Monday, May 07, 2007

Most Disturbing

Being in High School was something of an advantage for liberals and right-thinkers (as in thinking correctly, not Right) back during the beginning of the new millennium. A number of things were changing, and most significant politically was the Govt's open advocacy of Hindutva.

The Ram Janmabhoomi thing was the stuff of the hour. People talked day in and day out about the need to build the temple to Rama there. Guys like Ashok Singhal, Praveen Togadia and Giriraj Kishore became in a certain sense, household names. Their message of rebuilding long-lost/razed down temples wherever there was a mosque or church, was simultaneously comical and frightening, like Mark Hamill's version of the Joker.

Cultural feeling, I suppose, grew. Indian culture was no longer the vaguely defined sum total of everyone's customs and aesthetics but some sort of maiden with a handful of Sanskrit names (foremost of which was sankriti) dressed in the light diaphanous material of the care of the elderly and protected by her strong elder sister who wore a chastity belt and armour of saffronium. This maiden had to be constantly surrounded, watched and protected 24x7, from the vile lascivious gang of 'phorens' - phoren books, movies, English, clothes and customs (read Valentine's day) - who, given the slightest opportunity, would gang-bang it, double-penetrate it, and force it to lick the filthy semen off their foul alien phoren penises. Hence the desperate rush to burn shops on Valentine's day, smash sets when films were deemed offensive, scream hoarse when any Westerner spoke about Indian culture, and start teaching astrology and Vedic science in school.

More significantly, the concept of national feeling as a whole grew. I hate to say it, but it did. From Vajpayee to the city-level BJP thug, whoever spoke in the media talked of us as a nation and concluded with "Mera/Hamara Bharat Mahaan" and "Jai Hind" - so much so that school assembly speeches and debates began to resemble some sort of B-grade British era pic. The saffron brigade wanted everyone to love saffron, white and green with the kind of choking intensity that you normally keep off with a restraining order, or associate with "K..k..k..k..kiran"

What was odd and disturbing was what defined a nation, and what defined loving it. I heard of the slogan "Hindu Hindi Hindustan" only recently, but though it may not have been said explicitly, it was certainly implicit. True patriotic Indians were people who collectively rejected Western culture - either by vandalizing Hallmarks on Valentine's day in real life, or denouncing it in films that did not invite empty and vandalized theatres. True India-lovers were the people who railed at Pakistan not being nuked back into the Stone Age (though in their defense, I hated Pakistan and everything to do with it after Kargil), and who hated the agents of Pakistan, the Muslims. The Muslims who could be everywhere and anywhere, who spread their seed across their many wives and bred children so they could eventually take over India by sheer weight of numbers, and who plotted terrorist attacks to integrate Kashmir with their brethren across the LoC (post 9/11, terrorist attacks simply to express their Muslim-ness). They had to be stopped. True Indians were the ones who contributed to that stoppage, whether by way of beating up inter-religious couples, 're-converting' lost children who took up this vile identity centuries ago when the foul Muslims came with their swords and cannon to this benign peace-loving land of milk and honey and sanskriti, or railing against them 24x7. The cream of the crop were those who, righteously angry with this foul species that had so infested Ahmedabad, saved them the trouble of existence and burnt down their homes, hacked them to pieces and raped their women (doubtless blessing them with their seed) while simultaneously convincing the Gujarati police and judiciary to keep their eyes wide shut (never mind look the other way). Gave a whole new meaning to "the scum rises to the top too".

Like I said, this was a good time for a liberal to be in high school (specially an ICSE school, which subscribed to non-NCERT books and was unaffected by the requirements for Vedic Science, astrology or the new theory that Indians spread into the rest of the world, where they were called Aryans) It allowed one to be sheltered from the hate plague to an extent (though I am certain one of my friends is infected pretty strongly). It allowed one to be righteously angry and argue it out with people. It allowed me to ask adults about the realpolitik of such things and only get "you're only a kid" by way of reprimand. It allowed us to develop our opinions strongly in opposition to this stuff and hopefully influence those about us who were more strongly exposed to Hateplagus saffronicus.

Ok, so what? All I've done so far is somewhat colourfully let off some steam.

The thing that's the real focus of my post is the prevalence of this attitude sans the government that inculcated it. It's something I've come across to disturbing extents. Look in the Net. Look in the Indian blogosphere. Search for blog results on anything involving Hindus and/or India. Look up Rediff columns that pertain in any remote since to socio-cultural and secular issues, and you will find the same attitude. The same principles and excuses. Hell, even similar names like proud_hindu and indian2007.

When there's news on films being objectionable to some Hindus, you will find these people challenging the director to make films objectionable to Muslims. When there is mention of caste and conversion politics, you will see great_hindu and his ilk talking of how Hinduism is on the wane due to people's apathy and the machinations of the Abrahamic faiths. When newspapers decry people's illiberality, you see them denounce the newspaper's liberality as left-biased, elitist, pseudo-secular (whatever the fuck that means) or ass-kissy, or a mixture of all. They demand to be able to order death threats and riots when any person upsets "Hindu sentiments" - don't Muslims issue fatwas when they see cartoons? And whenever there is discussion of plurality, you will find them posting crap like this.

All this has come to be without the delightful aid of the BJP,RSS or any other centralized organization. The stuff you see is the product of Netizen-activists, essentially armchair theorists and haters who have no idea of the world as it is, or as genuine right wingers want it to be. But they are nevertheless dangerous. With the rise of people like this, who go the extent of saying freedom of speech is overrated, and must be curbed when appropriate, two questions come in:

(a) The right wingers of the early 2000's essentially fucked the vision of a plural India as envisioned by Gandhi and Nehru with their Godhra and their anti-Conversion bills. We could all assuage our conscience by saying we had nothing to do with it, the VHP/RSS account for the opinions of a small percentage of Hindus and by virtue of that, we are innocent (which is fake anyway) But with this new network of Netizen Nazis, how true is that assumption?

(b) The true strength of the people of Al Quaeda and Lashkar e-Tayibba is their decentralization, which in turn has come from the dissemination of their ideas. It took them 40 years of dissemination and a lot of arms-dealing in recent times to reach their present status as faceless threat. If somebody starts with the Net as the source of his or her ideas, they'll probably achieve the same in one tenth the time. Do we really want to eventually confront the suicide bombers of the "Dharma Sena" or something like it?

I dunno what can be done to stop this trend (nice, maader spent so much time talking about it and no solution finally) I suppose we can all worry about it