Indian ‘liberals’ must become more Liberal

A kidnapped word can’t be held hostage any longer

For some levity, read this op-ed by a certain Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr in DNA.

The other weakness in the liberals’ crusade against Modi was that they saw his market-friendly, reformist economic agenda as anti-poor and anti-minority. They did not reckon with the fact that the poor and the minorities, who wear no ideological blinkers, are willing to embrace the market to improve their lives. The poor are not natural socialists, a mistaken notion in the minds of radical bourgeoisie.

The liberals may have to abandon their unconscious socialism and pathetic secularism, and to stand up for the rights of individuals to believe and not believe in religion, to believe and not believe in nationalism. Believers in religion, nationalism and market economics are not to be shunned as reactionaries. [DNA]

Reminds you of Amit Varma’s complaint. But things might be turning out as Raj Cherubal predicted in this month’s issue of Pragati

5 thoughts on “Indian ‘liberals’ must become more Liberal”

  1. “The liberals may have to abandon their unconscious socialism and pathetic secularism, and to stand up for the rights of individuals to believe and not believe in religion”

    Am not too sure that Modi or BJP believe in this themselves, especially the right of individuals part.

    Of course, this does not take away from the accuracy of the observation about the liberals

  2. Frankly speaking, I’m confused by the argument (if indeed any) Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr is making. Or else he is confused himself.

    So yes, our English-language media keeps harping on Modi’s misdeeds (although yes — his sins are not of the forgetting variety) but are not taking into account why Modi keeps getting elected again and again. It is too easy to say that the population of Gujarat is a predominantly Muslim-hating and even then, that answers nothing. I agree with the point you, and many others, have been making: that Modi has improved Gujarat primarily because of what Rao calls his “market-friendly, reformist economic agenda”. His policies (and perhaps his charisma) are a big part of his success.

    But at the same time, how easily he says that “the people of Gujarat have moved on” (this is as good an example as any of adopting lofty lefty rhetoric — speaking up for “the people of Gujarat”, no less! he also claims at different points to speak up for “the poor”, “the minorities” and “the dalits”). There is something wrong with the institutions of the Indian state that the perpetrators of riots (or at the very least, those in power who overlook these things and thus end up abetting them) – Gujarat, Delhi 1984, Mumbai — are able to get off scot free. This is a thorny institutional problem — and the easy advice that liberals should abandon their “pathetic secularism” is, I don’t know, … pathetic?

    I see no answers (or even pointers to answers) in the essay about how to take on this institutional problem (politicized police forces, inefficient judiciary etc) — instead I see some only empty rhetoric about “the rights of individuals to believe and not believe in religion, to believe and not believe in nationalism”.

    Well — maybe he’ll get around to making some concrete proposals some other time.

  3. >>I see no answers (or even pointers to answers) in the essay about how to take on this institutional problem (politicized police forces, inefficient judiciary etc)

    The “institutional problem” includes dogma-driven “liberals” and politicized media as well. For example, examine how swiftly the state-sponsored massacre at Nandigram is forgotten, and how there is next to no activism in “liberal” and media circles to bring the West Bengal government to book. Not only are the crimes of Buddhadeb Bhattacharyya and Jyoti Basu being papered over, but these people continue to receive good press. When the same set of “liberals” and media harp on, say, Gujarat, they are seen, because of their brazen duplicity, as motivated by hatred for their ideological and political rivals, not really by concern for justice. The “institutional problem” is also one of credibility; our politicized and discredited set of “liberals” and media are compounding it further.

  4. The forced ‘Secularism’ i.e. nothing to do with spirituality, on an naturally Spiritual inclined race, is bound to invoke the law of action / reaction…

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