Nationalism Is Being Used To Divide People: Pratap Bhanu Mehta On Modi Sarkar At IT Conclave 2019

good evening I've been given the unenviable task of doing something on the state of democracy in about 10 minutes how does one talk about such a grand experiment like Indian democracy in 10 minutes particularly at such a critical juncture in its history I'm not going to do a straightforward scorecard of the last five years the gains and losses I think over the last two year two days you heard a lot of deliberations on the significant challenges India has faced or not faced over the last five years everything from the architecture of social welfare schemes to the agriculture crisis 2d monetization I am actually going to do something a little bit more abstract and talk about I think something we are not talking about enough when we draw up the scorecard of Indian democracy over the last five years right one measure of the fact that I think Indian democracy is not just in crisis but there is a deep deep diminishing of hope at this juncture compared to five years ago or perhaps ten years ago is the following the 2019 election is an election with very high stakes many would argue this is an election that is central to the survival of democracy because if some balance of power is not restored in this democracy democracy will be in parent but the paradoxes it's a very high stakes election but it's also an election with very low expectations right what are the low expectations where all democracy survive will we muddle through the way we have over the last few years all the big repositories of hope that we had accumulated over the last 10 15 years India is that the cusp of a structural transformation right India will in a sense reach a new stratosphere of growth and inclusion in job creation I think all of those expectations have been deeply disappointed so it's a going to be an election of high expectations high stakes but very very low expectations and why is that the case and this is really the one big point I want to make because I think there is something happening to our democracy which is mutilating what one might grandiosely call the Democratic soul right we are becoming a nation of resentful hearts small minds and constricted Souls in some senses democracy should be a occasion for exuberance lightness freedom Gaetti celebration where where one is heading becomes more is more important than where one comes from right instead what is our democracy becoming a throwback to the past right so let's just very quickly look at what are we losing in this democracy okay so I'm going to ask you a question how many in this room think of themselves as nationalists put up your hand okay not bad of those of you put up here's your hand how many of you have a certificate that can prove to me that you're nationalists okay so the first thing that has been taken away from us right is our own nationalism right rather than the presumption that all of us are nationalists this has become something we have to prove right paradoxical in an age of nationalism nationalism is the very thing that has begun to divide us and Mark us okay so that's gear up cannot say right it enly be rush to vodka vodka ray okay let's move on to something else you I'm sure you care about truth right it's true all societies are marked by mendacity propaganda all regimes like to manipulate that gray zone between truth and falsehood right all regimes in a sense like to create an environment which is propitious for them it's true ok but have you ever experienced a moment in the last 20 years in Indian democracy where the purpose of the production of knowledge was not truth but something far more insidious it was to relieve you of the burden of thinking all together ok it's not about falsehood it's not about mendacity it is about a structure of public discourse that relieves you of the burden of thinking don't ask questions your anti-national so raster gear septagon now let's come to that cornerstone of our democracy this exuberant thing we call freedom right ok let's remind ourselves there are still people in prison and intent will base without her departure or at least under the threat of prosecution for serving marginalized communities in this country it is true that no government in India across any political party has ever served the cause of civil liberties you still cannot get the opposition parties to sign on to a new charter of civil liberties that will do away the law of sedition that will at least reform if not do away with article 295 in the Indian Penal Code right the act of speaking has become a dangerous act in a democracy right so freedom bigger Rashtra gaya Satya so tenth of a guy ok let's move on the fourth pillar of the democracy the Free Press under whose auspices we are convened there was a 19th century satirist modest Ronnie who actually envisage envisaged a fantasy for what a democratic populist ruler would born of a press ok I'm just reading out a description and ask yourself who does it recognize you of who does it remind you of so this is Napoleon the third right who thought he represented the people as a whole he didn't need any representatives because all the people were in him he says my scheme envisioned envisions the neutrality of the press the neutralizing of the press by the press itself because journalism wields great power do you know what government will do it will become like them government itself will become journalism incarnate like god vishnu my press will have a hundred arms and these arms will stretch out to every shade of opinion those who think they speak their own language will also be speaking my language those who think they are marching under the banner of their own ideas will also be marching under mine i will be able to say i direct opinion at will on all questions of external and internal policy i awaken the people's mind or lull them to sleep i reassure them or confuse them i plead for or against true and false ok what does that remind you of that ambition right ok so press key Swatantra gay let's come to the final tea religion right ok this canard modern india secular India has marginalized Indian traditions I think it is marginalized only those people who did not have confidence in Indian traditions but more seriously we are at the cusp of a fundamental restructuring and transformation of the idea of religion in modern India in three respects right first of all the idea of the mobilisation of religion in the service of political power where our most visible religious faces always begin by saluting the powers that be right that's the only mortal God that left second the Harrison hubris of thinking that it is our job to protect our God's not the God's job to protect us right and third the idea that all religion needs to be co-opted into a single homogeneous power structure religion the very thing that behooves us to transcend our identity right is being reduced to the identity that marks you for which you will be targeted okay so Dharam began so Tantra a rush to gas at the gas Dharam garage Adi gay right submitter what is civility societies are always uncivil in some respects but the norms of civility are set by those who are in the highest positions of power that's in fact their only job right their only job is to signal what can be said or what cannot be said what is right or what is wrong right but when those in highest positions of authority empower those who would threaten intimidate right those who would declare most of the people in this room anti-national right what is going to be left of civility I can go on and on so the hunkiest gas and hi guy is subrata guy what is actually going to be left and I think if you want to draw up the scorecard of thing of the last five years I think the most important fact to focus on is that the last five years have been a mutilation of the Indian soul they stand for everything that is an Indian right they stand for stand against every promise that this democracy gave to each one of his citizens and so the challenge for us going to be now and that's why I began by saying this is a low expectation elections that no matter what the election result right unless there a massive repudiation of the public culture that we have created in the last 5 years in which many of us have been complicit in in ways perhaps that we don't recognize unless there is a massive reputation of this public culture you will not be able to recover either the nation or your freedom or your truths or your religion that's what is going to be at stake in 2009 19 thank you prathab a new method is one of our leading public intellectuals you've laid out over the last 13 minutes all that you think has gone wrong with India in the last five years is there anything you think is going right with the India story as well or do you only see the negative zone comment only on the negative the the the challenge is the the shorter the time you give a speaker the more the differences are accentuated right so no look I think to put it in context right there is still great hope in Indian democracy there is no question about it right I mean this is why we are having this conversation okay but I think it's fair to say that over the last 5-10 years it's it's not particular to this comment and that's why I I don't think they she was just confined to this government the kind of transformative possibilities that we thought possible ten years ago seem to be out of our grasp right India is at the cusp of so many fundamental transitions as we've heard over the last two days right ask yourself the question have we made the transition from crony capitalism to well regulated markets the answer is maybe a little bit here a little bit there but broadly no right ask yourself the question can I ask you a question in terms of how assets were allocated earlier just completely at home – how assets are being allocated now through a tendering and auction there is a world of difference see the work that the insolvency and bankruptcy code is means but whether you see a glass half empty or half full there are multiple steps that we've taken on the issue that you just raised moving from completely non discretion completely discretionary that allocation of assets to a far more transparent way of doing it except that glass is still half-empty and you don't see the part that's how full oh I think on this one in particular I think the jury's still out on whether it's still half-empty in fact as we speak the IPC code is being undermined as you know in very many backhanded ways the concentration the fundamental test of corruption right is not transactional corruption the concentration of plutocratic power in the Indian economy has not diminished that is a fact can you think of any other major economy in the world with this much concentration of Pluto Pluto Craddock power by a small group of actors across a very large number of critical sectors that is what corruption actually is we are not tackling that this okay you wanted good things a lot of good things I actually am a big poetry of GST I think I think I think the implementation of GST I think was flawed deeply flawed and it and and and to be fair to government partly that those flaws was a product of the way it was negotiated with will be with GST five years from now so look at the road that's been traversed look at where we get with GST how can you say that that doesn't make in there a more open more transparent again no no opposite of India still a functioning democracy and they are still growing at 6.6 percent in the later quarter so of course things are functioning right I think the question is not right whether some things have I mean that's the low expectation bar you're setting right the question is whether we given the mandate this government had in the majority it had whether we lost the opportunity for creates and the fundamental transformations that would produce growth and jobs mr. metha the government never had your mandate and therefore it's not the government's job to fulfill your expectations the question is for the people who want it for this government do they believe that their expectations are being fulfilled your idea of India is not involve evolving in the way that you'd like there are people out there who have an idea of India their idea of India is challenging your idea of India that is what a democracy is let there be another alternate idea of India represented by the opposition let it compete in contests with this idea of India let the better idea win because your idea is losing doesn't mean mr. metha that India is losing of course Raoul what you said is a platitude of course India as a context of the counterpunched contest of different ideas of India but any idea of India that puts its national unity at risk that puts its fundamental constitutional values at risks that puts individual freedom at risk right that creates a public culture right that divides citizens from citizen if you want the defeat of that idea of India sure you're welcome to it there absolutely you're welcome to it right and of course it is up to the Indian people up to the people of India to decide whether this idea of India wins or some other idea of India wins the beauty of this idea of India was this was an idea of India that said we can live together despite our differences right this was an idea of India that did not say unity in diversity it said we are diverse in our unities right this was an idea where you did not have to prove your patriotism this you know this was the idea that is actually giving the constitutional protections that you and I are talking about this one I didn't lose the method that over a period of time God's averted to the extent that government started saying that minorities are the first right of the country's natural resources an idea of India but God's averted in the sense that only certain area started receiving electricity whereas certain areas were not given electricity now there is more rational allocation of all resources which doesn't look at cost which doesn't look at religion rational allocation of yes I think elect untransparent electrode bonds are very rational allocation of resources right if you want to talk of through talk–i C but but but but but but but but but in the sense yes nobody is holding a candle for the opposition party as you know all of us right all of us all of us but at the forefront or saying that the old regime was collapsing on the weight of its own corruption right but look you can call out the hypocrisy of liberals but for God's sake if you want to take down liberalism with it then you then you are cutting your nose to spite you know cutting your nose in spite your face right then you are basically saying what is important for us is to hurt certain people not to defend certain values by all means look throw all the Liberals in the sea get rid of that idea of India absolutely no issues right nobody said anything about throwing liberals into the sea which is challenging the idea of what a liberal is and how can liberals say that they're the only looked at that's what I think that's the wrong question the idea is not what a liberal is the idea is what values do you want to defend right when you say the idea of what a liberal is that focuses on the hypocrisy of particular people right God knows God knows the ancien régime we had was at issue of those hypocrisy switch of I've collapsed right which is why it collapsed of its own failures and contradictions right but when you are throwing out that ancien régime the question is do you also want to throw out those ideas right that made this constitutional republic one of the grandest experiments in democracy in the modern world that's the question throughout the Congress would also use but replace it with something better not something worse therein lies the greatest liberal failing to come up with an idea which can test with an alternate idea that's being presented that is challenging the old idea of India and now the liberal idea of India is falling under the zone contradictions I'll tell you the contradiction is not in the liberal idea of India the court the elections are about a contest of credibility right and there I will be first to concede first to concede as I've consistently done that the credibility of all those people who claim to be better of those liberal ideas right actually worth it they were right people were right to be suspicious of those people right but the question is when you're suspicious of them on what grounds are you suspicious are you Gras are you suspicious because they don't uphold your ideals or are you suspicious because you want to tear down those ideals and replace them with something soul start affiant constricting that's the question soul constricting for whom is an idea that we leave for everyone who goes out and casts their word whether we agree or whether we disagree this is the intelligence exchange and it is about the exchange of ideas ladies and gentlemen at the India today Conclave can we have a warm round of applause for Pratap on America thank you very much [Applause]

Maurice Vega

40 Responses

  1. Living reality is different political parties use different instruments (nationalism, communalism, caste, creed, regionalism, etc) to polarise/divide the society to win the votes…….when old instruments outlive their utility, new instruments are invented to divide/polarise the society……..Social scientists like Mr. Mehta being part of an articulate section of the society only intellectualise it based on their personal biases and prejudices…….

  2. oh yes…the last five years are the only reason for mutilation of the Indian soul….the hypocrisy of this pseudo-intellectual who thinks he can just make an opinion of India from his ivory towers…you are the Napolean sir and servant of the British

  3. rahul ji let him finish first ,but his idea represents the people of India.And peaple dont have urs mandate also.And govt do something good its their duty and if not do then its the duty of public intellectuals to critisize govt and that plays Mr Mehta.

  4. Yes this is what the pseudo secular and bunch of corrupts beneficiaries who got benefitted from the left ideologies and regime will speak like this .
    They will mislead the people by the hypothetical agenda.

  5. Mr P Ray you say undemocratic against the undemocratic actions of the Government. Actually, some kinds of anarchism What about the very democratic and anarchism in West Bengal.You Indian intellectuals are the biggest boot lickers..On the question of leaving India if the cap fits wear it.

  6. What you think is important but not important, come with facts.Intellectually your thought is frought with half truth.For you Mr Mehta who has been propelled by the corrupt mindset of secular India still insisting that the falsehood of 55 years has been good.
    What's wrong as opposed to your tunnel vision being a nationalist.Where were you during the past 55 yrs when Congress was crushing democracy and institutions were being trampled upon.

  7. Who is a public intellectual.?Crisis what crisis does this intellectual sense? What about the creation of a mini Pakistan in Kashmir? You who speak of democracy what wrong is there being nationalist?Kashmir is claimed by some to be a muslim state, what is your mendacity and your thinking on this issue? You who are opening your big mouth still say you are not free without freedom of speech. You are are seeing everything slipping from under your feet.What about the emergency of Mrs Gandhi, was that the protection of democracy.
    What about the corrupt public culture during the the period prior to the your blindfolded intellectual analysis of only five years is astoundingly hypocritical.Intellectuals like you, dishonest to the core need to be declared anti indian and booted out of your comfort zone.

  8. The host seems to be determined with intend to argue. Instead of holding an intellectual discussion,he doesn't like to appear to lose 🤔

  9. Nationalism is the only thing which unite people and this mr. So called Intelectual is saying that nationalism devide. Are he stupid in totality? It seems that he wants to defend anti nationals in the guise of freedom of expression, religion.

  10. The Mr. Public intelectual is just trying to run his agenda to remove the current government. Astonishingly he find former government very good on every of his aspect. He nothing but a ostrich.

  11. Just want to made a point.
    1. Democracy was not in danger when 300000 kashmiri pandits got humiliation and being raped and tortured.
    2. Democracy was not in stack when their was a biased media in UPA era.
    3. Democracy is not being on stack when people was used by vote bank and secularism was killed in front of every .
    4. Who ever reading this , just want to build a point all youngster are feeling threating because it's being highlighted .
    5. No one talk a girl being raped by a mulla , because it was not secular, disgusting .
    6. Scenario is we have that much freedom that a video of full vulgar words are being used by a YouTube and youth want to follow him
    7. People say Bharat tere tukde hoge and they are now youth leader.
    8. It's a long process sir and your biased opinion reflects that.

  12. When Hindus are persecuted, deprived , killed by jihadi extremism,evacuated from their own land then it's a perfect order and sign of balance of democracy, when it goes opposite then democracy get endangered, intolerance is hight on peak. This humanitarian approach , meak and tolerant behaviour of Hindus didn't give dam but their own destruction since ancient time, time is End, now they know what to do.

  13. India Today's(Rahul Kanwal) Idea of India, the so called Alternate idea of india, has been shattered by Mr.B P Mehata by his articulated truth of India's very life line of Unity in Diversity. Thank you Mr.Mehata for your intellectual speech.

  14. Media is called fourth pillar of democracy..and if the journalist is not mature enough then the pillar must be fragile…it could be break down any time

  15. Dis country needs nationalism..we hv so much diversity..we have devided by cast, religion,language,region, etc..dis age is nation state..we need someone who can unite us and awake nationalism frm us..and modi just duing tat..we should be thankful to god tat we hv leader like a modi..these all so called secular peoples but in reality just these are bullshit..

  16. Someone intellectual mind like pb mehta will nt digestive for these type of journlist,they have nt even a single argue tht defend himself.

  17. It is easy for intellectual to sit ,think and speak out for a country where diversity is predominantly sustained despite of majorities and minorities. People are same everywhere in this world, more or less ideas will lead and it cannot divide the thought of unity deep down in the subconscious of Indian soil no matter who is eager to see so. Jai Hind 🇮🇳

  18. Which idea of india , r u talking rahul ? killing police, lynching , destroying institution, propagating falsehood by pm itself.

  19. Mr Mehta is tremendous high octane intellectual following him since 2 year in Indian Express
    The way of delivering ideas and view thats mind blowing that he has shows today…

    Salute to this debate and quite healthy..

    Thanks India today fir it

  20. Having been reading your articles for years, I have a fair idea about your personality and mindset.
    Yes, Democracy for you (your kind) means: India should have PM from Fake Gandhi Family – already Bianca Vadra is Priyanka Gandhi for you and your kind (? dreaming ah?), India should have Ministers from their house hold servants (Ambika Soni – classic case, heard of Jagjivan Ram?), India should have Presidents from their House Kitchen (you know Pratibha Patil, and forgot the kitchen carer Sardar President who told that 'India is Indira'), Judges from their house gardening carer group (don't want to give name – just to avoid disrespecting the Judiciary for whatever small worth it has maintained), Security heads from their house hold body guards (you know the last CBI Chief who went away disgraced – not the latest two who fought in the court), any national Project should be named after the family member (as blessed by that family Chacha-Nehru (called Pandit without knowing "sa" in Sanskrit), Indira, Rajiv, Sanjay, (Raul)Rahul, Sonia, Bianca (Priyanka), Robert(Damadi Raja!), ), any national infrastructure like airport (3 are there?), university (at the least 3 Unis bear the fake family member name?) etc. similar, any social benefit schemes to be named similar – too many, can I go on naming!!!??


    When the whole of the Universities in developed countries, have shunned Aryan Invasion theory as a British propaganda of that time, your kinds (including Romila Thapar, Ramachandra Guha etc) strived to keep that alive in Indian education system. If some one tries to correct it, democracy (or scamgress demoncrazy) under threat!? One by one replacement of Communist / leftist moles in Unis and bureaucracy, when retired are substituted with clean transparent personalities, democracy (or scamgress demoncrazy) under threat?

    ONE wrong track during 2014 election, NATION lost 10 very precious years (at a critical juncture in building infrastructure and external world affairs)!
    If in the coming election, the Indians/Hindustanis/Bharatiyas particularly young generation fails to see what is good for them (and fail to bring back the current NDA set up), they will have allowed the Nation to dither for future course- for decades!!?? It is a very fast changing world and NATIONS LEFT BEHIND WON'T GET LOT OF TIME TO RECOVER!! POVERTY AND ANARCHY AFFECTED ASYLUM IMMIGRATION HAS ALREADY BECOME A MAMMOTH WORLD SCALE PROBLEM!! THESE COMMIES WOULD LIKE TO PUSH INDIANS IN THAT DIRECTION, JUST FOR THE SAKE OF SPREADING THEIR GOD FORE SAKEN IDEOLOGY OF MARX AND LENIN!

  21. Yes, Nationalism Is Being Used To Divide People between Phrithviraj chauhan and Jaichands… Jaichndo ki khair nahin abb…

  22. Intellectual means Jihadi in disguise. lol.. Looks like this man lost a lot in NOtebandi.. All this man is good is abusing intellectually to Hindus and defending intellectually to corrupts.

  23. He is contradicting himself…sab chali gayi under Modi…then he says Congress ancien regime collapsed under it's own weight. Intellectual fraud.

  24. When a person keep saying right…right…right…is not convinced himself. Pratap bhanu represents those intolerant secularists

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