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Aarey “forest”: How the rich woke few snatched the future of millions of Mumbaikars

In India since 2014, things are not so simple. Because the vicious, hateful anti-Modi lobby will stand in the way of everything. Even the most obvious, practical decisions.

This is a cartoon from about two years ago.

Satish Acharya’s cartoon on Aarey forest

It should have been a simple matter really. Citizens in India’s financial capital of Mumbai deserve a metro system that is fast, efficient and easily accessible. All major metropolitan cities around the world have such networks in place already.

Of course, such major public infrastructure works will come at the expense of cutting down bits of forest here and there, which is sad. That’s why we make up by planting even more trees elsewhere. As it is, public transportation emits far less CO2 per person than private vehicles. So in the long run, whenever we build a good public transportation system, we always come out ahead.

But in India since 2014, things are not so simple. Because the vicious, hateful anti-Modi lobby will stand in the way of everything. Even the most obvious, practical decisions. They see sinister designs behind routine government work. They twist things in absurd ways. Everything is “fascism.”

So how do you oppose something as practical as building public transport? You humanize individual trees. You go and hug them and you cry that your tree friend is being cut down. Great for a child’s bedtime story, but makes no sense in real life. And as you can see in the cartoon above, you then imagine all sorts of horrible things about to happen to real people in Modi’s India and relate this to your sick imagination. Everything is fascism. Everything is genocide.

And so they did. A frenzied campaign by certain channels, social media influencers, activists and NGOs got hundreds of woke zombies to pour out on the streets to save “Aarey forest.” Most social media influencers had probably never heard of so called “Aarey forest” until the day before. But now, they wanted to save it like their lives depended on it. Because it was getting likes and retweets. The activist class pitched in with street plays and ‘revolutionary’ poetry. If BJP is doing it, it must be wrong. In fact, it has to be genocide. Don’t you want to speak up against genocide?

The madness has subsided now. The influencers have collected their likes and retweets and moved on. The woke people have finished their college courses in “social work” and probably joined some Soros funded NGO by now. They don’t care any more. Guess who is stuck with the bill?

Metro progress derailed

The liberal MVA government has decided to move the metro car shed from the area. It has been two years since this decision, but they have not finalized an alternative location. And no car shed means no metro. Seems common Mumbaikars will get their underground metro in another 4 years, if they are lucky!

The list of losers is long here. At the top of it are the Mumbaikars. They will have to suffer countless hours in traffic jams for at least another 4 years. Lakhs of people travel long distances within the city each day earn a living. They must now spend half their day sweating in overcrowded streets, and less time with their families. Somebody has to pay the cost of wokeness.

Then, of course, there is the direct cost. The project will now see a cost escalation of thousands of crores, for which the good people of Maharashtra will be on the hook. So when you are stuck in a traffic jam in the city, be grateful to Instagram influencers for a higher tax bill, or because the government now has less money to spend on education and health. Take a deep breath of polluted air and be grateful.

This reminds me. The biggest cost will be to the environment itself. Those two wheelers and four wheelers emit lots and lots of carbon dioxide, along with other toxic fumes. Even if people tried their best, they could not possibly maintain them at the highest emission standards. It costs money, and time. Your time is consumed by traffic jams. Your money goes in taxes. Everyone loses.

Except the woke people, who are likely richer than you are. They care about opposing Modi, even at the cost of the planet and your personal health. Do you?

In many ways, the protest over “Aarey forest” was a microcosm. It was a precursor to more widespread, even more ridiculous movements against anything and everything done by BJP governments. The anti-CAA protests/riots, for instance. And the still ongoing “farmer” protests. Everywhere the pattern is the same. Just label everything as “genocide” and protest against it. Facts barely matter.

And once they declare that they are opposing “genocide,” they have given themselves the license to say and do almost anything. They can go and take over the Red Fort in Delhi. They can block any road or railway that they want. Most ironically, they can raise genocidal slogans themselves. That is how slogans like “Hindutva ki kabar khudegi” and “sab but uthwaye jayenge” came to be seen as peaceful, even progressive.

The protest against building Mumbai Metro was the ultimate exercise in liberal privilege. What if woke folks cannot win an election? They can overrule the will of the people by rhetoric. All means are justified because they have labeled the democratically elected legitimate government as “Nazis.” So if they want to raise slogans of ” …. ki kabar khudegi,” that’s actually super liberal.

Here is the good news. We the common people have the power to withdraw liberal privilege. Stop letting the liberal class walk all over us. Just because they have friends at the New York Times does not mean they are better than us. Just because they speak the language of human rights does not mean they are better human beings than we are. In fact, go check the history of the New York Times. When it actually mattered, the New York Times was a mouthpiece for dictators, whether Stalin looking to cover up the genocide in Ukraine, or Hitler looking to hide his treatment of Jews.

So stop looking up to liberals. No, they don’t represent “students” or “farmers” or “workers” or “women” or “minorities.” We already have representatives, and those were elected by the people. The wokes don’t work. They contribute nothing to society. They only take.

We saw the perfect example of this yesterday. Now, Kanhaiya Kumar is free to join any party he likes. In fact, he enjoys this freedom precisely because India is not a Communist state. But how ironic that after all those years “studying” on taxpayer subsidies, his real conclusion was Rahul Gandhi zindabad. He spent all this time lecturing us on free speech and free thought. And ultimately his conclusion was that … Raja ka beta hi raja banta hai…

That’s wokeness. That’s liberalism. That is the conclusion that lies at the core of those who say they are challenging power structures, from patriarchy to casteism. All the revolutionary sloganeering is just window dressing. The wokes are agents of feudalism. Cancel them.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  

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