Why do Indian intellectuals tiptoe around left-biased narratives ?

The issue of communalism has attracted the center stage in Indian Politics for quite some time now and its left-leaning intellectuals are right to call out bigotry and violence by Hindu extremists whenever they see one. But if they’re genuinely interested in creating a secular country rooted in individual rights, it’s time to start presenting facts “correctly” and unbiased. The data about communal incidents in India provides very interesting insights. According to the data available with the Home Ministry from 2011 to 2015, the number of communal incidents in India was in 2011 (580), 2012 (668), 2013 (823), 2014 (644) , 2015 (751) respectively. The highest number of incidents occurred in 2013 (823) under the UPA -2 . Yet in 2014 and 2015, ever since the NDA has come to power, India´s left-leaning intellectuals rant about 2015, ignoring 2013 altogether, to consciously create an “increase in intolerance” narrative. Why ? .

Sadly for India, the increase of communal riots in 2013 compared to the previous year was 55 %, but thanks to the left-leaning intellectuals & media alike, that figure remains still conveniently buried and ignored by most, but, a similar 54 % increase in 2015, thanks  to the left once more, has now been suddenly catapulted to become an “alarming concern” !!. With such double standard in India’s public discourse that does not fit reality, the country’s intelligentsia is doing India no favors. For most of its 69 years as an independent nation, India has effectively been a one-party socialist state ruled by the left-of-center Congress Party. Over time, the party’s view of inter-faith matters became the de facto national view. For many Indians, it’s virtually dogma to see “communalism,” the term of choice for religious chauvinism, as a purely Hindu phenomenon. In this view, members of India’s 150 million Muslim and 27.8 million Christian community are always and only victims of violence, never its perpetrators !!.

At the same time, the studied silence of India’s mainstream about extremism of minority communities opens up a great propaganda opportunity for the far-right Hindu organisations. In the 9 years that followed 2002-Gujarat riots until May 2014, the largest beneficiaries of “one-sided sexed up narratives” has been India´s far-right parties. In these 9 years, the media unwittingly replayed the post-Godhra violence and underplayed the preceding Godhra violence per se, to re-affirm the Congress definition of “religious chauvanism” as a purely Hindu phenomenon. Far-right Hindu speakers of all shapes and sizes ran along the length and breadth of India proclaiming the “apathy to Hindu pain” and the “unfair sympathy only to Muslim pain” – making hay while the sun shone. Had the left-intellectuals & the media exercised parity and been more balanced, the Hindu far-right would not have had their fodder for propaganda. Politics is a dangerous game, a game of victimhood, propaganda, fear and perceptions. That the country´s intelligentia/media demonstrate fair objectivity to speak uniformly and firmly about any misbehaving community Hindu, Muslim or Christian (without juggling on “vote-bank” politics), is therefore an imperative secular necessity, if they sincerely desire to prevent further growth of the Hindu far-right. The 2013 vs 2015 difference in response during public discourse and the “increased intolerance narrative” is thus once again emerging as yet another left-biased narratives in India´s political reporting. I fear this is soon to benefit the far-right and we better talk about it, otherwise the only people willing to talk about the problem will be those who are prone to painting it with too broad a brush.

The left in India should be particularly cautious not to risk being perceived as having a double standard in public discourse, if it is genuinely interested in saving her secular democracy. It cannot afford to loose the moderate Hindu and should not risk alienating him and pushing him in to the traps of an ever-eager far-right. I say to thee ye left, “control the itch of your tongue, compose the fairness in your narratives, and you save India from the right”.


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