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‘Dukhi Aatmayein’ floating around on Indian news television

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Akshay Saraswat
A journalist and sports writer with over five years of experience. I have worked in organizations like The Pioneer and The Sunday Guardian. A cultural nationalist who believes in India being the greatest civilization on the planet.
 

Among the many things that have transpired in India since the ascension of Narendra Modi to PM’s chair, one that has greatly affected news television viewers is the appearance of a special breed of human beings on it.

These ‘intellectuals’ are those who have decided to turn themselves into politically-active versions of Devdas. By assuming an artificially melancholy tone, they are trying to suggest that India has slumped into a state of ethical and moral degeneration – engineered by BJP and its supporters – which is akin to the condition of Germany during Third Reich.

These ‘Dukhi aatmayein’ assail our senses by adopting a despairing tone, often couched in the language of sarcasm and cynicism. A casual observer, not familiar with India and its politics, on witnessing their pretended helplessness, would find it hard not to develop sympathy for these supposed ‘voices of conscience’ in a country of people fast losing their humane touch.

Through their columns and television interventions – promoted by their myriad admirers in the media – these men are hell bent on convincing people – in India and, preferably, abroad also – that Indians (read Hindus) are becoming increasingly dehumanized.

Ironically, a BJP loss in elections turns their voices buoyant and optimistic while a victory for the saffron party means return to their depressing ruminations.

So, who are these ‘Dukhi Aatmayein?’ Let’s look at three of the most prominent names from their ranks.

 

Aakar Patel

Aakar Patel is a highly-learned former journalist who is also blessed with the distinction of being a Gujarati. Today, this man heads Amnesty International’s India branch. Using his Gujarati heritage, he has decided to run down his own people and join the chorus of those who want Gujarat to be seen as a state full of Muslim-hating bigots.

Before Modi became PM, he repeatedly made the case that a dangerous form of Hindu supremacism has already become diffused among people of his state. When the whole country approved of Modi’s leadership by electing him Prime Minister, he turned his hatred towards the whole nation.

 

Whether you see him on television or read his Sunday column in Times of India – published every alternate week – he is trying his best to infuse a strong pessimism about the country. In fact, unlike many other intellectuals who, at least, pretend to hate only Modi and not the ethos of this country, he has been transparent about his disgust for the civilizational heritage of our motherland.

The shamelessness that is seen in his Sunday columns is remarkable for its brazenness. One of his columns sarcastically suggested that India is spending too much of its resources on defence and heaped scorn on the Army and the behavior of its personnel.

In another, he made the case that India was lucky to be ruled by Britishers because of her inherent inferiority. This sad sack loves to take potshots at India’s history and proudly refers to a Dalit scholar’s dubious claim that India is the most invaded country in the world – meaning the most effete.

He even had the temerity to say that Maharana Pratap doesn’t deserve any reverence as he has ‘zero contribution to India’s history.’ Anything that is remotely nationalist draws his ire and skewed arguments.

Patel uses that tone of cynicism and sarcasm that is the trademark of many of these people. Some of his columns have been cravenly provoking Muslims and Dalits to view themselves with a sense of persecution complex and dislike their nation.

He does all this while carrying that demeanour of a tortured soul who has decided to smile in face of an impending tragedy. Speaking with an air of despondency, he tries to lull people into joining his cause. The only positive side of his attempts to malign the nation is that he is honest enough to admit his hatred for the whole cultural identity of India as well as its loved institutions like army.

Ravish Kumar

This gem of a journalist has spent his time trying to present a calmer and more meaningful version of prime-time news. It would have been great had he also included the quality of fairness in his broadcasts.

Instead, Ravish has decided to use his languorously sarcastic style to run down the present government. To be fair, he has been at the receiving end of some personal abuse from alleged supporters of the present dispensation. That is highly condemnable. But that does not justify the highly-dramatised and exaggerated reporting of certain negative events.

His blackening of the screen when some journalists were attacked in 2016 along with the gratuitous mime-show when government imposed a day’s ban on NDTV (for totally justifiable causes) are more well-known examples of his biased coverage.

In the last couple of years, his show has become notorious for the kind of slanted reporting it does on government schemes. There has also been plenty of erroneous coverage of incidents which invariably involves claiming a link between self-proclaimed right-wing groups and BJP without any evidence.

Cleverly using a tone of despairing cynicism, he tries to play the same game as Aakar Patel in making Indians dread the future. The tactic of playing a hapless victim has brought him a fan following of those who liked a weak, diffident, insecure India, one which is ashamed of its own identity.

By constantly looking glum, he tries to seem more dignified than other anchors and pretends to be a lone voice for justice while the rest of the nation is going mad. A little deeper understanding would reveal that he is merely saddened by the lack of support for his own bigoted point of view.

Yogendra Yadav

Till he joined Aam Aadmi Party, Yogendra Yadav was considered India’s premier psephologist. His mild tone and soft voice were seen as signs of intellectual depth. However, with his conversion to politics, he threw off his mask of ideological neutrality and became a full-throated opponent of Modi’s BJP.

After being kicked out of AAP, Yadav has formed his own party which is struggling to save its deposits in elections it contests. But his psephological background as well as the admiration of Modi-phobic mediapersons have ensured that he gets a lot of airtime as well as column inches.

In his modern avatar as a politician/intellectual/psephologist, he has become a most annoying preacher warning people about the impending descend of the country towards fascism. Always speaking in a tone of sanctimoniousness, he now claims to represent the farmers of the country, which is ironic because that claim is yet to be validated by any electoral success.

He too has decided to assume the appearance of a tormented soul, haplessly witnessing the demise of Indian democracy and pluralism. In the recent India Today conclave, he pompously claimed that the upcoming elections would decide whether India remains India or not. In other words, BJP’s victory is the death knell for Indian democracy! Bravo.

The even tone of his voice is no longer carrying the appearance of a deep intellect but an exaggerated notion of self-importance. He now sees himself as one of the few enlightened people in this country preventing its slide into dis-civilization.

Conclusion

The eminent intellectuals listed above are licking their chops at the prospect of BJP losing power in the upcoming elections. Their gloomy countenances would become luminous if the results go their way.

Sarcasm would give way to cheerfulness and pessimism to a sense of vindication. They would feel India has returned to its true identity – a nation ashamed of its culture, embarrassed of its heritage, unwilling to be strong, perpetually apologizing for imagined cultural inferiorities and completely devoid of a sense of unity.

Will we let these people – hateful towards the idea of a strong and confident India – succeed?

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Akshay Saraswat
A journalist and sports writer with over five years of experience. I have worked in organizations like The Pioneer and The Sunday Guardian. A cultural nationalist who believes in India being the greatest civilization on the planet.

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