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A Thousand Mirrors: Fleeing from Narendra Modi and other urban liberal maladies

Monday, 12 May 2014 - 9:50am IST Updated: Sunday, 11 May 2014 - 9:50pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

A Narendra Modi-led coalition is the most probable scenario after May 16. A non-Gandhi helmswoman buoyed up by non-saffron forces isn’t impossible. Some left-liberal types, half-jokingly, have declared a desire to leave the country, if Modi eventually happens.

This joking about fleeing an emerging reality you dislike is another clichéd Anglo-American import. This unoriginal one was copied from some opposers of ex-US president George W Bush regime. Some wanted to move to Canada if Bush won again (he did). Beyond the joke, most subcontinental residents are too poor to move anywhere. The emigration ‘joke’ only highlights this class’s disconnect from masses.

Virulent, urbane left-liberal Modi-hate spreads beyond Modi. Their hate list includes hundreds of millions of non-BJP voters. Their objects of disgust includes those who are most comfortable in dhoti, lungi or saree, women wearing sindoor, namaji Muslims, ritual fasting Hindus, people who scratch themselves publicly, people who didn’t have their ‘eyes opened’ by ideas of white thinkers of the last two centuries, people who feel uncomfortable in costly cafes in Mumbai and Delhi, people who create and recreate culture rather than use fancy technology to ‘document’ it, people with faith in gods, goddesses and other divine beings, people who easily express their innermost feelings or intellectual ideas without western conceptual crutches, people whose self-identity would not be in peril if white colonisers never appeared in the subcontinent, young people who don’t say ‘Ohmygod’ in sitcom accents, people who love and dream in their mother-tongue and who sing their children generationally handed-down lullabies.

Book-read ideologies offer excellent excuses for simultaneously holding wine glasses and ‘radical’ positions. The enlightened ones say, the ‘uneducated’ cannot see through propaganda and can be instigated easily. If they could, they would replace the rural and ‘uneducated’ population, with their English big-word types. They hate the masses, wish the masses were not as numerous and spend lifetimes trying to shut the masses out of their lives. When such people capture positions in academia and media, from where they can infect others, social justice is at stake. Long well-fed by Congressite doles, the professor/activist nomenklatura and other managers of such Delhi-based government-subsidized ‘liberal’ fortresses feel (falsely) that the party might end. The emigration ‘joke’ is a part of that anxiety.

Common people’s lives are at the crossroads of caste-class-language-religion flows. To them ‘fascism’ and ‘neoliberalism’ are not smart words to be used ‘correctly’ but things with real-life consequences. To the non-religious, post-casteist, cosmopolitan left-liberal urbanite, these ‘concepts’ coexist perfectly with Sixth Pay-Commission salaries and ‘refined’ sensibilities. Some think they are the cutting edge of the fight against Modi. My friend Uday Chandra wrote, ‘the electoral fight against Modi and his politics begins and ends in the regions and localities where the likes of Mayawati, Lalu, and Mamata emerge. Upon their unpretentious and all-too-mortal shoulders the hopes of millions of Indians rest. Don’t let your academic or activist friends or nandu-sabka-bandhu-s tell you otherwise. If things were left to the urban and the urbane, we’d be fed to the wolves long ago’.

There is much to be fearful about a strong, stable government that defends extra-judicial murder of young women, is unapologetic about large-scale killings under its watch, pimps out natural resources and shares the Delhi-Indian vision of the urbane. The fight against such powers will continue to come from the rooted masses with communitarian ethos and family values. The rustic and the fantastic, not urbane liberal smart talkers, have always carried on the real struggles for a just world. 

The author is a Bengal-based commentator on politics and culture

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