I have used the word liberal in quotes because I believe India has very few real liberals, but a lot of douchebags who roam around calling themselves liberals. And it for this reason that liberals, for want of a better word, are hard to take seriously.
Pratap Bhanu Mehta recently wrote this article – Sinking Valley. He accuses the Indian establishment of being in denial about the realities of Kashmir, hence unable to win the hearts of the Kashmiri people which military force alone cannot accomplish. What is funny is that Mehta has written the whole article not mentioning even once the problem of Islamism and the abomination of Sharia law that exists in the valley. And he accuses others of being in denial. Thats rich!
I don’t know if there is any difference between the separatists and rabid Islamists in the valley, but Mehta does not even attempt to address that. I have often read news articles where lot of Kashmiri folk go with the mantra “Sharia or Shahdat( martyrdom)”. Frankly we should help them with their Shahadat plan but not cede an inch to Sharia.
It is this denialism that is stopping the larger population from trusting these self-proclaimed ‘liberals’. And this also manifests as a lack conviction when they try to go after the murderous anti-beef lynch mobs. Unless ‘liberals’ learn to unequivocally condemn all movement that are overtly or covertly trying to push Sharia law, they will keep losing. They should separate Muslim culture and art from Islamic law. One is acceptable( good if you are into arts and stuff) the other is plain abomination.
I had once read a comment about Mehta on the interwebs that he is a permanent outrage machine, who has nothing to offer in terms of ideas or solutions but has something to say about anything any govt tries to do. I think it is pretty accurate. The work of academics should not be just criticism, they should be able to suggest credible alternate solutions at least in a few situations, if they wish to retain some amount of credibility.
There is this awesome passage towards the end of the movie ‘Ratatouille’ that I think is very apt here. I will try to quote it here –
In many ways the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy the position over those who offer up their work and their selves for our judgement. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fine to write and to read. But a bitter truth that we critics must face is that in the grand scheme of things the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent and new creations, and New needs friends. Last night I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my conceived notions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s motto – ‘Anyone can cook’. But I realize only now that I truly understand what Gusteau meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gustave’s, who is in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon hungry for more.
I feel Mehta might be the textbook case of a critic who fails the above test. I have never seen him praise /approve of anything. (I could be wrong of course, I have not read all his works)
Also I dislike the intelligentsia’s habit of using the nation’s capital while trying to refer to the govt. I think it is stupid. They should either say the Indian govt/Indian establishment or say the union governemtn/ central government/ federal government. Throughout the article he keeps referring to New Delhi, as though that is the whole of India.