In the cacophony of political debate in India, the right-wing holds an untainted record of presenting disinformation in the loudest voices. Besides a swarm of flag-waving swayamsevaks and jingoistic andh-bhakts, Modi is also backed by a fat chunk of the upper-middle class, what some might call "English-educated" Indians and class-A industrialists and capitalists.
The band of Modi supporters also has its share of public figures. And Chetan Bhagat, in his recent column "Anatomy of a Liberal", has proven yet again why he is by far the worst thing to have happened to the world of writing.
Let's begin by acknowledging Bhagat's penchant for spinning fairy tale into "fact" with huge courage of conviction.
"The dichotomy of a bhakt is this laughable delusion of representing 'real India', while consciously ignoring and often suppressing class, caste and gender struggles."
Bhagat presents his myopic view with a deluded sense of self-righteousness that immunises the right wing against any criticism. Essentially, he says: the middle to lower middle classes make the "nationalists", and, therefore, represent "real India", while the liberals are a bunch of tea-in-china-cup elites, their lives devoid of struggle, and are, therefore, clueless about what India needs.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Ironically, Bhagat has probably alienated the ultra-rich capitalist class from his own camp; the Tatas, Ambanis and Adanis who accompany Modi on all his globe-trotting adventures, with all and sundry who pumped crores of rupees into BJP's election campaign.
Praful Bidwai, professor at the Council for Social Development in Delhi, writes in DNA, "Big Business loves the 'Gujarat Model' because it gives huge tax write-offs... (and Modi's) ruthless decisiveness in granting super-fast industrial approvals."
The dichotomy of a bhakt is this laughable delusion of representing "real India", while consciously ignoring and often suppressing class, caste and gender struggles. In his spare time, he likes to keep patriarchy alive by promoting sexism, misogyny and rape culture...
On other days, he is seen shouting "Izlahm also!!" when liberals point out the patriarchal vices of Hindu tradition. A classic logical fallacy: "two wrongs make a right."
Bhagat's "real India" is such a poorly imagined fairy tale, you could swear it's a chapter from one of his infantile novels. His theory defines us as a middle to lower middle class Hindu nation that will magically rise to glory under Modi Raj.
It is precisely this kind of homogenisation that jeopardises the plural culture of India -- one of mutual respect and healthy debate.
He goes on to vomit the word "privilege" with such ease, you would hope he realises at least some of his own. Unsurprisingly, he ignores the upper-caste male camaraderie that has largely defined India -- from politics to popular culture.
The right wing has remained mostly aloof, sometimes suspicious and often paranoid about the upward mobility of lower castes and women. And understandably so; their status quo at the top is finally beginning to shake with Dalit and women's struggles. No wonder the Hindutva movement is also gaining ground. So much so that poor Mr Bhagat is unable to distinguish between religiosity and terrorism.
The butts of the privileged are plump with the fruits of blissful ignorance.
Perhaps he's too busy berating historians and other intellectuals just for laughs...
... all while lamenting an apparent lack of "real liberals and intellectuals in our country."
Udaiveer A., a financial management expert and MSc in Economics, says:
"Modi is more of an 'economic growth reduces poverty on its own' kind of guy; which is not true in a country like India, where there are millions of poor people. Until we are able to create many more millions of manufacturing jobs to absorb people in rural areas who have very little means to survive, the problem of urban and rural poverty won't go away."
Liberals are a largely heterogeneous group that has its share of atheists, leftists, believers, anarchists and others, and covers the spectrum of classes and religions, right from the peon who believes that Hindus and Muslims must live in harmony, to the director of a financial management firm who believes that Modi's economic policies have bypassed poverty reduction altogether.
Zubin Madon, an engineer and atheist, has a simple suggestion:
"[The government] should be secular in a very literal sense of the word. Religion shouldn't be 'tolerated' in the public sphere. Ban loudspeakers outside mosques as well as Ganpati mandals. Plough down shrines on the footpaths. That sort of secularism."
As a feminist and devout Hindu, I often find myself debating and discussing ideas with people from diverse social, religious and political backgrounds.
That's one benefit of being a liberal. You can choose to be an "anti-national," liberal, leftist, commie, "sickular," Congressi, Aaptard, etc.
Here, Mr Bhagat, have some scalding hot tea --in a china cup, or kulhad, if you prefer.
We promise to not let your class affect your right to debate.
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