Ashis Nandy lives in and endorses a world where an open call for murder is termed as a diplomatic communication and an expression of grievance becomes an act of extremism. But that isn’t all. Anything that Hindus do to assert their self-respect, to hold their heads high, to get educated, to attain a respectable standard of living, to lead a prosperous life, to adhere to their cultural and religious traditions…every single thing becomes an expression of militancy that somehow threatens what he calls “Hinduism versus Hindutva.”
However, Ashis Nandy reserves special hatred for middle class Hindus. More specifically, his militant ire gushes furiously forth towards prosperous middle class Hindus. The largest concentration of this class in India is in the state of Gujarat. Also, majority of Hindus who have migrated abroad have done exceedingly well for themselves. Needless, Nandy doesn’t spare them either.
Gujarati middle class Hindus are prosperous because—and apart from their entrepreneurial spirit—they have steadfastly adhered to millennia-old Hindu values of thrift, hard work, strong family ties, trust, a sense of community as a binding force, and religious traditions that help constantly reinforce these values. Thus, no matter what government ruled Gujarat after Independence, Gujaratis as a class of people thrived not just in India but wherever they went in the world. This success was despite the successive Congress governments who sought to and split Gujarati society along caste and communal lines. However, what Narendra Modi did was to tap into these values, articulate them forcefully, and to make Gujaratis realize that these were things meant to be proud of. His articulation was caste and community neutral—when was the last time you heard Narendra Modi seek electoral mandate on caste lines? Modi supporters across the nation—and across the world—support him not because he belongs to X or Y caste in Gujarat. His articulation didn’t remain merely on paper or on the dais: they emerged in the form of a complete, positive transformation of the face of Gujarat in pretty much every sphere of human activity.
And it is why Ashis Nandy’s visceral hatred for him is unparalleled. Equally, it exposes Nandy as a racist par excellence.
Ashis Nandy’s tirade against Narendra Modi began—sigh—with the 2002 Gujarat riots when he wrote a venomous piece entitled Obituary of a Culture. That essay is a study in racist filth presented as social and political commentary. When he wrote that, Gujarat was still in the throes of riots, and Modi hadn’t completed even a year in office and thus had no track record either as a Chief Minister or even a politician of any sort. But because the riots happened when he was the Chief Minister, the scavengers of human misery already declared him guilty and began executing reckless hit jobs on him. However, because they knew nothing about him, they had to find something that tied the riots to him. In Ashis Nandy’s case, this something happened to be the dreaded Gujarati Hindu middle class. Dreaded because they were prosperous Hindus. Thus, Ashis Nandy begins his poisonous piece with ethnic genocides in—of all places Bosnia and Rwanda. Surprising isn’t it? It actually isn’t.
THE massive carnages at Rwanda and Bosnia have taught the students of genocide that the most venomous, brutal killings and atrocities take place when the two communities involved are not distant strangers, but close to each other culturally and socially, and when their lives intersect at many points. When nearness sours or explodes it releases strange, fearsome demons.
Those shocked by the bestial or barbaric nature of the communal violence in Gujarat would do well to read some accounts of the carnages in Rwanda and Bosnia. In both cases, the two communities involved were close to each other and ethnic cleansing took the forms of a particularly brutal, self-destructive exorcism. And the same thing happened during the great Partition killings in 1946-48.
It isn’t surprising that Ashis Nandy opens his piece with the Rwandan genocide. On the contrary, it is entirely logical because the genocide in Rwanda was the brutal culmination of centuries-long brainwashing of Rwanda’s tribes by racist European scholars whose toxic input was used by the Church to pit these tribes against one another (Recommended reading: the section in Rajiv Malhotra’s masterly Breaking India that provides an exhaustive account of this racist brainwashing process.). It also fits Nandy’s lopsided worldview with regard to the Partition massacres: that too, was the culmination of Jinnah’s virulent two-nation “theory,” which the likes of Nandy conveniently blame on Hindus.
From Rwanda, Nandy takes a flight straight to Gujarat and embarks on yarn-spinning on an industrial scale.
Gujarat was being prepared for such an exorcism for a very long time…It is a state that has seen thirty-three years of continuous rioting interrupted with periods of tense, uncomfortable peace. During these years, a sizeable section of Gujarat’s urban underclass has begun to see communalism and rioting as means of livelihood, quick profit, choice entertainment, and as a way of life.
Nandy, not even by mistake mentions that these “33 years of continuous rioting (sic)” all happened under successive Congress governments. The impression that this “33 years of continuous rioting (sic)” gives is unmistakable: that Gujarat has always been a violent state. He blames the RSS and VHP for the 1969 riots when the truth is completely different but then truth rarely gets in the way of Nandy’s psychoanalyst propaganda. Here’s an immediate example:
Rioting everywhere is pre-eminently an urban disease. Demographers of riots – from Gopal Krishna to Asghar Ali Engineer, and from P.R. Rajgopalan to Ashutosh Varshney – have shown repeatedly that it is even more so in India.
Really? How “urban” were all those places torn by riots in the wake of the Babri Masjid demolition? How urban were those places in Assam that were engulfed in riots in 1983 under Indira Gandhi’s watch? But such considerations don’t matter to Nandy because his propaganda wants to “prove” that
…the urban middle class in Gujarat is now the most communalised in the country; it has become an active abetter and motivator of communal violence. Sections of it participate in the loot enthusiastically…those that do not often participate in the violence vicariously.
Beginning here, Nandy indulges in an extended orgy of racism against Gujarati Hindus. He does reserve an iota of his racism against Kashmiri and Bengalis Hindus as well.
For the last hundred years or so, the so-called non-martial races of the subcontinent – Bengali babus, Kashmiri Muslims and Gujarati upper castes, for instance – have had a special fascination for violence, particularly if someone else was doing the fighting and risking their lives.
But he singles out Gujarati middle class Hindus because it is after all a hit job on Narendra Modi. Here are some selected racial abuses he heaps on them. They’re plain abuses because Nandy doesn’t provide a single fact to back them up.
- …Gujarat is now a classic instance of the urban-industrial vision, decomposing and spitting out in a blatant form the violence that the vision has always hidden in its belly.
- The state has not only been riot-prone but at war with itself.
- …available data show that riots last longer in Gujarat than in other states – it would be at best a temporary truce. Tension and hatred will persist and both sides will remain prepared for the next round. Gujarat is and will continue to be an arena of civil war for years—This is really the icing in Nandy’s textual venom. Nandy says “available data” but he cites nothing. It’s been 10 years since the riots and Gujarat is the only state where not even a minor communal skirmish has occurred. Will Nandy come out in the open and apologize for this uncalled for prediction? Or does he want riots to occur in Gujarat?
- But this is probably for the first time after the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 that the entire state machinery, except for some courageous dissenters among the administrators and in the law-and-order machinery, has turned against the minorities.
- Gujarat disowned Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi long ago. The state’s political soul has been won over by his killers. This time they have not only assassinated him again, they have danced on his dead body, howling with delight and mouthing obscenities. The Gandhians, in response, took out some ineffective peace processions, when they should have taken a public position against the regime and the Nazi Gauleiter ruling Gujarat.
After thus building up his “premise” with racial abuse, Nandy begins to demonise Narendra Modi. Here, he lets his imagination run really wild. His slurs against Modi are as relentless as they’re macabre—all in the name of “informed” commentary. It’s futile to dissect them but it’s good to know of the kind of wretchedness Nandy’s mind is capable of.
Almost nothing reveals the decline and degeneration of Gujarati middle class culture more than its present Chief Minister, Narendra Modi. Not only has he shamelessly presided over the riots and acted as the chief patron of rioting gangs, the vulgarities of his utterances have been a slur on civilised public life. His justifications of the riots, too, sound uncannily like that of Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian president and mass murderer who is now facing trial for his crimes against humanity….More than a decade ago, when Narendra Modi was a nobody, a small-time RSS pracharak….I had the privilege of interviewing him…but it left me in no doubt that here was a classic, clinical case of a fascist…I came out of the interview shaken and told Yagnik that, for the first time, I had met a textbook case of a fascist and a prospective killer, perhaps even a future mass murderer.
This piece among others, is what the miners and sappers of human misery rely upon on prime time TV, newspapers, NGO and activist publications to abuse Modi at will. This piece is what Nandy himself relies upon when he emits noxious stuff about Modi in Outlook. Psychobabblers like Nandy serve an important but evil function. Your regular newspaper reporter, editor, and oped writer will typically think twice before applying labels like fascist, ethnic cleanser, and mass murderer. People like Ashis Nandy with fancy alphabets suffixed to their names and the respectability that it gives them, supply these slanderous arsenals by couching them in academese. And so Ashis Nandy calls Modi a mass murderer and a fascist, and then an editor quotes him as such, and then some other columnist quotes this editor and then, this columnist is himself quoted by say SAHMAT, and so it goes.
The voices of these professional slanderers have grown faint over the years thanks to the judicial system, and to Modi’s achievements, which are too enormous to ignore. However, people like Ashis Nandy continue to persist. Even Nandy who abused him in the filthiest of terms now finds himself content to ask Modi to repent—although the reference to Nazis remain intact, its edge has been greatly blunted.
Ten years have passed. Those who are still talking about the Gujarat riots today (read: those who still hold Modi guilty) are those who stand most to lose if the riots cases come to a closure. Ashis Nandy happens to be one of them. As for Modi, he’s already proved his mettle as a superb administrator who continues to deliver effective governance, is non-corrupt and has won election after election based on the strength of his performance. Which is also a cause for Ashis Nandy’s angst: Modi doesn’t need the endorsement of phony intellectuals like him because his support comes directly from people cutting across national borders. Which is why Ashis Nandy’s twisted psychoanalyst mind hates all those people who support and endorse Modi.
Which is also why I said he needs treatment pronto. I’m willing to fund it. I heard good things about NIMHANS.