Monday, 2 January 2017

2016, Intellectuals’ Happy Year

(Beyond satire)



Saviours of secularism

For the ever worried great ‘intellectuals’, the year 2016, I think, ended on a happy note. After two consecutive years of ‘intolerance’, the atmosphere, by the standard of ‘intellectuals’, seems to have improved. No. Credit does not go to demonetisation. In fact, demonetisation made those whom ‘intellectuals’ would any day prefer to Narendra Modi, very unhappy. The list of ‘intellectuals’ favourites is quite impressive: Arvind Kejriwal whose post-2014 general election priority is to finish Modi because he (AK) fears that Modi is full time working to finish him;  Laloo Yadav, the great survivor and head of the most successful ruling dynasty today; Mayawati, the symbol of empowerment of poor and downtrodden; Mamata Banerjee, the symbol of simplicity and authority who thinks only she deserves to be Prime Minister in 2019 (AK and Rahul to note); Mulayam Singh Yadav, the symbol of what socialism in India means; Owaisi, the new Messiah of secularism; Rahul Gandhi, the great Vice President of the grand old party who is always under threat that if he does not perform, Priyanka Vadra would come forward to overshadow him;  and, last but not the least, indefatigable Seetaram Yechury, trying to keep outdated Marxism somehow relevant for the benefit of the otherwise unemployed comrades. (ALMMMORS, in short.)

In any case, ‘intellectuals’ being ‘intellectuals’, they cannot be worried about minor things like demonetisation. They cannot afford to waste their time and energy on normal worldly problems like vast income disparity, corruption, black money, poverty, hunger and malnutrition. Had they been worried about problems like 190 million Indians going hungry every day, 25% children remaining malnourished and about 40% of the Indian population in need of subsidy, they would have long back, much before Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, declared India ‘intolerant’ and advised people to go elsewhere. To them the most important condition for the survival of India is ‘secularism’. They can tolerate anything and everything but not even a minor threat to India’s secular image. For them, even democracy is less important than secularism.

For the ‘intellectuals’, the years 2014, 2015 and even early 2016 were very bad. We all remember their deep concern before the last general election and deep anguish thereafter. 

Before the general election in 2014, they repeatedly warned Indian voters against giving any opportunity to Narendra Modi, who, according to them, as the Gujarat Chief Minister was responsible for massacre of large number of Muslims in 2002 riots, to spoil the secular image of India. On April 10, 2014, more than two dozen intellectuals living in the UK (a few of Indian origin) had published an appeal in the British newspaper the Guardian not to vote for Narendra Modi as PM. 13 days later, 75 of them (25 of Indian origin) publicly expressed their deep concern “at the implications of a Narendra Modi-led BJP government for democracy, pluralism and human rights in India.” Amartya Sen, the ‘intellectual of intellectuals’, issued a personal warning to the Indians, though, to be fair to him, after Modi became PM (in December, 2014, to be precise),  he discovered that Modi ‘gave people a sense of faith that things could happen’. When Modi was contesting election from Varanasi eminent ‘intellectuals’ like economist Jean Dreze and activist Setalvad went to Varanasi to warn voters against the imminent “threat to India’s plural culture” from “fascist” forces, namely Modi. They were ready to prefer anybody – newly-born (in politics) Arvind Kejriwal or history-sheeter Ajai Rai – to Narendra Modi.

To the great disappointment of the ‘intellectuals’, the voters of India preferred Narendra Modi. The ‘intellectuals’ became increasingly worried about India’s ‘secular’ image because Modi’s election was followed by a number of incidents such as left-wing students protests against the danger of ‘saffronisation’ of the Pune-based Television and Film Institute, murder of scholar M. M. Kalburgi on August 30, murder of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri on September 28, 2015 for storing beef. Readers may recall that to register their protest against growing “intolerance”, several writers and scientists returned awards. A few like popular star Aamir Khan started exploring the possibility of migrating to a more tolerant country. 

Threats to secularism continued in the early 2016. In January, V. Rohit, a Dalit PhD scholar committed suicide. (Every year several students commit suicide in the country. Unfortunately, each one’s caste cannot be ascertained.)  Next month Kanhiya Kumar, another Dalit PhD scholar was arrested on charges of sedition because he was allegedly behind an event organised at the Jawaharlal Nehru University to shout slogans ‘Afzal Guru, ham sharminda hain. Tere katil zinda hain’. (‘Afzal Guru, we are ashamed. Your killers are still alive.’) (The Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru had been hanged to death on February 9, 2013.) The charge of sedition was a great threat to individual freedom.  As we know, one cannot be ‘intellectual’ unless he/she considers individual freedom of speech and expression above everything including unity and integrity of the nation.

In the opinion of ‘intellectuals’ India had never seen such ugly incidents!

As the year 2016 progressed, ‘intellectuals’ started feeling relieved because stories of victory of ‘secular forces’ started pouring in from different parts of the country. Thanks to the pressure of the intellectuals’ favourite political leaders, the Modi government had to drop its ‘anti-secular’ plan to withdraw armed security provided to the separatists of Kashmir. For the sake of the ‘secular’ image of the country, the Indian taxpayers have to bear the burden of protecting the separatists’ right to hire young boys to attack security personnel with stones, burn schools and damage public as well as private properties. 

Exodus of hundreds Hindu families from a village called Kairana in  western Uttar Pradesh, a development confirmed by the National Human Rights Commission, was yet another proof of the victory of ‘secular forces’. Those villagers preferred to get out of sight to avoid any stigma of ‘intolerance’. No ‘intellectual’ or political leader considered it worthwhile to visit Kairana. Since Hindus’ exodus  was a victory of ‘secularism’, no ‘intellectual’ thought of returning awards. 

Under the great leadership of ‘secular’ Mamta Banerjee, the ‘secular forces’ are enjoying freedom to test the level of ‘tolerance’ in several parts of West Bengal. Dhulagarh, a town 25 kilometres west of Kolkata, is the latest to join the list of the places where ‘secular forces’ have satisfied and enriched themselves at the cost of infidels. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee must be thanked for not allowing communal forces like BJP to visit the area. Incidentally, she did not allow the fellow secularists, the Marxists, either to go to the area but that was because of her political compulsions.

It is good that the ‘intellectuals’ have not been discouraged by some unfavourable developments. For example, the judiciary has held that Narendra Modi and Amit Shah were not guilty of on any count for whatever happened in Gujarat in early 2002; it has been   established that  the burning of Sabarmati Express in Gujarat on February 27, 2002 was not an accident, but result of a pre-planned conspiracy;   Ishrat Jahan  was very much in the company of terrorists and Setalvad is now trying to protect her sources of bread and butter; what was found in the house of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri on September 28, 2015 was actually beef (‘gomans’), not goat-meat. When your aims are very high, you cannot afford to be deterred by minor hiccups.

For the present, things are looking normal. I do not know whether in the heart of their hard ‘intellectuals’ are worried that post-demonetisation separatists in Kashmir and ultra-revolutionaries (known as naxalites) fighting to bring a new socio-economic order in India are feeling handicapped. But Digvijay Singh’s friend, 47 year old Asaduddin Owiasi, is going strong.  He has voice loud enough to inform the country that democratisation is aimed against Muslims. Kanhiya Kumar has been made a leader. While fighting among themselves, opposition leaders are pursuing a common agenda: to demolish the common enemy known as the Narendra Modi who has made them poorer. Actor Aamir Khan has realised that he cannot earn more popularity and money outside India. Amartya Sen has again changed his tune; his latest discovery is that Modi demonetised high denomination currencies without thinking about the inevitable adverse consequences. Sen is now in the august company of ALMMMORS! If I remember correctly, he was awarded Nobel Prize in economics. I do not know whether he has declared that under President Trump America would become ‘intolerant’.

For the ‘intellectuals’ and ‘secularists’, the prospects are looking better. ALMMMORS’ belief that demonetisation will have adverse consequences has now been endorsed by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen. They are hopeful that Narendra Modi will become unpopular and they will be able to dethrone him in 2019, though before that the leadership issue has to be settled internally in friendly contests. After all, there is only one post of Prime Minister in the country and there are so many aspirants.

I think, the ‘intellectuals’ who returned their awards in 2015 should write to the government to give those awards back. In case there is any threat to India’s ‘secular’ image in future, these regained awards would be handy for the next round of ‘award wapasi’ (return of awards in protest).

Happy New Year!

Devendra Narain
January 01, 2017

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