I read article your article about the liberal snobbery, related, I guess to the writers’ protest against the Modi government. What stuck me most was the fact that we live in times when even the most rabid defender of privilege and orthodoxy must assume the stance of a victim I take this to be a positive sign.
Without doubt, your write-up was partly autobiographical. I understand you because being a part of the aspirational middle class myself, I have often been irked at the liberal snobbery that you described in your article. Those privileged well connected kids who climbed up with the help of their contacts pique me too. In a way I feel it more than you do because unlike you I neither went to IIT & IIM, nor am I a famous pulp fiction writer.
But this is where our similarity ends. Unlike you, I do not consider myself a victim. And this is so for the simple reason that I do not wish to be a hypocrite. Perhaps you do not realize (I believe deliberately so) that we live in a country where eighty eight out of a hundred kids who pass out from high school never make it to college. Class system does not reside in the minds of Indians as you write in your blog post, it exists in the structural realities of the society we live in. Forget about ‘hot dogs in the lunch box’ or ‘vacations to Disneyland’, most of them attend school not for an education but solely for the miserly mid-day meal that is served at the government schools. Most of them do not even dream of going to the IIT or IIM (let alone giving up a plush corporate job to author bestselling pulp literature).
Do you even realize how stupid you sound when being an IIT-IIM alumnus you assume the stance of a victim? And to top it, you claim to speak on behalf of the oppressed underclass.
Dear Chetan, do you know that for a vast majority of young people in this country it is a privilege to continue education beyond school? Many bright prospects are nipped in the bud, forced, as they are to work part-time/full time while attending school to support their struggling parents and siblings. If I have not managed to drive in my point, let me put it in so many words- for the vast majority you are the well-connected kid who had the luxury to study full time, who did not have to rely on a mid-day meal for lunch etc etc. And precisely, why being an IIT & IIM alumnus is less a marker of privilege than being from Doon?
You say liberals hate Amit Shah and Narendra Modi because they do not speak polished English. But in case you failed to notice, most of the staunch opponents of Mr. Modi aren’t English medium type. A vast majority of the writers who have returned their awards write in Hindi, and many others write in regional languages. Perhaps you do not know that being a writer in a regional language brings little by way of money or recognition, it’s done in most instances merely for the love of the language and literature. We are fortunate that this country is blessed with so many writers who make themselves one with the lived reality of the people and point in direction of progress and positive change through their writings.
You expressed concern about liberals’ disconnect with the lives and concerns of the masses. Plese tell, what precisely do you mean by writing in people’s idiom? ‘Deti hai to de?’ As a character uttered in one of your novels? You might say that it’s the character that speaks and not you, but let me reiterate what numerous other sharper people have told you in the past, your novels do not do much by way of being a pointer towards positive change in our society. Yes you sell a lot, but pornography makes brisk business too. To be precise, by appealing to the baser instincts of the masses you might make a lot of money but fail in your duty to give hope and desire for progress to the people. If you cared to look, you might come across a lot in the people’s culture that is noble. Organic intellectuals are not preachers, they merely bring to the light of day for the people to see clear aspects of their own inherent goodness, compassion and solidarity hidden underneath the haze of wanton jealousy, rivalry and mindless competition that you novels promote and depict.
You are upset that ‘liberal’ do not come up with solutions. Perhaps you look upon yourself as a responsible intellectual who does (or you wouldn’t have written ‘Making India awesome’). Let me tell you what I think about your ‘solutions’. If you going to be rephrasing World Bank agenda through each one of your essays, then I would any day rather read the real thing. Why waste paper? Think about all the trees you caused to be chopped. Be responsible.
Dear Chetan hope you get well soon. Eagerly waiting for your next Hindi-Gujarati novel.
By Bharathan Chandrasekaran