary has a visceral hatred for Hinduism and are biased towards Abrahamic faiths. It’s this hatred and biases that result in their hypocrisy.

I agree there are some motor mouths and outright stupid people even in the BJP who pay scant respect to the office or position they hold and speak utter garbage. There are others who work against the ideals espoused by the party or the government. There are still others who despite being loathed by the club display a weird sadistic affinity towards them. Nevertheless, overall, I don’t think of the BJP (particular under Modi) being digressive of the ideals I want it to stand for – providing employment opportunities, development sans corruption, ensuring law of the land, effective reach of governance and social equality. Yes, there definitely are things which I want the BJP to put more focus on – like conservation and getting rid of dogmatic laws, but I think if there is any government that will work in the interest of India it’s the one headed by the BJP. I have cultivated my support for the BJP over the past decade and after many changes and churning and I find it extremely nauseating that the club thrusts its opinions as if that’s the only thing which should matter. This attitude of “you minions should listen since it’s coming from me” is outright arrogant and ironically bourgeoisie.

Let’s talk a bit more about the hypocrisy of the club. The recent outrage by a section of writers, filmmakers and other assorted members of the club is against the “rising intolerance” under Modi as the PM. The various cases they mention are the murder of “rationalists” in Maharashtra and Karnataka, the standoff at FTII, the lynching of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh for allegedly slaughtering a cattle and consuming its meat, the attack on a Dalit family in Haryana, etc. Do such isolated cases – often blown out of proportion and misreported, really translate to “rising intolerance” under Modi? What data has been presented by the club in favour of their argument? Nothing actually but it has to be true since it’s coming from the club. If anything, they are unduly influencing the law of the land. This though is not new. Like I spoke earlier, the club has always come together when their interests are at stake and has tried to influence others under their weight to get rid of a government that isn’t patronizing. Unfortunately, with the advent of Social Media, the weight of their opinions has been much reduced and getting redundant. I know it hurts them hard but it’s a truth they have to accept sooner or later.

Yes, I enjoy the works of many from the club but I am not entitled to be a party to their naked biases. Many from the club are there because of benefaction and consequently a lot of their worth is puerile at best. The club has told us several times that when one from them speaks you ought to listen and feel sorry for your choices. Isn’t it weird? Why am I supposed to listen to them sans questioning? Amazingly, inquiring the blatant biases or the hidden politics of the club is termed as a vicious attack on their freedom of speech. I have always maintained, the only freedom of speech the club members want is for themselves. People questioning them are blocked, called names, sidelined as fringe and their worth questioned. The club wants a monopoly on opinions, narrative and agendas.

In a truly intolerant government, nobody gets to speak about the intolerance via countless media bytes, TV interviews, articles, etc. The only truly intolerant government in independent India was the one headed by Indira Gandhi. She was the one to impose Emergency from June, 1975 to March, 1977. If any intolerance is worth talking about now, it’s the intolerance of those who hate Modi and the government he heads.

I agree, every attack on an individual and the liberties allowed by the law of the land is condemnable and the perpetrators should be found out and punished. Even if a person commits a wrong, the sole authority of awarding punishment rests with the judiciary and not self-appointed guardians of the country. The problem per se is not with protests against tolerance. On the contrary, it’s always a nice thing to do that. The problem is with the reason offered by the club. Where is the “rising intolerance”? What substantiates that minorities are living in fear? What proves the government is against dissent or is curbing creativity? The problem is also with the timing. This act of protesting selectively divides the society even more than it joins. It creates a sense of paranoia. Muslim deaths have happened in the past as well. Dalit deaths have happened in the past as well. The club though rises up in protest only when they have to put the BJP in the dock. If anything, ever since India achieved independence some of the most glaring atrocities have been ignored by the so-called conscience keepers of the nation. Some of these include the murder of Sikhs in the aftermath of the assassination of the then PM Indira Gandhi in 1984 and the murder of Kashmiri Pundits in the early 1990s. Also ignored by the club (both in the past and the present) are the daily murders of Hindus and the persecution of anyone who is critical of the Abrahamic faiths.

When the BJP won the people’s mandate last year by garnering more than 30% of popular vote, some of the club members said that nearly 70% are still against it. The proposition is laughable but that’s how the club narrative works. How many times was the percentage of votes against INC in the Lok Sabha elections of 2004 and 2009 mentioned by the club? By the same argument, why hasn’t the club calculated the percentage of writers, filmmakers, et al who still haven’t returned their awards? They don’t do it because it will give them a rude shock of perspective. Personally, it doesn’t matter to me. I am guided by my own reasoning and logic and not by the “percentage” of awards returned. I leave others to decide for themselves.