Dear Sagarika Ghose,
I read your article on Times where you have written about the various virtues of being a liberal, how the Bhakti movement also preached liberalism and also spoke about MK Gandhi, supposedly the greatest patriot amongst us, also being a staunch proponent of liberalism. Being liberal is no doubt a good quality to have and a vibrant, liberal, democratic nation can achieve a lot of success. You argue that today, the proponents of right-of-center nationalist politics are now a threat to the concept of a liberal democracy in India.
However, you fail to understand the basic difference between a liberal and what we call a pseudo liberal. A liberal is one who, even if he or she has a strong view on a particular thing, accepts the fact that others around him may have an entirely different view. In all circumstances, he or she respects the other person and also the difference in opinion, thereby resulting in debates and banter, but peaceful co-existence.
‘To each his own’ is what a true liberal believes in.
A pseudo liberal is one, who tries his best to portray that he is a liberal and a free thinker, but deep inside, he is anything but a liberal. As long as people agree with him, it’s all fine, but the moment one does not agree with him, that person becomes an object of ridicule and in the Indian context is often called a troll or a bhakt. ‘My way or highway’ is actually what a pseudo liberal believes in. Also, the level of liberalism of a pseudo liberal depends a lot on external factors like religion, caste, political party and so on.
Needless to say, you Sagarika Ghose and your ilk belong to the second category in my honest opinion.
There are a lot of reasons for me having this view. I strongly feel that you become a liberal only when it concerns the beliefs and sentiments of the Hindus, but choose to look the other way when it comes to Muslims.
On Holi, your love and concern for farmers in drought hit areas show up and you start talking about water conservation. But on Bakrid, when millions of goats are mercilessly slaughtered owing to an archaic practice, you choose to look the other way and say that although killing of animals is morally wrong, there is no law for the same. As most Hindus, I do not support cow slaughter and want laws enacted on that, but at the same time, I do not support the gau rakshaks and believe that they must be punished strongly. But liberals like you blindly assume that all right wingers are gau rakshaks or support the actions of gau rakshaks.
I do appreciate your strong stand on the Triple Talaq issue, but there are many so-called liberals in the country, who have either not taken a stand on this or have suggested that law should not come in the way of Islamic faith.
You have repeatedly said that Hindutva is not the same as Hinduism and Hindutva is actually harmful for Hinduism. The term ‘Hindutva’ was coined by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, who clearly mentioned that Hindutva is an inclusive term of everything Indic. So essentially, Hinduism is a fraction of Hindutva.
According to Hindutva, the natives of India share a common culture, history and ancestry. This does not mean that Hindutva prohibits Indians from practicing Islam or Christianity. For all your tough talk on Hindutva, do you have the guts to admit that most terror attacks in the world are caused by radical Islamists? At that time, you preach the oft heard rhetoric of terror not having a religion. Recently, after some stray incidents of violence (most of them not communal in nature), you posted a rather provocative tweet saying Muslims in India are being killed and the government must do something about it.
You later deleted your tweet after Madhu Kishwar threatened to file a police complaint. Please do not spread lies that have the potential to create communal riots. There have been many instances of Hindus being killed by Muslims and communists (especially in Kerala), but I’ve not seen a single tweet from the liberals on this. This is nothing but double standards.
The reality is that minorities in India are as safe as the majority community and in fact, have far more privileges and have been pampered since independence. Do not try hard to prove that Muslims in India are unsafe. If anything, there was ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits from their own home and at that time, the liberals did not utter a word.
When it comes to Kashmir, you liberals have been extremely critical of the use of pellet guns by the army personnel and also the recent act of Major Gogoi in using the human shield, but you fail to the see other side. Stone pelters in Kashmir, sponsored by people like Geelani and Asiya Andrabi, who are in turn sponsored by Hafiz Sayed and the ISI, have made life difficult and dangerous for the Indian army.
Why do the liberals only talk about human rights of the peaceful stone pelters? Why should the government of India have any dialogue with the Hurriyat?
Kashmir was and is an integral part of India. The terrorist and rogue state of Pakistan has failed to act against Hafiz Sayed, Maulana Masood Azhar and many other terrorists and hence, Pakistan does not have a special place in our hearts like you liberals do and I do not see anything wrong in that. Any amount of love for one’s motherland is not too much and there is nothing known as hyper nationalism.
Take the daily wars that go on in social media. I do agree that certain members belonging to the right wing have been indecent in their interactions with you and other liberals. But the same is true with the other side also. Your ardent fan Shehla Rashid, abusive journalist Swati Chaturvedi, Rana Ayyub, Tehseen Poonawala, Sanjukta Basu and many others have not exactly been decent in their interactions.
For that matter, you cannot deny that even Rajdeep Sardesai has abused people on Twitter and has also unleashed his boxing skills. So why do liberals take the moral high ground and project that they are always at the receiving end of abuses? Freedom of
Expression should be uniform for everyone concerned and should not be restricted to the liberals alone. In your article, you spoke about Perumal Murugan and so-called rationalists like Kalburgi, but what about Kamlesh Tiwari, who is in jail or making a statement on Prophet Mohammed? Is he not entitled to Freedom of Expression? Why don’t you speak up for him?
Let us come to political inclinations. It’s a known fact that liberals like you hate BJP and PM Modi from the bottom of your heart. There is nothing wrong in that. We hate Congress and the left as much as you hate the BJP and we all have our leanings. Constructive criticism of the government is an essential part of democracy and will only help in generation of new ideas. But your blind hatred for PM Modi is resulting in unreasonable criticism and blaming Modi for anything and everything and when someone points this out, he is immediately termed a Bhakt. Please get it clear that Modi Bhakti is not the same as nationalism as it is made out to be.
To conclude, there is no GARV in being a pseudo liberal and one must only feel SHARAM for distorting facts, looking at everything from a communal prism, always speaking against one community, harboring so much hate for the Prime Minister and his party that makes you go against your own country by supporting pro-azadi stone pelters and so on.
A right-wing nationalist