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Indian intellectuals’ bias against Narendra Modi is showing

The vast variance between the predictions of the intelligentsia and ground reality raises troubling questions about their acumen.

Vivek Gumaste  New York | 6th Jun 2015

PM Modi meets a delegation from the Muslim community in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI

A full year — 365 days — has elapsed since Narendra Modi took over the reins of power in Delhi. The much-prophesied apocalypse is yet to descend upon us; the heavens have not come crashing down and the earth is not sinking in beneath our feet. India has not been transformed into a boiling cauldron of fratricidal religious disharmony, with Hindus butchering Muslims; minorities are not leaving India by droves and Kashmir has not sundered from India. The economy has not imploded and India has not become an ostracized international pariah.

This was the dismaying grim apparition that had been portended of India under Modi by some so-called intellectuals. But none of it has come to pass. A now deceased intellectual threatened to forsake India if Modi was elected and a world renowned Nobel Laureate openly advocated against Modi's ascendancy proclaiming him to be an anti-minority bigot. The vast variance — a night and day difference — in this intellectual clairvoyance and ground reality raises serious and troubling questions regarding the credibility and clinical acumen of India's intelligentsia. Was this a simple case of misjudgement? Or was it something more sinister — a deliberate diabolical and devious game plan stemming from entrenched bias to thwart an ideological adversary?

Misjudgement could be a plausible explanation in the case of a near miss. But when the margin of error assumes gargantuan proportions then the motive becomes suspect and casts serious doubts on the ability of our intelligentsia to remain objective and unbiased — two vital hallmarks of a true intellectual.

Additionally, a one-time error is pardonable, but when these misinterpretations become repetitious and systematic, it poses an existential threat to the well-being of the nation. It must be called out.

Starting with the post Godhra period, India witnessed a prolonged high decibel suffocating lopsided campaign orchestrated by a certain section of the English media that was so vicious that it left no room for rebuttal. The velocity of the campaign was so overwhelming that empathisers were coerced into silence lest they also be branded as communal. When the honourable Supreme Court of India acquitted Narendra Modi on all charges it again raised a big question mark on both the credibility and objectivity of this brand of Indian intellectuals. How could anyone get something so wrong? The Supreme Court failed to find a single misdemeanour to taint the man branded as evil incarnate by this cohort.

Intellectual leadership is vital to a nation to guide it to greater heights. Intellectualism cannot be a parochial ideological exercise that ignores facts and figures and aims to arbitrarily establish the hegemony of one strain of thought over the other. It must be an altruistic venture devoid of egotistical influences and mean petty mindedness.

When one year later all the horrible things about Modi's government have failed to materialise, these individuals have changed track, resorting to subtle attempts to discredit the government. A perception of intolerance is being engendered, wherein normal aberrations of society are being given a diabolical hue and exaggerated to paint them as harbingers of a dangerous slide into extremism. Non-issues have been converted into ugly controversies by hyperbole and distortion; slips of profanity uttered in the heat of an election campaign by low ranking no name functionaries have been given front page billing and advertised as the norm of the government and die-hard historical interpretations of minuscule fringe elements are being posited as the official party line. In short, the campaign of unsubstantiated demonisation continues.

A note of caution. Nationalism cannot be an empty jingoistic cry of triumphalism sans tangible gains. It must be a force that drives us to greater heights of economic progress, social refinement and mutual harmony.

The anti-national ideology is the worst catastrophe to befall independent India; a drag that has set us back at least 50 years; a warped ideology that has compounded our travails by becoming an apologist for terrorists, Naxalite violence and the fifth column. Moreover, it is a contrived ideology driven by animosity rather than objectivity; an intellectually dishonest stance that is detrimental to the nation and must be shown up for what is — a false patois.

Vivek Gumaste is a US-based academic and political commentator.

 
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