It is a despicable and devious modus operandi that defies all canons of morality and fair play; a crafty Machiavellian machination that yields exceptional dividends, albeit ill-gotten ones.
This is how you execute this deceptive strategy: Pick up an isolated instance or even an accidental one, embellish it with sensational and shocking artefacts using an artist's creativity to give it a diabolical hue, magnify it beyond recognition, make it the pivot of a broader non-existent and sinister conspiracy, impute abominable motives to it that are sure to raise the hackles of right minded human beings and then broadcast it as a fait accompli to the world at large and the Western media in particular to malign one's ideological adversaries and extract political mileage.
Pause. This is only phase one of this game plan.
To term this school of thought as left-liberal or secular is a tad generous. Strictly speaking, it is a corrupt, reactive philosophy that has no original fountainhead or thought process.
In the second phase, when "their truth" unravels a few days later and the falsehoods are unmasked, slink into anonymity or ignore it as an insignificant corollary to the initial drama of the unreal. If the issue does heat up to uncomfortable levels, appear to cave in and post an insincere apology in small print in a non-descript corner of a newspaper or magazine. Anyway by this time, the retraction hardly matters or will have a minimal impact; the intended damage has been done and the purpose has been served. What about truth and honesty? These are inconvenient irritants that are dispensable in the great ideological battle wherein egos rule supreme and victory is king.
This, unfortunately, is the ugly and repulsive face of India's left-liberal, secularism or anti-nationalist (whatever you may call it) lobby. The recent "intolerance debate" is a classic exposition of this genre of chicanery. A lesser example is the hue and cry raised about attacks on churches that preceded the Delhi elections and which turned out to be nothing more than simple cases of thievery. A similar scene played itself out when the BJP first came to power in the late 90s.
To term this school of thought as left-liberal or secular is to be a tad generous. Strictly speaking, it is a corrupt, reactive philosophy that has no original fountainhead or thought process. It is a negativist phenomenon that fashions its stance by countering everything that the nationalists propound. Central to this ideology is an inexplicable deep-set animosity towards everything indigenous Emanating from this basic premise is a blueprint that seeks to splinter Hindu society by exploiting caste fault lines, derides everything about India's ancient civilization as banal and paltry and promotes a distorted and varnished account of Indian history that underplays the atrocities suffered by the Hindus during the Muslim invasion. In terms of ideological direction it is the greatest calamity to befall independent India.
[I]t was a subtle form of censorship that artfully muzzled the opposition in the guise of upholding democratic principles.
For more than 50 years after independence this clique that comprises a select elite, and which wields a disproportionate influence among a section of the media, has had a free run of the public terrain, disseminating a one-sided view unchallenged. So overwhelming and so overpowering were their vituperative high-decibel monologues (made all the more daunting by high profile personalities delivering them) that even intelligent and right-minded folks who did not concur were forced to maintain a suppressed silence. And those who dared to oppose them were demonised, ridiculed, dubbed as communal and marginalised. Bluntly speaking it was a subtle form of censorship that artfully muzzled the opposition in the guise of upholding democratic principles.
But the present intolerance debate has surprisingly changed that narrative. We saw a host of non-political personalities from all walks of life come out into the open and challenge the assertions of this entitled cabal. Facts and figures were used to demolish this manufactured notion.
Aamir Khan's unfounded concerns received a sound rebuttal from a host of prominent film personalities like Paresh Rawal, Anuran Kher, Raveena Tandon and Ram Gopal Varma.
Adnan Sami, a Pakistani Muslim singer who currently stays in India debunked this charge by posing this catechetical query: "If there was intolerance in the country, would I have asked for citizenship?"
The spiritual leader Dalai Lama too weighed in on this controversy by averring that politicians and some sections of the media create sensationalism out of "small things."
G Padmanabhan, a former director, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in an article titled, "Growing intolerance debate: Selective outrage is proving dangerous" emphasized the inconsistencies of these liberal intellectuals:
"In terms of religion, is not global terrorism by and large traced to jihadist movements? Are not many terror attacks in India fallouts of the same jihadist movement? In such a case the intellectuals would assume a lofty position that a terrorist has no religion, but if a Hindu group is implicated, no time is lost in labelling it Hindu terrorism."
Arvind Datar, a senior Supreme Court advocate writing in The Indian Express remarked:
"The selective expression of anguish by many Indian intellectuals is distressing... The outcry against "rising intolerance" is wholly unjustified... But no one can deny that everything has been done by every Central and state government to protect the rights and privileges of all minorities. The right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by our Constitution does not, unfortunately, impose the duty to carefully examine the facts and the law before saying or doing something that causes serious damage to the reputation of India."
This tendency to rope in Western academics intrigues me. Is it to exert undue international pressure because their logic is weak? Or does it stem from a residual colonial mindset...?
The Constitution may not impose a duty to "carefully examine facts", but morality and rules of fair play do demand accountability. Dissent cannot be a hit-and-run incident wherein the perpetrator absconds without liability after inflicting damage. Democracy is not a free for all and a license to indulge in canards. These worthies need to be made accountable for their statements. True intellectuals when provided with adequate evidence to the contrary will gracefully accept their lapse and embrace the valid view. Charlatans and egotists, however, will not. Nayantara Sahgal and her tribe owe an apology to the nation.
Our liberals are in the habit of frequently releasing grandiose statements to bolster their dubious campaigns, duly signed mainly by expatriate Indian academics and their Western friends. This tendency to rope in Western academics intrigues me. Is it to exert undue international pressure because their logic is weak? Or does it stem from a residual colonial mindset that has self-esteem-challenged Indians running to the "White man" for adjudication?
This time, however, there was a difference. Scholars opposed to this contrived controversy came up with a petition of their own which was endorsed by a long list of academics (Full text of statement issued by 46 academics against "leftist" historians.).This brilliant statement lists the devious strategies of our leftists, namely, "a reductionist approach", "near-complete erasure of India's knowledge systems in every field", "refusal to acknowledge the well-documented darker chapters of Indian history", and a "denial of the continuity and originality of India's Hindu-Buddhist-Jain-Sikh culture."
More importantly this petition goes on to state:
"The Leftist School has not academically critiqued dissenting Indian historians, preferring to dismiss them as "Nationalist" or "communal". Many academics have suffered discrimination, virtual ostracism and loss of professional opportunities because they would not toe the line... the Leftist School succeeded in projecting itself as the one and only, crushing debate and dissent and polarizing the academic community.
While we reject attempts to portray India's past as a glorious and perfect golden age, we condemn the far more pernicious imposition by the Leftist School of a "legislated history", which has presented an alienating and debilitating self-image to generations of Indian students, and promoted contempt for their civilizational heritage. The "values and traditions of plurality that India had always cherished in the past" are precisely those this School has never practised. We call for an unbiased and rigorous new historiography of India.
True, we need an unbiased and rigorous new historiography of India. But for that to happen, we need debate conducted on a level playing field and above all we need accountability from public figures and the intellectual community.
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