30 August, 2018

No Need to Talk: Answering the Maoist Question



Image result for maoists image


** The author dedicates this piece to the loving memory of his respected father Shri Bimal Kumar Mukherjee




It no doubt appears interesting and away from the normal when the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh says he is ready to talk to the Maoists.

It is all the more surprising when this comes from the top political leadership of a state which has been negotiating left-wing extremists since its formation – with the history of the insurgency in the region going back to the 1980s. Chief Minister Raman Singh however puts across one definite condition – the top leadership of the Maoists must come to the parleys. He is categorical as he says that the government won’t budge until the ultras plead for discussions. 

Fine enough. 

Mr Singh asserts that the government is ready, but cannot talk to district-level Maoists since as per strict hierarchy, the district-level leaders only follow the......

read on ................ 




























26 March, 2018

The Captain's Series



 


This is not the first time I co-authored a book. Yet this time around it was at variance with the normal. 

First, the topic was related to Civil Services Examination [CSE] - more popularly, the 'IAS Exams'. The previous four manuscripts were related to India's internal security architecture, or more closely to the Maoist insurgency. 

Second, during the tenure of writing, the captain of my Team - my father - bid adieu to the physical realm and I watched as a helpless nincompoop. I was exactly half-way through with my contribution for the book when on the darkest night of 26 January, Bimal Kumar Mukherjee fell asleep, deep and infinite. 

Undeterred by the agony and enthused by the iconic mental strength of my deceased father, I told my Publishing Director, Shri Kannath Prakash of Access-GK-CL Educate  that I would adhere to the initial deadline of submission, 15 February.



The book is specifically targeted toward CSE aspirants. And with the mandate of penning down 'model answers' to questions framed by UPSC, an author cannot really act as a researcher, rather has to be more goal-oriented. Yet with this obvious constraint, I have not sacrificed my style of writing, though have tried to keep the language fairly straightforward, in tune with the demands of the readers as well as for the Examination. I have not gone by the word limit specified very strictly since my aim was to disseminate some 'extra dimension' of knowledge to the readers. 

I do not claim complete originality in the answers written by me since some factual part had to be perused online as well as offline. Nevertheless, the style of presentation and the art of narration are totally my own. 

My contribution covers Modern Indian History, World History, Indian Culture and Society - all pertaining to GS Paper I of IAS Mains Exam. 

This is a small contribution nonetheless, still this is First in the Series for My Team Captain. 



Father, this one is dedicated to you, your enthusiasm, your energy, your optimism, your encouragement, and simply your muscular presence. 

---------------------------------

In this context, I would like to share the answer which I crafted on that tragic night of 26-27 January:



Q. Sufis and medieval mystic saints failed to modify either the religious ideas and practices or the outward structure of Hindu / Muslim societies to any appreciable extent. Comment.
[
GS I 2014]



ANS:


Sufism or tasawwuf ' is the name for various mystical tendencies and movements in Islam. It aims at establishing direct communion between God and man through personal experience of mystery.



Bhakti, as a religious concept in Hinduism means devotional surrender to a personally conceived Supreme God for attaining salvation.



The two movements have been credited to have unfurled religious syncretism in the Indian sub-continent. There were similarities between the two, which primarily included the following:


1.    emphasis on monotheism [belief in one God],
2.    upholding the role of the spiritual guide (pir or guru) through whom to reach God,
3.    focus on mystical union with God through songs & meditation [Bhakti] and sama [Sufi],
4.    being critical of the orthodox elements in Hinduism and Islam,
5.    interaction between the Chishti sufis and the Nathpanthi yogis during the Sultanate period is a well established fact as the nathpanthis frequently visited the khanqahs of the leading Chisti Shaikhs and had discussions with them on the nature of mysticism,
6.    the Nathpanthis had opened their doors to all sections of the society irrespective of caste distinctions,
7.    Saint Jnaneswar of the Mahasahtra Dharma said that there was no place for caste distinctions in Bhakti,
8.    the Chishti practice of ‘sama’ provided the basis for a common musical tradition between the two movements.


The common outlook of the two popular movements emboldened the mutual understanding between Muslims and Hindus, at least during the medieval period.

In one of his pieces, Ram Jethmalani provides the instance of Kabir as a lone warrior who spent his life-time trying to reconcile Islam and Hinduism. He preaches that: "Allah and Ram are but different names" given to the same God.
However, living in the 21st century amidst Wahabi/Salafi fundamentalism, in an ambience of communal disharmony and having witnessed the largest exodus of human population during partition based on religious hatred, it is not at all impertinent to analyse in hindsight, the ‘real’ contribution of the medieval mystic movements in modifying the overall structures of the two major religions in the sub-continent.

The overall structure of Hindu / Muslim societies is a non-linear sum of the following parameters:
1.    religious ideas and practices of the masses as evolved through cultural legacy, and also shaped through
2.    philosophy of the intellectuals/preachers/ulemas/reformers and the interpretations of holy scriptures by them

In that context, it would be too harsh to infer that Sufism/Bhakti failed to affect the Muslim/Hindu societies ‘to any appreciable extent’ as the examples delineated here indicate to the contrary. At least as far as ‘religious ideas and practices of the masses’ are concerned, Sufism/Bhakti enjoys a formidable position in history.

However, the integument or ‘outward structure’ of the two religions exemplify the behavioral patterns of the two societies and as a matter of fact, had remained reactive and sensitive, being prone to external jitters, shocks and ‘perceived attacks’.

There is no doubt that Sufism/Bhakti never attempted any complete alteration of their respective religions but basically essayed a reformist trajectory so as to project a holistic space for co-existence of the two communities. They attracted large number of followers to their cults. In that regard, they succeeded, at least in that time zone. Even today, the head of state of Pakistan makes it a point to visit the dargah of Moinuddin Chisti at Ajmer. And every year, pilgrims from across the border flock to Delhi to participate in the Urs of Khawaja Nizamuddin Aulia.

Nevertheless, to expect the medieval movements to have created a permanent panacea for any futuristic communal flare-up and to universally prescribe any antidote to the rise of a bunch of zealots would be asking far too much. After all, we need to remember that any religious intolerance is spearheaded by a tiny, yet militarily powerful minority – the masses hardly have much role in it, at least initially. 
=====================
 


30 January, 2018

This is for you, Captain

The Team, with the Captain in the middle


I was and like many, still remain an ardent fan of 
Kapil Dev and Viv Richards. Strokes were fine, however many could. Grace was cool, probably David Gower was better. Swing was mesmerising, no doubt.

Yet Kapil Dev and Sir Viv as players and captains, were in the league of the 'exclusive' - mostly due to their incorrigible optimism, chest-thumping bravado, Dev Anand's 'Is Fikr Ko Dhuyen Me Udaa Ta Chala Gaya' philosophy and finally for the full-swing of the bat. 




I too was part of a team, not 11 but with 3 members. We too had a captain - the incorrigible and the optimist. He did not possess diplomatic skills since he did not know what is meant by the word 'no'. For him, everything was possible and reachable and doable. 

The man who nurtured me, scolded me, with whom I had altercations, yet who has made me what I am - with all the infinite positive energy he possessed. 

When I was thumped by a school-mate in the 7th standard, and went to him crying, instead of oozing sympathy, he upbraided me to equip myself physically and psychologically to meet up to such challenges and encouraged me to go back and give the guy what he deserved. And I started physical exercises. 

He advised me, for the sake of protein and overall strength, to gulp uncooked eggs in milk. He taught me how to perform push-ups and squats and yoga.

And I was ungrateful. I aimed to use his methods to surpass him. I desired to have stronger arms than him and told him one day I would be more powerful than him.

He smiled and laughed and accepted the challenge. 




When after my Masters, I was unsure of what was to be done, I went up to him.

'Should I search a job?'

'Do as your mind aspires, Listen to your heart', was his prompt answer, as always, and of course, specifically under financial duress. 

It cleared my dilemma. I joined academics and was contented to bring home a scholarship of 5,400 rupees per month in August 2000. He was a proud father.



When in December 2004 I told him I wished to appear for Civil Services, his sure reply was, 

'Absolutely, go for it, I am with you'.


When in June 2009 I asked for his advice whether I should write regularly on Insurgency and particularly on Maoism, he again said, 'Very Much,,,,write as much as you can'

His dictum was simple. His dictum was profound. 

'Do as you like, however always keep in mind that whatever you do, try to excel in it.'


He sheltered us, weathered all storms for us, fought for us; whereas I at times fought with him, criticised his carefree approach to life under the influence of my adolescent haughtiness and upstart intellect.

He was my first teacher. He was my first guide. 

He was my 'Baba'.

He loved to eat. I shouted at him. I pressured him to control his waistline. He ate clandestinely. 


He was our pillar. He was our base. He was our dome. 


When I heard his footsteps in the adjoining kitchen space, hankering for a glass of water on 27 January 2018, it was 01:10 Hrs. I had just completed a write-up. 

I knew he was strong, still I trembled a bit. I did whatever I could. Glass of water, coke, Omez tablet, all to relieve him of the 'gastric' pain he was experiencing in his belly. I massaged him. Not enough though.

I had no solution for the 'breathlessness' he was having. He asked me to call Ma.  It was about 01:35 Hrs. Asthalin was given to him. He recovered. I was relieved.



As he was about to settle down, and I informed my brother over phone not to ask for the ambulance, Baba fell, quite involuntarily, on the bed. His face went distorted and left hand trembled. I lost my senses. Ma still was firm. I didn't know what was to be done. I stood and watched. He gasped for breath. I poured some water into his mouth. He looked at us, as if for the last time and then was unconscious - at least that's what we wanted to believe at that point of time. 

I was helpless. I couldn't get hold of the ambulance on time. Nearby nursing homes had no manpower, no stretcher, no ambulance. I felt powerless, feeble. 


In a matter of one night, I could feel my age shoot up by 10 years. My umbrella was no more. 

My God was no more.

He had two complaints against me - that I loved my Vice-Captain more than him, that I have not exclusively acknowledged him in either my thesis or in my book. 

I have only one complaint against him. He should have given me at least one chance to redeem myself. 

My next book would be dedicated to you, Captain. 




Shri Bimal Kumar Mukherjee

[12-04-1948 to 27-01-2018]

studied Commerce in St Xavier's College, Calcutta
worked at Sandoz India Ltd,
a free thinker and a maverick
sometimes as leisurely as a Nawab
& an ardent admirer of Swami Vivekananda


Salute to You. 









17 November, 2017

Naipaul's attack on Hindu India: A Critique


 Let this be considered an analytical reading of V S Naipaul's "India: A Wounded Civilisation", Picador, 2010. This is definitely not a book review, neither a piece on deconstruction. A critique would be a better word, if not bitter. 

With the present intellectual climate harping on the words Hindu, cow and of course India, a fresh look at Nobel prize winner of Indian-origin V S Naipaul’s perception about ‘Hindu India’, albeit during the tumultuous period of Emergency, is not out of place.


----------------------------------------------------

Why does Naipaul err in the Foreword of "India: A Wounded Civilization"? He writes that the British rule in Delhi was for 150 years? While he is perfect in mentioning 1565 as the year of demolition of Vijayanagar Empire in page 4, he flounders in the Foreword. 


Is he referring to the conquest of Delhi by the British in 1803 - by defeating the Marathas? Even then, 150 years is off the mark.


'.....as popular Hinduism so easily decays, into barbarism.' [page 6]




Naipaul cites slave markets, temple prostitutes, sati [spells suttee], animal and human sacrifices, in the erstwhile grand Vijayanagar Empire, as illustrations to prove his point.


For Bihar, in mid-1970s, Naipaul nonchalantly writes that it is 'without intellect or leaders' [page 18] - though, interestingly, at that very moment - the anti-Emergency brigade was led by Jayprakash Narayan, JP.


As he starts Chapter 2, he is firmly entrenched in the opinion that majority, subaltern Indians are detached, disassociated, dismembered from the macro-level politico-economic turmoil - and they have been like that - immersed in timelessness - whether during the Sultanate or Mughal or British period, continuing their self-engrossed journey in the 1970s, during Indira Gandhi's Emergency. In the process, Naipaul critically discusses R K Narayan's philosophy of 'India will go on' and ridicules it. 

Naipaul, singularly, refers to this insulation as Hindu Equilibrium - a term nourished with illustrations, some from his sojourn to India during that momentous time-frame and many, from R K Narayan's characters.


Naipaul reports that 'Bangalore was becoming a centre of Indian industry and science' [page 28] and in a sense, turns out to be prophetic - at least, as far as industry is concerned, though in its 21st century variant of software based.

The author subtly chastises Gandhianism - holding it as a tactic to have strategically transformed 'quietism' in Hinduism [page 32] - into a political force. Is Naipaul appreciating Gandhi or is he praising the 'quietism' of Hindus as a virtue, surely not, I feel. Or is he suggesting the alienation of non-Hindus from mainstream National Movement due to the overwhelming success of Gandhian juggernaut, and consequent dislocation of the national movement and final fragmentation of the nation? 

In page 41, he comes up with an unusual theorization which I am unable to envisage or take at face value that how a 'risen-dough quality about the face and physique’ of an individual hints to ‘solitary sexual orientations'. It could be author’s own perversion or imagery beyond comprehension.


Till the end of Part One, Naipaul remains harsh towards Hinduism - blaming it for exposing Indians to thousand years of defeat and stagnation. How could he be so unjustified, irrational and ahistoric? Or is it that he is imposing his anti-India grievance-ridden intellectual firmament on the readers and with the flow of his post-Booker famed narrative, effectively incorporates the hegemonic discourse of the Gramscian variety?

He wants the world to believe that India means Hindus, and Hindus mean a set of dead people. He wants Indians to accept his theory, which is neither self-critical nor axiomatic, far from being normative, is drowned in self-perceived bias. The Times eulogises Naipaul's script as 'A devastating work', and how truly, it devastates, rather sincerely attempts to devastate the perception about a set of people who over span of centuries have so dexterously developed a mono-cultural identity and ethos amidst a multi-cultural backdrop, after having contacted and not dented by as the author opines, various foreign civilisations - who were welcomed, absorbed and fused into.

Or is it that Naipaul was hired by his then American publisher Knopf, to vilify the 'quiet' Hindu religion, along with their quieter Hindu folks - most uncomradelilke, so as to construct or rather re-construct the Western engineered perception of the hindoos as a decadent, defeated group of people, yet peacefully discovering bliss in their spiritual hutments, with or without a guru. 

The pushes and pulls on Hinduism - the forces of change versus status-quo, according to Naipaul, has kept the religion on a stable equilibrium, and more so, towards status-quo, towards unchange; the writer so skillfully avoiding or erroneously forgetting that with rising population, the insulated Jagans of Narayan's novels would naturally grow in number, with however, the fact that more and more change-seeking, rebellious if not revolutionary Vijay Tendulkars would flow out of the jar, enough in quantity to disrupt that equilibrium, whose precise definition from the perspective of forces seemingly being incomprehensible to the author, which he can so easily be dismissive of being a student of literature and arts.

If a system is in equilibrium, then both the forces are of equal strength, the forces of old India cancels out with that of New India. And if this is not the equilibrium he is referring to, then he should have elaborated in the discourse. His definition of equilibrium 'is of a rare kind' - a euphemistic phraseology connoting unclear, fuzzy cognition. 

To force into the esophagus of Hinduism the horrific crime of self-ruination is the worst surgical construct of the Nobel-prize winner. Suggestive monologues could have been welcome, along with operational critiques of the follies committed in the past and to some extent being carried in the present; but hypothetical doctrines are dangerous and that is where the author kept on peregrinating around.

Can we surmise that to feed the western world what they so eagerly desire to hear, see and 'eat' about the sub-continent and its history, and with the larger impact of ossifying the Indians on the portraiture of future, present and history - with the devious aim of intellectually stultifying the Hindu-Indians and mutate their minds into thoughtless boxes and coercing them to accept their inability to change as fait accompli - as an offshoot of their natural instinct, so innate in their own self-inculcation; Naipaul doctors the entire script, as a master-craftsman, yet so Satan-like, dollar-bribed.

Ends page 44. 

As one barges into the third chapter, 'The Skyscrapers and the Chawls', Naipaul's attack on Hinduism continues, unabated, however now punctuated with tales of Bombay, immaculately painting the chawl - real at the level of a writer's depiction, yet so nauseating at times when he refers to beggars as 'having lost their place in Hindu system', by being too numerous; his penchant for the word Hindu and Hinduism growing unbounded.

To aver that 'the power of the Marathas was mainly destructive' during the eighteenth century 'Indian chaos' is a gross oversimplification and severe misinterpretation of history, again so finely suited to the Western paradigm, need and necessity - reasserting the fashionable during the time of Total Revolution by JP - and deride the Indians. And if it comes from the glowing pen of an accomplished, established author - it adds to the glee and for time immemorial, to the corpus of knowledge and understanding.

With all the arraignment against him however, Naipaul is to a large extent agreeable on one count. 'It was the business of sweepers to remove excrement, and until the sweepers came, people were content to live in the midst of their own excrement', writes Sir Vidiya in page 57. This is a statement for which even today, four decades after the first print of his book, even after the government comes out with schemes and rallies and oratory on the philosophy of cleanliness and its operational need, Indians - and not Hindus only, suffer from the habit of lying on squalor, walking past polythene sheets, used coca-cola bottles, blood-stained sanitary napkins - all huddled together forming an ugly pool.

The Indians remain unconcerned, unnerved, unfazed by the filth - merrily celebrating Diwali and Kali Puja - as if worshiping squalor was to simulate the excrement and ashes very much required by the Kapaliks and Kalamukhs - Hindu Shaivite ascetics, the ultra-wing followers of Lord Shiva. This state of affairs, ironically, is in the second half of 21st century India. It is not an extraordinarily wrong assertion by Naipaul that Indians wait for the sweeper - the 'scum' on earth - to clean their scum. The sweeper becomes the Most Wanted Person [MWP] when he seeks leave for a few days, completely derailing our local drive of cleanliness. His unostentatious regular presence is just unnoticed. 

Part two could have ended peaceably, but it was not to be. Not because Naipaul again upbraided Hinduism, which he did at times, in bits and pieces, to excoriate the religion as a matter of routine, but this time as he dared to pontificate, he committed a factual blunder, along with inadequate interpretation and analysis. 

The best literary attribute and expected, of Naipaul, is his ability to describe, his uncanny knack of painting the ambience, the men, the women, and he marvels in that endeavour. The sarpanch of the village which is contiguous to Poona, the landlord Patel, his graduate daughter, the temple architecture, the pathways, seem to be painted exquisitely and being screened in front. A Nobel Prize winning litterateur indeed. I owe him a spectrum of words, a learning which I possibly couldn't have mastered by cramming the GRE Word List: runnel, starveling, shimmered, mattock, restaurateur, seraglio, wickerwork, rutted. 


Naipaul hit the bull's eye when he observed [page 75]: 'the Patel ruled by custom and consent', and hopefully by consent he meant Gramscian hegemonic consent, where the authority of the ruler is beyond question and cannot be defied because he has already been 'deified'. With the Zamindari system in India still ruling the roost in many regions, Naipaul's remark can be considered to be astute and analytical. Power structure prevailing in India's rural backyard centred around the rural gentry, from the time of the Guptas up to the British, through the Mughals, and beyond.  

The worst however came just before intermission. Pages 78 to 82, of a 161 page book, turned out to be the playground for Naipaul where he donned the role of a security-analyst, political scientist, sociologist as well as historian. Why is he so prone to committing factual blunders? My question remains unanswered. If it is told to me that it was a printing error, then the Editorial Board ought to be held culpable. Naxalite movement began in Bengal - fine, in 1968 - the gaffe. 

Sir Naipaul, it was 23 May 1967, when a 'policeman named Sonam Wangdi was killed in an encounter with armed tribals', that the Naxalite movement kicked off, writes Sumanta Banerjee in the Wake of Naxalbari. Sir Naipaul, the movement was locally led - as you weirdly and without any substantiated database argue to the contrary, with Kanu Sanyal and Jangal Santhal as couple of names to quote. Sir Naipaul, you probably again go awry when you claim that the tea plantation labourers of North Bengal were not part of the movement. The workers of the tea plantation farms were being organised by local communist groups, reports Banerjee, between 1955 to 1957. I fully agree that Sumanta Banerjee is not a Nobel Prize Winner, but his qualitative arguments and reportage aside, the faux pas on 1967 / 8, can still be accepted at Naipaul's end without any loss of self-esteem. 

Mr Naipaul, by terming the indentured labourers of the tea plantation farms as 'far-off aboriginal communities, pre-Aryan people...', you are oversimplifying the history of the sub-continent and treading the Western line of historiography, especially insofar as India's antiquity is concerned. Mr Naipaul, by dismissing the Indians in not having a sense of social enquiry - cunningly setting the backdrop by cutting apart Narayan's novels and his calibre as a novelist and in the larger perspective, Indians' capability of writing novels and analysing society, you have flawed, dwarfed yourself as an author, derogated yourself as an intellectual and guillotined yourself at the altar of human knowledge. 

If History was still 'outside Indian tradition' in 1975, as he claims, then how would he explain the rise of the Subaltern Studies Group in the late 1970s and early 1980s? 

Mr Naipaul, Naxalite movement in its initial avatar just didn't fall through because there was a lack of understanding of India and Indian history by the Indians or the revolutionaries - which agreeably is an infinitely unbounded subject and needs to be cultivated continuously. Naxalite movement crumbled because of poor organsiation, improper leadership, lack of arms and ammunition in the insurgent camp, concerted police and army action, among others. And if it is being suggested by you that emulating a 'foreign' ideology is a sign of lack of ingenuity on the part of the Indians, then what would you comment on the French Revolution - the stalwarts of which were inspired by the American revolution. Would you write-off the 'Bolivarian' Revolutions in Latin America since they absorbed the ideals of the French and the American examples? How your thought process would churn by looking at the Vietnamese revolution? Should Lenin be reprimanded for reading a Marx?

Intermission. Naipaul, as a master story-teller knew where to pull down the curtains for an interlude, and how to charge up the battery of climax, by needling the dying body-social called India. 


It's sickening, not disheartening. It's severely disturbing. It's nauseating, with the persistently consistent way in which Naipaul moves on, tearing apart India with his double-edged sword. India and the Indians, if they emulate the West in the context of modernity, would be lampooned as copycats. India and Indians, if they attempt to invent succour by unraveling their past - which Naipaul disbelieves they can in the archaeological or historical or sociological sense, would be chastised to have acted in an antiquated fashion. 

'Hindu India, decaying for centuries, constantly making itself archaic, had closed up......', Naipaul's inexorable march in torturing and tonsuring India and Indians, post intermission, goes on. The author's diseased analysis reaches a crescendo when he refers to Dr Sudhir Kakar, a psychoanalyst, to bolster his argumentation - as Kakar is quoted to generalise, without any sense of logic, as if only to steer Naipaul's distorted ratiocination to its irrational destination, that 'his Indian patients, men and women, cannot describe the sex act, are capable of saying, it happened'. And the harangue continues, the lack of ability of Indians to chronicle their tales of sexual interactions, the lack of Indians to absorb the coitus and paint a picture of it is corroborated by citing a novel called Samskara by Naipaul's literary favourite U R Anantamurti and its pious Brahmin, who fails to appreciate how it feels like to copulate with a fleshly low-caste woman. 

The pinnacle is reached, of denigrating Indians. Naipaul applies intellectual stealth and hypocrisy to achieve it by citing ideas and observations of Indians, one a doctor and the other an author, roasts and murders Indians by terming their thought-process to be worn-out and Indians being imbecile to the extent of failing to detail the most basic exercise of human beings - the very act of procreation. The works of the two other 'Indians', Kakar and Anantamurti, who are skillfully yet bluntly used by Naipaul, are his favourites because their arguments, at least the portion of what he quotes, beautifully upholds his demented notion of a caste-dishevelled, inward-looking, backward-moving retrograde India. Sir Vidiya has not read or heard about Kamasutra and he showcases his literary musculature to the maximum to annihilate any corpus of composition of India's past or present which aspires to 'describe' the act of sex. Sir Vidiya, interestingly is still alive to watch videos being posted online by Indian actors, detailing the bedroom actions, providing him titillation - something he so poorly needs at this stage of his life. 

Naipaul gouges out the eyes, cuts the limbs, castrates and finally disembowels the Indians by positing 'youthful' examples - a fourth year graduate at National institute of Design, a second year girl in the printing department, an America-returned would-be-entrepreneur - yelling through his chain of words and phrases that the next generation of Indians are equally worthless as their predecessors - nincompoops not to have a knowledge or vision about India and severely handicapped in ingenuity, however enthusiastically bubbling with regressing cognition. Dollar-bribed literature reached its zenith at page 110 with Naipaul's jeremiad against Indians reaching the cremation ground. 


Naipaul doesn't visit the Indian Institute of Technologies. Though he knows Bangalore, he doesn't move into the campus of Indian Institute of Science. He 'analyses' the Chawls of Bombay, but wipes out from his narrative the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. Naipaul maps a non-euclidean geometry of India, carefully avoids the straight line and takes the geodesic instead. He doesn't fail, but deliberately absconds meeting statistician-cum-historian D D Kosambi, as that would definitely have pushed him harder into his fraudulent analytical domains to eke out a repugnant theory to prevaricate about India's past and the lack of historical approach of Indians.


It is nonetheless, nothing outlandish to deduce that many Indians prefer the Occident - their lifestyle and to some extent, accept their superiority. To some extent, this is an after-effect of Imperial domination close to 200 years. And why fully blame Indians with regard to this - most colonial countries, in South Asia, South-East Asia, Africa have followed similar footsteps. That however does not and shouldn't exonerate the Indians from the entrapment of Gramscian hegemony,

Adding to Literature, Sex, Politics, Ideology, Naipaul comes up with Architecture and Painting - reflecting the decadent state of affairs of India and Indians. Just to speak of painting, Naipaul surely needs a crash course on Indian painting since 1947 - and which has been in no way merely a mugged up Western concept - with post-colonial, pseudo-realist and post-minimalist approaches being few to be mentioned. Naipaul for the second time twists the finger of the Indian journalist as he comments: 'Indian journalism developed no reporting tradition...'[page 117].

However, he gives a passing credit to Illustrated Weekly of India as it contained a series of articles against caste oppression in Hindu India and to Economic and Political Weekly as it carries leftist tinge. He dismisses the Indians [page 116], 'India by itself could not have rediscovered or assessed its past' - which makes me wonder as to who Rakhaldas Banerjee was or who was Ramesh Chandra Majumdar or Jadunath Sarkar, to name a modest three. Naipaul safely does not mention S N Bose or Meghnad Saha or C V Raman and Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science - lest he has to dive into ignominy of swallowing his theories of garbage of ‘dumb Indians without ingenuity’. He leaves the interpretation of Emergency open, by telling the readers that curb on constitutional freedom had made Indian journalism more interpretative! [page 119]

I trudge on, rather studiously, to Chapter 7, 'Paradise Lost'. Nothing seems left to be discovered - mighty and high, is there anything more grotesque - not about India, but about an individual - who claims to possess Indian ancestry and who revels in systematic butchery of Indians with his pen - mighty and high. 

Yes. Naipaul attempts to teach Indians to unlearn the 'political'. As he writes, or is dollar-bribed to write, during Emergency, without deliberating on the issue would have implied nullity. So he becomes a pulpiteer, pierces the sword into Jaiprakash Narayan's concept of Total Revolution, finds out justification for Indira Gandhi's Emergency by ridiculing a lady in Delhi and her political husband (belonging to the opposition) for aspiring to keep her servant 'close' to her residence and hence lamenting government's decision to smash his house and forcing him out in the open in the rains. Naipaul asserts that one month notice was served upon the individual before demolishing his house.


Jaiprakash Narayan talks about 'government from below' - a de-facto establishment of local-self government and election of legislature at state and central levels with a bottom-up approach. I am awaken, amidst somnolence: Naipaul compares JP's Total Revolution as 'emotional outburst' - still fine, considering the political chaos accompanying the movement; as Naipaul terms JP's assurance of Swaraj as Ramrajya, I cleanse the lens of my spectacles - to reread. He has to bring in religion - Hinduism - and this time he does it by positing Gandhi and Vivekananda and in the most disingenuous way connecting JP's Swaraj with Gandhi's Ramrajya. Gandhi had been earlier criticised for his lack of languidness in writing - which can very easily be accepted considering the fact that an author of Naipaul's calibre will always see Gandhian ability of writing as a diminutive variety.

Nevertheless, from which angle Naipaul saw Ramrajya of Hindu religious type being offered by JP bemuses us all. Naipaul clearly and amazingly sees the revolution to have failed, all revolutions to have failed in India, Maoist, Constitutional, non-Constitutional, since Indians are a failed set of beings - as they are within the cocoon of a failed religion called Hinduism.  

As I turn page 140, I wonder if Naipaul would have been better-off spending few sessions with Dr Sudhir Kakar of JNU - the psychoanalyst.

Vilifying Gandhi and his mahatmahood is still acceptable, as such analysis borders the zone of critical thinking. But to write that Gandhi 'left India without any ideology' [page 146] is tough not to be taken amiss. Naipaul's venom towards India and Indians has been systematically directed towards its pantheon of leadership - specifically Gandhi - by cooking up the latter's hidden follies of being caste-affected, burdened with an anachronistic worldview of anti-industrial posture, pursuing his status of being the mahatma with a zero-like ideology. The assassination of Gandhi takes place for the second time, at least - after Godse, Naipaul carries it out with his incisive phraseology by deconstructing the singular, simple interpretation of Gandhian simplicity and truthfulness, as if every truth of Gandhi, for Gandhi and by Gandhi was residing at the apex of untruth; as if every bit of Gandhi's Weltanschauung is a reflection of India's perceptive ideology and has to be decoded in the backdrop of post-truth. 


Naipaul had to lambaste Vinoba Bhave, innovate the punchbag in him - as he emulated Gandhi, and according to his own words, more than typified Gandhian way of life, and puts across Bhave as 'not a particularly intelligent man' and 'his political views come close to nonsense' [pp 146-7]. This approach was nonetheless natural and expected of Naipaul -as he had to debase India and Indians - so Gandhi and hence Bhave had to be beaten to unconsciousness and then asked by the author: 'Do you have any ideology?' The answer would obviously be nothing. 

Naipaul surely would have been charged with blasphemy if he were a Pakistani citizen. He narrowly escapes the fatwa for two reasons: there is no such authority or precedence in Hinduism and there is no such culture in Hinduism and in that sense, this is a dead religion - which does not retaliate against its molesters. His book is not banned and he sails through to receive the Nobel later. 

"Get the children out into the fields, among the animals: it was, after all, the only education that the god Krishna received." [page 149]

Again, to mock at Bhave's educational status is still a matter of criticism which can be accepted in an argumentative stupor, but shouldn't a giggle at one of the avatars of Hinduism be a reason enough to raise furor? 

Indians belch, Indians fart - yes, they do. My question is nobody else does? Naipaul doesn't? In 1975-6 if rural Indian gentry take pride in a graduate daughter, then how do they err? Isn't Naipaul also a graduate? Indians make merry in festivities, they shout, they sing, they dance, at times they go berserk. My question is nobody else does? The Englishman doesn't? The American yankee doesn't?



Bhave is tortured by Naipaul with burning incense sticks - the former's last fast was against cow-slaughter - his Bhoodan movement was a fiasco, a mere symbolism suffocated within the everlasting yoke of casteism and rural hierarchy. Naipaul's veritable misuse of the word 'cow' with all its concomitant sense to hit 'Hindu India' below the belt so spookily mirrors the contemporary 'liberal' and 'left-of-the-centre' interpretations of the 'present cow'. There is no other animal in India - no Tiger, no Lion, no Elephant, only the cow and it has to be targeted. 

Indians are obedient, without any thought-process, without any civilisation, mere dehumanised, de-civilised robots, clinging onto their dead past. This is the crux of Naipaul's 161 page book - a gist which is repeated, reiterated and reverberated methodically by the author in a meticulous fashion page after page, paragraph after paragraph. An artist could be so engrossed in shaping up and then polishing a damaged image to perfection - a sculpture impaired flawlessly and permanently to make it appear a ghost, to create a spectre of nothingness of Indians - only Naipaul could excel in this craft. 

Naipaul suggests, in his vainglorious attire, that 'the past can now be possessed only by inquiry and scholarship, by intellectual rather than spiritual discipline' [page 161]. 

Yes, Indians need more consciousness toward cleanliness. Yes, Indians need to be more industrious. Yes, Indians need to develop their education system, their healthcare apparatus. And yes, Indians ought to be aware of their civilisation through the prism of scientific knowledge and leap forward to establish a greater civilisation for the future.

India and Indians are working towards the goal - with all muscles flexed and guns blazing. Naipaul's spectre of a 'decadent cow-ennobled Hindu India' simply doesn't haunt Indians, who in the 21st century, have not only ignored such preposterous theories, but are confident and conscious enough about their potential. India’s civilization is not wounded. It is empowered; it is dynamic and ever-growing.
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