How Modi defeated liberals like me

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Ray, May 22, 2014.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    How Modi defeated liberals like me


    What secularism did was it enforced oppositions in a way that the middle class felt apologetic and unconfident about its beliefs, its perspectives. Secularism was portrayed as an upwardly mobile, drawing room discourse they were inept at

    On May 17, Narendra Modi revisited Varanasi to witness a pooja performed at the Kashi Vishwanath temple. After the ritual at the temple, he moved to Dashashwamedh ghat where an aarti was performed along the river. The aarti was more than a spectacle. As a ritual, it echoed the great traditions of a city, as a performance it was riveting. As the event was relayed on TV, people messaged requesting that the event be shown in full, without commentary. Others claimed that this was the first time such a ritual was shown openly. With Mr. Modi around, the message claimed “We don’t need to be ashamed of our religion. This could not have happened earlier.”

    At first the message irritated me and then made me thoughtful. A colleague of mine added, “You English speaking secularists have been utterly coercive, making the majority feel ashamed of what was natural.” The comment, though brutal and devastating, was fair. I realised at that moment that liberals like myself may be guilty of something deeper.

    At the same time moment, some Leftists were downloading a complete set of National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks fearing that the advent of Mr. Modi may lead to the withdrawal of these books. The panic of some academics made them sound paranoid and brittle, positing a period of McCarthyism in India. It also brought into mind that both Right and Left have appealed to the state to determine what was correct history. With the advent of the Right, there is now a feeling that history will become another revolving door regime where the official and statist masquerade as the truth.

    Secularism as a weapon

    I am raising both sets of fear to understand why Left liberals failed to understand this election. Mr. Modi understood the anxieties of the middle class more acutely than the intellectuals. The Left intellectuals and their liberal siblings behaved as a club, snobbish about secularism, treating religion not as a way of life but as a superstition. It was this same group that tried to inject the idea of the scientific temper into the constitutions as if it would create immunity against religious fears and superstitions. By overemphasising secularism, they created an empty domain, a coercive milieu where ordinary people practising religion were seen as lesser orders of being.

    Secularism became a form of political correctness but sadly, in electoral India it became an invidious weapon. The regime used to placate minorities electorally, violating the majoritarian sense of fairness. In the choice between the parochialism of ethnicity and the secularism of citizenship, they veered toward ethnicity. It was a strange struggle between secularism as a form of piety or political correctness and people’s sense of religiosity, of the cosmic way religion impregnated the everydayness of their lives. The majority felt coerced by secular correctness which they saw either as empty or meaningless. Yet, they correctly felt that their syncretism was a better answer than secularism. Secularism gave one three options. The first was the separation from Church and State. This separation meant an equal distance from all religions or equal involvement in all religions. There was a sense that the constitution could uphold the first but as civilisations, as communities we were syncretic and conversational. One did not need a parliament of religions to be dialogic. Indian religions were perpetually dialogic. The dialogue of medical systems where practitioners compared their theologies, their theories and their therapies was one outstanding and constructive example.

    There was a secondary separation between science and religion in the secular discourse. Yet oddly, it was Christianity that was continuously at odds with science while the great religions were always open to the sciences. Even this created a form of coerciveness, where even scientists open to religion or ritual were asked to distance themselves from it. The fuss made about a scientist coming to office after Rahukalam or even discouraging them from associating themselves with a godman like Sai Baba was like a tantrum. There is a sense of snobbery and poetry but more, there is an illiteracy here because religion, especially Christianity shaped the cosmologies of science. In many ways, Ecology is an attempt to reshape and reinvent that legacy.

    Tapping into a ‘repression’

    What secularism did was it enforced oppositions in a way that the middle class felt apologetic and unconfident about its beliefs, its perspectives. Secularism was portrayed as an upwardly mobile, drawing room discourse they were inept at. Secularism thus became a repression of the middle class. For the secularist, religion per se was taboo, permissible only when taught in a liberal arts or humanities class as poetry or metaphor. The secularist misunderstood religion and by creating a scientific piety, equated the religious with the communal. At one stroke a whole majority became ill at ease within its world views.

    Narendra Modi sensed this unease, showed it was alienating and nursed that alienation. He turned the tables by showing secularism — rather than being a piety or a propriety — was a hypocrisy, or was becoming a staged unfairness which treated minority violations as superior to majoritarian prejudices. He showed that liberal secularism had become an Orwellian club where some prejudices were more equal than others. As the catchment area of the sullen, the coerced, and the repressed became huge, he had a middle class ready to battle the snobbery of the second rate Nehruvian elite. One sensitive case was conversion. The activism of Hindutva groups was treated as sinister but the fundamentalism of other religions was often treated as benign and as a minoritarian privilege. There was a failure of objectivity and fairness and the infelicitous term pseudo-secularism acquired a potency of its own.

    While secularism was a modern theory, it was impatient in understanding the processes of being modern. Ours is a society where religion is simultaneously cosmology, ecology, ritual and metaphor. Most of us think and breathe through it. I remember a time when the epidemics of Ganesha statues were drinking milk. Hundreds of believers went to watch the phenomena and came away convinced. I remember talking to an office colleague who returned thrilled at what she had seen. I laughed cynically. She looked quietly and said, “I believe, I have faith, I saw it. You have no faith so why should the Murti talk to you.” I realised that she felt that I was deprived. She added that the mahant of a temple where the statue had not drank milk had gone into exile and meditation to make up for his inadequacy. I realised at that moment that a lecture on hygroscopy or capillary action (the scientific explanations) would have been inadequate. I could not call her illiterate or superstitious. It was a struggle about different meanings, a juxtaposition of world views where she felt her religion gave her a meaning that my science could not. I was reminded that the great Danish physicist, Niels Bohr had a horseshoe nailed to his door. When Bohr was questioned about it, he commented that it won’t hurt to be there. Bohr had created a Pascalian Wager, content that if the horseshoe brought luck it was a good wager, but equally content that if it was inert it did no harm. I wish I had replied in a similar form to my friend.

    For a pluralism of encounters

    I realise that in many places in Europe, there has been a disenchantment with religion. I have seen beautiful churches in Holland become post offices as the church confronted a sheer lack of attendance. But India faces no such problem and we have to be careful about transplanting mechanical histories.

    Ours is a different culture and it has responded to religion, myth and ritual. The beauty of our science Congress is that it resembles a miniature Kumbh Mela. But more, our religions have never been against science and our state has to work a more pluralistic understanding of these encounters. Secularism cannot be empty space. It has to create a pluralism of encounters and allow for levels of reality and interpretation. Tolerance is a weak form of secularism. In confronting the election, we have to reinvent secularism not as an apologetic or disciplinary space but as a playful dialogue. Only then can we offer an alternative to the resentments that Mr. Modi has thrived on and mobilised. I take hope in the words of one of my favourite scientists, the Dalai Lama. When George Bush was waxing eloquent about Muslims, the Dalai Lama commented on George Bush by saying, “He brings out the Muslim in me.” I think that captures my secular ethic brilliantly and one hopes such insights become a part of our contentious democracy.

    (Shiv Visvanathan is a professor at Jindal School of Government and Public Policy.)

    How Modi defeated liberals like me - The Hindu


    Shiv Vishwanathan is the same person we see on our TV screens when Modi has to be bashed.

    If Shankarsen Thakur had to write in his prosaic way that he wont to do, he would have written - gargantum in size tucking his prodigious belly and balancing a monstrously large head on Brobdingnagian shoulders and that alone was what can be seen, Shiv etc etc .........

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Yet, this article of his speaks a lot about what many think.

    What do you have to say?
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  3. A chauhan

    A chauhan "अहिंसा परमो धर्मः धर्म हिंसा तथैव च: l" Senior Member

    Oct 10, 2009
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    There are lot of factors behind Modi's victory but I agree that fake claims of secularism by minority-appeasement parties is one of them. I was getting tired by the chants of "secularism" by non-performing political parties. Secularism appeared to me as an excuse of their non-performance or failures and a tool for vote bank. Regional parties and Congress had turned into non-performing assets and people wanted to keep them out of the governance at any cost, so they didn't care secularism while voting. Many were ready to accept communalism for good governance hence voted to Modi. Modi himself didn't give any communal speech for once, he remained positive and issue centered all the time while his opponents were only speaking about secularism which irritated voters like me.
    TrueSpirit1 likes this.
  4. rock127

    rock127 Maulana Rockullah Senior Member

    Aug 12, 2009
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    Congress is given a new name ComCon because of their fake Secularism.It's the biggest Communal party which has sponsored genocide and riots against minorities since 47 and blamed it on other parties.

    They play the British "Divide and Rule" funda.

    ComCon = Communal Congress.
    TrueSpirit1 likes this.
  5. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

    Jul 29, 2010
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    He's an idiot, obnoxious creature who thinks high about his so called secularism thoughts.

    What they fail to see is a man who rose from his humble beginning to become PM, most of the Indian masses identify with Modi rather than Amul baba.

    No matter how they wish India become a leftist commie state, the majority will resist. These people are the very clique who are ashamed to speak in local language but instead bark in English. As they say "angrez chalegaye lekin inhe chorgaye"
    parijataka and rock127 like this.
  6. abhi_the _gr8_maratha

    abhi_the _gr8_maratha Senior Member Senior Member

    Apr 15, 2014
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    most of politician thinks that secularism means all religions are equall but actually it means not to think of any while taking decision
    what modi did was same , he doesn't thought of any religion and he was having right to worship god of his religion and he did so
    this is secularism
  7. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

    May 29, 2009
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    First define Liberal, how can someone self proclaim to be a liberal in the first place. His or her actions and biases needs to be scrutinized before giving this tag IMHO.

    If Liberal = Secular, and secular as per Enlish definition then I have yet to see more secular person that Modi who only talks for all the 1.25 billion Indians and determined to provide equal opportunities for all.

    My sun sign is Libra may be I can claim to be a liberal as well.

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