A TV debate. (YouTube)
Snapshot
  • Madness – which Mehta talks about in his latest column with superficial sophistry – is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    If anyone is guilty of that, it is Mehta and his fellow crème de la crème who repeatedly revel in intellectual deceit but keep thinking it will lead to something meaningful.

The problem with investing too much in the domain of the State in a multifarious nation is, eventually the State becomes all-powerful and the state power the source of all power. In such a situation, power is the most coveted goal. The political acquires supremacy over the social.

Add to this a purely numbers-based democratic setup and an already diverse society begins to splinter driven by the quest for power; fragmentation, consolidation, counter-consolidation and realignment drive political discourse rather than any values. Hardening certain faultlines while conveniently blurring others happens out of a desire to conjure numbers rather than any organic value-based congruence.

But in any entity, only the top can be driven by such cynicism. Foot-soldiers need ideological lifeblood to be enthused. Often a façade of ideological congruence driven by fads was invented by cynical top dogs. Such narratives often originated from or received generous validation from a well-groomed intelligentsia that provided such discourse a halo of unquestionable sanctity.

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To keep its own dominance intact, the State, its organs and its ideological tentacles went on to insert itself increasingly into the social, infusing it with more and more of the political. Such was a system that the likes of Pratap Bhanu Mehta went onto cheer or be complicit with.

Among favoured social groups, grievances were innovated and quickly addressed while the ones out of favour would see increased encroachment, since the only way to sustain power was to encroach one’s domain to address another’s grievance.This too, had the garden variety public intellectual’s nod even if approvals weren’t always vocal.

Social groups were never allowed to speak to each other. The State and the apparatchik-filled academia sought to and indeed became arbiters, often mischievous ones, between social groups. Mangled histories, historical slights, real and imaginary fractiousness that could be solved by groups of adults sitting across tables were puffed up into cockfights with the State favouring one side over the other and often tempting a sub-group of the losing side to come join the State and its chosen ones. Such a compulsively interfering State was built brick by brick with the active cooperation of the intelligentsia.

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Today a Jat agitation happens simply because they are denied, with no explanation, what other groups that had the State’s blessings were accorded. Today, a Maratha agitation happens because they don’t understand what it takes to be the favoured ‘inside group’. Today a Patel, despite his well-known reputation for enterprise feels the need to get State recognition as ‘backward’.

Intellectuals who were supposed to study the human condition, grasp ground realities and interpret them for the world instead decided to first have pet ideas and force fit the world into them. What followed, a counter-current of assertion by those left out, was but natural. When you keep calling one side all kinds of names and keep them out, some may cower in self-hatred just to get into your circle but others will stand up just to prove you true. When that happens, you can act all disgusted, or pause and see what you have created.

Mehta and his intellectual echo-chamber inhabitants have no sense of irony that they silently acquiesced with the politics of consolidation that lived on brazen takeover of private entities to deliver public goods to favourable groups. Now they paint the town saffron with chants of ‘discrimination’with zero evidence of any institutionalised discrimination just because a counter-consolidation has occurred. Having been pioneers of institutional hubris and cynicism-based consolidation, to them, it appears impossible that power can be anything but devious or driven by hubris.

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The systematic stifling of any public opinion beyond the Nehruvian Overton Window has left many wounds festering in certain sections. The State, cheered on by intellectuals plays judge, jury, executioner and appropriator of institutions or mores of one segment but calls for an absolutely insular protection of others from even criticism, let alone institutional takeover.

Some histories are good and some are bad – the decision of which is made in certain drawing rooms. Some historical injustices are to be held against some; but other historical injustices are to be disingenuously falsified, if not silently left unacknowledged. Some systems aren’t to be questioned but other centuries-old ones are to be dissected coldly with today’s moralities. Reforms are to be forced upon some by the State but some others are to be left alone to sort it out themselves.

After having played exacerbator-in-chief roles, the highbrows now have the temerity to question a Yogi Adityanath. The Yogi has to continuously offer his obeisance to the principles of equality but the progenitors and forebears of a divisive and discriminatory system that sets its own people at each other’s throats get to sit in their air-conditioned studios and judge him for responding to ground realities they created.

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Adityanaths do not rise in a vacuum. The Yogi’s assertive self that Mehta’s ilk express outrage over, is the product of institutionalised cognitive dissonance of the chosen ones who sang paeans to equality but ideologically powered a system that rubs inequality in everyone’s face every day.

Madness – which Mehta talks about in his latest column with superficial sophistry – is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different result. If anyone is guilty of that, it is Mehta and his fellow crème de la crème who repeatedly revel in intellectual deceit but keep thinking it will lead to something meaningful.

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