So why are there so few Zolas among the Indian chattering classes? When I read Indian columnists, I am forced to divide them into two camps, with very few exceptions. An,d of course, that also brings me to the foreign columnists reporting from India -- the less said about them the better!
I accuse Indian columnists of falling into two categories: the ignorant/lazy and the intellectually colonised. There are a few exceptions I can think of: among them, the late Nikhil Chakraborty, N Vittal, Madhu Kishwar, Praful Bidwai, K Subrahmanyam. These writers, plus a few others, I respect, even if I don't share their perspectives, because they do their homework, think things through, and have something worthwhile to say. For instance, I disagree with many of Bidwai's positions, but surely he demands thoughtful consideration.
I accuse the majority of Indian journalists of abdicating their responsibility, of failing to think. I am amazed at the amount of absolute tripe that masquerades as 'thoughtful commentary' -- frankly, I, no professional journalist myself, can often poke holes in their so-called arguments with little difficulty, simply based on their faulty premises or logic.
I accuse these journalists of being completely innocent of elementary economics, history and rhetoric. Surely a tribute to the pathetic state of the liberal arts curricula in Indian universities. I find that these people latch on to some simple, easily refutable claim, and then rant and rave about it. If they were to spend more than half an hour on writing, and more than ten minutes on research, they would realise the absurdity of it all -- but, of course, they don't have to, as the consuming public lets them get away with it. A frightening thought -- do a people get the journalists they deserve?
This is not a liberal-conservative dichotomy; there are plenty of sinners on both sides of the fence. However, since India's 'liberal-"progressive"-"secular"-Nehruvian-Stalinist' wing seems to be more numerous, and perhaps more holier-than-thou than elsewhere, they probably outnumber the 'conservative-divisive-fundie-communalist-fascist' sinners.
By the way, just a thought, is it possible to ban the word 'secular' for a few years? It is the most meaningless, laughably Orwellian word in the subcontinental lexicon, with the possible exception of "Azad" Kashmir. Must say someone in Pakistan has a sense of humour: "Ghori" and "Ghaznavi", indeed -- even their barbarians are not their own, but Afghan! If they want to name things after foreign monsters, I submit "Attila", "Genghiz", "Vlad the Impaler", "Mussolini", "Idi Amin", "Pol Pot", for consideration. Remember, you heard it here first.
But I digress; to go back to the second type of wretched Indian journalist, this is the terminally brainwashed variety. The type that consumes the pre-digested disinformation pabulum handed out freely by the media barons of the West; the latter of course have their own axes to grind. The type that has absolutely no concept of what self-respect means, or respect for the nation. The type for whom the ultimate in wisdom is Time, Newsweek andThe New York Times.