Nandy versus the world: How I hate India (sometimes)

Ashis Nandy

Ashis Nandy, an ancient sociologist (born 1937…sweet lord), made an interesting statement during that grand durbar of pretension known as the Jaipur Literature Festival.

He said that the most corrupt in India were from the lower castes.

Uproar + media circus + “deeply hurt sentiments” + FIRs followed.  

Side note: How deeply were sentiments hurt in any case? Are we talking about “Staying awake at night, whiskey in one hand, picture of Nandy in another while silently weeping” hurt or “Going to throw myself of this roof” hurt?

Because this is India. Unless you are willing to murder yourself/the accused/neighbors/random stranger then whatever your hurt, it’s not deep enough.

Nandy was quick to clarify, re-clarify, re-re-clarify what he meant, which was a vague and confused explanation at best.

However, I do appreciate the man, since he was strong enough to say this –

“It is a non-bailable warrant I am told under this act. And, if at the age of 75, I am tried under the Atrocities Act and convicted, I will go to jail, I will not contest it. I will go to jail because I have worked for Dalits, OBCs and Adivasis for 45 years of my life, and I am not going to take this insult quietly, in the sense that I will oppose it and try to subvert it. I will go to jail,”

If saying “most of the corrupt are from the lower castes” means “the proletariat have learnt to exploit the wicked ways of their oppressors” then I may as well smash a cake stuffed with pages of ‘Das Kapital’ into my neighbor’s face and declare him a Marxist.

If you leave the crazy people aside, essentially there are two camps – those who don’t want to rock the boat by attacking one of their fellow intellectuals but still want to mildly scold him and those who want him jailed.

Open letter to those asking for his jailing:

Jailing a 75-year-old writer is the most logical and sensible step you can think of? Does it make you feel like big, big man?


The sane one

The most amusing camp has to be the one Muslim group (there is always one of them) who claimed he actually meant Muslims, in a hidden, underlying, James Bond-ish way. It was all a way to “tease” Muslims apparently. (I am not making that up.)

Maybe they were feeling left out because controversies in Jaipur are supposed to be a Muslim domain, ala Salman Rushdie.

The whole thing left me feeling all bitter.

I hate the fact that a random statement made by some old sociologist causes any reactions at all when politicians can practically call for murder and get away with it on the shoulders of thousands of cheering supporters.

I hate the police for bothering to investigate all of this.

What the fuck are they investigating? The man said it on camera. No one, least of all him, is denying he said it. Under pressure, he has already said he was sorry. What the fuck else is going to be the police’s bold and path-breaking contribution to this “case’?

Are they going to discover that actually there was secret ventriloquist crouched behind a grassy knoll somewhere and he was the actual culprit?

Sure, this they will investigate so thoroughly (even getting CDs of the event and summoning the organizers) but if I go to a station to say that a man just raped me with a horse, they will tell me to get lost.

I hate the fact that this man, who is old enough to be my grandfather and also old enough to be senile, must now fear that he may be arrested and sent to jail, because he has been charged with the Atrocities Act, a non-bailable charge. .

But why only hate the state when the rest of us are doing such a bang up job?

I hate the self-proclaimed intellectuals who have a vague uneasy feeling that Nandy might be wrong, but don’t dare break ranks in their wonderful circle-jerk to call him out on it.

I hate that people who criticize him always clarify “I am a good friend and he has the right to say what he wants”, as if fearing that in case their bland and barely-there criticisms do not have a disclaimer, then their Jaipur invites will be cancelled next year.

I hate his so-called ‘supporters’ who keep saying he said things right, he said the truth or he had ‘good intentions’ or whatever.

Here is something that common sense should tell you – corruption is not dependent on caste, creed, religion, gender or race. Everybody is corrupt. And how do you know his intentions? Did the two of you mind-meld before this day?

He is a ‘renowned’ writer, although many share my doubts about his writing. If he has intentions, he can share it himself. Your contribution about what he ‘meant’ is both unnecessary and ridiculous.

On a related note, I hate the fact that my country has thousands who claim to be intellectuals, but they apparently cannot articulate a thought that is even tangentially connected to reality or outside those happy bubbles they have blown up for themselves.

On the other hand, I also hate the way in which intellectuals always like to sound intellectual by first forming pre-defined, collectively agreed upon and sufficiently “liberal” definitions of castes, the oppressed and the poor and then change the narrative to fit that definition – a strategy that has the same effect on their perception of reality as three large whiskey’s and brick through their skulls.

I hate the fact that people who build giant statues of themselves and depend completely on the caste vote now have little tidbits like “this shows caste mentality“.

Well Jaipur is only a few hundred kilometers from Lucknow and Delhi, so I presume the “caste mentality” just bled in like the freeloaders. After all, monkey see, monkey do.

And whether it is by Nandy or a host of his supporters or even by the silly unrelated people with ten paisa opinions – I hate the smug satisfaction with which they always say, “This is how India is”.

No it doesn’t have to be this way you know. We don’t have to be corrupt, cruel, vindictive, racist bigots who make the lives of those below us miserable while licking the boots of our superiors, being certain of the superiority of an obviously flawed “Indian” culture and fantasizing of a wholly fictional golden past while busily turning the present and the future into so much sewage

We can be a country of good people. We can clean. We can be relatively uncorrupt. We can be forward-looking and innovative. We can be humans who live with dignity and we can truly respect everyone.

Don’t tell me this filthy mess is “India” because you are too intellectually lazy to conceive of a greater nation.

Speaking of lazy ass Indians and their pathetic translations of history and facts…

I hate the fact the there are people who think that “freedom of speech has limitations”. Well Sherlock, there is freedom and then there are limitations, which is it that our Constitution guarantees? (The original version mind you, not the one that you people have been happily adding amendments to like a drug addict taking hits for the past 40 years.)

I hate the idea that in India, artists and speakers must always do things that “unite us” because suddenly we have to be the glue that holds this nation together – since our leaders are apparently too corrupt, shortsighted and inept to do so.

I hate the claim that a people unashamed of their own actions, their leaders’ conduct, their repressive and regressive way of life, their corruption, their rule breaking, their baseless claims of honor and righteousness can be “insulted” at all by things like a film, a book or a speech.

Lastly and mostly I hate that an Indian asked this moronic question to Nandy on NDTV yesterday – why didn’t you stay to face the music?

In a silly panel in a silly festival Nandy made a silly point for which he has apologized.

The only “music” that is needed is a bugler playing the “Last post” to commemorate the death of our collective sanity.

Jai Hind!

3 thoughts on “Nandy versus the world: How I hate India (sometimes)”

  1. Ha ha! Someday I will like talk to you
    No really we have same beliefs though different views and I will like to say one the thing (people will consider me anti minority person) people make statues of person on every cross road rather make libraries He was pointing finger towards educated India
    They say believe in religion non violence why do always riots break and innocent suffer of both groups rather than accused
    Their so called leader of dalits represent poor people and wears crores and who does erect one’s own statues rather feeding poor
    Ok ypu could apologize to poor farmers whose land were taken and they were shot for asking it back by increasing reservation quota when they need only food to eat
    How does one represent poor when more than half of poor population doesn’t votes in that state
    And now fellow. Indians can hate cause hate is all we seen lately

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