Let A Hundred Flowers Die

Let A Hundred Flowers Die

by Jaithirth Rao - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 07:00 PM IST
Let A Hundred Flowers Die

Redundant institutions like our cultural Akademis must go. That is the dharma, not appointing dharmic individuals to head these money guzzling idiotic edifices. That, in fact, is adharma.

One of the traps that our new government has gotten ensnared in, is the excessive focus on changing individuals rather than on changing institutional structures. And of course, our vocal leftist nitwits who never protested when mediocre Communist fellow-travellers were routinely appointed to head Akademies and Historical Councils are suddenly very concerned about institutional integrity the moment their buddies are kicked out and replaced by persons with different ideological dispositions.

They never bother to admit that previous incumbents were not worth much either. They just focus on the qualities and qualifications of new appointees. They also have a field day about bizarre statements that these new individuals tend to make. The debate now turns to whether Mahabharata is history or whether the Rig Veda should be researched. No one cares to make the point that the Leftist sarkari historians of the previous regime in their description of India’s freedom Struggle (assuming there was a struggle and not a step-by-step voluntary disengagement by the British) have gone out of their way to exaggerate the mythical contributions of Communists, assorted radicals and one family, totally ignoring conservative elements, be they groups with religious affiliations or even groups like the Swarajists or the Justice Party (once known as the South Indian Liberal front!). If Mahabharata is a myth, trust me, the contributions of Communists to our national freedom Movement, are also very much in the realm of myth!

The real question is whether we need a Sahitya Akademi, a Lalit Kala Akademi, a Sangeet Natak Akademi and an Indian Council of Historical Research, all occupying valuable urban real estate in Delhi (sorry Dilli, sorry Indraprastha!). Panditji had an exaggerated notion of the importance of India. We were a poor country then. And our policies over the last 60 years have ensured that even as Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and China have prospered, we have successfully stayed poor.

Being poor did not prevent us from wasting taxpayers’ money with our leaders and diplomats strutting around in comical Non-Aligned Nation Summits along with now unsurprisingly forgotten “leaders” like Tito, Nasser, Nkrumah, Sukarno and so on. Similarly, we thought it a proper use of scarce resources to give jobs to a variety of pompous individuals as Members, Directors, Chairpersons and so on of completely pointless high sounding and apparently intellectual/artistic bodies.

At least Panditji ensured that these jobs went to people he knew. As a young country, we were willing to indulge our Prime Minister’s weakness for extending patronage to Allahabadis and so on. But it’s been more than 50 years since Panditji’s passing. In the intervening years, as Kumaramangalam, Nurul Hassan, Dhar, Haksar, Ray, Arjun Singh and other self-styled leftists insinuated themselves into the government, these bodies, as well as newly formed acronyms (e.g. JNU, IGNCA etc etc) became cozy, comfortable places where idiotic crypto-Communists could have a good time, attend international conferences, make absurd speeches and so on.

The logical thing is to pass a law (sorry, issue an ordinance) called The Government of India Abolition of Akademis, Councils and Other Acronyms Employing Unemployable Leftists Order of 2015. Instead of abolishing these excrescences that waste our taxes, this government has chosen the easy way out of issuing a different directive: The 2015 Government Order Replacing Leftists With Hindutvics in Redundant and Silly Government Bodies Order.

Aye, there’s the rub. The leftists do not want to leave their sarkari bungalows in Dilli—the very same bungalows in Indraprastha which the Hindutvics want to occupy. And since socialists have no political or other arguments that they can reasonably make, in the years following the fall of the Berlin Wall, what can they do now? They resort to that oldest of ploys: ad hominem attacks. Attack the person. This Hindutvic does not have a Ph.D. That Hindutvic is only an actor and he has acted in only one play. This Hindutvic was a member of the RSS exactly 27 years ago.

Our naïve Hindutvics also fall for another trap: the press Interview. And during these interviews, they almost invariably make reference to the historicity of the Rig Veda or the magnificence of the Mahabharata or the fantastic speed of the Pushpaka Vimana. Poor folks— they just do not know that they are providing grist for the old mill. People who believe in myths (Marx was right, is right and will always be right; Lenin was not a murderer; Stalin was not a mass murderer; Arafat was not a terrorist; Mao was a poet; Sanjay Gandhi deserved to have a national Park named after him; it is correct for all Indian airports, except one, to be named after Rajiv Gandhi) have an uncanny ability to make fun of people who believe in our myths. And our media has a field day complaining about the fact that the new government does not “respect” institutions, without bothering to mention that the earlier featherbedding with cronies was somehow not disrespectful.

The solution is simple: Abolish these totally unnecessary institutions. Britain, USA and Switzerland do not have a Sahitya Akademi. They do have reasonably flourishing sahityas. And so many countries manage to have both sangeet and natak without the need for any abominable Akademi to grace these arts. And trust me, the best histories are being written in countries which do not have History Councils. The argument can be made that if so many leftists have for so many years lived off our taxes, is it not fair and just for some Hindutvics to feed from the same trough?

My advice to Hindutvics is to fall back on their dharma. Just think about it: Is it dharmic to loot the hapless taxpayers of India? Is it not the case that the best literature, art, music and historical research (and for that matter cinema) flourish only in the absence of state and royal patronage?

Redundant institutions must go. To appoint dharmic individuals to head these money-guzzling idiotic edifices represents an act of adharma in and of itself. I rest my case.

The author is the former CEO of MphasiS, and was head of Citibank’s Global Technology Division. He is currently the Chairman of Value and Budget Housing Corporation (VBHC), an affordable housing venture.

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