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The 'intellectuals' and not the politicians are the problem

Author: Ashok Chowgule
Publication: HinduPost
Date: April 4, 2018.
URL:      https://www.hindupost.in/society-culture/intellectuals-not-politicians-problem/

Around 1995, in a meeting of Hindutvavadis, one member observed that those occupying the intellectual space often authenticated the electoral programmes, particularly the minority assessment and casteism, of the political parties that they defined as secular.  These ‘intellectuals’ are the academics, the political and social analysts, journalists (particularly the columnists and the editors), etc.  And, since the ‘intellectuals’ authenticated their programmes, the political parties thought they were on the right path, and so attempted to implement their programmes even more aggressively.  There is  a sort of circularity, with each side using the other to justify their positions.

The question to be asked is whether the ‘intellectuals’ went about their task in a professional manner or on the basis of an ideological agenda.  If it is the latter, then there is a problem to find enduring solutions to the problems faced in our country.  Many in the society, who assume that ‘intellectuals’ are unbiased persons, do not have the resources, or the time, to analyse issues outside their area of competence.  Thus, a nuclear scientist would rely on a social scientist to inform him about the caste dynamics in India.  If the social scientist does not go about his task in a professional way, we should not blame the nuclear scientist for being misled.

Surjit Bhalla provides us with a clue how the ‘intnellectuals’ (whom he calls old eliter) went about their task in these excerpts from his article in The Indian Express of June 17, 2017:

The single most critical factor in Indian politics, from its independence in 1947 until the birth of the Modi administration in 2014, was that the same elite ruled the country. Regardless of political affiliation, this elite had broadly the same political and economic philosophy, characterised by Western-style social liberalism and Fabian economic socialism. In addition, traditionally, the elite was heavily anti-American.

URL:   http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/bjp-congress-narendra-modi-nehru-dynasty-demonetisation-farmer-riots-no-proof-required-battle-of-the-elites-4707752/

One of the biggest factor in exposing the ‘intellectuals’has been the internet, which enabled the Hindutvavadis to bypass the censorship that this elite had applied in the flow of information to the public.  Not only individuals were able to convey their opinion without the old elite filter, they found that they were not alone in their positive perspective relating to Hindutva.  This gave them strength to go about their task with greater vigour.

Clearly this created a serious threat to the ‘intellectuals’, and particularly their livelihood.  However, instead of doing an honest introspection of what they said and wrote, they are fighting back in the way described above by Bhalla.  Essentially telling lies, and creating false narratives.  Anand Ranganathan lists out instance of this falsehood in his following tweet:
Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72) tweeted at 6:28 PM on Fri, Dec 08, 2017:
Church Attacks. FAILED
Award wapsi. FAILED
Growing Intolerance. FAILED
Lynchistan. FAILED
Emergency. FAILED
Selective outrage. FAILED
Make NO mistake. The vipers are writhing in the sand again for something new.

Despite the continuous failure, the ‘intellectuals’ are on a continuous programme of trying to create a tension in the society, with the sole objective that they can continue being the old elite.  They just do not seem to care whether what they do has seriously hurt social relationships amongst the people.

In nearly all the cases above, it is the ‘intellectuals’ who first made mountain out a stray incident which was not even a mole hill.  And it was after this that the politicians adopted the programme, and lent their shoulders to the ‘intellectuals’ to fire their gun at the present government.  Regretfully many in the Right Wing keep on blaming the politicians for creating the problem.  This has allowed the ‘intellectuals’ to get away from their own responsibility.

In his article, Bhalla also said:

As time went on, however, it became increasingly clear that the old elite had failed to notice and respect that India had changed from the illiterate and feudal order prevalent at the time the Nehru dynasty assumed control. There are complex factors feeding into each other to explain the public’s increasing mistrust in the old elite, but it can safely be pointed out that the educational level of average Indians has risen; the old elite mismanaged the economy — and power corrupted the old elite.

The Indian people are asking more questions and demanding greater accountability from dynastic political leaders. But the old elite — politicians, corporates, left-intellectuals, academics — cannot be expected to give up their privileges so easily. They will try to derail the transformation and object at every turn: If that means fake analysis, they will do so. If that means intellectual gymnastics, they will do so. The key point is that they must do so.

Fake analysis and intellectual gymnastics are nothing but lies.  And Bhalla has rightly concluded for the old elite to maintain their undeserved position in the society, they MUST (emphasis added) indulge in lies.  If they were to tell the truth, then they will also have to answer why they were seriously misleading the society all these years.  Having intellectual honesty is definitely not a required characteristic of the old elite in India.

Our country has many problems that need to be actively addressed if the aspirations of the people are to be fulfilled.  This can be done when there is a proper intellectual manthan, where the correct data is collected, and a proper analysis made.  While individuals will have some ideological agenda, in the true spirit of manthan, if the analysis does not fit the agenda, it is the agenda that is changed and not the data dismissed.

The ‘intellectuals’ are still ensconced in their positions.  Even though an alternative media channels have come up, and the Internet Hindus have increased in number and the quantum of their work has increased, the mischief of false narratives has not abated.  The foreign media and analysts still rely on their ‘intellectuals’ as their interlocutors and so do not do due diligence of the information that comes to them.

The Right Wing has to concentrate their resources to expose the ‘intellectuals’ instead of the politicians.

- (Ashok Chowgule is the Working President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, India.)
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