In the la-la land of namby-pamby liberal secularists, minority concerns are the majority. With Imran Khan as co-traveller, this attention-seeking tribe is in danger of facing social, political and economic apartheid. With the rise of the new middle class and neo-aspirational millennials, liberalism as an idea and ideology has lost both reality and relevance. Verdict 2019 was the last nail in its coffin, filled with worming wishes. It’s the last stand of the illiberal—in the past few weeks they have been desperately using every opportunity to tarnish the democratic endorsement of Modiology and his brand of Naya Bharat.
Their no balls on the ideological pitch of the Indo-Pak cricket match went awry against Indian nationalism’s cover drives. Liberalism’s clichéd commentary treated the match as just another event—‘let cricket lovers applaud the better team.’ They assumed that Team Pakistan was as good as Virat Kohli’s savage squad. Over 10,000 Indians had splurged on pricey admission tickets and air tickets to London from various parts of the world to watch the match, led by the conviction that the Indian team is better than the best in the world and would be invigorated by full support from the stands. But many liberal leaders and columnists-turned-cricket experts deployed purple prose to lift the morale of the Pakistan team. No doubt, it was just a game. But illiberals, driven by their excessive love for peace and dialogue with the rogue nation, converted it into an excuse to push their ideological agenda. What happened in Manchester is history, a lethal 22-yard “strike” as Amit Shah called it—a metaphor of India’s strike power that killed Pakistan’s pride.
Cricket is the new ground where illiberals are desperately spinning the hypothetical ball to create a new constituency that takes them seriously. Batting for incidents negatively affecting Muslims is their only play to bash the majority-dominated establishment; for example the communal colour of the assault on Calcutta doctors was ignored. Liberals froth at the mouth when they hear reports of lynching. Some protests are genuine but partisan since they never express similar anger when the victim is a Hindu. When radical Muslims treat Dalits in an inhuman fashion, their secular and liberal conscience slips into slumber.
Indian liberals have redefined the dictionary meaning of ‘liberal’—FOE for them but not their opposites. Liberals oppose the idea of state or ideological control. But if their views are analysed in the Indian context, their dedicated objection to majoritarianism concerns anything and everything regarding the Sangh Parivar. They feel minority rights override the freedom of the majority assured under the same Constitution. They plead for least government interference in economic issues. Yet they oppose subsidies to the poor and moot massive incentives to the rich.
They propagate humungous support for public education, but send their sons and daughters to the most expensive schools in India or abroad. They wax eloquent on protecting the rights of tribals, labourers, farmers and poor women but attend luxury seminars at home and overseas, communicating only in English. Historically, the rise of the liberal has been directly linked to the decline of India’s minorities. Most Muslims continue to live in slums and ghettos, earn less than the national per capita income and enjoy poor access to public assets. Their women are denied even basic freedoms.
This dismal data doesn’t stop illiberals from crisscrossing the globe finding ways and means to make their blinkered audience happier than before. The progressive socio-political decline of India’s elite Muslim leadership ceded space to foreign educated upper crust Hindus who survived on crumbs doled out liberally by the state and many of its directly and indirectly controlled institutions. Their progeny were admitted into the best schools, got foreign scholarships and subsequently landed lucrative and influential positions. They controlled academia, media and cultural institutions, thereby carrying forward their genetically illiberal agenda. The upending irony of history was at play on the stands of Old Trafford and percolates Indian society in general, facing resistance from the very same sections whose voice illiberals have been trying to muzzle. Those who cried foul when a Kashmiri separatist was hit by a bullet but abjured supporting violently ejected Kashmiri Pandits are in the crosshairs now. Even the Nehruites were conspicuous by their silence when the sylvan vales of Kashmir, India’s paradise on earth, became the hunting grounds of cross-border parasites. Questions of impartial humanity have become relevant today.
Why didn’t their blood boil when 32-year-old Soumya Pushkaran, a woman police officer in Alappuzha and mother of three, was set ablaze by Ajaz, a colleague? Why do they pooh-pooh reports of forced conversions of poor Indians to Islam whenever they hit the headlines of local newspapers? Why do they close their eyes and ears when a Dalit family in Begusarai was forced by Muslim neighbours to sell its house to them? While they bay for the blood of corporate vagabonds like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, et al., why do Bengaluru liberals seem least bothered about the misery of 26,000 Muslims whose money has been swindled by pseudo-banker Mohammed Mansoor Khan? Why did none of these incidents occupy airtime on prime-time debates, get debated on social media handles run by liberals with millions of followers or find space in their columns? Why do they feel deprived when asked to shun beef, but dare to demonise a respected NGO that serves nutritious vegetarian meals to millions of children?
Now is the age of collective contradictions. Paradoxically, while liberal parties like the Congress and the Left have softened their anti-majority stance, their camp followers remain inflexible contrarians.
They haven’t understood Impact Modi yet—Naya Bharat vastly varies in colour and craft from Nehru’s liberally designed vague India. The prime minister’s collective charisma has enraptured the minds of even the affluent liberal Hindus. To survive in the new ecosystem, the Indian Liberal has to rediscover the DNA of its superego. The time is past for intimidating and silencing the democratic voice of the majority with elitism and confined connectivity.
Follow him on Twitter @PrabhuChawla