When I started working in the Delhi newspaper industry in the 1990s, my shift head told me, “All the editors are Communists. If you are not a Communist, you can’t be an editor. Kam se kam (At least) Socialist!” I thought he was joking and I started laughing.
But he was dead serious and said, “The Right are slowly coming in, but they will really struggle for decades.” As the years passed by and I looked at the way news was covered in India and the identical statements varied intellectuals made, I noticed he had a point.
Look at all the #AdarshLiberals, intellectuals, senior editors, artists, NGOs, activists… and you will curiously find they all say the same thing in unison. It’s almost as if it’s been orchestrated. They all seem to come from one family and seldom differ.
When AB Vajpayee (a symbol of the Right and arch enemy of the Communists) became Prime Minister of India the media would look for reasons to attack him but when General Pervez Musharraf came, the whole media went gaga. Don’t you find it curious? If you are in a dictatorship and your enemy is a democracy maybe you can admire the opponent.
But if you belong to the largest democracy in the world and your enemy country is a failed State with a tin pot dictator as its head why would you praise your enemy’s leader over your own? Even when Musharraf was a pariah in his home country after he lost power, he was welcomed warmly with open arms in Indian TV studios! I guess it’s my (the Communist’s) enemy’s (Vajpayee/RSS/The Right’s) enemy (Musharraf) is my friend.
The alarming part is how there is actually no debate among intellectuals and absolutely no discussion among them and nothing but ideology matters. They are like parrots who keep agreeing with each other. That’s not debate!
While their deference to Socialist thinking (Food Bill, NREGA etc) Congress President Sonia Gandhi and hostility to (free market champion aka Capitalist) Prime Minister Narendra Modi has become clichéd and raises no eyebrows, why did all the editors go gaga over the victory of Lalu Prasad Yadav in Bihar?
Apart from Jungle Raj, the RJD regime is highly misogynistic in nature and yet you found female anchors beaming like overawed college girls in Lalu’s presence as if he was the best thing that happened since sliced bread.
India’s worst politician won and you could see the glee on the faces of TV panellist and you almost felt that they would suddenly get up and do a jig on live TV. A pseudo-socialist had beaten a Capitalist. All of India’s Communists were elated.
In fact that’s exactly the case with the whole intolerance debate. India was born of intolerant Hindu-Muslim-Sikh Partition riots that claimed more than a million lives in 1947. The 1980s was an intolerant decade which saw thousands of Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus killed or displaced in riots or hate campaigns.
The last major riot happened in India in 2002. It had been more than a year since a new government was installed in 2014. And yet suddenly one fine morning hundreds of writers, intellectuals, artists and Civil Society members got up and felt intolerance had reached such epidemic levels that a campaign with global ramifications was unleashed.
The truth is that it is these “intolerant people” with their “intolerant views” who are no longer being tolerated by the people of India. That’s their real fear. After Independence this ruling clique (call them #AdarshLiberals or the Lutyens’ Club or what you will!) got together and controlled all debate and opinion in this country.
They decided that first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (who admired Communism and made India a pseudo-Communist State) was the perfect role model for all politicians.
They decided that only the Congress (mostly Left-leaning except in 1991) had a genuine right to rule.
They decided that the Dynasty (who have inherited Nehru’s legacy) had a divine right to the Prime Minister’s post. They decided that only Communists were fit to be intellectuals, historians, artists and editors.
They formed a super intolerant club that was totally intolerant to any other opinion. One must give them credit that they lasted (nay flourished) for 67 years.
But now they have serious competition and nobody takes them that seriously any more.
The social media is emerging to be the most powerful voice in the country and nobody can control it. The Right (even though it is still weak) finally has a voice. Monopoly of debate and opinion is no longer there. That is the real story and that is why super intolerant are crying intolerance.
What they say is partially true. Intolerance has increased in their world, but definitely not in the world of the common Indians.
In fact paradoxically for the rest of India, the converse is true: Never in the history of India have so many differing opinions been tolerated. It is this tolerance that needs to be celebrated and showcased to the world!
India is finally having a discourse. India is finally maturing.May the debate continue and may the best opinion win—it doesn’t matter whether it comes from the Left, Right or Centre!