Two events have occupied the minds of thinking Indian citizens in the last week. The two would seem way far apart in the terms of the people directly impacted but are connected with one common theme which is the biggest emblem of the times we live in.
The raid on a famous Media channel, NDTV, which was the first one to tread into the Television News space once it opened up beyond the state broadcaster and the other event being a hugely violent farmers' stir in the state of Madhya Pradesh, which has been showing spectacular growth, ironically, in agricultural sector.
The outrage around the latter has started to die down as the shock at the farmers agitating so violently in the relatively prosperous area of India gave way to the emerging details of Congress, a dynastic party which has ruled India for the largest part of our liberated existence and thus is responsible for not only the slow growth, rather also for the inglorious episode of Emergency, now out of power, being in play as direct conspirator of the violence which has left five people dead.
The difficult part of democracy is that people who have no understanding of India and who have been raised as a an heir to the throne, with supposedly divine right to rule over the natives, often fail to understand that the nature and essence of a successful democracy is its temporal nature. Democracy is like a brook in the mountains, which protects its beauty and purity only if it is not stagnant. They are not able to accept this temporal nature of power, which is the strength and essence of democracy. This is why I always say that Congress out of power is more dangerous for India as a nation than Congress in power.
Congress had carefully created a well-designed ecosystem which itself together out of selfish interests which criss-crossed across the whole structure, with one part leaning on the other, and vice-versa. The tectonic shift in the Indian polity with the arrival of Narendra Modi by an unread rejection of the incumbents is what Congress was not prepared for. Not then, not now. Instead of playing the party out of power, they decided to take the role of Party of opposition. This desire and this stupid urge for opposition has messed the overall politics of this country which brings me to the question of fading Intellectual morality. Congress would pull the strings, create unrest where there is none, using the IOUs it held with the ecosystem which we now called the Lutyen's cabal.
The whole approach of opposition has been so cynical that the opposition, made of quintessential Indian politicians, each reeling under the stigma of their own saga of corruption, from Laloo to Mamata to Left to the royal corrupts, looks even to any person new to Indian polity as a collaboration of Crooks. Their entire opposition is something like build out of necessity. This politics is built out of a total dependence of negative politics and total ignorance of positive politics. They forget that Narendra Modi came into power not because he hit strongly on the Congress which was then in power, rather because in comparison to a scam-tainted central government, he presented a relatively clean and progressive Gujarat government, which Congress and the best of the columnists on their payrolls could not wish away. If Rahul Gandhi had camped in Karnataka where Congress still ruled, implemented the recommendations of expert committee for Agricultural sector in Karnataka as an evidence of excellence, they could have hoped some success. But it needed commitment and effort. Such big initiatives cannot be undertaken between quarter of the year long introspection in exotic locales which is Rahul Gandhi's wont to take.
So attack and opposition became a game, and in the process of attacking Modi, they attacked the country that was attached with Modi, him being in the center as the Prime Minister. Morality is the key essence of democracy. Once morality fails, democracy quickly collapses into the rule of the mob. They did not care. Let us look at the stand the opposition took and I leave it to your own yardstick of morality to measure the correctness of their position.
Action on Black Money: Every political party, no matter how corrupt they were is bound to take a public position against black money and corruption. Narendra Modi came out with demonetization. It was implemented with big difficulties and hardships for the nation. The whole opposition pounced at Modi. Politicians like Arvind Kejriwal, who always positioned themselves as ethical crusader against black money and corruption, stood with Congress, mocking the Government and even threatening riots.
Church Attack- There were stories of attack on Churches and christian institutions. No sane thinking person in the nation wants riots in the name of religion. People look at leaders to oppose such malicious propaganda and expects them to quell the rumours. To an utter disappointment, all such news (covered extensively, yes, fake news covered extensively by the media longing for the good old days when they held the power of cabinet appointments) turned to be fake.
Beef Ban- The fact of the matter is there was no new policies of Beef ban imposed by the Modi government. The intellectuals who were supposed to be the moral guardians of the society essentially argued that the illegality which was prevalent in the name of cow-slaughter be allowed to continue unabated. Which essentially meant that the beef ban policies which are derived from the directive principles of the constitution and enacted by earlier Congress government, remain a fake law, never to be applied on the society. In effect, they were again on the side of illegality under the pretext of religious and other rights. The essence of the argument was that, Cow-slaughter was illegal; it took away the life of one animal for satisfying the taste of another and thus immoral; there were laws, but let us assume that there were none. The arguments were flawed in more ways than possible. One was that it was a part of Dalit's staple diet, kind of way-of-life argument. It was primarily because it was cheap. It was cheap because it was illegal, like hooch. Even then how cheap it would be compared to a kg of apple is something to be analysed. Other argument was religious. A ban (well, which never was) was supposed to be trampling on religious beliefs of Muslims. There are two aspects to it. The deserts from where Islam came, it is debatable how effectively they did cattle-raising or dairy farming and therefore how applicable the rules of a desert without much vegetarian alternatives would apply (to my understanding, there is no specific guidelines on the necessity of slaughtering a cow as a proof of being a true follower) to a land with an abundance of greens. Only logic for the Muslims wanting to cut a cow in India would be to rub the nose of a majority religion which revers the animal into dust. In all this debate on Beef ban, the only real thing Modi government did was to pass a notification to eliminate the middle-man and regulate illegal cattle-trafficking after three years in power. Congress responded by publicly slaughtering an Eleven-months old calf.
Action on Media: The channel has been ranting on the end of democracy since the time Modi came to power. They would create fake news, call the terrorists as social media warrior and create all trouble for not only the central government, but also for the people at large. When pointed out, they would quickly go back at their high chairs of intellectual priesthood, looking down at the masses (oddly consumer and creator of the news). They attacked Modi, true and fake news; reporters would post fake news, fake pictures, and when pointed out by ordinary citizen on Social media, they would take offence and call them trolls. The government did nothing in the way of censoring them. The residence of the founders of NDTV (not the NDTV office, not to check the footage of Barkha Dutt interviews with Burhan Wani) was raided and the heavens came down. The Editors' Guild, the Press Council of India came out with condemnation calling it attack on the media. They had been silent on the broad day murder of a journalist in Bihar (in the line of duty), in UP (for exposing Corruption of local politician), FIR on another rival channel (for covering a riot in Bengal), but the first family of Indian private news is raided, and the whole democracy is under attack.
In a democracy, the intellectuals hold an important role. They are the guardians of democracy. They articulate well, they are the custodians of printed space, they hold the strings of media, but they stand exposed. They do not stand exposed only because they are speaking now. They stand exposed because they stayed silent earlier. They are not driven by the principles of propriety. They are driven by what they perceive as a personal affront. The worthies like Fali Nariman (whose own son is a SC judge while being a priest and who like an illiterate bigot expressed fear at a man wearing saffron becoming an elected Chief Minister in a country which had a Maulana as the first Education Minister of the country) and Arun Shourie may cry foul at the way things are turning out, but in the process, when they, with disdain, advise the mainstream media to be merciless against common citizen's voice on social media; when they weep for the loss of their invincible positions in the pre-established social hierarchy, I want to only quote from Julius Caesar to them
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings."
For long we had left our social conscience in the hands of these old men, totally drunk in the sense of an invincible power; now we realize they did not take good care of it. In one matter after other, we find that their well-articulated positions, were always on the side of the wrong, the immoral. They have lost the sense of intellectual morality. They have failed in their duty to the society, which trusted in their wisdom to uphold the ethics. All that their intellect gave them a cynical ruthlessness which they used to create causes to craft a situation to somehow get rid of the changed socio-political equations which they still in their stupor believe to be nothing but bad dream. Soldier, Farmer, liberty - they threw these words with the hope that they will stick on social psyche but they were too empty to hold on. The amazing thing about social media and the speed of it is that you are always watched. The hollow emptiness of these cause-words which are used are no longer hidden from the people. The hollowness of high-sounding words and the bankruptcy of minds which crafts them, gets exposed the moment they are uttered. Words are thrown carelessly to prove the point and if I were to borrow from Nietzsche, this is the wisdom of stagnant waters in which I often hear frogs croak. The charade of character, the malicious lie of morality stands exposed and the intellectuals hate the common-folks for that. What is also very visible that we have largely the right to the tag of intellectual strongly held in the cunning captivity of Television. People like Dinkar, Nirala, Parsai have faded away and have not been replaced. It is a kind of intellectual disaster which has played on our society. Television serves the purpose. It doesn't let you think.
"The Television is 'real'. It is immediate, it has dimension. It tells you what to think and blasts it in. It must be right. It seems so right. It rushes you on so quickly to its own conclusions that your mind hasn't time to protest,'What nonsense!'"
- Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451)
That is the reason they fear the written words. They fear anyone who writes from a factual position of strength. They will call them Bhakts, trolls, Internet Hindus, unemployed. That is the only way they have to discredit your narrative, for their own narrative is flawed, primarily because it is selfish and dishonest. They don't have the moral courage or they have too much of personal interest at stake to look inwards and make amends. They avoid debate with ordinary folks, not because they detest them; mostly, it is because they fear they will lose. Just as some people have greatness thrust on them, some do have intellectual position thrust on them. They are the people who have been hounding our moral space. They do not want to lose it. Salinger put it well when he wrote in The Catcher in the Rye -
"These intellectual guys don't like to have an intellectual conversation with you unless they are running the whole thing."