Wednesday, February 4, 2015

India and Hypocrisy


In 1999, Thomas L Friedman argued (in his book, Lexus and the Olive Tree) that no two countries that both had a McDonald’s had ever fought a war against each other since it got its McDonald’s.  The decade that followed disproved Friedman.  However, the point he was trying to make was valid.  He was using McDonald’s as a symbol of the middle class.  The presence of McDonald’s in a country indicated the rise of the middle class.  And the middle class is not interested in violence and war.  The middle class would rather relish a chicken burger than feel patriotism flowing through their veins when some semi-literate sadhu demands that the women give birth to ten children so that the population of a particular religion rises.   

The middle class is essentially hypocritical.  Its religion is not about spirituality at all; it is about social encounters, social niceties and mutual utilisation of social connections. The middle class is interested in improving their social and economic status and religion is merely another tool for that.  The middle class is not interested in the ancient scriptures and other mumbo-jumbo unless it serves some very practical and mundane purpose (such as getting married or getting buried).

Friedman’s next book was The World is Flat in which he presented another theory: the Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention, according to which no two countries that are both part of a major global supply chain (like Dell) will ever fight a war against each other as long as they are both part of the same global supply chain.  Once again, time disproved Friedman.  But, once again, what Friedman wanted to suggest remained valid.  Cross-border trade improves international relationships. 

India, particularly under the present Prime Minister, is encouraging all sorts of countries to cross its borders with investments.  India is not averse to Christians or people belonging to any creed or sect setting up industries in the country.  And, be sure, India will have good international relationships too.  And the country has a sizeable population with the typical middle class aspirations.

Why, then, are we Indians not able to maintain good relationships with the non-Hindus in the country?  Why do BJP and its allies insist on retrogressive practices such as ghar vapasi and attacks on non-Hindu religious places?  Why do they call for their women to undergo the agony of lifetime pregnancies?  Why do they preach hatred and strife in the name of absurd notions that nobody takes seriously anyway? 

Is it the typical Indian hypocrisy that motivates and sustains the BJP and its allies?  We can regard our rivers as sacred and yet throw all our waste into them.  We can worship the cow as Gaumata and drive them in herds on to the national highways to find their fodder.  We can uphold the most sublime utterances of the Upanishads on our national insignia and perpetrate the most brutal assault on them in our actual deeds.

Hypocrisy runs freely and copiously in the Indian veins.

When the BJP has officially posed some 25 questions to AAP, I would like to pose only one question to it:  when will it shed its shameless hypocrisy and ideological opportunism?

  

12 comments:

  1. Very good question and a very thoughtful post .
    you have such a wonderful blog :)

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    1. Unpleasant realities make a writer sharper. We are passing through a critical period in Indian history.

      Glad you found my blog worth returning to. :)

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  2. I'd say hypocrisy is sadly present in every aam aadmi. All the political parties also display it as they are constituted by aam aadmis...
    Wish we can uphold honesty & Satyameva Jayate.

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    1. I'm questioning the institutionalisation of hypocrisy as a national pastime if not a virtue.

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  3. Quite a thought-provoking post. While I do not follow politics, I do agree hypocrisy and whispered gossip (on a large scale, I mean) seem to be a part of the Indian genetic make-up or something!

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    1. Too many of us living in too little spaces - that could be one reason. The wider the area, the broader the vision!

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  4. A post which made me to ponder, I think now a days we are getting used to hypocrisy and accepted as part of our lives

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    1. Hypocrisy was always there as a part of human nature. But hypocrisy has become a religion now :)

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  5. I was not aware of those books and you are right, middle is just like you described. About BJP, as I always say - fanatics.

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    1. Friedman's books were best sellers when they were published. Being topical, they became outdated soon.

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  6. I condemn attack against any community. Those uttering statements like ghar vapsi are doing a great disservice to prime ministers development centric agenda. They should be put behind bars. I have read prime minister had chastised a few members of parliament. Finance Minister has also expressed his displeasure on the events in NDTV interview.

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    1. Action speaks louder than words. It appears that the entire Modi team has two faces: one with which they utter platitudes and a hidden one which is seen by the fundamentalists.

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