Modern education may well prove to be the greatest challenge facing Indian civilization today.
I’m not talking about India’s eminent intellectuals. Enough ink has been spilt on decrying their intellectual stupidity over the past many decades- and yet, for various reasons, their reign over India’s institutions remains secure as ever. Further, I doubt any further condemnation of their ilk by a non-name writer in TFI would matter- especially when the efforts of people like Arun Shourie, Rajiv Malhotra, and S Swamy have come to nought.
Neither am I talking about the sophisticated, English-speaking, Starbucks-frequenting Liberal youth of urban India. Such people have been a fixture in society since the beginning of time- be it within India or abroad. In the UK, Richard Gott- once literary editor of the Guardian- once had to resign in disgrace for taking Soviet money, an affair that did his career unsurprisingly little harm. And why not? Gott was an eminent intellectual- much in the Indian vein- and he had never come across a communist people’s champion tyrant he didn’t like- be it Che Guevara (toast of hip young Indians in metros) or Hugo Chavez (will-be-toast of hip young Indians in metros in a few years).
The inconvenient fact that both led their societies to ruin never mattered to this English idiot. His Indian kin have learnt- or rather, failed to learn- anything from such incidents. ‘Convenient idiots’ have always figured prominently in Marxist thought but as Einstein once said, Human stupidity is as infinite as the Universe. Little sense in combatting the infinite and the droll.
No, today we will be talking about the second best thing Liberals have to Marx’s literary drivel- the scepter of Islamic Jihad.
It is common these days to hear Liberals cry about the oppressive Indian state and how fascist illiterate Hindus are driving young Muslim kids into violence and jihad by denying them opportunities and education. The Sachar report was expressively profuse in its condemnation of the Indian State in this regard. The reasoning goes that Education frees the mind from superstition and ignorance (never mind that Newton, Udayana, or Al Ghazali would eat the modern Dawkins-reading genius for breakfast). The idea is that the joys of modern civilization would seduce the would-be young Islamist into… what exactly?
Let’s be honest- human beings, despite our veneer of civilization, are little changed from the savages who ran about in forests six thousand years ago. Evolution just hasn’t progressed far enough to elevate the species into nirvana. For all practical purposes, the ‘joys’ Liberals describe when they’re trying to tempt the would-be young Islamists into joining their ranks are- in no particular order- wine, drugs, tobacco, and sex. And Starbucks. Can’t forget the over-priced, over-sweetened liquid diabetes.
The bright boys who carried out last month’s attack in Bangladesh were all English-speaking, Starbucks-sipping young kids- much in the liberal mould. The terrorist who carried out the Nice attacks in France (in case readers don’t remember Nice, it was the one with the picture of the little girl who’d been half turned into blood-soaked jelly. For some reason, that pic never became as popular as the one with the drowned Kurdish kid) was a man named Mohammad Lahoueiej, known for a long history of wining, dining, womanizing, and snorting. The legendary Mohammad Atta himself spent his last few nights in debauchery and sin. Readers might contest that Kasab was from some random Pakistani slum- but Kasab was never more than a puppet. The puppet-masters, very likely high-ranking Pakistani army and intelligence officials, are surely part of the indulgent upper crust that typifies Pakistani military.
Much has been said about what might cause such ‘quick’ radicalization of these degenerate soft urban Muslim kids. Where they moved by the plight of their fellow brethren in Syria and Kashmir? Did the sorry state of Afghanistan- with infant mortality rates challenging those in sub-Saharan Africa- move them to violence? Did the atrocities committed by the IDF upon the Palestinians move them to violence?
Just kidding. It’s all Modi’s fault.
Jokes aside, the inability to coincide the two worlds these young Muslim kids traversed- that of Liberal hedonism and of Islamic fanaticism- confuses many. No wonder every such terrorist attack is followed by a plethora of conspiracy theories featuring Modi, RAW, Modi, Israel, Modi, CIA…
Ancient philosophers across the World prescribed hardship and frugality for one’s childhood- especially boy. In India, the Brahmacharya phase was supposed to be spent in servitude to one’s teachers and poverty in order to build up moral fibre. In China, Confucianist teachings held that while it was good for girls to grow in wealth so that they would learn delicacy and culture, it was imperative that boys be brought up in hardship so that they would learn discipline and control. In the West, apprenticeships pf young boys were long, demanding, and brutal. Everywhere there is one simple teaching- Hardship builds Character. Character shows the World for what it truly is. In absence of such character-building, the youth easily falls into hedonism which leads to moral emptiness. Some might manage to piece out their lives out of this degenerate spiritual morass by themselves- but some can’t. Therefore:-
- They feel hatred for the society that led them into this ‘wrong’ direction.
- They feel hatred for the civilizations which tolerate such ‘sinful’ ideas- an idea borne out by the Koran as well with tis disdain for un-Islamic cultures.
- They feel hatred for their own past and their choices that led them into this ‘wrong’ direction- a very nihilistic point of view.
- They feel that unless they repent for their sins ‘now’, they might slide back into the ‘wrong’ again.
- Since the easiest wat of ‘earning’ martyrdom is go down attacking Islam’s enemies- identified here as every non-Muslim around, is it any surprise that they take such a route?
Old cultures, traditions, religions might be much derided by modern liberals – but one thing is certain. The very fact that these old cultures, religions, traditions etc have survived so long is because they have fulfilled a vital need for society in general. Their destruction can have catastrophic consequences precisely for this reason. Confucianist thinking led to the resilience of then Chinese civilizations. The introduction of Christianity sounded the death-kneel of the pagan Roman World. The decline of the Soviet Union started the minute the myth of Stalinism was broken by Khrushchev.
Traditions are meant to be honoured- because they are the voice of our ancestors.
When Liberals deride such traditions, they reject the simple truth that these traditions are the very reason Civilizations have survived for so long. Survival is a question of cooperation. Nihilism, that of Hedonism. When modern liberals chose Hedonism over Tradition, they took the path of Nihilism over Survival.
And given that so many young Muslim men do nothing but ape Liberals half their life and repent in a Salafist mosque the rest, is it any surprise that they take such nihilistic routes to death and mayhem? After all, if ignorance and deprivation lead to suicide bombing, why aren’t Oriyas like me or Biharis or Andaman islanders- the most poverty-stricken groups in India today- blowing themselves up in the metros?
It is no surprise that ISIS is so full of foreign fighters from all over the World and so few from Syria proper. It is no surprise that the stark utilitarian Wahhabi mosques rising all over India have so little in common with the heavily ornamented, beautifully designed Indian mosques. It is no surprise that the majority of suicide bombers the World over are educated young men. The local illiterate Muslim would balk at the idea of destroying graves of ancestral figures and Islamic saints. Salafism holds the construction of tombs as ‘unislamic’. The local illiterate Muslim has little time and energy for roohani ideas like Ghazwa-e-Hind. Salafism is nothing but roohani ideas like Ghazwa-e-Hind. The three major Islamic nations that have proved most resilient to the siren call of Salafism are Turkey, Iran, and Indonesia- all of which disdain globalism and pride themselves on their ancestors’ deeds. Out of them, it is Iran whose citizens have proved least willing to enter suicidal terrorism. This is not unexpected; Shias hold ancestral regard and force of tradition as far more important than Salafists do- and thus we find groups like Hezbollah are far more akin to traditional armies than Sunni groups like Hamas are.
So what can we in India do about this?
To continue in the line I have already discussed- the rejection of modern intellectualism, there is little need for us to think- since the ancient philosophers and our noble ancestors have already done the job for us.
Modern education- which stresses on Western-oriented learning of frivolities (Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the Cell, anyone?) instead of character-building concepts like logic and history- is a terrible idea, far inferior to Asiatic systems. Foreign institutions should be suppressed in their entirety- even NGOs. Especially NGOs (the Modi government has had a good start in this but implementation remains patchy- as anyone in the Christian belts of Andhra Pradesh can tell you). Non-Salafist schools of Islamic jurisprudence should be promoted- though given the long establishment of pan-Indian Muslim boards, this is pretty much a lost cause. The only remaining viable option is History- where ethnic and racial narratives should be stressed upon far more than religious ones.
In an earlier article, the importance of cultural warfare among Nations has been stressed upon. The Indian republic is, arguably, the freest country there is for Muslims- unlike Pakistan where Ahmadiyas and Shias are persona-non-grata or even in Lebanon where sectarian war hasn’t ended in decades or Saudi Arabia which routinely destroys non-Wahhabi mosques and stones raped women.
The purpose of education is to prepare children to be part of society- and the prevailing narrative modern liberal education teaches Indian kids is hatred for Indian civilization.
Good luck convincing the eminent intellectuals to sign off something like this though. As I’ve already said- Arun Shourie himself accomplished little in the face of such entrenched intellectualism.
All this is, by no means, a complete solution. It targets only a single form of Islamic jihad- that of the active Salafist variety. The sceptre of demographic jihad- as was seen in Lebanon and is being seen in Kerala- would hardly be affected by such top-down efforts. The sole solution that exists for Islamism is as simple as it is quixotic- its utter rejection by Muslims in favour of a pan-Indic civilizational ethos, much like the ones recommended by Dara Shikoh or APJ Abdul Kalam. Of course, the latter has recently been described as an apostate by certain Islamic groups within the country- but I’m sure the eminent intellectuals will have an explanation for this as well.
Little hope of any of this coming to pass though. The martyr Bhagat Singh once said that if the deaf are to hear, the sound has to be very loud. Unfortunately, this advice is useless when the latter is merely pretending to be deaf.