Article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution and its sub clauses – 19(1)(a) to 19(1)(g)
provide for the freedom of speech and expression to all Indian citizens. Going by recent statements from some of our ‘wise’ individuals, it seems two new sub clauses need to be added with a special focus on our intellectual elite – h) freedom of hypocrisy i) freedom to escape questioning. So, if someone is recognized in a particular domain, he is automatically taken as a subject matter expert on everything else as well.
It is in this context that we need to analyze the recent utterances from some of the so called scholars regarding Narendra Modi and the Gujarat riots. Like a gang whose conscience has suddenly woken up after 10 years, the entire group seems to have abruptly discovered that something really bad occurred in 2002 and Modi was single-handedly responsible for it. This sudden discovery is only after Modi became the most serious challenger for Prime Minister’s position in 2014 elections. Like an arithmetic progression, after every 10 days, some writer, economist, playwright, musician, lyricist, activist, etc. decided to take a shot at instant glory by pronouncing that Modi is not good for India.
First to fire lately was economist Amartya Sen, who commented on all topics ranging from history, politics, philosophy, and sociology, everything except economics. To a question on Modi’s prime ministerial prospects, he replied – “As an Indian citizen, I don’t want Modi as my PM. He has not done enough to make minorities feel safe”. Now this comes from somebody who has hardly visited Gujarat and who mostly resides outside India. Remember this champion of secularism had sometime back remarked that “school of all other faiths, barring those run by Christians should be scrapped”? With his acumen and wisdom he should have enlightened us on solutions to the terrible economic abyss current UPA has landed us into. Instead, he co-authored a book along with Jean Dreaze, a member of the NAC which has literally usurped all powers to draft public policy without sharing any accountability for the same. Here they both make a case of prioritizing distribution of wealth over growth. Sometime back, another renowned economist Jagdish Bhagwati argued that it should be the other way round citing the Gujarat model, and invited Sen for a debate. This debate is quite pertinent in the Indian context, and its outcome would have been helpful in framing India’s economic policies. But the author of ‘The Argumentative Indian’ backed out from a constructive argument. Perhaps his forte lies in raising empty rhetoric. Giving advice or criticizing others is the easiest thing to do, and that’s what Sen has been doing for quite some time. But the real test comes when one is given a responsibility to deliver something and that’s where he fails miserably. The UPA and Bihar government handed over the Nalanda University Project to him way back in 2007. He is the chairman of the governing board and a Vice Chancellor (He was appointed as the Vice Chancellor by the governing board chaired by none other than himself).After countless trips billed naturally to the public exchequer, and so many meetings scheduled in Singapore, Tokyo and New York, the progress is near zero. It is the taxpayer who is paying for their lavish travels/accommodation and fat salaries of his cronies who have been appointed without any due process whatsoever.
After some time, another ‘sickular’ intellectual had to play the catch-up game. Enter Amitav Ghosh. He said “Modi remains culpable of 2002 Gujarat riots and my vote won’t go to Modi.” Can you spot an irony that Amitav Ghosh writes fiction? The fact that Supreme Court appointed SIT gave Modi a clean chit after comprehensive investigation, or that even an FIR has NOT been registered against him is a different issue. But Ghosh conducted a media trial on Modi where he himself was the witness, the prosecutor and the judge. Like Sen, he too lives in the US but seems to keep a close track of Gujarat 2002, while conveniently turning a blind eye to everything else. By the way, Muzaffarnagar was burning when Ghosh gave his interview, but he did not utter a word on that.
UR Anandamurthy is the latest to join the bandwagon. He is the contemporary writer and critic in the Kannada language. Yeah, that’s why he knows so much about Gujarat and Narendra Modi. So he thundered “I don’t want to live in India where Modi becomes the Prime Minister.” Being overwhelmed by fake outrage he later went a step further by adding “I stand by my sentence with a modification. I don’t want to live in a world where Modi is PM.” This leaves him with only two options if Modi wins in 2014 – either commit suicide, or board a rocket to Mars. Let’s see what he does. But to call him just a litereteur is half truth. The man has an unenviable political career behind him too. In the past, he had made a futile attempt to win a Lok Sabha seat stating that his ‘prime ideological objective in opting to contest the Lok Sabha elections was to fight the BJP.’ The Janata Dal (Secular) leader and one of the most uninspiring Prime ministers of India, HD Deve Gowda had made an offer to him to contest on the party ticket. He also contested for the Rajya Sabha elections from state assembly in 2006.
Yesterday again, we had someone called Tara Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi’s grand daughter) who said “I see no pain on Narendra Modi’s face when he talks about riots.” The fake face-reading expert has something in common with the other more famous Gandhi of our country. Both have no achievement to credit themselves with, apart from their surname. It’s safe to bet that majority of Indians would not even have heard her name before she took this pathetic shortcut to get a celebrity status. Few months back, somebody from her own family had something nice to say about Modi. In an interview to DNA, Sumitra Gandhi, another granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi who was a Congress MP from Gujarat said “We not only respect each other, we also like each other.” She also praised him for the development and social harmony in Gujarat. As expected, her interview did not generate headlines because it did not fit into media’s prejudiced script.
There is a common pattern that underlies all the random utter utterances from these intellectuals who are on a mission of broadcasting what happened in 2002.
First, these statements have been made only to generate few sound bytes without being substantiated by any data, facts or logic. If one reads the complete transcript of the interview when they uttered these words, you will find no mention about data from any genuine govt body, court judgements, or any investigating agency.
Second, their utterances are simply targeted at Narendra Modi while conveniently overlooking every other riot had has happened under other state and central governments. You will hardly find them making stinging remarks on Congress for more brutal events that have happened under its watch , or plight of Hindu minorities in Kashmir and Assam, or even recent riots in UP and Rajasthan. In order to sound unbiased, at best they will give a passing reference to all these damning facts stating these should not have happened. It seems their knowledge of riots history starts and ends in 2002.
Third, they will explicitly tell you why they are dead against Modi for PM. But neither of them will have the conviction to suggest or endorse an alternative. Unfortunately, unlike these elite individuals, common people have to select between available alternatives and don’t have the option of living abroad and getting foreign citizenships.
Fourth, all of them pass their opinions sitting somewhere in Lutyen’s Delhi or South Mumbai or somewhere overseas. Forget about any administrative, political or legal experience, none of them even have a first-hand account of witnessing a riot situation. It’s always easy to criticize someone in the aftermath of any unfortunate incident without understanding the background of events that led to it. For example, how many of them even mentioned about the Godhra train carnage while discussing what happened in Gujarat 2002?
Fifth, India media seems to love them big time. If you want to appear on prime time television or land up for an interview with a top TV anchor, all you have to say is “I don’t want Narendra Modi.” Suddenly, you will find your name splashed all over, with editors and anchors proclaiming you to be a literary giant, eminent expert, renowned political analyst, prominent social commentator and what not. Your 7 days of fame is guaranteed.
Such intellectual dishonesty should never be allowed to pass off as exercising one’s freedom of speech. This is not the using the freedom, but abusing it blatantly. They are politicians masquerading as intellectuals. All they are doing is firing from the shoulders of poor riot victims. Rest assured that this show of sympathy and regret will vanish immediately after 2014. One can understand why Congress is so desperate in maligning Modi and his track record, but it begs attention why are these pseudo-intellectuals and media houses are hand-in-glove in the exercise. Well, they have been the biggest beneficiaries of Congress’s largesse through government grants, plum postings as heads of various committes, seat in Rajya Sabha, Padma awards, mega revenue deals through stupid ads like Bharat Nirman, and much more. They have a vested interest in the survival of UPA. More about their unholy nexus later……