The counterproductive (il)liberalism


Yesterday I read a piece in Web portal Newslaundry (of which i am a disappointed subscriber). While i agreed with some parts of the argument I found the oversimplification and ideological bias to be very stark and mildly unpalatable. Particularly what struck me was the referring to Yogi Adityanath as Ajay Bisht.

about that time Uttar Pradesh chief minister Ajay Bisht showed up in Karawal Nagar and told a bustling audience that “their ancestors broke this country apart”, meaning Muslims.

Being a reasonable follower of politics I know that Yogi Adityanath was once called Ajay Bisht before he took the name Adityanath as the head of Gorakhpur Muth. The use of name Ajay Bisht is clearly a polemical ploy to get virtual cheers from the people on your side of the debate but what it foolishly ignores IMO is the reverence Hindus in general have for Yogis, Sadhus and Godmen.

The problems of this polemic are twofold:

  • Some people who are uninformed maybe confused by use of name Ajay Bisht. Even a minute incoherence which diverts from the thrust of the argument could be seen as counterproductive.
  • It prejudices minds of readers who are not necessarily partisan but find this un-name calling unpalatable.

In my readings and listenings over the years, the only people who had scornfully referred to un-named religious men have been people like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. However one doesn’t need to defend these folks for their consistency as their all out attack on religion is as even handed as humanly possible.

This discussion goes well into the truly sad self goal by the Indian Liberals viz. the Delhi Riots 2020 book launch. One of the arguments for this is made in here. (Again in Newslaundry which to my disappointment is going truly into the Wokesphere). This argument is so lame and so pre-Internet IMO that it doesn’t even bother confronting the real outcome of Bloomsbury de-platforming Delhi Riots 2020 – increased popularity and unnecessary (from liberal pov) martyrdom of the authors. What could’ve been criticized as an one sided and hyperbolic book has become a Free speech issue. And Liberals have ceded a lot of moral ground here. Contrast this with the much more objectively problematic book on 26/11 – RSS ka Shadyantra, 26/11 which did not receive any meaningful criticism from the liberal side despite being the complete PIGSHIT. The book could’ve objectively & legally banned from publishing IMO as it compromised the national position on 26-11 and Pakistan but it wasn’t. The extend to which the RSS opposed that book was that they filed a court complaint and the author/publisher had to apologize – yes its the so called Fascists who take the legal route. The whole outrage over the pulping of Wendy Doniger’s book is put in nice perspective with this incident. The reason I personally endured parts of Doniger’s spurious Freudian extrapolations is because of the noise that book generated. Same will happen with the Delhi Riots 2020 for many non-partisan people.

Some smart liberals have stood up against this virtue signaling masquerading as moral righteousness. Examples – Here and Here  but they have been childishly dismissed by the left as Both-siders between Good and Evil. What is surprising for me is how deracinated some people have become to count this instance as a liberal victory. As if getting plaudits from your own tribe matters as a victory.  But in these polarized echo chambers even a (BOT)tish liberal POV articles by folks like Aakar Patel & Shivam Vij are well received. Lets not even start with how people like Rana Ayyub and Sagarika Ghose earn so much money and fame.

On the whole, based on interactions i have had with Hindutva supporters, most don’t support the extreme narrative espoused in books like Delhi Riots 2020. From a purely reductionist point of view – 40/53 causalities have been Muslim and the overwhelming number of people facing prosecution are also Muslims. Such hard facts are irrefutable even if people on the Right are moderately honest (which most are). However what has enraged most people on the right is the calling of Delhi 2020 riots-  Pogroms or comparing them to Gujarat 2002. Journalists like Rahul Pandita  and even bleeding heart liberals like Rajdeep Sardesai were viciously attacked from the left when they pointed out that both communities had suffered from the riots. If such an atmosphere persists I wouldn’t be surprised if more One sided books like Delhi Riots 2020 are written, published and widely read. Had I been the marketing in-charge of release of Delhi Riots 2020, i couldn’t have come up with a better plan for a wider readership.

What is tragic about these antics is that people on the right are more likely to believe extreme and conspiracy theorist narratives as a natural function of this controversy. But till LIBERALS continue with virtue signaling over readable and nuanced arguments, liberals(like me) are bound to be pushed rightwards.


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17 thoughts on “The counterproductive (il)liberalism”

  1. To an extent, even the hands of the liberals are tied. They can get long-term job opportunities mainly in departments of academia, certain institutions and NGOs, of which many of the competent ones are based outside India. If they mention anything contrarian publicly then that would put their objectives in jeopardy as their history becomes an issue whenever they apply to any of the above organizations, and cancel culture would hang like a Damocles sword over their heads.

    That being said, many of these writers don’t have any idea about the vernacular media in the various states since they exist primarily within the realm of the Anglosphere. If they had bothered taking up the effort to write their thoughts in one or two other languages, maybe then they would have a feeling about where the wider populace stood on ideas.

    1. “To an extent, even the hands of the liberals are tied. They can get long-term job opportunities mainly in departments of academia, certain institutions and NGOs, of which many of the competent ones are based outside India.”
      Yeah – but not standing up for liberal principles and actively championing de-platforming are quite different.

  2. Journalism in India, even non-mainstream ones like Newslaundry, need to strut their wares to get donations and eyeballs. Some overdo it.

    In times of Corona, there is nothing bad about controversy. That and the fact that even sober liberals have used this tactic in the past means that nothing is off-boundaries.

    Only way to make this go away is through Brit style libel laws. Heavy duty fines that can be awarded quickly ( millions of pounds).

    Or bring back duelling? 🙂 Most Indian liberals are urban, nerdish and effeminate with zero skin in the game. Only some of the Congressmen, communists and naxals know how to dominate physically.

    1. Lol – the most brilliant idea ever – “Or bring back duelling? ?” ;
      What would i give to see Rajdeep Arnab and Rahul S duel each other on live TV; would be an even fantastic spectacle than the one we currently have

    2. //Only some of the Congressmen, communists and naxals know how to dominate physically.
      Add the religious and caste based organizations to this. One bad article and the self appointed keepers of these organizations would jump at your throat. But I agree, no one could beat the communists at the physical violence until Didi came. Similar story in MH with Shiv Sena and later MNS.

  3. The same people who get outraged when an incorrect pronoun is used for a confused teenager, deliberately use the name of a sannyasi in his previous life. The word deracinate aptly describes these so called liberals since they have no idea about the culture and conventions of their own land and would happily replace it with the borrowed woke culture of America. This is also the result of a lot of pandering to their illiberal base that resides in JNU, DU, TISS and other handful of “liberal arts” colleges in the country. Newslaundry is not going to get its base to subscribe unless it can deliver the goods, similar to the decay of the mainstream media.

    1. yes but like AAP i believe their model is a good one – but not implemented properly or has poor leadership and thus has become an echo chamber. They atleast take criticism on the chin unlike some – but theyre quickly becoming indistinguishable from Wire IMO – Wire minus good funds and good literary skills. 😛

      1. The lack of success of Newslaundry over the last few years meant that their previous model was not viable. Their Youtube videos get a fraction of the views that people like Dhruv Rathee and Akah Banerjee get, forget a proper organization like The Wire. There just isn’t a big enough market for a serious liberal channel that doesn’t go the woke way.

        1. Dhruv Rathee / Banerjee and Wire get more traction cause they go all the way ideologically ;
          Rathee is a very smarter guy than people at Newslaundry – Your smarts matter over ideology at times i guess – and often he takes some contrarian positions like 370 / Ram mandir & many RW ppl i know follow him over NDTV/ Wire.
          The model of Newslaundry would work if they had a wider ideological diversity. Similar to Print. I wasn’t a fan of Print initially, but they have done well these last few months – especially since 2019 election – Gupta was the first to really appreciate how deracinated his side had become and it seems he has made few corrections.
          Especially i like the Science coverage of Print. But they’re doing lot of foolish and stupid mistakes too – cant seem to control the scale.

          i would be interested to know how much funds thePrint has been getting.

          BTW i am a follower of Lallantop too – their election coverage is daylight above the mainstream media.

    1. Lol true that ;
      I cringe at the Sanu guy at times he comes on my TL.
      Been equating the Term South Asian with the N word ?.

      Though I tend to agree with him on Language of instruction (mother tongue)

      1. @gauravL,

        What is so cringe-worthy? South Asians is used as something to put Indians in place. Would this be done to Chinese? If some organization did actually have only south asians, then it makes sense but a blanket use for India seems a stretch. This particular forum attracts people from India, Pak, Sri Lanka. It might be easy to call it South-asian forum but a general term to be used interchangeably with India is not right. You should read about the California text book battle to get the full extent of the use of the term.

        1. comparing it with “N” word – i am also solidly against the term South Asian – but i just dont feel its comparable to Anti black racism or Anti Semitism

  4. Keep in mind that most of the so called “liberals” of india are self-appointed and part of a select group (cultivated by congress governments). But in true sense, they were psuedo-liberal (same as psuedo-secular) all along. Now with advent of social media and people getting news from different sources, it has become easy for masses to recognize the psuedo-liberalism and hypocrisy of this group. And its not easy for the psuedo-liberals to become true liberals overnight.

    1. Good point. But most were in a broad sense courtiers too of the then Establishment. (Most including Dr Singh Mr Abid Hussain were more than acquaintances Once i realized around 1990 that I was being co-opted I moved to the sidelines and soon decided to leave Delhi)

  5. A lot of ink has been spilled on BP saying that Hindutva is Indian woke. Waiting for them to debate on how this is not woke. As I asserted again and again last time with no response from author, check the side that academia stands with.

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