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Merchants of Doom

Modi ji always said that he will promote industrial growth and especially manufacturing, under his Make in India campaign. True to form. there is a new small-scale industry in town. The industry of outrage. The industry of fear-mongering. The industry of spreading so many lies that it all starts appearing to be true. Because he who shouts loudest is the one who is right, in this modern world.

I picked up the newspaper today morning and went to the editorial page, hoping for another exciting Chetan Bhagat piece on what young Indian men or women want. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be. Instead, i read three other columns, all by famous writers or opinion makers.

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First was by Shobha De. This one had her comparing the horrible attack on the French satire publication that resulted in a dozen dead people with the protest against writer Perumal Murugan, whose book has offended some Hindu people. Whether that outrage is justifiable or not is debatable as always, but i would think his mentioning a real temple and a real community and implying that childless woman from said community engage in a religious ritual where they can mate with strangers might actually be grounds for defamation, unless it is fact. Anyway, Shobha ji is not happy that our Prime Minister has not spoken against this attack on democracy and is wondering why he is silent when such grave offences are being committed.

“In Perumal’s case, the attackers had the temerity to enter his home. How different was this attack from the one in Paris? Both involved perceived offences to religious beliefs. And the victims in both instances wielded nothing more ‘dangerous’ than pens and pencils”

How was Perumal’s case different from the Paris attack? How about, he wasn’t shot dead point-blank, for one?

She signs off with “Be afraid. Be very afraid” — is that the unambiguous message being sent out?” For yes, a book gaining notoriety and instantly climbing on top of the bestseller charts on Amazon is making me wet my pants in fear.

The next one I read was by Aakar Patel, another distinguished gentleman whose articles seem to have a viral nature, for he has a distinctive writing style intended to be strongly offensive, if also insightful. This one was a call to the Congress to revive itself before the evil right-wingers destroy this country.

“This is being washed away by the mainstreaming of a nasty and angry ideology that is replacing the receding Congress. It is represented in Parliament by assorted sadhus and sadhvis whose venom is explained away by the Prime Minister as their rustic innocence.”

His column almost implied that the BJP didn’t win the elections, or is going on winning state after state, but that it is all the fault of a passive Congress that is letting them win. Yes, way to discredit the intelligence of the Indian voter.

I was in for more. The next one I read was from a man I greatly respect, Swaminathan S Aiyar, whose column Swaminomics is among the few places where one can find sanity. This week he wrote about the 25 year ‘anniversary’ of the Kashmiri Pandits being viciously chased away from their homes in Kashmir. Incidentally, I recently read Rahul Pandita’s excellent book ‘Our Moon Has Blood Clots’ which was a first-person account of what all transpired during that time, and beyond. Excellent read, if a bit gut-wrenching.

Sir had a different take this year. That even though Kashmiri Pandits were chased away and killed in hundreds (or thousands), THAT wasn’t the real tragedy. The bigger tragedy  was that Muslims were chased away from Jammu.

I nearly slammed my head into the table as I read this.

“The ethnic cleansing of Pandits from the valley was more one-sided than that of Jammu Muslims in 1947. Yet in sheer numbers and horrors, the Jammu episode was much worse. We have forgotten what happened then because it is politically and morally inconvenient.”

Why now are we comparing 1947 with 1990? In 1947, millions died on both sides as they fled their homes from India to Pakistan and vice-versa. Why bring it up to try to lessen the impact of what was done to Kashmiri Pandits in the 90s, with countless people butchered like animals, their women raped, their children orphaned, the ones who got away left to struggle in pathetic ‘refugee’ settlements setup for them. Refugees in their own country, after having lost their life’s possessions.

My fingers shake as I write this. Not sure if it is because of the cold or the deep sense of dismay I feel.

What has become of modern India? Why is everybody suddenly a troll? Why must one side’s misery be downplayed by saying that the ‘other’ side suffered more? Why must any good work being done by this clearly popular government (landslide victory and all that) be tried to silenced in meaningless controversies and lame attempts at creating outrage?

What hope does progress have if the so-called opinion makers are so hell-bent on keeping us ill-informed and perennially outraged?

– by Amreekan Desi (First published in Amreekan Desi Blog)
[Image courtesy: CNN]

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