Saturday, August 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Indian Idea: towards fraternity

B.G. Verghese's long essay (Aug 12, 13, 14) deals with a large number of issues which in his view, if properly tackled, can ensure a vibrant fraternity in a secular pluralist India that will embrace laggard Bharat. He hopes that democratisation as it moves on into future will even induce the backward and regressive Bharat along into a liberal, tolerant society.

Verghese, like his Nehruvian paradigm, holds a great brief for modern education. True, the metropolitan Indian since the middle 19th century hankered after western education; in this some did remarkably well. Others wished to emulate them as Gokhale expressed the view: "what Bengal thinks today, the rest of India thinks tomorrow”. However, Sir Saiyyed, the founder of Anglo-Muslim College at Aligarh, felt apprehensive of such educated Chatterjees, Banerjees and Sens arriving in hordes in upper India's towns who could displace the prominent landed gentry by forming the newer colonial elite. Sir Saiyyed persuaded his peers, including some Hindu land-owners, to help him in his project to safeguard local elities' interests.

I have doubts about the role of education as the avowed Nehruvian Verghese holds in securing fraternity in future amongst those million mutineers of Bharat who are disenchanted with the liberal governance of our present Republic. To me a liberal panegyric to the middle class and its mentality seems to be an undeserved compliment on the basis of its past track record. My reasons are that it was our metropolitan middle classes who led all those communal, chauvinistic, separatist movements eventually leading to the political division of British territories, consequent communal flair-ups and horrid cultural cleansing and uprootings of millions of subalterns from their homes before the transfer of power and later from Bangladesh in the seventies. Even the NRI Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and others, who whip up parochial causes, are highly educated! Colonial liberal education as a tool for human fraternity, at least to my mind, unless I am all wrong, is value neutral.


The role of educated elites was not so rosy as Gandhi realised facing his mortal coils of Satyagraha. In fact, often this Satyagraha was as much directed against the imperialist system as against some of our own Indian middle class flag-bearers. The educated elites since decolonisation have put up a dual role. One that they mouth liberal humanism, while they join most chauvinistic divisiveness to secure office and access to power to exploiting our tribal sensibilities. The most eloquent paradigm case is of Mr Zinnah himself.

Stability and orderly social change will emerge out of the current million mutinees in the backwaters of Bharat when the pretentious middle classes are forced to climb down from the overly oppressed subalterns’ back whom they have led up the garden path ever since public domain became a reality in the last century.

One thing our present liberal democracy is a feckless collusion of vested interests of MNCs, their servitors in industry and the middle classes who manipulate popular politicians who are past all sense of service to the Daridranarayana despite occasional homilies to Gandhi. The Apparat, guided by colonial hangovers of its imperial pretensions and distrust of the rules, runs the governance by making self-serving rules that they meticulously impose to perpetuate their own hegemony.

To such cosmetic tinkering as you visualise would not bring fraternity for Bharat. For that what is needed is that a fusion of the oppressed is targeted and a paradigm-shift is brought about to let Bharat dominate the spurious India of middle class liberals, who themselves can first imbibe Gandhi's Daridranarayana and meld it with the commitment to the poor a la Che Guevara.

D. GOEL, Panchkula


Tota Singh’s orders

This refers to the news item Tota Singh’s orders still being implemented (Aug 12). I am no supporter of Mr Tota Singh. Orders do not have to be cancelled just because those were passed by someone who is no more in office now and is being investigated for some wrong practices in his time. Rationality of the orders have to be seen. There seems to be nothing wrong with the two orders mentioned in the news item vis., stopping promotion of vulgarity in the name of cultural programmes and instituting some measure to instil sense of accountability for producing poor results.

Are the orders required to be shot down just because these were passed by Tota Singh? Anyway, those were not passed by him as a person but as the Education Minister at that time. Does your correspondent mean to imply that all orders of erstwhile ministers should automatically stand cancelled as soon as they relinquish office, howsoever sensible those might be? Why should the DEO and the Principal of the school be asked to explain?



US Embassy

I want to highlight the humiliation I experienced at the American Embassy in New Delhi. I am an engineering graduate with MBA from University Business School, Panjab University, Chandigarh, in 1998. I had applied for the F1 visa, that is the student visa, on July 18.

The interviewing lady, after screening my documents, told me that my degrees and mark sheets were fake. I asked her how she could accuse me of preparing false documents without any proof. She put forward a lame excuse that my documents did not look four years old and rejected me.

There I stood shell shocked being accused of forgery. It was sheer humiliation and I felt really ashamed; a woman accusing me of possessing false degrees that I had acquired after two years of hard work.

All those aspiring to go abroad should please be ready to answer insane accusations of the embassy interviewers.


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