Those who pour calumny on Modi reveal more about themselves than about their object of hate
By Dr R Neerunjun Gopee
‘We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect.’ This is what Lord Macaulay proposed to the British government in the early 1830s, to train a class of babus who would be subservient in all respects to the colonial authority in India and imbibe its ethos so deeply that for all practical purposes they would be second class Britishers: Westernised Oriental Gentlemen or WOGS.
The WOGS did not disappear with the departure of the British at India’s Independence. The benign ones continued to serve in government or be on their own. Of the rest, many among the elite aligned themselves with the protagonists who carried on with the Western Indology project that began in the colonial days, which sought to interpret everything Indian through the Western prism. The objective was to perpetuate ‘the power and the continued dominance of Western ways of intellectual enquiry and the production of knowledge in the academic, intellectual, and cultural spheres of the de-colonised country’.
Rajiv Malhotra has set up the Infinity Foundation over 25 years ago to study this phenomenon and counter the biased narrative of India that it gives rise to. The Foundation is carrying out wide-ranging research with the help of experts in several fields, and has come out with many publications, and made interventions in several forums in the US where he is based (in Princeton, New Jersey), the UK and India. One of the books published (2011) is titled ‘Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines’, by Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan. It argues that ‘India’s integrity is being undermined by the support of Western institutions for the Dravidian movement and Dalit identity’. This book focuses on ‘the role of U.S. and European churches, academics, think-tanks, foundations, government and human rights groups in fostering separation of the identities of Dravidian and Dalit communities from the rest of India’.
However, it is considered that there are other forces too which are undermining India’s integrity, global networks that have well-established operating bases inside India, namely Islamic radicalism linked with Pakistan (terrorist attacks), and Maoists and Marxist radicals (in eastern India). If we add to all the above the political opponents of Modi and the Western Indologists who misinterpret the Indian scriptures and other original Sanskrit material, based according to Malhotra mainly in Chicago, that makes a lot of vested interests trying to break up India.
In fact, demonising Modi has become the main concern of the opposition parties in India, with Congress leading the charge. But what is unfortunate is that from being anti-Modi, which is political fair game, it is felt by the ruling party that they have become anti-India as well, in their support for what is known as the ‘tukde tukde gang’ (breaking up of India gang).
They constitute the formidable enemies which Modi has been having to face when he took over as Prime Minister in 2014, with the promise of ‘All together, Development for all’. Building on his track record as three times Chief Minister of Gujarat, he has continued at national level and lifted tens of millions of his countrymen out of poverty, promoting welfare of the girl child and the rights of women through schemes and the appropriate legislations, implemented the Aadhaar ID scheme that would facilitate the access to funds/facilities/services to all especially those in the lower socio-economic groups, introduced a revolutionary health scheme called Ayushman Bharat that reaches tens of millions of Indians, launched a successful Swachh Bharat (Clean India) campaign among so many other achievements meant for all Indians.
As George Augustine from Kerala wrote a few days ago in an article in IndiaFacts.org, ‘People on social media think I have gone bonkers because I have a good word for Narendra Modi, particularly because I come from the Christian community. However, I always have had a good word for him, starting almost two decades ago, because I found him an able administrator who achieved results, rising above caste and religion.’
He goes on to say, ‘Added to that, Narendra Modi’s credentials speak for themselves! Despite growth-stopping basic structural reforms like demonetisation and introduction of single taxation (GST), one trillion USD was added to the GDP in just 5 years, which amounts to one-third of the previous GDP. Exports have increased in five years from 314 billion USD to 540 billion USD. Inflation is steadily curbed at below 3.5% now, compared to more than 10% in 2013, which is perhaps the best among Modi government’s achievements. Over 100 million toilets built for the poor in 5 years, 70 million LPG gas connections provided free of cost to poor households, 18,452 villages and 42 million houses got electricity connections, and numerous old projects that have been pending for more than 40 years completed or re-started. The number of taxpayers doubled and the country, for the first time since 1947, looked like an independent nation.’
Further, he adds that ‘There is a lot more to speak of as Modi’s achievements, but I am mentioning only a few, just as an example to show that Narendra Modi is on the right track as far as his programmes are concerned, because all of them are basically aimed at alleviating the conditions of the poor, give a helping hand to farmers, improve the middle class and facilitate business.’
Does this mean that there have been no glitches in implementation of the many measures? Of course not! But none of them have derailed, and there is a learning curve (e.g. in the Aadhaar scheme) that is inevitable before a stable equilibrium is reached.
Who are we to pay attention to when it comes to Modi’s India – local trumpeters akin to the ‘tukde tukde gang’ who are more familiar with Hitler and Arundhati Roy of Kashmir secession fame? – or authoritative Indian opinions such as that of George Augustine, Gautam Sen who has taught international political economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science for over two decades (vide his articles on IndiaFacts.org too), Sanjeev Sanyal a financial market analyst for over 25 years who advised the Modi government – amongst so many other eminent Indians who surely know their country better than we do!
To quote George Augustine again, ‘The campaign against Narendra Modi’s government and the BJP in general, particularly in Kerala, has been despicable to the core because it revolved around irrational hate… they went on a hate binge accusing Modi and everybody who uttered a good word about him of the most heinous crimes – you name it and Modi was the culprit.’
It seems that the irrational haters have their local counterparts. It is better to let them wallow in their own miasma which many may mistake for astute political analysis but is mere gibberish.
Instead, it’s better to focus on more considered views. Writes Dr Gautam Sen, ‘There are glimpses of a different India emerging, with a growing urban population more committed to the idea of nationhood, pragmatic in its interests and less parochial. They are imagining a nation fashioned by themselves, without any help from the political class or India’s educational system, often inspired by incomplete and imperfect animated discussion of heroic ideas over the Internet. Yet it is a race against time and which forces will prevail remains to be seen. On the one hand, powerful, well-resourced foreign agencies and their local collaborators perceive mounting opportunities to cleave the Indian Union into broken sovereignties, frequently facilitated by a passive or complicit Indian state. On the other, there is a subterranean, popular urbanised churning that is becoming inchoately loyal to the promise of a united and economically successful nation that also espouses some kind of cultural authenticity. The ongoing current national general elections of 2019 will be a major factor determining which of the two political currents will have the opportunity to consolidate and dictate the fate of an ancient civilisation fighting for its survival.’
Indians have to choose between a strong leader with a laudable international credibility pushing forward his country as an emerging power to reckon with – or a puppet in the hands of openly hostile forces that are bent on seeing India fragmented. It is clear that they have only one option.
Those who pour calumny on Modi reveal more about themselves than about their object of hate.
* Published in print edition on 26 April 2019