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Anshul is a Political Science and Law graduate from the University of Delhi. He is interested in political, legal and policy developments and frequently writes on related themes. You can contact him on anshulkumarpandey [at] gmail [dot] com.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Amartya Sen vs The Clones of Hitler

This first appeared on Daily News and Analysis

The great fascist tamasha unfolding in India's political landscape threatens to brow beat and bully even the sanest voices of reason.

The communalists have only one thing to occupy themselves with, writes Dilip Simeon in his blog - spread hatred and cultivate hooliganism. Their ideas and practices, he continues, are the quintessence of patriarchy and machismo. Perhaps there has been no better vindication of these words through deeds than through the events of the past week. As soon as the word was out that Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate and distinguished Economist, was not a member of the Narendrabhai fan club, the right wing brigade on the social media immersed itself in a vicious campaign of ad hominem slandering.

This has been the standard repartee of the BJP fan boys. Unable to see beyond the constricted worldview of Hindutva which they unquestioningly gulp down in litres, their counter arguments and rebuttals have focused not on the merits of the argument put forward, but on the bona fides of the one putting forth the arguments. In such a scenario, even a Nobel laureate cannot escape the verbal lynching that is unleashed by people who do not even have comparable bona fides to begin with. The hooliganism practiced through threatening, bullying and malicious slandering knows no bounds and is safely practiced through the anonymous cover over the internet.

Such is the level of this intellectual vandalism that if you are a politically vocal observer using the social media, you would at one time think that the only option for 2014 and beyond for the development and advancement of India is to convert it into a minority free Hindu Rashtra. A false duopoly is created based on the Bush doctrine - either you are with us or against us. Political neutrality does not have any space in the ensuing discussions and if you try to be neutral, you are bound to be slapped with the label of a 'Muzzie' or a 'Congi Stooge' by some Tom, Dick or Harry. On such occasions, you lean back and heave a sigh, thanking your stars that this opinion exists in a bubble, and represents perhaps less than 3% of India's total population.

The main opposition party has been at the forefront of fanning these flames of hatred by covert or overt means. Moments after Sen's statement, BJP member of the Rajya Sabha and Editor of 'The Pioneer', Chandan Mitra, demanded that he be stripped of his Bharat Ratna when NDA returns to power the next time. Political sycophancy pervades the corridors of power we knew. But what we did not know was that some of our parliamentarians inhabit the same intellectual hemisphere as that of the trolls present online. Seen in the larger context of the freedom of speech and expression, this provides us a very worrying scenario of the analytical landscape of those occupying the seats of authority in a country already reeling with appalling shortage of application of the grey cells.

While such pandemonium persisted, another volcano erupted in the already scorched environs of Facebook and Twitter. This time, it was a crudely morphed allleged photograph of Sen's daughter in a skimpily clad manner. Circulated by the account of BJP Gujarat (official or unofficial, we do not know), this photograph had moral lessons plastered all over it for Dr. Sen. "Handle your daughter properly" it said, "instead of giving us lectures". There is no connection to be made between the personal life of Dr. Sen or his daughter and his statement on Modi, but then, that's an irrelevant observation. Logic is not one of the stronger areas of a fascist brigade blowing their own trumpet atop their moral high horse.

The slanderous vocabulary of the social media hindullectual receives patronage from the very top, when their leader uses phrases like 50 crore ki girlfriend or Kutte ka pilla in his addresses to the public and the media at large. It does not bother the conscience of those standing at the forefront of crowds ready to lap up and regurgitate such phrases as the gospel and when pointed out, the reply is a belligerent chest thumping of one's own patriarchal and sectarian credentials. Ignorance is indeed the marker of strength. One is reminded of Orwell's 1984 and of duckspeak as explained in this excerpted passage below:
Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all. This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak. Like various words in the B vocabulary, duckspeak was ambivalent in meaning. Provided that the opinions which were quacked out were orthodox ones, it implied nothing but praise, and when the Times referred to one of the orators of the Party as a doubleplusgood duckspeaker it was paying a warm and valued compliment.
Needless to say, the hindullectuals are indeed the masters of doubleplusgood duckspeak.

It is important, indeed very important, to grasp the graveness of this entire situation despite its blatant ridiculousness. By fabricating a militant consciousness of a false identity, the communal hate groups seek to further their own interest and in this grand fascist project, democratic ideals such as freedom of speech, expression and association, freedom of worship and faith etc. are but small sacrifices. Dilip Simeon calls these organized groups as 'clones of Hitler', as they are 'the champions of the fascist project to destroy democracy'. It is imperative that such cognitive homogeneity be arrested in its tracks since we have a limited capacity to bear the burden of only so many Hitlers.