Attack of the belittlers

But who is opposing the parochial reductionists?

Tarun Vijay is right on the ball on the nature of the threat posed by the likes of Raj Thackeray.

A polity that draws sustenance from a fractured society and from reductionism become more rewarding than the all-inclusive embrace; the fallout is bound to reach us in various extremist forms, divisive polity being one of them.

When a narrow, shrunken vision is preferred over a national outlook and national perspective, the Raj Thackerays emerge winners. What’s the difference between a Raj making Indians fight with other Indians and a UPA government sowing the seeds of distrust and hate among Indians on the basis of religious reservations for one community and assaulting the faith icons of the other? Or for that matter, ULFA in Assam killing Hindi-speaking Indians and outfits like Lashkar and Jaish-e-Mohammad murdering Hindu Indians in Jammu and Kashmir? Someone shoots from guns, another uses a microphone and the third does it by abusing constitutional authority. The result is identical – India is bruised and shrunk.

They are the reducers of an idea called India. Unfit to be called Indians yet they use the democratic freedom and the egalitarian values enshrined in the constitution. They reduce Shivaji to a Maharashtrian leader, nay a Maratha, and over and above a Kurmi icon. The caste and vote machine is their nation, the rest is wasteland. [TOI]

Here’s the challenge: everyone knows the proper response to Raj Thackeray’s actions: violence and the incitement to it should not be tolerated. In a country where police complaints can be lodged against those who offend one group or the other, it should be rather straightforward to arrest Mr Thackeray for going beyond mere offence. [See Offstumped’s take]

The question is this: who will bell the cat? Most political parties—in government and in the opposition—have ridden to power through “divide and rule”. You see it in the political response to Mr Thackeray—politicians claiming to represent ‘North Indians’ are threatening to respond in kind.

No one, it seems, is batting for India. The good news, though, is no one sees young Mr Thackeray as anything but a thuggish troublemaker staking a political claim.

9 thoughts on “Attack of the belittlers”

  1. What’s the difference between an Art.370 sanctioned exclusion of non-J&Kites from J&K and a Raj Thackeray or ULFA or DMK or Kannada Chaluvaligas doing its thuggery in their respective states?

  2. In an editorial opinion today on the circumstances surrounding Sania Mirza’s refusal to play in Bangalore, Times of India quotes Ayn Rand (that in itself is revolutionary!):

    Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged envisioned what would happen if the innovators of the world, its movers and shakers and its ‘dreamers of dreams’, went on strike against the suppression of creativity. A provocative and challenging proposition born out of a romantic imagination.

    Ayn Rand’s proposition is not so romantic. Sania Mirza, Salman Rushdie, and M.F. Hussein have shown the way. Forget nationalism. India is its constitution, it’s laws, that govern its citizenry. If they sucked, the individual could do little to change these, and a better constitution and legal system offered an opportunity, exit is the second best option. Get out while you can!

  3. Mr Vijay should reflect on the role played by his organization too. He deliberately seems to suffer from amnesia when it comes to RSS/VHP types.

  4. Calling Raj a thug is very fine. I mean, it boosts our ego by providing a simple answer to a very complex problem. Kick Raj into the prison and the problems are automatically addressed. But is there a forum in India where a genuine concern of a local citizen who feels that his culture and his state are under threat can be addressed. How long will we be calling people like Thackery as a thug or “Kannanda Chaluvaligas” as more thugs and getting away with it?

    Or is it wrong for local citizens to have such thoughts in their mind. By having them, they are perhaps exposing their ideas of being fanatics. So why dont we push these people also into jails. Problem solved at the root itself.

  5. Genuine grievances can always be expressed without denigrating other communities.

  6. Dear SumneNeeve,

    There is a place for that. It’s called the Rajya Sabha. But that institution has been reduced to a place where political privilege has been dispensed. Do read my post on wages of imperfect federalism.

    Beyond that, there’s nothing wrong in airing local views, even if they are of a xenophobic variety. For instance, Dr CNR Rao did that in Outlook. That didn’t make him a thug. Others, including this blog, disagreed. But that’s still civilised discourse. We can’t say that about Mr Thackeray and his partymen. Acts of violence, and threats to disrupt trains arriving from ‘North’ India, can only be described as thuggishness.

  7. Dear Nitin

    Politicians make a mountain of a mole-hole, provided a mole-hole exists. All this lengthy thesis on the behaviour of Raj is fine, but why is no one addressing the problem? The fact is “the mole hole exists”. Raj just made a mountain of it as any clever politician. So, is the problem then, Raj or “the mole-hole”?

    Your comments seem to be “nothing wrong about airing local views”, but “violence and thuggery” is bad. I am sure every amar, akbar, anthony understands that. Yet, at the same time, you are clueless on the problem.

  8. SumneNeeve,

    No, I take the view that no problem warrants getting mobs to attack others and threaten to disrupt public life.

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