You made me “right”!
The renaissance of identity
By now, the elections in India have passed , the results dissected and the western media have thrown out their usual monochromatic point of views in the rise of right wing nationalism. In reality though, Modi is riding a wave of aspirations reposed on him by the common man. The focus is now on the ministry that he will set up to translate these aspirations to actual economic development and growth.
But this story is not about Modi, there are a million articles explaining the mandate, hailing it and deriding it. In western media, far removed from the myriad complexities of Indian sub continent, there are also articles mongering fear. They see it as a vindication of the trend they see around the world in what they have termed as the rise of “elected autocrats”.
However in India, most people see it as a destruction of entitlement, establishment and routing of the elitism — in other words “weeding out the colonial hang over”. Analysts and media pundits, in the past, always created a narrative that bordered on acceptance of India as seen by the west . In their over-zealousness to be politically correct, they created a discord in Indian voters along religious, ethnographic and caste lines. Populations became vote banks and people became majorities , minorities, Dravidian or Dalit. Over time this diluted the ability to create a personal identity among the diverse Indian diaspora and political correctness prevented any association with an identity that was majoritarian in nature.
But India endured. India’s identity did not begin with Independence 70 years ago. It goes back a long way, and is a story of assimilation and invasion, of both religion and land. And today’s generation, with social media in their finger tips, is seeking to establish an identity for themselves that has not been handed out to them from school text books. An identity that they can resonate with — based on them analyzing the historical context beyond the borders of established narratives. An identity that they can wear on their sleeve without being questioned on their political correctness. And in seeking out this identity, history is being tried and re-interpreted, old heroes and forgotten warriors are put on trial causing political correctness to be thrown out of the window. And the very pursuit of this identity has caused the emergence of a growing faction that liberals deem “right”.
Is this new identity wrong ?
Let us begin by asking , when did this pendulum swing right, if not for the forces that held it left for so long? If you push too hard to the left, a pendulum will swing back to the right with equal vigor.
I quoted in the title a famous Malayalam play from the 1950's that turned the political landscape of the Southern State of Kerala , upside down. The play titled “Ningal ennae communist aaki” (translated as “You made me a communist”) justified Kerala’s tryst and turn towards leftist ideology bringing in the much needed land reforms to a society that had one of the highest oppression. Similarly, the political correctness , the holier than thou attitude of traditional news makers, the division of the society in terms of minority and majority , creation of specific policies to appease a certain section of voters — have all led to the pendulum swinging left “liberally” in the past years. And it is now correcting itself by its turn towards the right, in its quest for equilibrium. Therefore this journey of the population to the right was not alone. It was aided a lot by the liberal forces who brought inefficiency by encouraging nepotism and creating sycophancy in return for their personal growth, leaving meritocracy to bite the dust.
For example, the grand old party, Congress, which ruled for more than 50 of the 70 years post Independence was the mantle of one family, that traces its root back to Independence. The scions of Nehru, the first prime minister of India, were re-branded as Gandhi , to associate them with the father of nation and have tried to lead the country one after another. Any other leader who tried to show their strength was silently shunted out and only those who showed unopposed loyalty to the government were retained. This caused several high performing leaders to split away , thus eroding talent. People like Mamata in West Bengal, Jegan in Andhra Pradesh, Moopanar in Tamil Nadu, Pawar in Maharashtra and Biju Pattanaik in Orissa, all split with the national Congress party and floated their own regional ones and each grew from strength to strength and in some cases wiped out the presence of parent Congress from their state and captured power.
But still the media and elitist powers to-be did not abandon their campaign to foist the newest scion of Congress, Rahul Gandhi, as the Savior and president. And the tool they used to justify this vote was to induce fear among minority. Not development, for much of where the party ruled lay poor (Rahul Gandhi’s very own constituency Amethi is an ideal example), not hope, for much of the candidates vying for key ministries were sons of prior ministers and corrupt. They wanted the vote in the name of the martyrdom of the family ancestors and the brand name of Gandhi. They wanted votes in the name of history that began and ended with Independence movement, forgetting names of many others whose sacrifices were no lesser if not greater.
And then came the religious polarization in terms of appeasement under the garb of “Secularism”. Wearing ash on forehead was mocked as religious symbolism , fasting for Ekadashi ( a Hindu spiritual day once a fortnight) was considered regressive and Sanskrit education was considered as propagating Hindutva ideology. Even chanting the Independence war cry, Vande Mataram became debatable due to the Sanskrit etymology and an alternate Jai Hind in more “neutral” Hindi was considered secular. Bhagavad Gita quotes became sacrosanct if recited by Oppenheimer but provoked communal undertones if used in the parliament. We needed the West to tell us what our narrative is and the narrative needed to not upset the minority population, lest the votes be lost. But India still endured and the 2019 election outcome was the ringing endorsement that there are limits to any endurance.
Yes my readers, this journey to the right was aided by the liberals, stepped far too much in the western media, forgetting the emotions of the people who still believed and continue to believe in their traditional roots and regional identity. So, just like the last words of the old man in the epic social drama that lamented of an unjust brutal regime and blamed the society for making him the communist, I end this by saying: if the society today is swinging right, or my views are entitled right, then , it is “YOU who made ME right”