The Incongruity of their Inconsistencies
First published by MyIndMakers, January 20, 2016
It is a tale some of us have been telling for a while but repeating it would be worthwhile. The tale has to be told since the harm the SLOBs (the secular, liberal outrage brigade) have done to India and to reasoned speech is enormous, and the political divisions they have created can lead to the breaking of India, as others have pointed out. These intellectuals and activists, even though comprising a small section of society, have learned the use of ideological craftsmanship, manufactured in the West, and skillfully deployed it to ensure that those challenging them would rarely be permitted to enter the battle arena. They have captured the intellectual space, and strengthened the barriers and moats they have built around the arena – comprising the universities, the editorial offices, the “academies” – and have ensured that their trained members are placed at the helm in all these institutions. Their fortresses were very difficult to breach until when social media began to open new frontiers, and those previously barred, silenced and marginalized began to learn to use their somewhat crude and sometimes blunt weapons to begin to break down the formidable barriers. These men and women, labeled by the SLOBs as “Internet Hindus”, have begun to get a glimpse of the skunk works operating within those formidable walls, and the hope is that the unorganized but energetic push-back by the Internet savvy “Bhakts” will turn the tide and these empowered and giddy men and women with their own sense of importance will begin to see the wickedness of their ways, and enable the leveling of the intellectual playing field. It may take a few years to see some real progress.
That these men and women have double-standards is well-known, but there have been few studies done on how they captured power and maintained their stranglehold on academic institutions and media corporations. Scholars like Sita Ram Goel and editors like Girilal Jain and M.V. Kamath were few of a handful of “intellectual Kshatriyas” who challenged the status quo, but they were few, and they did not have the political backing to sustain their work dismantling the so-called secular project. Below is a brief list of the selective application of standards, and the inconsistency of the stand of these “progressive” rabble-rousers on some of the issues that have troubled the nation. The list is not comprehensive, and so readers are free to add their own observations and expand this list.
Indic Civilization/Aryan Invasion-Migration:
The Aryan invasion/migration theses have been incorporated into school textbooks and media commentaries such that few are aware of new research that challenges these narratives. These theses serve the political purpose of keeping the people divided based on region, language and caste. But if the Aryans were outsiders, and we have identified them, who are they, and what should we do with them? That Members of Parliament, like the Opposition Leader Mallikarjun Kharge, can declaim on these matters with nary a concern for truth is frightening. None of his colleagues called him on the mat for such falsehood, and no newspaper editorial condemned him for his divisive rhetoric.
There is no region or nation like India, they say, which to them is merely an “idea”. However, they consider Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka as nations, for example, having a national history and having the right to protect their national interests. India, for them, is merely a meeting ground for wayfarers who have enriched and contributed to its wealth and diversity. So, should India be broken up into small “nations” based on language, caste or other identities or should India lend itself, once again, to opening its flanks to marauding hordes from the outside? Their writings reveal that indeed is their goal.
India’s borders continue to be porous, and the illegal migration of Bangladeshis runs into the millions. According to these progressives, India should offer the millions of Bangladeshis the right to vote, settle down, and make India their home. However, when Bangladeshi or Pakistani Hindus cry desperately for help or seek to enter India, they turn a blind eye. They also consider the onerous demands made on travelers seeking a visa to enter Pakistan normal.
Many of the organizations, clubs, institutions that Indian students and professional groups start in the U.S., for example, use the South Asia moniker, though very few members in these organizations are from other South Asian countries. A look at the membership of the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA), the South Asian Women’s Network (SAWNET), and others of their ilk indicates there are few if any non-Indians in these groups. But they don’t mind going to “Indian” restaurants, as long as they can write about South Asian cuisine!
There is no one who is a Hindu and there is nothing like Hinduism because Hinduism is a mere agglomeration of opposing and contradictory philosophies, a mish-mash or rituals and beliefs, regional or local in character, with not one book which is their sacred tome, they say. Hinduism is not a religion, and according to them Hindus don’t need protection from the predatory proselytizers who aggressively peddle their monopolistic and violent faiths. But yet any attempt at convincing the converted to return to the Hindu fold gets them busy preparing placards screaming abuse at Hindus. How can they square this circle?
Nothing is sacred and we should be able to criticize, mock, challenge any and all ideas and practices, they hector. So, M.F. Hussain was free to paint Hindu goddesses riding naked on tigers, Paul Courtright free to conjecture that Ganesha’s trunk represented a limp phallus, the Ramayana could be repackaged according to the will and whimsy of anyone, and the image of Laksmi painted on toilet seats. But what of others’ religions and one’s right to criticize and challenge the unverifiable claims made by them, or to draw their prophet, or repackage their books according to one’s whimsy? Oh no, for that would be deliberate provocation, Islamophobia, the demonizing of Muslims, and the targeting of minority Christians. So, let us keep silent about the hounding of Taslima Nasreen out of her country and her pleas to make India her home, and let us not discuss Ayaan Hirsi Ali in our classrooms, nor publish these women’s commentaries in our newspapers. Let us shut out the Tarek Fatahs and the Tufail Ahmads, and let us quickly ignore the daylight murders of liberal commentators in Bangladesh, and keep mum on the blasphemy laws in Pakistan.
It is standard fare now to read about sati, patriarchy, the fate of Hindu widows, and the oppressive atmosphere that prevails in Hindu homes for Hindu women. A whole battalion of scholars and journalists have made it their life mission to pontificate on these matters in academic journals, in newspaper columns, on conference panels, and in textbooks on Hindus and Hinduism. In this regard, one also gets to read about women’s right to wear whatever they wish to wear, love whomever they wish to love, lauding Deepika Padukone’s “choice” in such matters. They carry on monologues of the vagina kind and giggle at the discomfiture of those not used to these Western modes of play and protest. But then, why is it important to celebrate the Muslim woman’s choice of wearing the hijab, maintain silence about the Muslim men’s choice to hide their women under the burqa? Why maintain silence when those identified as Muslim men abuse Western women, their dear feminist comrades, in public places in countries where they have been invited to set up home, or when they rape, sodomize and terrorize Yazidi women in their own homeland? They assert that in Islam women are equal to men, but never consider answering the question why Muslim men have the right/option to marry four women, and why a woman’s deposition in a Shariah court is only worth half of that of a man.
They ridicule the “Bhakts” and chortle at their claims about Rama and Sita living tens of thousands of years ago, and Pushpaka Vimanas flying hither and thither. However, when other religionists make any such claims about their Gods and their prophets they say it is all a matter of faith. But when the “Bhakts” complain that Aryabhata, Baudhayana, Varahamihira, Susruta, Bhaskara, Brahmagupta, and hundreds of others, major and minor who have contributed to making India a rich haven for science, math, medicine, and technology go without mention in Indian textbooks, they prefer to give them the silent treatment. They may mention in passing Srinivasa Ramanujan’s mathematical genius but they will rarely acknowledge his own faith in the Goddess Namagiri who he said directly communicated with him.
Violence against animals, vegetarianism:
Jallikattu, a sport/tradition in which brave village/rustic men seek to tame a bull with their bare hands, is branded as animal abuse, but then they declaim that beef-eating is a right that should be celebrated. And by the way, killing animals by slitting their throats, and bleeding them to deat to have “halal” meat is “zabihah” and fine, ordained in the holy book, but God forbid “Jallikattu”.
The government should alleviate poverty and provide employment to people, they point out, but they do not explain how that can be done without economic development of the industrial kind. Not everyone can be made air-hostesses and stewards in Air India, can they, or clerks in government offices? How can poverty be alleviated, quickly, with the least harm to the environment, and most good to the people? Where is that plan and who has it? Surely, Amartya Sen, their academic don of choice, is argumentative but is mostly clueless about these matters, except flying around the world making fatuous noises about the fate that awaits the poor in India.
Hindus cannot lay claim to anything, even a religious identity, they write, but Hindus are the majority from whom everyone else should be protected – women, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, et al., who are India’s minorities. That is the narrative carefully crafted and peddled inside the country and around the world, for over six decades now. It is time that these narratives are unpacked and deconstructed to understand the ideological framework within which they are packaged and sold. An audit of the perks and privileges they have cornered and the political compromises they have made to continue supping at the Delhi durbar would also help.
The time is now, and they know if that happens their days of glorious inconsistencies will have to come to an end.
Ramesh Rao is a Professor of Communication, and teaches at Columbus State University, Columbus, GA. His book, “The Election that Shaped Gujarat & Narendra Modi’s Rise to National Stardom” was published in November 2015.