Intellectual, who ?
February 24, 2010 Leave a comment
Home Minister P Chidambaram recently decried the support that the Maoists get from “intellectuals” precluding any tough measures from the Government to get rid of this menace.
The importance of finding a lasting solution to this problem can be gauged from the admission by none less than the Prime Minister himself that the biggest security threat that the country faces is the internal threat emanating from the Maoists.
The attempt through this note is not to exonerate the Government for all it’s failures but to drive home the point that criticism should be purposeful and progressive. It is no use to be antagonistic to the Government merely because of “perception” or one’s own blinkered view of what are civil rights.
The world over, every country takes advantage of it’s natural resources. But for such economic use of natural resource, the Middle East wouldn’t be what it is today. Hence a blanket disavowal of economic use of natural resource is not only foolish but is an economic fraud perpetrated on the country.
The natural resource of a nation should rightfully belong to every citizen of this country and hence there is no case of any group, ethnic or otherwise, having an entitlement to being “first among equals”. As much as the tribals or any group have a right to livelihood, it is equally true that other citizens have a right to employment opportunities that could be created by commercial use of the natural resources.
It is extremely important to balance economic growth and preservation of individual rights and ecological balance. It is a serious enough matter to be left to experts and not allow nincompoops masquerading as intellectuals to hijack the issue.
As I said earlier, I don’t purport to suggest that Indian Governments are an epitome of efficiency or is known for it’s governance but even the worst form of corruption does not validate a militant response. Intellectuals often have supported elements which are opposed to Government because they believe that an intellectual is known as one only if he is anti-establishment.
The likes of Arundhati Roy, Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi et all who are mere attention grabbers have caused an irreparable damage to the concept of “intellectualism”. Especially in the case of Arundhati Roy, she comes across as someone who picks up on an issue without adequate knowledge of facts or history and tries to gain limelight. A case in point is her, (in)famous statement about Kashmir and India, both being better off, without each other.
Though I hate to lump Medha Patkar along with the likes of Roy, she also has, sadly not quite lived up to the tag of “intellectual”. Her steadfast opposition to building of dams on the Narmada citing the livelihood of those who would be displaced by the dam is historic though it has not done much to dissuade the government from going ahead with it’s plans. In my view she could have afforded to be more pragmatic about her opposition and could have played a more constructive role in resolving the issue. I don’t claim to have any knowledge about the issue except that I think that dams are important from a long term perspective considering the precarious situation India finds itself with respect to fast depleting water resources.
Intellectuals have to play a more constructive role in the society rather than putting their plagiarized half-knowledge to use and posing as experts of issues. Support to any armed struggle must certainly eschewed if they have to be counted among the league of intellectuals.
Intellectuals can be the bridge that connects people and their Government. It is also expected that intellectuals are clairvoyant about future and not add to the existing ambivalence. They should also be humble enough to recognize that in the end, it is not the job of any government to please the intellectual, who is very often self-serving, but to do what is right in the best interests of the nation.
At the end of the day, the intellectuals like Arundhati Roy should recognize that they are only ‘God of Small things’ and hence desist from obstructing progress. They are not after all, God of All Things.