12 Questions For Arun Shourie That We Wish He Answers
The Modi government is back with a bang and how, despite criticisms of his leadership from those who call themselves “intellectuals”.
To the revered, once-upon-a-time-firebrand journalist-minister and ubiquitous public commentator, Arun Shourie, who in his heydays never missed an opportunity to speak on issues of importance, we have a few questions. While a response is not guaranteed, ask we will:
Q1. You described Narendra Modi’s government as a government by revelation, focused on event management, highly centralised, run by 2.5 people. This same government has been entrusted by the people of India with even a bigger mandate to run the country again. How do you read this verdict?
Q2: You once compared Modi’s persona to that of a black triad and one aspect of that is Machiavellianism in which everything and everybody is used an instrument only to be dumped once they have served the purpose. You said Modi uses and discards people like a napkin. Do you feel that way - that you were used and thrown by Modi?
Q3: What was your role in Modi’s 2014 campaign? What topics or issues did you advise him on? Were any of your suggestions taken up by him in the campaign speeches or later in the government?
Q4: One Congress spokesperson, Tehseen Poonawalla, has written that you were also part of Rahul Gandhi’s braintrust in 2019 elections and strategised for him? What is your assessment of Gandhi? What key issues did you advise him on and what was the specific advice you gave him on these issues?
Q5: In one of your many interviews with the far-left portal The Wire, you said that you look forward to Jignesh Mevani, Kanhaiya Kumar, Alpesh Thakor, Hardik Patel emerging as new leaders of the country. As someone who claimed to have stood against identity based politics, what explains your endorsement of their leadership?
Q6: In 2014, you said the secularism concept has been prostituted in India so much so that it now meant calling others communal. You gave the example of how when a religious place of non-Hindus is mismanaged, its their community which takes care of it, but when temples are mismanaged, the government takes over. In the past five years, a movement to free temples from government control has taken shape. What are your views on this?
Q7: When the Sachar committee report came out, you had said that, “Implement this report, and see Modi reaching Delhi.” Correlation is not causation, but both things happened. What we have seen is that the communal recommendations of the Sachar report, chiefly the exclusive scholarships for minorities, exclusive schemes for them where the general public has a stake too, are implemented even by the BJP government. So, the Sachar report, which was opposed tooth and nail by the BJP then, has become bipartisan. How do you see this dangerous development?
Q8: When we have communal laws which apply only to non-minorities, when scholarships are given to minorities based on religion, when places of religious worship are governed depending on which gods people pray to in them, and when we see this all happening under a secular Constitution, one can't help but agree with you that the secularism concept in India has indeed been prostituted. Now, you said that true secularism should have the individual as the unit of state policy rather than a caste or a religious group. We have seen 10 years of so-called "secular" UPA governance and will see 10 years of a so-called "communal" NDA government. Do you see the individual becoming the unit of India's state policy in the near future?
Q9: Which part of your intellectual legacy are you proud of and would still stand by? The blistering critical book on Ambedkar( Worshipping False Gods: Ambedkar And The Facts Which Have Been Erased) ? On missionaries ( Harvesting Our Souls: Missionaries, Their Designs, Their Claims)? Against reservations ( Falling Over Backwards: An Essay On Reservations, And On Judicial Populism)? This question is necessitated because your friends in the media don’t touch upon these and avoid them like the plague as if these don’t matter anymore or as if you have no view on them at all.
Q10: In 2014, you said Muslims have nothing to fear from Modi. You said that media is stoking these fears, calling Modi extremist and asking him to be like Advani or Vajpayee when, in fact, during the latter’s time they used to paint them with the same extremist brush. However, in last three years, haven't you done quite a bit of stoking of fears yourself by lending yourself to the mob lynching narrative of the media? I say this because a couple of incidents were blown out of proportion so much so that directly, the PM of the country was put in the dock rather than answers being demanded from the local government. Hundreds of cases of stray cattle being stolen by the cattle mafia on the other hand don’t find any space in the media narrative. Isn’t this the typical way of stoking fear among minorities by running a targeted campaign? And why are you found siding with the media rather than raising the voice of those cattle rearing farmers whose voice no one raises? I am asking this because you’ve talked at length about raising truth to power - not just of the government of the day, but powers in academia, media and intellectual circles.
Q11: "Not an eye-for-an-eye but both eyes. Whole jaw-for-a-tooth." How did Arun Shourie go from that to mocking the government which carried out surgical strikes (calling it farzical) and Balakot strike?
Q12: You once coined the delectable phrase ‘Marxist-Mullah-Missionaries’ to signify India’s enemies. What would the updated version of it be?
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