Tuesday, March 24, 2015

India's intellectuals

From a lecture by former JNU Vice-Chancellor Prof. Kapil Kapoor before the Indore-based India Inspires Foundation, I have to relate a particularly relevant part, viz. about our Indian "intellectuals". Any mistakes in my rendering are of course mine.
These intellectuals are to be distinguished from Hinduism's traditional men of knowledge, or Rishi-s. The Rishi-s were devoted to the welfare of society, and they encouraged responsibility, self-reliance and cheerfulness. By contrast, our present "intellectuals" are only Buddhi-Jivi-s, those who "use their intellect to make a living". 
They have certain typical characteristics:
* They are worried, with a perennially worried look on their carefully careless-looking faces. They think that everything is bad, particularly all that really or allegedly stems from Hindu religion: caste, sati (eventhough the Sati after whom the custom was named, set herself on fire while her husband Shiva was alive, and eventhough all Hindu scriptures from the Rg-Veda on down condemn this rare Rajput practice), superstition etc. They worry about minorities and gender, and about the environment: whatever Hindus do, is polluting. Thus, while their consumerist lifestyles are above criticism, Hindus throwing around coloured powder on Holi are harming the ecosystem. Nowadays they worry about the farmers, eventhough they can't tell a hoe from a plough.

* They have a sense of bad luck. Thus, why did they have to be born in a poor "developing country" rather than in America? (Well, at least the status of "developing country" is useful in so far as it keeps the donations coming, which money is then funneled towards the established intellectuals so that their children can get Ph.D.s in America.)   They bemoan everything. They are like Rudali-s, professional mourners; except that Rudali-s only mourn at a occurrence of a real loss, a king's death or so, whereas these intellectuals mourn all the time. Shiites flagellate themselves on Muharram to mourn Hussain's defeat; these intellectuals have a Muharram every day.
* They suffer from a Hanuman complex. Hanuman was so strong that the gods were afraid of him and cursed him to forget his strength until someone would remind him. So, they forget about the past glories of their own civilization. The first European travelers wondered why the Indians had no maps; well, because maps are for people who have to go elsewhere because they need something from there, but Indians had everything in their own country. Our intellectuals see only the poverty that Islamic and British colonization and Nehruvian socialism have wrought (which they falsely attribute to Hindu influence, terming Nehruvian economic failure the "Hindu rate of growth"). They are always appealing for state intervention, like today’s middle class, who always ring up for help; or like the Devata-s (gods) in the Puranic myths, helpless before their Asura (demon) enemies. It is always the Asuras who are self-reliant, while the  Devata-s are only there to shower flowers.
* They have a Tittiri complex. The Tittiri is a Indian bird that sleeps on its back with its feet skywards, as if supporting the heavens so that they don't fall. Likewise, the intellectuals think that their enduring concern is needed to save India.

And a little extra to cap it all: intellectuals are good at talking about a book without having read it. This they call "meta-study". (Or as their hero Ayatollah Khomeini said about Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses: "You don't need to jump into a dungheap to know that it stinks.")



Vraja said...

That is certainly a type, in America we have a name for that type, knee-jerk liberal. But we shouldn't make the mistake of pigeonholing that type as the norm for all who espouse one or more those positions.

Shankar Sharan said...

Just great, a lucid literary piece! We must reach it to every Indian intellectual. Let us help them recognize themselves.

Prashant Jha said...

ha ha ha...this is so funny. This is how we too feel about them sir...thanks for articulating it well!...:D

Gururaj B N said...

Interesting, especially when it comes from a JNU VC. The world is indeed changing in post-Modi India.

GlobalDiversity said...

I have been meeting Dr. Elst of and on in various conferences. Maya and Avidiya are conditions from which it is hard to come out from. Recently I wrote a short analysis- 'Hindu Psych'. It points out to number of hurdles why we as Hindus are not community let alone a nation. I have not posted it on any blog. Unless we get rid of the ostrich syndrome, we cannot establish our positive identity and be proud of our heritage and proclaim proudly that we are Hindus. What has Sutee to do with anything? Caste system has nothing to do with Hindu Dharma. We had Varna, Gotra and Jati. Delinking Dharma from Social structures is of utmost necessity. Kamlesh Kapur- Writer and Historian
Books- Hindu Dharma- A Teaching Guide' and Portraits of a Nation- History of Ancient India.

Golden Reed said...

Very funny and enlightening. We should take inspiration from a Simpsons episode to break away from their stranglehold on opinion-making about Indian civilization. In this Simpsons episode, all the public statues and advertising icons come to life and start destroying the town. The people are terrified and keeping staring in horror. The solution: "Just don't look"... stop paying attention, do your own thing, and they will wither away in the absence of attention.

Karthikrajan said...

In facebook we call these intellectuals 'sickular morons' !

balayogi said...

Please do not credit crooks with the label of intellect.
First why are we using the wrong label who is an intellectual [1], please we must first differentiate from academically qualified, theoretical knowledgeable, holding positions of eminence, well connected, vociferous, much promoted by certain vested interest groups with clear cut bias because they pander to certain predefined scripts which are sensational and savored by certain lobbies in the political and academic circles all over the world.

These people are good at, pardon me for suing the appropriate vocabulary, mental masturbation of certain select ideas and ideologies where the semen secretes in high flown vocabulary.

I am consciously using this vocabulary because they ultimately do not go to create anything except temporary pleasure like an uncontrollable scratching of an itch. They attract more addicts to them.

They love not to bother about polarity principles inherent in nature like good and bad, hot and cold but try to magnify it as a socio-religio-cultural intentional discrimination devised to exploit some blab la.

Their ideological fixation is petrified with their pet identities [2] , their frames of reference when it comes to perception [3] is putrefied, their prejudices are paid, their inferences are influenced by undisclosable sources, their intentions are of mala fide and conclusion are tailor made to please their sponsors.

Most of these so called intellectuals in India are left leaning, and therefore never learning anything liberals.

While polarity principle is inherent in all spheres of life, Some people can never get rid of the old scripts as those types of stereotypical sloganeering get sensational attention, mostly in political and religious domains, namely the slogans on the victim hood versus victor, the poor versus rich, the haves versus the have-nots, the hero-villain etc.

They magnify and mutilate to present the polarity as a difference injected to inflict specific sufferings depending on the targets they want to choose and the result they want to achieve. That's why poverty is a very rich business and victim hood portrayal is lucrative ideology. Actually these peddlers of poverty and illiteracy have ensured to keep poverty intact. Yes a sickening and outdated ideology to be kept in the attic of a museum of fossil genetic samples but it unfortunately permeates into political discussions.
I feel there is lot of wisdom in the following piece which Phenella writes in “The Unwritten Comedy”.

“To be ignorant of many things is expected
To know you are ignorant of many things is the beginning of wisdom.
To know a category of things of which you are ignorant is the beginning of learning.
To know the details of that category of things of which you are ignorant is to no longer be ignorant.”

On environment there is a huge deficit of perception and approach as people take extreme positions without understanding the simple, superb and sublime reciprocal relationship that we have with the whole environment as we all together are in the process of evolution.

Unfortunately most of us are, more so the types of human beings who like to find answers and solutions only through dry intellectual analysis, fail because we may make wrong frames of references, inadequate observations, including irrelevant things and aspects in the process of evaluation etc and presume that we are super intelligent. [5 &6]
[1] http://contentwriteups.blogspot.in/2014/01/intelligentsia.html
[2] http://contentwriteups.blogspot.in/2015/02/identity-crisis.html
[3] http://contentwriteups.blogspot.in/2010/02/real-perception.html
[4] http://contentwriteups.blogspot.in/2015/05/world-environment-day.html
[5] http://contentwriteups.blogspot.in/2014/12/happiness-realityevaluations-perception.html
[6] http://contentwriteups.blogspot.in/2014/10/super-intelligent-human-beings.html

Akshay said...

Prof Kapoor mentions "97% literacy" as a figure mentioned by Macaulay. Can I get a citation for this ?