The atmosphere of intolerance has resulted in another casualty. Vikram Sampath, the co-founder of the Bangalore literature festival has stepped down as the organizer of this year’s edition of the event. It is only a matter of time that social media will have hashtags such as #IsupportVikram, there will be shrill debates on the prime time news where the custodians of free speech will stand up for Vikram Sampath ’s right to have an alternate viewpoint, and Lutyens’ journalists will take to twitter and call it is an indictment of the Union Govt. once again.
This is how the narrative would have played out in an alternative universe.
In this Universe however, there will be deafening silence in the TV studios, a few feebly written articles, and a low-trending twitter hashtag. Vikram Sampath unfortunately had the audacity of exercising his right of free speech, and politely say that he would not be a member of the retinue that is returning their Sahitya Akademi awards. He callously also suggested that Tipu Sultan’s history might not be as simplistic as one would be led to believe, and that an alternative examination of the man and his times might be required. Irrespective of how this particular story plays out, the non-action, and in some cases, hostile stance of the Liberal guardians of free speech, has unequivocally exposed their double-faced nature.
right vs. Right:
An oft misquoted quote attributed to Voltaire goes: I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it. Indian Liberals of course follow this Voltarian doctrine to the T, with some embellishments:
1. The right of free speech is absolute as long as it is not Right.
2. One can speak ill of any religion or any group as long as it is somehow associated with the Indian majority.
3. One must exercise one’s democratic right of fear-mongering even if it sounds asinine.
4. Verbal hostility and name-calling is absolutely unacceptable, unless someone presents a centre-right viewpoint.
Vikram Sampath ’s case is a classic example of Liberal doctrine one. The second doctrine is best illustrated by Aakar Patel’s latest article, where somehow linking intolerance to any warped version of Hinduism is Kosher, but an attempt to do the same with other religions will result in one being branded as a bigot for the rest of one’s life. The third doctrine is best illustrated by Arundhati Roy’s latest prattle about the Govt. trying to impose Brahmanism. The argument is absolutely sound, and one must be genuinely afraid from a group which is too small and too fragmented for the word to have any meaning. After all, aren’t they responsible for every malaise in modern day Indian society?
Speech, free of bias:
Scathing sarcasm aside, the Indian Left has for far too long managed to somehow put themselves onto a higher moral pedestal than the Right, which has give them an unfair right to put forth questionable and at times, truly seditious arguments which would not fly in most civilized nations. Bigotry on both sides is unacceptable, but the Left has somehow managed to not be held accountable for this, mainly due to the lack cohesive voices on the Centre-Right which can present nuanced opinions. Thankfully, this is changing now, and it is time to end the intellectual farce that plagues the country, and bring both sides on a level playing field, cull extreme, and overtly bellicose viewpoints on both sides, and debate issues purely on its intellectual merit and not by a hypothetical and arbitrary definition of good and evil.
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