PTH is extremely grateful to Abhinav Pandya for contributing this article. PTH does not essentially agree with every point made by the author
With the social media on fire, it seems that the governments have vanished, bureaucracies have become phantoms and the nations with eternal sovereignties have dwindled, and it’s all about netizens (all humans are netizens but not all netizens are humans) and their status updates. And netizens are nothing but just left, right or center.
I am an under-grad from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and a graduate from Cornell University, which are both the bastions of left-liberal political discourse. Mostly, I speak and write in English. In taste, manners, beliefs and life-style, I am everything which any religious Hindu will scoff at. My friends are from multi-cultural and multi-ethnic backgrounds. All the women I am friends with are mostly cosmopolitan socialists and feminists who dabble in intense intellectual gymnastics with Davidoff, cannabis, sex and Merlot, and they look amazingly sensual and classy with their nose-rings, kohl-lined eyes, hair-curls and pierced navel. I feel myself blessed to be in such an extraordinary company.
With this picture in front, most of the people assume or rather expect me to be, if not an ultra-leftist then at least a left-liberal, who is expected to be fuming and fretting at Modi, BJP and Republicans. However, that is not the case. I would like to put across and new domain of being, which might sound a little abstract to most of you, but I personally feel it to be the most real one.
The categories of left, right and center and their exclusiveness have never appealed to me. I prefer to call myself “spiritually sensible” which is very different from being rational, moral or empirical because a spiritual person can only be sensible, but never a moralist, idealist, rationalist or an empiricist. Being a spiritually sensible one, my epistemology is not a typical Kantian one which begins with facts and ends in reason. My epistemology transcends Kantian world and finds its fulfilment in spiritual wisdom and the truth of intuition which for me is a direct and immediate knowledge. Transcending reason and facts, emanating from the sphere of renunciation and armed with faith it treads firmly on the bedrock of the honesty of purpose.
“What it means to be spiritually sensible?”- Given the constraints of word-limit, I will not be able to describe it in its entirety and truly speaking, it is not even capable of being described in words fully as it is a spiritual experience which defies language. However, I will mention a few manifestations of this state of “being”. These manifestations are in the nature of my opinions and actions on the issues of worldly importance. Let me begin with Pakistan.
Unlike my friends in Indian left and Congress’ line of thinking, I fully accept and respect Pakistan as sovereign nation state. Like Vajpayee, I strongly believe that peaceful and prosperous Pakistan is in India’s interest and it is a great defense for India. I don’t think that separation of Bangladesh and today’s condition of Pakistan is because of some inherent flaws in Jinnah’s two-nation theory. Like all other theories, even his theory was partially true and partially false, and it is not as if he created it. He just picked it or circumstances led him to propel it in a systematic political manner. And generally theories and their proponents are quite powerless, but their sub-contractors and manipulators are immensely powerful. Hence, Jinnah is not responsible for today’s Pakistan of blasphemy, minority killings, proxy terrorist organizations and burgeoning religious extremism. It’s the people who ruled Pakistan after Jinnah, their arrogance and nasty intentions are responsible for what the nation faces today. India is not just one nation. It is an ancient civilization which has multiple nations with their diversities. The diversities and fault-lines were most pronounced between Hindus and Muslims. No matter how much we deny it but even today one visit into the interior India will reveal the hollowness of the claims of Nehru, Gandhi and the so-called idealists. And those who criticize Jinnah, do they ever think that was it possible to govern united India, Pakistan and Bangladesh?
When it is about gay rights, female emancipation, abortions, live-in relations I fully support aforesaid sections of the society in their demands and I do that in absolute sense. If it is about farmers, my heart and soul is with them and against those industrial giants who want to profit at their expense. In fact, I believe that countries like India and Pakistan need smart villages more than the smart cities and FDI, so that millions do not have to leave their pristine rural homes and migrate to urban areas where an alien culture and alien morals wait for them. When it comes to labor rights, I a pro-poor and against the unbridled capitalist development of India on the western model of MNCs, multiplexes and complex suffocating web of lifestyle where you have tensed and diseased white color workers working 12 hrs a day on their laptops and smartphones, with some time for weekend movie-popcorn sessions and almost no time for meditation or any form of spiritual elevation.
On the question of Islamic extremism and terrorism, I must state that I am totally against any kind of Islamophobia. I have my absolute sympathies for the refugees who are escaping the blood-thirsty conditions of Middle-East. And, I also believe that ISIS is just a fringe element. But, I do not support those intellectually dishonest liberals who are trying to provide and apologetic defense for the mass molestations that happened on New Year’s Eve at Cologne. I am not convinced with those pseudo-intellectuals who are denying the very presence of radicalization and extremism among the Muslims. And, I do believe that there are verses in the Quran from which the extremist elements seek justification for their violent jihad and such verses need to be revisited (just like you have such versus in other religious texts like Manusmriti or Torah or Bible) . And, I also believe that deradicalization can’t happen without engaging the religious leaders of Islam to counter the extremist narrative, and through inter-faith dialogue involving scholars and clerics of other religions, not by imposing blanket ban on Madrasas and hijab. On the question of Kashmir, unlike my left-liberal cabal, I do like to question the integrity of the separatist movement because of it being a purely Islamic separatist movement and their treatment of Kashmiri pundits.
On the question of Mumtaj Qadri, in spite of extreme opposition to what he stands for, I might not be very comfortable with the capital punishment for purely for pragmatic reasons. Mumtaz Qadri is not an individual. He is a thought, an ideology which has been assiduously cultivated and nurtured over the last four decades. Killing him will make a hero out of him and will strengthen what he stands for, in the minds of common people. What needs to be eliminated is not a man but a thought which he stands for.
With these opinions, where do I fall? Or Am I an intellectual orphan or am I even an intellectual because in my pursuits of life the most important one is to get rid of the ideas and reach the silence and emptiness of mind.