Suddenly, thoughts rushed in my mind, had to wake up from sleep and write it down. This is a continuation of the argument which was used analyze the movie 'Rang de Basanti'. Since only the basic theme is the same, it would be unnecessary to dwelve into the issue of appreciation of the movie itself.
India, one of the most ancient of countries has been studied in great detail by foreigners and nowadays indians as well. Being indian, the subcontinental studies reflect their internality by showing particular biases. The only few indians I think have understood the essence viz. Sulman Rushdie, Amartya Sen (though not so much) and Gandhi are ironically now non-resident/ non-citizen indians or dead. (There is still Naipaul, but I haven't read any).
Understanding the country's present, past and future along with its tendencies, dynamics and stability has to start from study of its history thus the past. The history writing of the subcontinent when classified under western Vs indian shows remarkable simplicity and very clear lines of distinction. The schools of thought running in western history writing are aptly described by Sen. Indian writers are clearly classified under leftists and the rightists. Never has been history writing and interpretation so contradictory and at the same time based on the same set of facts.
Indian writers also possess a bad habit of claiming to know everything once they cross a certain threshold of intellectuality. Though this is majorly seen in the left, (the right being just a reaction to the same) eg. Thapar's essays on scientific progress in India, though she's a historian, Sen's essays on indian sociology, cast and religion, Kapil Sibbal's statements about history though he's a lawyer etc etc. I ain't suggesting that such kind of interdisciplenary studies should be discouraged, but pathetic mistakes in the same do suggest that a deeper, referenced study is required before claims are made in not-your-specialization field.
Each indian intellectual has two images of the country, one in his dream and one 'the present' and interestingly independant of the inclination of the person, the dream and the present are completely opposite and india is always in a need of a dramatic change. The left always thinks that hindus are killing muslims, the rich are fucking the poor and social injustice has reached a level where there is no hope from any political/social agency. While the right would claim that the hindus are not given their rights etc etc.
The common point and thus a fallacy (since the views are so conradictory to posses any commonality) I think exists in these and many other directions to study the country is the oversimplification of the facts. The history of India has been such a mess in terms of variety in events that clever dropping and stressing of the same can logically lead to compltetely opposite conclusions. The different schools existing in indian writing exactly do the same.
The algorithm as I find it, involves in the first step to fit the past in a very crude, exagerated and erroneously simple model, the second stage involves explaining the present based on this distorted past, this step thus successfully proves that the dream india is compltely opposite of the present india. The third propogandist step becomes obvious which claims the superiority of the school to which the writer belongs and thus presenting a solution OR ending on a pessimistic note. Since this is a very strong claim, I find it neccessary to provide atleast some reference. I'll mention a case study on the very famous 'hindu-muslim' conflict. Trying to find structural similarities in the arguments by the leftists (here: CPI/JNU) and the rightists (here: BJP/VHP/ShivSena/RSS et. al)
The aim is to prove that hindu and muslims didn't fight each other over religion, all the conflicts were for power. The writer would begin with analyzing Allauddin Khilji, he'll mention his achievements like footpaths/currency etc. For the sake of completion, he'll also mention his iconoclastic nature. At the same time, the writer won't forget to mention Harshavardhan of Kashmir who also destroyed temples for money and would extrapolate this fact to claim that Allaudding also did the same. But the writer won't mention the fact that Harshavardhan was a king just for the name sake and his country was effectively riled by his Vazir who was indeed a muslim. Then the writer would turn to the moghuls, he'll skip everybody except Akbar and Shaha jahan, he'll praise Akbar for his din-e-elahi (religion for all), he'll praise Shahajahan for the Taj Mahal and thus from these three examples would claim that the muslim rulers were secular thus there was nothing known as hindu-muslim conflict.
Now, when the writer returns to the present, he sees gujrath, he sees best bakery, he sees babri masjid he condemns them, claims that India is in the worst possible situation which is solely due to the hindu activists. When he condemns gujrath, he'll forget godhra (hindu reaction for the muslim massacre), when he condemns babri, he'll forget the bomb blast (muslim reaction for the hindu bloodshed).
It becomes obvious to extract the essence of the argument and generalize to what a rightist would do to prove his claim. The rightist on the other hand, will just mention muhammad bin tughalak, mehmood of gazani, aurangzeb, babar, godhra, bomb blasts and kashmir and based on a similar structure would claim the opposite.
I find that the political connections and at the same time laziness of the intellectuals towards analyzing the complex india forces them to simplify her. The result is the two completely different pictures apparently based on the same past. In my personal opinion, it's more of the laziness than the political welfare that the intellectuals refrain from understanding the country to the fullest. The inertia at the same time arises from completely two different paths offered to a wannabe intellectual in his student life. The student choses exactly one of the three following paths, the left, the right and the pessimist (blame it on the 'system', a common bolywood term to describe india). The first two are involved but incomplete and the third one is indifferent.
An intellectual when is slightly inclined towards one of the paths mentioned above is dragged into it in an autocatalytic way. This happens because of the self glorification and the cross referencing from earlier studies. The left would always quote the left, the right would always glorify the right. Thus when a student starts reading, he inevitably follows one distinct path.
The people who I find have atleast understood the vastness and complexity of the country in a non mystical way are Rushdie/Sen/Gandhi. Rushdie being a fiction writer, his esoteric, magical way of expounding india though assures the reader of his (Rushdie's) understanding, he doesn't want to and thus does not try to see a future to the country. But surely his india remains optimistic, progressive and at the same time clumsy in a lovable manner. Sen at the same time, points out the non-singularity of indian culture. He also tries to understand very microscopic problems successufully and gives fairly (as I think) suitable solutions, the problem in his approach is that sometimes he tends to generalize the small problems into big ones since he clearly understands that finding solution for the big problems (as done by the leftists and the rightists is utterly impossible). I think I don't have to say anything on Gandhi :) Or later on my understanding of what Gandhi had to say about india.
It started with a thought, ended in a two hour exercise. I at the end of it all find that what I started with is just briefly mentioned here, this can be attributed to the lack of energy and lectures tomorrow. Rather than being a blog, when I read it again, I find it as a journal entry :( I wanted to talk and since nobody is here, write about how well Rushdie has written about her and the fact that I, my brother and my father have so different views about her fascinates me and though I most of the times claim that I would had prefered a more close family, now understand the through the independance and the trust my parents showed in us has made us two very different though at the same time I would claim to be thoughtful individuals.
And if you are have reached here, listen to open skies by parikrama and your latest trick by dire straits.