Myopic Gestures

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Arshid Malik

It is perhaps the worst case of social myopia that I have witnessed all my life. The case is that of the intellectual class – the writers, poets, artists and all – returning the awards they have received from the government of India in cognizance of their contributions in their respective fields over the “violations” against minorities and the peculiar “saffronization” of the country and the silence maintained by the Prime Minister of India regarding these “incidents” which by all means turn out to be sporadic when compared to recent history of communal violence in India. What I am meaning to say that in the past when atrocities were committed against minorities in India no one even spoke about it except for a handful of people and now everyone, almost everyone is up in arms against the killing, lynching, burning of poor people across the country. Where were these people when tribal people, the Dalit and other minorities in India were being treaded upon by the elephants from the Indian political elite and the corporate mafia?

Where were these intellectuals when the poor protesting against their displacement due to the course of action following the building of a dam or some other eco-negative atrocity and were shot point blank by the in-term government’s full-time assassins – the state police and other agencies. The people from the intellectual class who fought for the cause of the victims of the corporate mafia were construed as “untouchables” of sorts and no matter how much they spoke for gathering a momentum at the national level for justice to these poor people were ignored as if they were pursuing some clandestine agenda of self-appeasement. Such activists got shot, kidnapped and were often gagged since they did not have mass support. The “Saffronization” regime is not as new as our writers and columnists make it seem but rather an age old phenomenon integrated into “ethos of suppression by the larger state”.

So what is it that is happening in the country? Why are the intellectuals, social workers and the nominated elite of the downtrodden waving a red flag all at once? What pushed them to return their awards, burn the accolades and vociferously jump on social media to express their contrived and conceived “dissent”? I see it as social myopia – the lack of fore and hind sight of discernment of social constructs in a wider perspective. And this social myopia has guided us to a “star” to blame and that “star” is Narendra Modi. The sudden subjective outrage of the intellectual class that has set the “stage on fire” – the socio-media sphere that is, has made Narendra Modi that, a star that is. I see all efforts of the intelligentsia working in favour of the man himself, the current Prime Minister of India, because disrepute is negative publicity and sometimes it works wonders for people and the organizations they represent.

I am not saying that what the intellectual class is doing across the country is in absolute negativity but that it is more like soda fizz since it has erupted as a sudden phenomenon directed and stimulated by the “wrong doings” of a certain political sect of India. Which is to say that the intellectual class by giving up awards is marking its presence felt against a political modicum, and not the cause of actual discrimination of the socially and economically downtrodden.

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