Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Pluralism vs Prejudice

The past few months have witnessed several "intellectuals" writing petitions on how India's next government is likely to be. With exit polls predicting a victory for the BJP-led NDA, the discourse has largely revolved around protection of India's "secular" ethos and the projection of Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat and his administration's alleged role in failing to control the distressing communal riots of 2002. Since then, there have been many manufactured debates on the road ahead and the supposed polarisation of India's electorate.

Editorials and columns that routinely warn about the manufactured dangers of having Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister have grown even as the general populace eagerly awaits relief from a scam ridden government which presided over unbridled inflation, ensured policy paralysis and a list of unending factors which contributed to an economic morass. There is little doubt that India's intellectual narrative has largely been constructed by individuals who are well-known for having left-centre leanings. The monopoly over India's academics and institutions has led to words like welfare, secularism, inclusiveness being used as virtues of a modern society. The rise of Narendra Modi, therefore in principle, demolishes the pretense that left-leaning academics are the sole defenders of intellectuals and artistic freedom especially against the Hindu right-wing who have been demonised as the ravagers of this space. 

The general tone in many columns and editorials harp on how Narendra Modi undermines his party and sidelining of senior leaders, how personality politics is dangerous for the idea called India etc. The amount of newsprint and airtime wasted discussing this almost makes one believe fears about doomsday which was busted in December 2012 was actually scheduled for May 16, 2014. The op-ed pages inform us how institutions will be undermined, there will be communal riots across the nation, how democracy would be buried and women safety in India will see a new low. Sadly, these are the writers whom many call as "intellectuals".

Surely, everyone has a right to opinion. As a number of intellectuals and academics issue statements, appeal to various individuals and political formations to defend India's secular credentials or illustrate it through editorials and columns, it makes one believe that intellectuals are the sole conscience-keepers of this nation. Launching constant attacks on a man who has done far more for his state than any other leader in contemporary India, reeks of conspiracy and needless paranoia. Thankfully, intellectuals in India are not a force to reckon with in the demographic sphere.

The people of India are recipients of common sense and have more wisdom than self appointed guardians of Indian secularism and pluralism. The people of India may or may not vote for Narendra Modi, the results of which will be clear by Friday, but they surely know what is good for them than these intellectuals. The real test about the idea of India lies in the fact if India can elect Narendra Modi and still hold on to its plural and secular spirit. Of course, if only our intellectuals had some faith in India or Indians. 

1 comment:

Sriram said...

I think we need to ask them to define pluralism, secularism and all other isms in their books including Hinduism to truly understand what is their level of understanding.

All we hear is a lot of chest beating with no real proof.