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Indian liberals joining hands with theocratic regimes is a terrifying development for India

Indians being Indians, they carry within themselves a bit of the democratic spirit wherever they go. They are used to speaking their mind. It was only a matter of time before Indian liberals realized these people were vulnerable and decided to go after them.

When elections stop giving the results you want, why not turn to fascism? In 2014, the Indian electorate rose in revolt against the old elite. In 2019, they looked the elite in the eye and screamed out their verdict with even greater force.

How do you get back at common people who refuse to vote your way? You find the weakest, most vulnerable and you go after them. It’s the liberal way.

So there are millions of common Indians working in the Gulf. Those are theocratic countries ruled by religious law. Many apply the death penalty for blasphemy, for apostasy, for homosexuality and so on.

But Indians being Indians, they carry within themselves a bit of the democratic spirit wherever they go. A spark of the open minded, free society where they come from. They are used to speaking their mind. Sometimes they forget where they are and commit crimes of speech and thought. It was only a matter of time before Indian liberals realized these people were vulnerable and decided to go after them.

Right now, the Indian liberal corner of social media is on a dangerous power trip. They are scanning the online footprint of common Indians who work in the Middle East, flagging any sign of disobedience to ultra conservative religion. They have become the online eyes and ears of the religious police, which then picks up these hapless victims for prosecution under conservative religious law.

Coming together of liberalism and Islamism

In trying to smear India, liberals had so far used some pretenses, spreading their message to America, Europe, Canada, Australia and the like. In doing so, they could hold up the fig leaf that these are all free societies. They could hide behind noble ideals such as human rights, liberty and free expression.

Not any more. Liberals have crossed the big red line and approached theocratic regimes in the Middle East. The other day, Communist trolls gleefully handed over to prosecution a man who had dared to say that the gleaming skyscrapers of the Middle East were built by the sweat of Indian workers.

The irony is think on that one. Communists on the side of the king and not the worker. By the way, the workers’ strike, the most sacred of all Communist rituals, is illegal in the Middle East.

Transnational loyalty of liberals is a danger to India

What do you make of it when prominent journalists, who publish in mainstream outlets, say openly that India’s internal matters are not internal any more? Instead they are trying to get foreign Islamic governments involved in our affairs. Where does this stop? Now they are approaching theocratic Islamic states to interfere in our politics.

Well, Pakistan is an Islamic state. Will Indian liberals approach them as well for support? Have they already done so? Who is next in line to be approached by Indian liberals against the Indian government? China? North Korea? Territories controlled by ISIS or Taliban or Al-Shabab?

By reaching out to Islamic countries, liberals have dropped all pretense that this is about human rights or free expression. This is now about religion. And tapping into transnational loyalties to impose their will on common Indians.

It will get worse, much worse

Imagine this scenario. An Indian in a Middle Eastern theocracy comes home after a hard day at work and pulls out a chilled beer. The next moment, there is a loud banging on the door. The religious police is here. They have been alerted by Indian liberals who noticed the photo he had casually posted on Facebook. Caught with alcohol, he now faces an uncertain and brutal future. Years or even decades in jail, mutilation, possibly even death.

Tomorrow, these online liberal vigilantes could report an Indian to thIslamists e religious police for being gay. Or perhaps an Indian Muslim, who decides to leave the religion or convert to a different religion. Or perhaps even a single woman, who posted pictures of herself taking a casual walk without a “male guardian.”

At the moment, Indian liberals have started out with reporting thought and speech crimes of a political nature to the religious police. This can only get more intrusive. Online vigilantes will soon prey on anyone who breaks any rules of ultra conservative orthodoxy.

Indians in theocratic countries should observe extreme caution

Life isn’t fair. Despite all our outrage over the hypocrisy of Indian liberalism, we have to accept the bitter reality that they win this round. We know that these theocratic countries aren’t likely to change their ways. There’s no use going against their customs, whether knowingly or otherwise.

So, it is up to Indians working in such places to police themselves and observe extreme caution. They have to give up the freedom to express themselves in thought, speech, sexuality, everything.

For people who are used to liberty, this is not an easy transition. But this is the price we must pay for incorporating undemocratic regimes into the global supply chain. A bit like China. Think of existence in a theocratic Middle Eastern country as a permanent state of mental lockdown.

Depressing, but true.

Remember that this shall pass

If it is any comfort, understand that the power of these theocratic regimes is transient. And soon to be done to dust. Why?

Quite simply, because the world will pass them by. Right now, they have a single resource and they live off those lottery winnings.

But think about it. They must have had that resource for thousands of years. It didn’t bring them any prosperity. Until human knowledge advanced to the point that we figured out how to use that resource. And just like that, human knowledge will move past them, discovering newer and better resources.

These theocratic regimes have not used their windfall gains to invest in the knowledge economy. And sooner or later, nations that do not produce new knowledge will be left nowhere. In the long game, the open mind, which welcomes knowledge, will always win over the closed mind.

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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