Reality Check India

Think tank Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on April 15, 2009

This is a good sign for Indian blogging.We appear to have made a connection with the people who have  connections. In this light, I have to applaud Mr Pratap Bhanu Mehta for responding to a post on the Offstumped blog. See the Offstumped post here.

Let us take a closer look at Mr Mehtas article titled, “The politics of hurt” from the Indian Express.

Apparently, Mr Advanis expression of hurt at Dr Manmohan Singhs remarks was the trigger for this article.  Mr Mehta makes three main points; that the BJP has no high ideals, its cadres have misplaced idealism, and it was a flash in the pan

He ends his article with the inscrutable argument that if something is so long lived it must be worth saving.

But the very longevity of the Congress is a sign that there is something about it that is worth salvaging.

Source : IE

I am sure there were Soviet intellectuals who made similar arguments about communism and white plantation owners in America who made similar arguments about slavery. The best argument along longevity lines of the Congress party is that it offers a safer federation of narrow interests than the BJP.  Would you trust a new chit fund or one that has been around for 40 years ?

Since we started at the end , lets wind back up his article a bit:

Why else would a supposed strongman like Modi be so upset if someone simply pointed out that internal communalism is a serious danger to India?

Source : IE

It seems like the words have enjoyed an ayurvedic massage. The actual words were more like  “Communalism is a greater threat than terrorism” (PC press conference). A small twist in words but a complete turnaround in meaning. I do not recall when the Congress merely said that communlalism was ‘a serious danger’. There is no sting in it.

In any case, public intellectuals cannot ignore the fact that the word “communalism” has not been defined. Giving benefits to communities without the burden of data is the biggest example of communalism as far as the misguided readers of this blog are concerned.  Others observe usage of these words and like the characters in Rashomon have made it their own. Apparently, it was a big deal for Mr Mehta too once, he quit his post as NKC member.

In India, especially the English media, it is common knowledge that the word “communalism” is used as a simple synonym for “BJP” and the word “secularism” is used as a synonym for “Congress and potential allies”. Can Mr Mehta deny this ? If he does, then can he supply us with his view of what communalism means in his next article ? Is the BJD communal now  ?

In this context, the sentence “communalism is a greater threat than terrorism” simply translates to “BJP is a greater threat than terrorism“.  Obviously you cannot expect Mr Modi and others to let this pass in election time. It is true that they do not challenge the English media’s use of the word “communal”. This only points to the BJPs lack of expertise in the English language and their ignorance of the number one rule in politics, “Do not let others define you”. In every media appearance, they must stall until the host clarifies every usage of the word secular and communal. Indian citizens of all religions and castes deserve a definition of these two words.

Lets back up a little more,

One sign in the Congress’s favour is that in the age group thirties and forties, it has a more plausible cast of characters than the BJP.

I wish he had named some Congress leaders in the thirties and forties. I can only think of two. If the BJP has no mass leader barring Shivraj Singh Chauhan, then this article is moot because India has nothing to worry. In any case, the only way a thirty year old can be a mass leader is if he is entrusted with the benefit protection keys from his father.  Not the kind of leader the free Indian youth need right now.

Finally, lets get to what he really wanted to say.

 But most of those who pillory the Congress do so with the sense that the Congress does not live up to its own best ideals. They attack the Congress in the name of an idea of what the Congress should be. It is the ideal of the Congress that makes its realities look sordid. But the same cannot be said of the BJP. The dominant idea that holds it together is not an affirmative one; it is a negative one, powered largely by a politics of resentment. It has no high ideals, only grudges to nurse.

Source : IE

Let me try to parse this splendid specimen of subcontinental prose.

From his own vantage point, he finds that those who attack the Congress are dissapointed that the party does not live up to its high ideals.  Somewhat like a surgeon who has developed butter fingers. Those that attack the BJP do so not because it has not lived up to its high ideals, but because its high ideals are themselves worthy of pillorying. Somewhat like a thief who is also a good performer at his job.

Those who expressed hope that independent think tanks can thrive in a socialist setup built on lies and mass deception should reconsider.

Remember, we bloggers still have to give Mr Mehta credit for responding to the post on Offstumped. It would have been dead easy for him to summarily ignore the blogging community like everyone else.

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15 Responses

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  1. Gaurav said, on April 15, 2009 at 6:35 am

    Bravo! This is one of the best deconstruction that I have read on a blog*

    * Although it would have been if you had dwelt more upon what he finally has to say, but since this is not your primary I focus, I understand. I guess I may run with the ball

  2. rc said, on April 15, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Damn footnotes 🙂

  3. xyz said, on April 15, 2009 at 7:55 am

    What Mehta is true. People who oppose BJP are afraid of it’s ideology while the Congress is criticized for not standing up to it’s (vague) principles.
    Is it the not reason why muslims vote against the BJP ?

  4. reason said, on April 15, 2009 at 8:59 am

    i thought offstumped gave a nice rebuttal to one of the points (on longevity), but after reading Mehta’s article, I think you guys are giving that long winded and pompous piece extra hits by linking to it. come on, who reads guys like him anyway? may be a total of a hundred? I was initially interested in his opinions because he wrote articles on reservation, but very quickly figured out that he is a phoney.

    Congressu has youthu. yeah rightu.

  5. Bhavananda said, on April 15, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    One must also remember that “public intellectuals” like Dr. Mehta are products of the socialist era. So, its difficult to comprehend someone growing up in those days to drop the baggage and intellectually come out of the clout.

    I think his article is a well concealed one, as pointed out in this blog. But, he practically gave it away when he stated something like “Even if we grant Modi substantial credit for Gujarat’s economic success … … “. Please pay particular emphasis on the first two words, “even if” and these words came out inadvertently. He’s in disbelief (and probably resents) that a **communal** politician has set an example of developmental politics that none of the sekoolarists could do. And this is why I call him to be from the socialist era.

    PS – Yes, he deserves a ton of credit for responding to blogs. But, I think he’s very clever and knows very well that if he wants people to read his papers in 30 yrs time, he has to engage with the future, i.e. the internet and the youth.

  6. rc said, on April 15, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Bhavananda,

    Good points, a socialist setup *requires* intellectuals to deflect and divert seekers of facts.

    If an alien were to visit India and observe the media for a day, it would think the the BJP and the Congress ruled for 30 years each. The fact that a non-Congress government actually ruled for even 6 years does not digest easily. They were so close to uncovering the secrets, renaming the Nehru schemes, exposing the corruption, undermining the socialist machine. None of it actually happened, but it was close. They cant take chances again.

    >> he has to engage with the future, i.e. the internet and the youth >>

    It is a double edged sword. If I were him, I would not open up the floor.

  7. rc said, on April 15, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    >> People who oppose BJP are afraid of it’s ideology while the Congress is criticized for not standing up to it’s (vague) principles >>

    There are plenty of people who are opposed to the Congress because of its ideology (which is divide and rule).

    I thought you guys were on board 🙂
    What happened ? 🙂

  8. amreekandesi said, on April 16, 2009 at 4:15 am

    “In India, especially the English media, it is common knowledge that the word “communalism” is used as a simple synonym for “BJP” and the word “secularism” is used as a synonym for “Congress and potential allies”.”

    – Such an unfortunate fact of Indian politics! Unfortunate and incorrect.

  9. xyz said, on April 16, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Is’nt the BJP hinduvtve ideology divisive ? Does not increase tensions between hindus and muslims ?

  10. rc said, on April 16, 2009 at 8:47 am

    xyz,

    Does the BJPs ideology include any special rights or exclusive benefits for Hindus ?

  11. Revathi said, on April 16, 2009 at 9:33 am

    What about the identification of the Maoists with
    CPM? Is the third front taking responsibility for the
    actions of the maoists?

  12. reason said, on April 16, 2009 at 11:09 am

    revathi, check Barbarindian’s recent post on what behaviours get rewarded and what get punished.

  13. guest said, on April 16, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Perhaps the blogosphere has forced Mr. Mehta to do a balancing act.

    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/an-unconscionable-act/447301

    “It confirms the suspicion many have, that often those speaking in the name of secularism do not subscribe to the very values they claim to be fighting for: truth, justice, impartiality and the rule of law. Their secularism is in the service of beating down opponents rather than discovering the truth.”

  14. realitycheck said, on April 16, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Dear guest,

    He is saying the exact same thing.

    >>“It confirms the suspicion many have, that often those speaking in the name of secularism do not subscribe to the very values they claim to be fighting for: truth, justice, impartiality and the rule of law. >>

    He is simply disappointed that the seculars are falling short of their core values viz truth, justice, impartiality.

    There is a growing number of youth who swear that the seculars (read Congress party and potential helpers) have the same ideals of truth, justice, and impartiality as the communals (read BJP). The Congress party does not hold any trademarks over these ideals.

  15. xyz said, on April 25, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    I am ‘the real’ xyz.Fake xyz,do not use this name.RC,note.


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