Anand, Parakala engage in verbal duel over ‘New India’

Giving example of the ‘abusive’ speech of BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri in the Parliament, the economist said such people are making the idea of new India very easy to decode.

Published: 24th September 2023 08:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th September 2023 08:03 AM   |  A+A-

(From left) Senior journalist Kaveree Bamzai, economist Parakala Prabhakar and scientist Anand Ranganathan in the panel

Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: The highlight of the first day of Odisha Literary Festival-2023 was its last session which witnessed a riveting debate between economist Parakala Prabhakar and scientist and writer Anand Ranganathan on the idea of new India.

The first to speak on ‘New India: Crooked Timber or Iron Rich’ was Parakala who drew the audience’s attention to the recent happenings in the country. Giving example of the ‘abusive’ speech of BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri in the Parliament, the economist said such people are making the idea of new India very easy to decode. “I say the new India is a crooked timber. It is also too much iron rich. Hence toxic.”
He further said people who had no role in the long-drawn struggle for India’s Independence, are able to market themselves as patriots.

A huge gathering of so-called sadhus who identify themselves as Jan Sangh, now call for genocide, economic boycott, etc. This is also a mark of new India.And then there is a discourse which says India belongs to people who practice one religion. And those who practice some other religion, they should consider themselves as second class citizens. It’s a misnomer to call it a new India as these people want to go back to old India. A kind of past which privileges caste, religion, gender, language, etc. This past worshipping is a predominant mark of new India. “India cannot progress, prosper and advance with this kind of idea. New India should be plural, secular, diverse and democratic,” he said during the session chaired by senior journalist Kaveree Bamzai.

In response, Anand said everything Parakala talked about has been heard over the last 10 years. Before 2014, everything was right about India. “We had the world’s best scientists, most honest politicians, greatest roads. We had tap water everywhere, every household had a bathroom, gas cylinder and bank account. We had the greatest cricket team in the world and 100 Olympic gold medals. And then suddenly 2014, everything that could go wrong in India went wrong. With why? Because Modi came.”

Suddenly, there was unemployment in India, Hindu-Muslim animosity and people fighting with each other. There was no Communist in jail. This is the picture that has been projected over the last 10 years, said Anand, also a political commentator.

Anand lamented the fact that India was not secular. “How is India secular when the state is controlling thousands of temples and their revenue? Why is the secular state paying salaries to maulvis and priests? Why is the government funding pilgrimage of senior citizens who vote for them? Is this what secular nations do?” he asked.

Explaining how Jawaharlal Nehru crushed freedom of expression, he said India’s first prime minister was a dictator. Nehru banned 30 books, 20 films, arrested journalists, sacked governments that he didn’t like and even amended the Constitution.

“The problem in this country is selectivity. My dear friend from JNU (Parakala) talked about new India and how discrimination is happening. I can count hundreds of documented instances of Muslim mobs lynching Hindu dalits and non-dalits. But you don’t talk about it. So naturally you brainwash yourself into believing that only Hindus are committing these crimes and Muslims are not,” Anand asserted. 

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