A timeless line from Dr. S.L Bhyrappa’s multi-layered and philosophical novel Saakshi (Witness) reads as follows:
There is no greater arrogance than the arrogance wrought by a sense of self-righteousness.
This quote accurately describes Yoginder Sikand’s textual barrage flowing over a course of 4373 words. So do we really need to care or pay any attention to his—with due respect—outpouring? No and yes. No because he’s not relevant anymore in the same sense as Ram Puniyani or Genocide Suzie aren’t relevant anymore, and paying him attention gives him undeserved and unnecessary prominence. Yes because his outpouring has brought him exactly that undeserved prominence, and more importantly, has exposed his opponents to be the uncritical and heedless idiots that they are—yet again.
admitting him into an insane asylum.
In hindsight, I realize I was perhaps harsh. Actually no. And I’ve thought about it ever since his “confession” was published. And so, I can reasonably accurately conclude that this feeling that I was “harsh” developed within me after I read the said confession. Human psychology works like that. Had he written something like this or this or this, I’d have repeated my 2008 call to send him to that insane asylum. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Sikand’s confession borders on the unbelievable but because we don’t have evidence to the contrary, let’s assume it’s honest. Despite that, it helps to keep our antennae up because his confession appeared in Countercurrents, an outfit that is by, for, and of rabid Communists of all hues of red. However, the biggest surprise is not that it appeared there but the fact that the Red Editors out there allowed it in the first place. Pick any piece at random on Countercurrents. It reeks of ActivistSpeak, a language which Sikand—by his own admission—spoke flawlessly for more than two decades. And now, when he’s 45, he turns turtle and says activism and social reform and revolution are delusions from which no real or lasting change can ensue. And yet, Countercurrents publishes this piece. But more importantly, anybody who has followed the Red Rackhams however briefly will know that once you decide to say goodbye permanently, you are out. The door closes shut behind the deserter. Forever. And so, although there’s no reason to doubt the intent or integrity of his confession, it still pays to be skeptical. That perhaps is the cheapest price Sikand needs to pay for two decades of disservice to the land whose traditions he abused and whose enemies he befriended. Eternal suspicion over a reformed Communist is also the price of liberty.
Yoginder Sikand’s emotional outpouring is extraordinary at several levels. It is an open admission of lying, committing fraud, indulging in hate speech, accepting money for indulging in spurious activities, and feeding off the misery of the oppressed sections of the society in the guise of helping them. In fact, Sikand explains in detail—the roots, the motivations, the mechanics, and the techniques that this gigantic deception involved. Here are some of the most representative exhibits:
…my contribution as a ‘social activist’ and in the cause of the ‘Revolution’ paid me well in material terms…I was assigned projects by several NGOs to study the ‘oppressed’, for which I was well rewarded financially.
…writing and conferencing about the ‘oppressed’ soon turned into a lucrative source of livelihood for me. I was actually, and quite literally, living off the misery of the ‘oppressed’, although I did not fully realise it then.
If you had to be counted as a ‘social activist’, you simply couldn’t see or find anything worthy at all in ‘upper’ caste Hindus or in Americans, and, if you did, your sincerity and commitment were gravely suspect. So deep-rooted was this negative mentality among ‘social activists’ supposedly committed to the ‘oppressed’ that for a ‘progressive’ to discern anything positive about ‘the present system’ or Indic spirituality, for instance, was about the most serious anathema conceivable.
The hatred that often passed for ‘progressivism’ in ‘activist’ circles was truly astounding, and I fell lock-stock-and-barrel for it. One was trained only to look for the negative in every nook and corner, and, if it didn’t exist where one looked, to imagine and fervently believe that it did.
A great many folk from these very same ‘oppressed’ communities– Muslims, Dalits and such others–were also heavily into the business of ‘social activism’, supposedly on behalf of their own people. They, too, set up their NGOs, often with hefty financial aid from generous foreign patrons. They, too, enjoyed their all-paid-for trips and conferencing stints abroad, and many of them made sure that their own children had built comfortable nests for themselves in Europe or West Asia or even in America, which, like us, they never ceased to revile as the fundamental cause of global oppression.
It is passages like these that convinced me that Sikand’s admission is perhaps rooted in honesty (but I still retain my skepticism for reasons explained later). It’s said that your enemy knows you better than you know yourself. However, here’s an insider spilling all the filthy inside secrets, lending more weight to what was already known anyway—the illicit nexus of the activist-media-NGO-Church mafia: the same things about grants, foreign trips, etc. Yoginder Sikand just fills us in on the details.
In my beef-festival piece, I had mentioned that the Communists always pick on the weakest sections of the society and pit them against the rest. Apart from their grotesque ideology, this also stems from an important factor—Communists—and in general, the do-gooders, the bleeding hearts, the society-changers—have an incredible sense of self-righteousness, a fact that Sikand himself attests from his own experiences. They can simply admit to no wrong and anybody who argues with them is in need of help or must be put down. This sense of self-righteousness was present in Mohandas Gandhi—by no means a Communist—to an extreme degree. The worse his every strategy flopped against the British, the more obstinate he became, and the deafer he became to sage counsel. However, misguided he was, he did it with genuine and patriotic feeling unlike the Sikands of the world who did it too, with equally genuine feeling—only it was guided by a murderous ideology. The other distinguishing mark of extremely self-righteous people is the fact that most of them have no sense of humour. In Sikand’s words, this translates to:
It was as if there was nothing at all good in the world to celebrate, and even as if celebration and joy were themselves an ‘unnecessary diversion’ or a ‘unaffordable luxury’ that truly committed ‘activists’ had to carefully shun..
Yoginder Sikand mentions troubled childhood and an assorted litany of psychological problems that led him to become an activist and a rebel serving a destructive cause. Without belittling his personal problems, this refrain, I’m afraid, is all too familiar in the times we live in. It is called Playing the Victim, something that seems to have become the modern day equivalent of Alladin’s magic lamp. You rub that and all doors open: there’s always something, somebody, some other reason why your problems happened—if it’s not your parents, it’s the bully in the school or the cop who spanked you in public leading to lifelong mental trauma or your school teacher or your employer or your skin colour or your caste…every reason other than the simple fact that you need to take responsibility for your own problems. Whatever Sikand’s childhood troubles, they were his own and he needed to deal with them. Projecting them to the society results precisely in the kind of disaster that his confession makes so eloquently clear. His inability to deal with his personal problems and tragedies resulted in him inflicting blows on the country and its society. For a detailed explanation on how this works, read this. His mountainous fulminations against the “dreaded Hindutva,” his positions on Kashmir, his goading of the Dalits and the rest have resulted in immeasurable damage.
Activism as understood and practiced by Sikand his ilk follows precisely this formula: your life’s problems are because of somebody else and you’re a victim and therefore, that entitles you to all the goodies in life, free of cost throughout your life. Thus minorities and adivasis and dalits and every other similar group in Sikand & Co’s eyes deserve entitlement, not upliftment. Activists like Yoginder Sikand do not preach the value of cultivating one’s character, developing a work ethic and the rest but egg them on in the direction of entitlement.
And despite this confession, there’s still an element that makes you doubt him. Exhibit 47:
The very same folks who egged you on to write about their problems and to take the Hindutva beast by its horns (for they were either too scared to do it themselves or didn’t have the same writing skills or the same access to the English media)
The words in brackets are a big lie and Sikand cannot be excused of being naïve or ignorant because he knows the kind of clout his (former?) activist gang wields over the media. The Harsh Manders, the Teestas, and the Genocide Suzies of the world have on-demand access to media. These “very same folks” are his friends/fellow-travellers and knowing how incestuous their world is, a friendly word to Sikand is all it takes to get them access to any media anywhere in India. Why, Sikand could himself ghost write for them—remember “Walk the Queen Talk with Sonia” that Shekhar Gupta did where practically every question and answer was scripted? But habits die hard and besides, Sikand comes up with a redemptory line of sorts:
I had to admit that ‘minorities’ were often as guilty of it, in their own ways (such as victimising women and other minorities within their own communities) as were ‘majorities’, and that no community had a monopoly over virtue or vice.
And it took 27 years for Sikand to reach this commonsense conclusion (he became a revolutionary at 18 and he’s 45 now). Self-righteousness does that to you. However, better late than never. And so, Yoginder Sikand’s preferred approach to fully cure himself of this delusion is as comical as it is farcical.
I decided that there was nothing more that I wanted or needed now than to lead the rest of my life watching the clouds gently pass by and smiling at the birds chirping high up in the trees. That was how my ‘inner’ revolution was going to happen…
You’d almost think he’s the Communists’ answer to Angulimala. It’s like he’s chalked out a poetic plan to redeem himself. Be one with nature. Discover your inner self. Help ever, hurt never….All this after doing what? After decades of relentlessly inflicting major damage on the cherished heritage & traditions held by other people, after pitting the society against itself, after “speaking up” for the “rights” of Kashmiri separatists. What kind of penance is this, even?
If Sikand truly feels remorseful about his self-admitted hate-motivated activism, he needs to return the money he had taken to further this activism. All of it. Giving up a bad habit means ridding everything associated with it no matter the cost, no matter the consequences. That’s what Angulimala did. And died a saint. Will Sikand’s late realization undo the damage his writings and activism, over 20 years, did? Will he go back and apologize to every group or person that was hurt as a result of his hate-filled activism? What about those who were permanently displaced because Sikand justified an evil act by clothing it in the Tuxedo of Victimhood? Will he relinquish his Muslim identity and return to the Hindu fold as an “upper caste (sic)” Hindu? (As he himself says, he won’t because he considers himself a skeptic. Pretty convenient.) Will he now condemn the ideology that so blinded and deluded him? Will he offer an unconditional apology to all those oppressed groups he misled? Apparently, the clouds gently passing by and the birds chirping high up in the trees is a more agreeable alternative.
Postscript: Ever since this piece was published, his opponents went soft in the heart. These are the usual suspects—the hordes of well-meaning but naïve, heedless and idiotic Hindus who he has so monumentally hurt—had tears in their eyes. I scoured at least 12 different forums and innumerable blogs and articles. The responses ranged from unconditional and instant forgiveness to “ah! good, he realized finally!” Nobody ever thought why Countercurrents allowed to run his piece in the first place. Not just this. He followed it up with another piece where he describes his dabbling in various religions, a la Augustine who fought with the temptations of the accursed flesh. Accuse me of being a conspiracy theorist but better a conspiracy theorist of my sort than getting my butt bitten when Sikand’s delusion strikes him again.