The Week this time chooses to give us some “life lessons” from a few successful Indians one of whom is Narayana Murthy. According to Murthy, a country like India where poverty is a glaring problem, the government’s chief concern should be job creation. But the government does not create jobs. It is only private entrepreneurs who can do that. The government should provide “incentivising environment” to the entrepreneurs.
India seems to
be more interested in entertaining the citizens with history’s blunders. The
Gyanvapi mosque dominated the country’s politics last week. Mosques and temples
are consuming India’s energy and time with no productive output whatever. When
prices of essential things are reaching the skies and life is becoming an
ordeal, it is easy to divert people’s attention using some red herring or a
wild goose chase. India now seems to be specialising in red herrings and wild geese.
The India Today’s Big Story this week is on Gyanvapi. The article mentions the Places of Worship Act that was passed in 1991 by the Narasimha Rao government when the Ayodhya issue was taken to a feverish pitch by L K Advani. According to that Act, the religious character of all places of worship – except Ayodhya which was under litigation – shall be retained as it was on 15 Aug 1947.
Even when the Supreme Court allowed the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya in Nov 2019, the apex court upheld the provisions in the 1991 Act saying, “In preserving the character of places of public worship, Parliament has mandated in no uncertain terms that history and its wrongs shall not be used as instruments to oppress the present and the future.”
nevertheless, chosen to bury its head like the metaphorical ostrich in the
sands of the dead past. The India Today’s Big Story
concludes with an observation from the Congress leader, Gaurav Kapoor: “Varanasi
is very much a land of entrepreneurs and we like to focus on that rather than
anything else like ‘What did Aurangzeb do?’ and ‘What did Babur do?’ This is
just hundred percent political propaganda. Wouldn’t it be nice if we stopped to worry about the economy
for once?” Gaurav Kapoor echoed Narayana Murthy. There are hundreds of thousands
of Indians who will echo similar thoughts. But they are all rendered powerless
by ostriches with heads in sands.
The Open magazine is all praise for India, however. It is praise for Modi, rather. This week’s issue chooses to celebrate Modi’s eight “successful” years. The preface to the magazine’s panegyric begins thus: “Eight years after Narendra Modi took office as prime minister, the fact that India has been fundamentally transformed is not open to debate.” The Open is so sure about India’s progress under Modi that it won’t even let us a debate. It just gives us a series of stories to convince us that we are living in a quasi-paradise, thanks to Modi’s profound vision and policies.
According to P R Ramesh of the Open, Modi put an end in 2014 to “corruption, inefficiency, political appeasement, … terrorism, crony capitalism (ah, that’s a nice one indeed) and blackmail by regional leaders.” The greatest contribution of Modi to India is the boost he gave to the country’s national(ist) morale by returning its deserved respectability to Hinduism. “As the first prime minister,” writes Ramesh, “who unabashedly wore tilak and tika on his forehead, sported saffron and recited shlokas and openly embraced his own moorings by visiting temples from Kashi to Kedarnath to Somnath, Modi renewed a fundamental connection with ordinary people in a way that was not only dignified and triggered a resurgence of hope but seemed utterly neutral.”
As you read Ramesh’s long-winded article, you may wonder whether Modi is India’s prime minister or its High Priest (a Pope of sorts). But Ramesh is not the only Modi-fan at the Open. Probably, the Open’s official policy is to keep Modi ji pleased and stay clear of raids from the Enforcement Directorate or the CBI or the Income Tax mandarins. At any rate, the youngsters who are preparing for Public Service Commission’s tests and interviews would do well to read this issue of the Open. They can get enough and more points to glorify their country and particularly its present government.
Speaking about youngsters, let me conclude this week’s Media Watch with a piece of advice that Ramachandra Guha gives to youngsters who aspire to be writers. This is from the Week again. Don’t write to become famous, says Guha. Write about something that is a literary or intellectual challenge. Write with determination and integrity with no regard for success. “Success is incidental. It is really the quality of work that must give you satisfaction.”
PS. Previous Media Watch: The Other Side of Sedition