Monday, February 4, 2013

India: Republic of Hate and Nightmares...

This appeared in Sunday times yesterday

                        India :Republic of  Hate and  Nightmares… not Ideas.
Ban this. Ban that. Intimidate.Scare.Browbeat.Disrupt.Destroy.
 We are living in deeply troubling times. The Republic of Ideas…. Dreams… Imagination… has been replaced by the Republic of  Hate and Nightmares. Which is why it is important to address this missive directly to the individual who is  hell bent on  pushing the hate envelope still further.
Dear Mr. Intolerant  -  Disrupter of  Peace,
I write this with anguish in my heart.  It took just seven days and four nasty protests to establish your credentials as the ultimate cultural rogue.Sadly,the weakened (and wicked) State has meekly surrendered to your bullying and threats. You have picked your targets well. Ashish Nandy,Kamalhassan, Salman Rushdie and Shah Rukh Khan. High profile… but soft and vulnerable. You decided to ‘teach them a lesson’.You nearly succeeded. It happened because we let it. Because we went on the defensive. We explained ourselves strenuously…provided alibis and excuses. But mainly because we surrendered. Too easily.Too soon. And allowed you to trample all over us. Yes – it has become an ‘Us Vs. Them’ siege, unfortunately.Why did we back down so  fast? There lies the sad tale. It has to do with several factors – all of them valid. Age and frail health ( Asish Nandy). Commerce and connected considerations (Kamalhassan). Heightened sensitivity ( SRK). Or plain fatigue ( Salman Rushdie ). It has come to such a ludicrous point that soon creative communities across India will be forced to quietly shut shop. And worse – shut up. That is precisely what you want.
The irony of this ghastly situation isn’t lost on anyone. Check this out - most times, the angry mobs ( led by people like you) are composed of people who do not read, write,draw,sing, act,paint… or even think. Books are judged by a bunch of  illiterate goons who may never have held one in their hands. Movies are condemned by those who have not watched the film they are demanding a ban on. Art is dismissed by philistines who have never stepped into a gallery. Speeches are damned by those who don’t know any language – except the language of abuse. In such a hostile atmosphere, artists, writers, painters, movie makers, musicians and thinkers are pushed into a pen…. threatened, gagged, brow beaten, intimidated. Their crime?They possess an independent mind.
Why is Kamalhassan threatening to quit India and seek exile in a more tolerant environment?Why is he compelled to convince his “Muslim brothers’’ that his film is pro-Muslim? Why is Asish  being dragged from one tv studio to the next asserting , “ I have always been a champion of the Dalits’ ? Why should SRK have to play the martyr over and over again and wear his patriotism on his sleeve? Why is Rushdie still hunted and hounded?
 Mr. Distrupter, you know the answer.
 As of now, you are calling the shots in this ongoing battle for Freedom of the Mind. Your corrosive antipathy towards what is foolishly called the Liberal Threat, is winning the war so far. Intellectuals are crawling when they needn’t even stoop.Soon public platforms will be effortlessly hijacked by your types – narrow minded, vicious people. “Religious thugs” indulging in “cultural terrorism” to borrow Rushdie’s evocative words. You and your ilk, who are nothing but two paisa  hirelings of  local politicians, appear determined to exert control over  carefully  nurtured vote banks . That is precisely what has led to an outbreak of cultural goondagiri parading as moral policing. People can see through such humbug. What do you want to hear? Hypocritical, gratuitous remarks? Would it make things any better if our intellectuals were to start every public discourse with salutations like : “My Muslim brothers…my Dalit sisters….  my Tribal children?” Your recent ‘triumphs’ should not give you false confidence. In the prevailing Chamcha Culture that defines political life, you may have succeeded in terrorizing a few.  But be warned  - this is a fight that goes beyond personalities.Or even expeditious politics. It is not just about Asish, SRK, Rushdie or Kamalhassan . This is a fight for freedom. Absolute freedom. Zero compromise freedom. Freedom of  ideas… and  the  vibrant expression of all that is diverse in our complex society. As guaranteed by our Constitution. Lathis can stop crowds but not thoughts. Dissent is our birthright.And we shall have it. Just you watch!


Ambika said...

Agree whole-heartedly!

Anand said...

They protest mainly because they feel Muslim brothers are shown in bad light (which is a work of fiction ) but the muslim brothers and sisters are treated badly in real in foreign countries even if it is Abdul Kalam.. Where were all these protests, ban on foreign countries.. They wont simply wont react because the consequences are like a boomerang it will just hit on their own head.. This is why we go amreeka, london..

Anil Kumar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anil Kumar said...

What Pritish Nandy said or Kamal Hassan wanted to show hsould have been perfectly normal in a civilized country. But as long as these caste and religion parasites who are leaders in this country are there - this country can only go down from here.

Rajesh Doraiswamy said...

For Once, I agree with Shobha De. But not many takes you seriously and reads your article as far as i know. thats because, you also write articles like the one you did in the recent Outlook Magazine about Afzal Guru's Hanging....

Raju said...

Most important blunders in the formation of India:
* Creation of nations on the basis of religion.
* Division of states on the basis of language.
* Different sets of law for followers of different religion.
* Reservations on the basis of caste and not on economic condition.
All these lead to nothing but hatred & mistrust.
More about India in Indian World Records

Aditya said...

Nice Indeed
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