By Anang Pal Malik
Kuldip Nayar shocks in a piece of today’s Indian Express by launching a diatribe against the government based on blatant lies, and mediocre knowledge of India, which is hallmark of Indian ruling elite, and especially its “leading journalists.” He takes it somehow a given that socialism is our governing philosophy, and is fully illiterate of destruction socialism wroughts wherever it has been practiced, and that includes India. My commentary on his full article follows. Paragraphs in double inverted commas are his, followed by my comments below them.
“It is surprising that the Supreme Court’s February 9 remark that “we don’t know for how long it [India] will remain a secular country” has gone unnoticed. Not long ago, such an observation would have been derided and met with angry protests. Many would have assailed the apex court for doubting the secular credentials of the people, who have, by and large, resisted parochialism since India became independent.
But perhaps there is some truth to the court’s warning. The “ghar wapsi” campaign is a testimony to the winds of parochialism blowing through the country. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had even doubted the credentials of Mother Teresa, who served the destitute and disabled of all communities and encouraged them to pray according to the dictates of their own religion. But since the BJP came to power at the Centre, India’s ethos of secularism is being systematically attacked. On the ground, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan “sabka saath, sabka vikas” rings hollow. It does not excite people any longer.”
Kuldip Nayar never shows the same concern if conversions are out of Hinduism. How are conversions to Hinduism parochial but conversions out of Hinduism cool and promote secularism?
“Development has been lopsided — corporations are being given free run and the bottom half, which mostly comprises of Muslims and Dalits, is stuck in the same vicious cycle of not having access to capital and, as a result, not being able to start new ventures. This segment of the population knows no progress and continues to wallow in poverty and helplessness. They find the Modi government no different from the UPA. It is the same old story and practically nothing has trickled down to the bottom of the heap. At times, it feels as if policies are formulated to help only the upper strata.”
Come on Kuldip Nayar. BJP has been in power for only ten months, and you demand that what did not happen in 67 years should have happened in ten months. What free run has been allowed to Corporations, will you please illustrate? And how can government direct Capital? Is this a communist country? Capital goes where it smells returns. And please stop waving your “victim groups” in our face. Economic progress of any group takes centuries, as it requires cultural change which is only gradual. Dalits have taken to education big time, and are improving their lot through hardwork. As for Muslims of India, nobody is discriminating against Muslims of Pakistan and Bangladesh, yet their condition is not better than that of Indian Muslims. The community has to take to modern education for both boys and girls. Only than its economic condition can begin to improve.
“The policies of the Modi government certainly offer little for the uplift of the lower half of society — Muslims and Dalits are worst-hit as upper castes and the rich lawfully appropriate economic gains. Statistics confirm that the haves garner most of the wealth that is created. The only refuge for the poor is religion — they are increasingly frequenting temples and mosques.”
Modi is trying his best to free up Indian economy, and a free economy has always been the best hope for the poor. What statistics are you referring? Will you please let us know. For your kind information, in relative terms, the poor have seen the maximum gains in average incomes. In fact it is the middle class that is being squeezed because of control of economy by the government.
“Educational institutions reflect this disparity in society. Worse, they are being saffronised. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen had to withdraw his name from consideration for a second term as chancellor of Nalanda University. In a letter to the academic board written with a “heavy heart”, Sen said that it was hard for him not to conclude that the government wanted him to “cease” being chancellor. Further, he warned that academics in the country remain “deeply vulnerable to the opinions of the ruling government”. I wish Sen had not withdrawn his candidature. His hunch that the ruling BJP government did not want him to continue was probably true. But that is precisely why he should not have quit. He should have let the BJP expose itself for interfering in academic affairs.”
Did Amartya Sen become Chancellor through a fair and open process? Why does Kuldip Nayar believe that in a fair and open process, non-selection of Amartya Sen would have proved interference by BJP? Did Amartya Sen have a right to the post? Was earlier selection process also a sham?
“Also, once again, the distortion of the past has begun. The BJP government is bent on rewriting history so that it can justify the alleged pre-eminence of Hindus. Modi’s claim that there were udaan khatolas (flying machines) in ancient India is laughable. Yet, many in the Hindu community believe that the parallels of most modern inventions existed in ancient times.
The most disconcerting thing is the quiet acceptance of the parochial policies of the BJP government. There is little spirited opposition. Gandhian Anna Hazare has realised this and once again raised the banner of dissent. His protest against the land acquisition bill is, in fact, a fight against corruption and for the appointment of a Lokpal. More political parties should support his struggle. Hazare has shown the way forward to cleanse society. We have to be careful that the gains are distributed evenly and reach the poor.”
Mr Kuldip Nayar, would you also claim that the claim of a flying horse is laughable, or a man bringing clay birds alive is also laughable? Anna Hazare is economically illiterate and wants India to stay a subsistence economy with farmers always on the verge of starvation. He has long forgotten Lokpal, and so have all his proteges. In any case, corruption is the first and inescapable consequence of socialism, a system you prefer, and there is nothing the so called Lokpal can do about it. And who authorised you to “redistribute” the gains? Again, are we a communist country? Has redistribution worked anywhere?
“But why is the nation, which doggedly pursued pluralism for nearly seven decades, looking increasingly parochial? Why has secularism not taken root after all these decades? Was pluralism only a Nehruvian concept that did not suit the people? Can this be the reason that Modi or, for that matter, the Sangh Parivar have been able to exploit the situation?
For the BJP, it is merely a question of tactics. There is an assurance, on the one hand, of the equality of all religions. On the other, it fuels the campaign of ghar wapsi. How does the Modi government reconcile itself with the two opposites? It has to be admitted that the Congress, which ruled the country for six decades, never deviated from the policy of secularism. But its government’s functioning made room for the divide between Hindus and Muslims. And we are suffering the consequences. How long will it take us to once again traverse the path of pluralism? The situation is dismal. The Supreme Court has underlined this.”
Mr Kuldip Nayar, India has been practicing pluralism for thousands of years, not for just last seven decades. The persecuted religious minorities from all over the world have found safety and shelter in India. Hinduism is inherently secular that accepts validity of all beliefs, whereas the abrahamic religions openly claim that except their own beliefs, all other religions are false, and must be annihilated.
If Hindus resist their own annihilation, why does it look parochialism to you? Can secularism be saved only if Hinduism allows its slow annihilaation?
For your information, Congress never parcticed secularism. Dividing society into vote banks is not secularism. Nor secularism is state dealing with religious groups. Secularism is state dealing with individual citizens, not religious groups. BJP is starting to practice secularism, but still not true secularism. It has continued the practice of preferential treatment of religious minorities.