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Indian intellectuals: A failure to lead

india Updated: Aug 09, 2006 20:55 IST
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The intellectual community is supposed to be the "friend, philosopher and guide" to the nation. Endowed with superior intellect, the nation looks up to this body of individuals to provide an incisive and accurate analysis of crucial events that aid the betterment of the nation. But like the kitten that finds itself entangled in a bundle of wool and is unable to extricate itself, our intelligentsia lies trapped in a psychological quagmire of its own making unable to perform any useful function.

Dictated by narrow ideologies in lieu of factual evidence, it is a confused body that is incapable of seeing the larger picture or defining the true destiny of the nation. In short, in the battle against terrorism, our intelligentsia has proved to be more of a distraction sometimes with a deliberate intent to misguide, as coverage of the Mumbai blasts indicate.

By their writings in editorials and columns of leading newspapers, these scribes, instead of presenting the nation with a meticulous exposition of the issue with possible solutions, have shown themselves to be ardent apologists for the terrorists supplying them with ample reasons to justify their ghastly attacks.               

Time and again, Gujarat 2002 has been held up as the sentinel event that is the genesis of terrorism in India. An editorial in the Indian Express (July 14) claimed: "The Gujarat riots of 2002 stoked deep-seated resentments in local Muslim communities that jihadi outfits - which earlier given much less quarter - could exploit for their own nefarious purposes."

Again holding communal riots to be the instigating factor Muzamil Jaleel in an op-ed in the same newspaper remarks: Chand Khan - the man who ferried fidayeens from South Kashmir to Akshardham - had told his interrogators in Srinagar that he joined the jihadi group only after Gujarat riots. Azam Ghauri's evolution in becoming one of India's most wanted militants has its roots in communal riots. According to the investigations, Ghauri - who had a Naxal past - was present at a meeting organised in Bhiwandi soon after communal violence had ripped it apart in 1985.          

Then there is Jalees Ansari - a doctor who was arrested in 1994. He decided to leave his job and plant bombs on December 6, 1992 - the day of the Babri demolition. Ansari joined the Tehreek-Islahul-Muslimeen (Movement for Reform among Muslims) - an extremist group founded in Mominpura (Mumbai) to "avenge communal violence against Muslims".

These conclusions are erroneous to say the least.

Firstly, to postulate a direct linear relationship between a perceived injustice or communal riots and terrorism is naive and simplistic. The Hindu relatives of the Godhra victims did not heed a call to terror.

Seething in a cauldron of injustice, deprivation and suppression, a potent recipe for terror, the internally displaced Kashmiri Hindus should have spawned numerous terror groups. Again that did not happen. 

Secondly, what sort of a warped logic is this, may I ask?

One wrong does not nullify another or mitigate the magnitude of a crime, period, let us be clear about that. This a precept that even the common man on the street understands, how it fails these so-called intellectuals I find it hard to comprehend.

If the ghost of Gujarat 2002 can be invoked to justify every subsequent terrorist act or the foray of Indian Muslims into terrorism, then by the same token, the slaughter at Noakhali or the carnage of Somnath can be used to rationalise not one but a hundred Gujarats.

Moreover, such a claim does not even conform to a logical sequence. The Kandahar hijacking and the sensational assault on our Parliament both preceded Gujarat 2002. Let us not make excuses for a crime that is innately evil.

In addition to propagating a cause and effect theory, these so-called intellectuals make every attempt to temper these savage acts by unjust comparisons and wilful distraction in order to alter public perception of these events.

An example of this is the lay of the op-ed page of the Indian Express dated July 25, 2006. In the centre of the article (an interview of KPS Gill by Shekhar Gupta on the Naxal threat) is an outsized image of KPS Gill, the security icon and archenemy of terrorists. But what is even more striking is the caption splashed boldly across entire page atop the picture: The only time I've slept badly in my life was in Gujarat. Just hearing the descriptions. Never before, never after.

How this headline is relevant to the topic of the interview, the Naxal threat escapes me, initially that is. A little thought makes the intention clearer. With the country still recovering from the Mumbai blasts just a week ago and the focus squarely on the Islamic community, how else do you deflect the scrutiny: Resurrect Gujarat 2002.

Naresh Fernandes, while writing in the New York Times on the topic of the Mumbai bomb blasts finds it imperative to pull in the "Hindu Shiv Sena" into the picture, never mind the irrelevance or the insignificance of the protest (no lives were lost) he highlights. He graphically comments: As we settled down to brunch on Sunday, our TV sets brought us the chilling sight of buses being ransacked and burnt across Mumbai by cadres of the Hindu nativist Shiv Sena party. They claimed that a statue of their leader's late wife had been vandalised and they were protesting in the only way they knew how.

Lacking the courage to target the real culprits or the acumen to perform a critical analysis, pseudo- intellectuals use these acts of terrorism to sermonise the Hindu community instead.

Sudheendra Kulkarni indicates (Indian Express, July 14): But 7/11 has a lesson for the Hindu community too. Quite often in the past, some Hindu organisations have fallen to the provocation. They too haven't done enough and honest enough, self-introspection. They think that Hindu fanaticism, which was responsible for the barbaric post-Godhra violence in Gujarat, is the answer to Muslim fanaticism. They routinely feed anti-Muslim prejudices, or at least condone those who do so. They know not the disservice they are doing to India, and to themselves.

Carefully dissect this excerpt to fully realise the undiluted hypocrisy and double standards that have become the hall mark of the Indian intellectual scene; an inspiring doctrine for continued Islamic terrorism in India.

The Gujarat riots are cited to justify Mumbai 7/11 but a similar correlation between Godhra (Hindu victims) and Gujarat 2002 escapes the writer. While the post-Godhra riots are described as barbaric, the Godhra incident, itself, in which 59 Hindu men, women and children were roasted alive to the taunts of a jeering mob, is conveniently overlooked: a deliberate attempt at obfuscation.

Coming back to the crux of the matter: you can crucify Modi for Gujarat 2002, you can pontificate endlessly on the non-existent bogey of Hindu fanaticism and claim perfidiously that Hindus were the first suicide bombers, or that other groups are equally guilty of such heinous crimes, but does any of this provide a solution to the problem? The answer is, no.

And therein lies the greatest failure of the Indian intelligentsia: a lack of clear thinking and an inability to lead.

Vivek Gumaste is our regular surfer and can be reached at gumastev@yahoo.com

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All views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the surfer and do not necessarily represent those of HindustanTimes.com.

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