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The Other Side

The Other Side

International Monetary Fund predicts a 7.4% growth for Indian economy in 2018, and 7.8% in 2019. We greatly rejoice. But the fear is that such predictions may prove as deceptive as they have often done in the past; we have hovered around 5% than 7% even after the best of prognostics. The suspicion is that the announcement has an election value. The danger is that unthinking people will be led down the road self-deception. The possibility is that much of the newly won money will go to promote merely Hindutva causes.

But the near certainty is that 73% of the added wealth will go to 1% of Indian society, as it happened last year (Oxfam finding). A careful research by the Oxfam has brought to public attention certain fearful facts. An unequal Indian society is growing more unequal still. In 2018, a few more billionaires will be added to the 101 who have been the major beneficiaries of the BJP-planned growth of the Indian economy. Meantime the resources of the dalits will hardly advance 1%. There is, then, another side to everything. It is too early to rejoice.

Reality is reality. However, under a fundamentalist regime, ancient mythologies are presented as history. Modern mythologies of “ache din” are presented as facts. But they are mere illusions. And many love to be eluded. They are blind to the fact that farmers are committing suicide. Infants are dying in hospitals, especially in UP. Untidiness and malnutrition are taking giant strides forward.

The minorities are continuously harassed under the BJP-rule. Cow-related mob-violence has increased greatly after Modi took over. Among those killed, 86% were Muslims and 8% dalits. According United Christian Forum for Human Rights, there were 216 attacks on Christian personnel in 2017. A person called Dharmendra Dohar in Bhoomkar village in MP frankly admitted that Bajrang Dal had threatened him and his family to say that he was being ‘forced’ to convert. At Davos, Modi called commercial protectionism terrorism. How would he define attack on minorities? Wellbeing? Indeed there are at Davos Patanjali Yoga masters to teach the world how to attain total wellbeing and peace. Can irony ascend to greater heights?

The problem in India today is that the police side with criminals; they file cases against victims rather than against the perpetrators of violence. All protests go in vain. Hate crimes are growing more invisible, and are under-reported.  News reporters and intellectuals are growingly afraid of retribution. There is deafening silence to be noticed everywhere. So, many think that “ache din” have really come. Great peace, big money. But, as we have seen, there is another side to the entire narrative.

The Leadership Is Leading Society to Lowest Levels of Obscurantism

Aditynath Yogi is proud that bedsheets in Gorakhpur hospital are all saffron. School buildings, hospitals, transport corporation, secretariat...all have gone saffron. Bureaucrats are competing to please the poojari-turned-politician, presenting him with saffron colour everywhere. If in the meantime India has fallen behind the most backward nations of Asia and Africa in ‘human capital,’ with regard to care of health and education, his state of UP has to take the major responsibility.

But Yogiji never gets discouraged. He is the frontline promoter of his party during elections, whether they be in Kerala or Gujarat. As Modiji plans surgical strikes against Pakistan and manifests amazing daring at Doklam against mighty China, the UP Chief Minister concentrates on generating spiritual strength. He plans to open one “cow sanctuary” in every district. He asks each household to rear a cow for “economic prosperity and spiritual strength,” no matter how many babies the family has lost recently. He will produce “Gonyle” from cow urine in the place of Phynyle and amaze the world.

Now, Gujarat has taken up the UP model, and wants to promote “cow tourism,” specializing on their excretions and propagating their use.  Jails, schools, colleges, universities...all will open cow-shelters. One would feel embarrassed to speak about such initiatives. Meantime university hostels are in chaos; educational standards are falling to the lowest levels. But in Modi’s India one has to be ready for surprises, and even shocks. Recently, the venue where actor Prakash Raj spoke was purified by BJP workers with cow urine.  There is no embarrassment, no apology, no explanations.

There was a time when Indians used to laugh at Pakistan’s ‘blasphemy laws,’ and the fatwas of Muslim clerics. Today our Pakistani friends will be having a good time laughing at the way that Indian obscurantism is falling to the lowest levels. Some well meaning Pakistanis had explained to friendly Indians the way their nation floated down from healthy liberal democracy to illiberal democracy, then to illiberal theocracy, further down to military dictatorship, and finally to terrorist-fundamentalist state. They feel that India is taking the same route, with General Bipin Rawat often speaking as though he is the Defence Minister, making comments on social media and textbooks. They wonder if India is really far from the militarisation of politics, with which they are familiar, seeing the illiberal areas and undemocratic dimensions in this country widening and deepening: suppression of minorities, silencing of criticism, unabashed glorification of religious fanaticism.

Returning to the theme of obscurantism, the BJP MP Mahesh Giri is planning a yagna near the Red fort. He will be inviting the President and the Prime Minister. It will conclude a ‘ghee ratha yathra’ from all the states. Will the fates of the downtrodden be any better for all that? These are all diverting tactics from the grain prices of the farmers and tax burdens of the small traders.

Poojas and lilas may multiply. Giant statues of Ram, Sivaji and Patel may rise. These are but devices to mesmerize the unenlightened masses from their real problems. Promotion of obscurantism is a deliberate strategy calculated to transform the questioning crowds to an unthinking mob. These diversions will be replaced by disasters in due time.

Fortunately Indian intellectuals have remained alert in the meantime. The 83rd Annual General Meeting of the Indian National Science Academy that met in Pune lamented that the BJP was destroying a scientific outlook that was contemplated by the Constitutions, by promoting superstition, irrationality, obscurantism, and hatred. They severely criticized the trend of considering myths as history. They complained that research is encouraged on ‘unrealities,’ supposedly taught in the Vedic texts. The scholars emphasized the need of standing together to resist this retrograde trend, and called for a return to reason.

Meantime a group of science academics have ridiculed the call of Minister Satyapal Singh for a debate on Evolution, who little realizes how such a debate had been going on in academic circles for over a century. But government-aided institutions are afraid to speak up, because they know that a vindictive government refuses grants to those who do not conform.

A feeling is growing that the ‘irresponsible fringe’ that used to make erratic statements has moved to the Centre. Anant Kumar Hegde who called for a re-writing of the Constitutions and Satyapal Singh are supposed to be persons who represent the thought of leaders at the Centre. But they speak like street demagogues. That is the depth to which our political culture has fallen.

The Strategy to Keep Servants Permanently as Servants

Those who have reflected more deeply into the cultural history of India will not be surprised that the first remark that Adityanath Yogi made to Siddaramaiah of Karnataka was, “You should be worshipping Hanuman rather than bowing to Tipu Sultan.”  In Orthodox thinking, the Dravidian South, the Mongoloid East, and the non-Aryan dalits in different parts of India, do not deserve to reach out to the master-god. They should be happy enough to worship the “servant-god” symbolized by Hanuman, and remain forever servants.

A tacit acceptance of servitude was being planted into the subconscious depths of the smaller, weaker, and subject societies in India from very ancient times. Only Buddha tried to resist it, but his followers were driven out of the land...a battle that lasted for centuries. Ambedkar tried to re-build a battle front by commemorating the Battle of Koregaon (1818) in which dalits had won a battle against the Peshwa’s exploitative regime. It was a premature effort.

The Orthodox mind is clear. ‘Vanaras’ must worship vanaras and grow up as such. No wonder that the new town at the gate of Arunachal Pradesh has been given the name Bandardeva. A careful study of this phenomenon will reveal how ‘Hanuman worship’ is diligently promoted in the tribal areas with the utmost care. We need a psychologist like Carl Jung to interpret the “collective unconscious” of the humbler societies in India today. He may be able to explain to us how it is not men who possess symbols, but “symbols possess men.” There is, then, truly, another side to every story. In this case, the unseen side seems to be deeper and still unexplored!

(Published on 29th January 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 05)