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October 28, 2014

Why I Stand With Sagarika

I’ll come right out and say it. I cannot be more supportive of Sagarika Ghose and her valiant attempt to reform those incorrigible internet Hindus and restore freedom of speech to this great nation called India.

I believe that the people of India must immediately bury their differences and come together to find common ground. This is a crucial moment in the country’s history. I cannot think of how better we can elevate ourselves into the strata of developed nations than to engage in an inane and superficial examination of the issue of free speech.

If there was ever a time for inanity, it is now.

Recent elections have polarized and their results are slowly destroying the nation. Fascists roam freely in our midst, dressed in myriad hues of saffron. If we are to ever to progress into a golden era of freedom and prosperity, we must, with all our hearts, encourage on a national scale, second-standard-level conversations about the troublesome issues that plague this country.

Like it or not, India urgently needs a dumbed down conversation on the importance of freedom of expression. Critically, it needs this dialogue to be led by smug, self-righteous Oxford educated liberals, like Sagarika, who have no appreciation for how little their self serving, one-dimensional approach brings to the table.

We all bear the solemn duty to set aside our own ill-begotten opinions, and instead focus on the first idea that comes to the refined mind of Ms. Sagarika Ghose. Is that asking for too much?

We may have voted in our wisdom, and brought to the helm a mere chai-wallah who governs with confidence and promises a better future. But, our work is not done yet. The time has come to start saying and doing foolish things once again.

It has been far too long since we shared long-discredited arguments about Gujarat in 2002. Terms like “encounters” and “moral compass” should be put back in the spotlight. And, while we’re being open and honest, why not trot out that elephant in the room and talk about the insensitivity of those who clamor for a uniform civil code? We have strayed from the path of righteousness, and now must allow ourselves to be skillfully guided back to it.

I beseech intellectuals to step forward and hold forth on the importance of maintaining a “secular fabric,” without ever pausing to examine its innards. It is my fond hope that Sagarika will, some day, part the Red Sea of bigotry that divides us, and lead us into a promised land where free speech blossoms and flowers, undeterred by internet Hindu Nazis.

To rightists and leftists alike, I say this: Remember that there is a reason as to why the Internet exists. It exists for Sagarika. And equally importantly, it doesn’t exist for Hindus. If only we allowed ourselves take appropriate advantage of this incredible technology, we could, in theory, empower brave men and women like Sagarika to lead the way and initiate embarrassingly simple-minded dialogues on the “right to dissent.” Their discourses will be greeted with warmth by other like-minded liberal intellectuals, who have never experienced the temptation of thinking about an issue beyond their presumptions. Sagarika will thus be encouraged, nay even reinvigorated, to write hundreds of blogs, all saying one or another of two to three unsubstantial viewpoints on a wide variety of nuanced cultural issues.

Let’s face it. Since independence, a flawed penal system muzzling citizens’ rights to free speech has long been our nation’s dirty little secret, an ugly reality carefully swept under the rug of polite discourse, emerging only in occasional, angry rants about rapes, police brutality and Happy New Year. We must bring this issue out into the open. And, as they lead this national conversation, I pray that our liberal intelligentsia take great care to not lose their self-assured witlessness as they pontificate to those who struggle to appreciate those truths that they so effortlessly see.

Only by keeping alive a shallow, one- dimensional dialogue can we ensure that we, as a nation, never get down to deeper issues that may some day tear us apart.

Dare to imagine it. Dare to stand with Sagarika. The nation will be the better for it.

ps: If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read Sagarika’s eloquently well done “Letter to India’s Right: All critics aren’t leftists or deshdrohis” If you have no idea what she’s talking about, I’m afraid that I can’t help you there, mate.

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