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Friday, September 18, 2009

The Ritual Abuse Of Shashi Tharoor

The revealing truth about the orgy of pseudo outrage that has erupted over Shashi Tharoor's twitter, is that it is so unreal. So "Kafkaesque".

Anybody who has read a little more than Mills & Boone would know that "cattle class" is an egregiously offensive comment only to folks like me who believe all sentient beings have a right not to be abused and preyed upon by humans.

It is an unfortunate, covertly Hitlerian - the Jewish people were transported to concentration camps in cattle cars - but sardonic jibe of profiteering airlines and incidentally on the hapless passengers who allow themselves to pay to suffer the humiliation and discomfort.

I was also disappointed by Tharoor"s casual use of the colonial,profoundly Hinduphobic, cliche "holy cows" and would have preferred an environmentally appropriate "holy clunkers" but then that's me!

The ruling classes are neophobic and they are made profoundly uneasy when their cliches are stepped on. They worship their cliches.

Tharoor was well in line and could not be faulted for any fey act of cliche busting either.

Was Tharoor being funny ?

That's what our beloved Prime Minister thinks and the likes of M J Akbar expertly opine that it was a particular, rarefied kind of "Oxbridge" humour, so I'll give it a maybe.

To my mind Tharoor spouted a trite, innocuous,inanity on an informal, chat forum.

It took the particular genius of a section of the Congress party and our corrupt, ninny editorial class to take that and turn it into an incendiary that could inflame our masses to storm the Tihar Jail.

Incidentally, I have never stepped anywhere near the shadow of St Stephens or any other of our tony educational spas, but Tharoor and I used to write for "Hi- Young People's Newspaper".

I was also "The Most Outstanding Speaker" at a Model United Nations General Assembly conducted way back in Hyderabad.

The topic of debate was the proposed admission of Israel to the United Nations.The organisers asked me to represent India. I disagreed with India's position and represented France instead.

My position did not come from any family indoctrination, but from reading the novels of Leon Uris.

I can say now, that the horrors of Nazism that I read about sent me into a spin for weeks and I had no adult around me who could understand my angst and take me to a better place.

My decision to represent France was not a slick,political move. Merely a non destructive expression of my naive but felt moral outrage.

In one of those novels, a young recruit to the dreaded SS (whose motto was " My Honour Is Loyalty")is given a puppy to care for. After the recruit develops a bond with his charge, he is asked to murder it as an exhibition of his loyalty to the "larger' causes.

In Govind Nihalani's Tamas, ( sorry, have not had a chance to read the translation), a RSS recruit is shown as having been subject to this humiliation.

Is this a rite of passage or a humiliation ?

Is the betrayal and murder of an intelligent and ennobling companion an expression of human growth or retardation and perversion ?

As Erich Fromm, describes it with an erudition and clarity that certainly took my breath away, it is not loyalty that is demanded but obedience and conformity.

Authoritarian elements in society relentlessly seek to assert themselves by hounding us to kill our puppies.

Abraham was commanded by "God" to sacrifice his adult son as a "test of his loyalty".

The masochistic hankering to propitiate mysterious , powerful elements, by self humiliation and the sacrifice of best fruits of his productivity runs deep and dark through the history of man.

It is met by the sadistic response of self appointed high priests, who demand propitiations in the name of some awful, magical power.

The compulsive bribe giving and taking is of a piece of this same 'accumulated human wisdom".

If the Congress party had any comments about the Prime Minister's speech on "pervasive corruption", I certainly did not read or watch them.

Many people have at least acknowledged that the attack on Tharoor appears hypocritical - another media euphemism for lack of integrity, schizophrenia - that there is nothing real about the outburst in the Congress party.

If anything this has made the BJP expulsion of Jaswant Singh "look good".

But something is going on.

What we are watching is an exhibition of human cretinism and viciousness.

A psychotic, "domination" episode. A quintessential abuse of public space.

As readers of Divakar's Sathyagraha would know, I am quite familiar with this.

I saw this happening to my dear friend Shri Indrajit Gupta when he chose to join the United Front government.

Some of us may remember that Sam Pitroda in his early days, was subject to a similar witch hunt.

My family and I have been a victim since close to two decades.

The public humiliation of an extraordinarily talented and attractive Indian politician, without the slightest public purpose.

Unless a more humane sanity asserts itself, those who have been branded heretics, mavericks, bakras, turkeys or whatever will with your joyous approval and happy applause be burnt at the stake.