Thursday, May 15, 2014

Pseudo sickular ISI "intellectual"

Ashoka lions at Sarnath
Ashoka lions at Sarnath (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Modi fan boys, I confess to being a life-long member of the Pseudo Sickular ISI "Intellectual" Club (henceforth referred to as PSIIC) member, the comments section is all the way below. Your time starts now. Don't bother reading this.
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Unlike some of my club members who have only bad things to say about Modi when we meet in our CIA/Vatican/Arab/Naxal co-funded secret lairs, I see a few advantages if Modi becomes the Prime Minister. It would put to rest the false notion that education is the only measure of a man's capabilities. The last I heard of the performance of an Oxford gold medallist as Prime Minister, it wasn't inspiring news. The measure of a man is in what he does, not his last name, not whether his English pronunciation is pitch perfect.
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I also see a tremendous surge of hope among quite a few of my fellow countrymen of "Acche din aaney waaley hain" [Good times are coming] even in some people I revere & respect like Kiran Bedi. My Club members bring up the Feku [False claims] image of Modi, of his overbearing tendency to claim everything as his own doing, bear in mind, not his team's or his government's doing, but His doing.
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 "The sun sets last on Gujarat, so it has the maximum hours of sunlight in India - thanks only to Modiji. Har har Modi!" all-other-factors-be-damned sort of propaganda is definitely a pain in the ass but the truth is that democratic politics is built on hype. The people have to feel the shot of enthusiasm about their leader, contrived as it may be. Hope is something that the rest of the political establishment hasn't given us for a long long time.
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Also, there is the question of corruption and inefficiency. "But at least we have peace (sort of)", say my fellow Club members. To which I ask "For how long?"
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Kids dying after having the school mid-day meal that was supposed to be their enticement to education; gang-rape and all too frequent molestation on the streets of our very own capital; caste-based and class-based violence raging across the vast hinterlands of India fueled by the inefficiencies of thief ridden government agencies; a glacially slow justice system where only men with 'connections' can expect to get any; gut wrenching poverty with no hope of ever getting out of it except for the pre-vote freebies handed out at just the right (wrong?) time - how long before it touches our own lives and the little peace that we have?
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Modi says "Pehle shouchalaya, phir devalaya! [First sanitation, then matters of religion]" I agree. Modi says "India first!" I concur wholeheartedly though his potential ally Raj Thackeray might handle that process selectively. Modi says "Honest governance is the need of the hour, the only need of the hour." I couldn't agree more. If any religious or economic policy comes in between development of women and sustainable industrial growth, it needs to go and only strong single-minded leaders like Modi can make it happen.
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Why then a PSIIC member, you might ask? If democracy is about choosing the best of the available lot, isn't Modi our only option?
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This is where I prove my PSIIC credentials. Because I will talk about a very dark time in my life, possibly the darkest time in my almost 30 years on this planet. I will talk about 2002. This is not just some hearsay account. I speak from the perspective of having grown up in Gujarat, so bear with me if you made it this far.
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I remember the horror when I first heard of the women and children burnt to death at Godhra station by a Muslim mob. We traveled to Calcutta every year via train, my entire family, crossing the same areas. Then came the so-called "revenge" riots, as horrifying as the "trigger" event. Revenge against whom, I found myself asking, revenge for what? How does the murder of innocent Muslims in retaliation of the murder of innocent Hindus teach the monsters, the actual criminals a "lesson"?
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And all this while, the man-who-can-do-no-wrong was in charge. All this while, the "true" Hindus were cheering "payback" while the famed organizational and leadership skills of our Great Leader may have been shelved away in Nagpur. I remember the speeches by Him soon after which specifically bashed "Miyan" Musharraf as if the main issue was not that he was a Pakistani but that he was a Muslim. I remember James Michael Lyngdoh being brought up again and again in his full Christian name at election rallies when he had the gall to criticize the Great One. 
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I remember seeing a very young brother playfully grab his even younger sister from behind the neck and growl "Hoon Muslim choo! Hoon Muslim choo! [I am a Muslim! I am a Muslim!]" in my own 'Hindu' area of Bharuch and I remember the very real screams of terror from the little girl. That is the hate filled legacy of 2002 and no Supreme Court judgement will ever wash that out of my mind. 
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And when someone refuses to vote for this man, they become the "wrong" kind of people - anti-development, pro-Pakistan? And when this man claims that since the people of Gujarat have resoundingly voted for him (maybe India in a few hours) therefore he cannot have done any wrong, should we believe him? Oh! But that was 12 years ago or Rajiv Gandhi did the same thing with his appalling "When a big tree falls, the ground will shake" comments post the 1984 anti-Sikh riots are arguments which seem ridiculous to me. I am not an amnesiac and so I am a PSIIC member.
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In the interest of fairness, I must say that I have never lived in Gujarat post 2002 when I left for my engineering degree, only occasionally visited, so my only memory of Modi is of that terrible time. Infrastructure wise Gujarat has made giant strides since then if my friends who stayed behind and unbiased news reports are to be believed. Here's the caveat though. Gujarat has always been a shining beacon of industrial development. It was 1986 when my dad moved from the industrial badlands of Calcutta to the engineer's bounty that was Gujarat. I take not-so-secret pride of having grown up in Gujarat, admiring their practical approach to life when contrasted to our artsy complicated Bengali way of theorizing, but not doing too much else. So the Modi story I would take with spoonfuls of salt.
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My parents taught us to understand that good people are good and bad people are bad irrespective of their larger religious or regional identities. They taught us that the worst of the lot are those people who play on this hatred to create divisions within us. They taught us that people of the ilk of Akbaruddin Owaisi and Praveen Togadia are equally worthy of contempt and punishment. They are sure to survive every riot, as no one will be able to get to them. The innocent man on the street will not and these miscreants will cause even more tragedy using the same innocent man's dead body as fuel for the flames. I guess that makes our entire family "sickular"? Should we now book our tickets on the train to Pakistan?
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But guess what? We ain't going nowhere. Corruption is still an issue if certain industrialists get special deals. Why should someone who is a billionaire many times over still need to skim illegal profits from gas which basically belongs to the country? Arvind Kejriwal does not become an ISI agent for raising any such pertinent questions. Equality of opportunity is not a Communist or "intellectual" pipe dream, it is the only ideal worth aspiring to. The environment is still an issue which cannot be sidelined in the interest of 'development'. The surging stock market is great but how many of the hundreds of millions of our poor are investing in the BSE as of now? Development is meaningless if not inclusive and sustainable. 
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The most important point of all is this. Secularism, no matter how much the right-wingers try to club it with the words - corruption, inefficiency and anti-India - is not a foreign 'import'. It is an idea as Indian as can be, older than the hills, fresher than ever and never any less relevant. It is India's greatest strength and its greatest limitation but without it India wouldn't be India. We are a nation possessed with both teaching and learning skills like no other. We represented the future of a globalized world before globalization was even a word.
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To actively seek peace is not a weakness, it is the most difficult and most human of achievements, the only true way to wisdom and virtue. Many have come and gone before in this great country of ours, trying to let loose the rivers of hate only to realize the foolishness of their ways. For this is the land of Krishna, Buddha, Ashoka, Kabir, Guru Nanak, Akbar, Vivekananda and Gandhi. We are watching you, Mr. Modi and you would do well to never forget that.
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2 comments:

roy madam said...

You wrote well in spite of the chance of being branded as miserable minority,pun included.Let us hope for the best,as a new chapter begins

R I T I said...

Very well written. Exactly my point, Modi did well because he was in Gujarat, which was already doing well. And the man's urgency is appalling. PM , good for him, but the 2002 riots cannot be swept under the carpet.