Left, Right And Centre: On Being An Intellectual Orphan

03/03/2016 8:16 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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double exposure of man and Indian cityscape

With social media on fire, it seems that the government has vanished, the bureaucracy has become a phantom and the nation has receded. It's all about netizens (all humans are netizens but not all netizens are humans) now and their status updates. And netizens are nothing but just left, right or centre.

I am an undergrad from St Stephen's College and a graduate of Cornell University, which are both bastions of left-liberal political discourse. In taste, manners, beliefs and lifestyle, I am everything that a religious Hindu will scoff at. My friends are from multi-cultural and multi-ethnic backgrounds. Most of the women I am friends with are cosmopolitan socialists and feminists who dabble in intense intellectual gymnastics with Davidoff, cannabis, sex and Merlot, and they look amazingly sensual and classy with their nose-rings, kohl-lined eyes and pierced navels. I feel blessed to be in such extraordinary company.

I prefer to call myself "spiritually sensible" which is very different from being rational, moral or empirical.

With this picture in front, most people expect me to be a left-liberal who fumes and frets at Modi, BJP, RSS, Ramdev and republicans. Now, before I begin further explanation, I am sure some people by now might have already branded me as a typical right-winger. But, still I would like put across a new mode of being, which might sound a little abstract to most of you.

The categories of left, right and centre and their exclusiveness have never appealed to me. I prefer to call myself "spiritually sensible" which is very different from being rational, moral or empirical. A spiritual person can only be sensible, but never a moralist, idealist, rationalist or an empiricist. Being a spiritually sensible person, my epistemology is not a typical Kantian one which begins with facts and ends in reason. My epistemology transcends the Kantian world and finds its fulfillment in spiritual wisdom and the truth of intuition which for me is a direct and immediate knowledge. Transcending reason and facts, emanating from the sphere of renunciation, and armed with faith it treads firmly on the bedrock of the honesty of purpose.

"What does it mean to be spiritually sensible?" It is difficult to describe in its entirety given that it is a spiritual experience which defies language. However, I will mention a few manifestations of this state of "being". These manifestations are in the nature of my opinions and actions on issues of worldly importance. Let me begin with Pakistan.

india pakistan wagah

Unlike my friends in the Indian left and those aligned to the Congress's line of thinking, I fully accept and respect Pakistan as a sovereign nation state. Like Vajpayee, I strongly believe that a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan is in India's interest and it is a great defence for us. I don't think that the separation of Bangladesh and Pakistan's plight today are because of some inherent flaws in Jinnah's two-nation theory. Like all other theories, even his theory was partially true and partially false, and it is not as if he created it. He just picked it or circumstances led him to propel it in a systematic, political manner. And, generally, theories and their proponents are quite powerless, but their sub-contractors and manipulators are immensely powerful. Hence, Jinnah is not responsible for today's Pakistan of blasphemy, minority killings, proxy terrorist organizations and burgeoning religious extremism. It's the people who ruled Pakistan after Jinnah, and their arrogance and nasty intentions that are responsible for what the nation faces today. India is not just one nation. It is an ancient civilization which houses multiple nations with their diversities. The diversities and fault-lines were most pronounced between Hindus and Muslims. No matter how much we deny it, even today one visit to interior India will reveal the hollowness of the claims of the so-called idealists. And those who criticize Jinnah, do they ever think that it was even possible to govern united India, Pakistan and Bangladesh?

I am totally against any kind of Islamophobia... But I am not convinced by those pseudo-intellectuals who are denying the presence of radicalization among Muslims.

When it is about gay rights, women's emancipation, abortions and live-in relationships, I extend my full support and I do that in an absolute sense. If it is about farmers, my heart, and soul lies with them and against those industrial giants who want to profit at their expense. In fact, I believe that India needs smart villages more than smart cities so that millions do not have to leave their pristine rural homes and migrate to urban areas where an alien culture and alien morals wait for them. When it comes to labour rights, I am pro-poor and against the unbridled capitalist development of India on the Western model of MNCs, multiplexes and 12-hour work days in front of a screen and almost no time for meditation or any form of spiritual elevation.

On the question of Islamic extremism and terrorism, I must state that I am totally against any kind of Islamophobia. I feel nothing but sympathy for refugees who are escaping the ravaged Middle-East. And, I also believe that ISIS is just a fringe element. But I do not support those intellectually dishonest liberals who are trying to provide an apologetic defence for the mass molestations that happened on New Year's Eve at Cologne. I am not convinced by those pseudo-intellectuals who are denying the very presence of radicalization and extremism among Muslims. And, I do believe that there are verses in the Quran from where extremist elements seek justification for their violent jihad. I believe such verses need to be reformed or expunged from the holy book (just like you have such versus in other texts like the Manusmriti). And, I also believe that deradicalization can't happen without engaging the religious leaders of Islam to counter the extremist narrative. The answer to me also involves inter-faith dialogue involving scholars and clerics of other religions, and not the imposition of a blanket ban on Madrasas and hijabs. On the question of Kashmir, unlike the left-liberal cabal, I do like to question the integrity of the separatists because of theirs being a purely Islamic movement. I also object to their treatment of Kashmiri Pandits.

I support the JNU which promotes rational debates but I do not support the JNU which celebrated the death of 76 soldiers at the hands of Maoists.

On the question of JNU, I do support freedom of expression and appreciate the university's academic contribution. However, I do not support the JNU which claims freedom of speech to shout anti-India slogans but stays silent when Salman Rushdie is forced to stay away from the Jaipur Literature festival. I support the JNU which promotes intellectual rigour and rational debates but I do not support the JNU which celebrated the death of 76 soldiers at the hands of Maoists.

With these opinions, where do I fall? Am I an intellectual orphan? Am I an intellectual at all? Because in my pursuits of life the most important one is to get rid of ideas and reach the silence and emptiness of mind.

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