I have never read any book by Chetan Bhagat. When a friend asked me what I think of him, my response was factual – that I don’t think of him. It does not mean I dislike him or his books, it is just that he does not matter to me enough to either read him or think about him, which is probably true of millions of educated Indians like myself.
Yesterday, I read a Times of India blog authored by Chetan Bhagat, which really is vile abuse hurled at middle class Hindus who are not very conversant in English. He calls them Internet Hindus, Modi Bhakts, Internet Trolls, abusive folks and essentially brackets them in one monolithic identity.
Bhagat’s piece could have very well been written by any BJP-RSS-Modi-hating English language reporter or columnist (indeed, it is even silly to call them mainstream media – they are not) and it would not have drawn much response. The reaction on Twitter to Bhagat’s piece was predictably one of widespread outrage. The fact that it was written by Chetan Bhagat who is a writer whose books are read by thousands, and the fact that Bhagat was educated at premier institutes, and the fact that before the elections, he was talking often in support of Modi did contribute significantly to the outrage.
The central thesis of Bhagat’s post is this – that a typical “bhakt” who abuses women is a self-proclaimed nationalist and not a Hindutva fanatic. He lists four characteristics to “identify” bhakts: male, weak in English communication and carrying an inferiority complex which comes from being uncool and unsophisticated, not at home talking to women or girls, sexually frustrated, and endowed with a deep inferiority complex about being Hindu and Indian. So he calls them FACIMs – Frustrated And Complex-ridden Indian Males -FACIMs, pronounced fai-kims. I have a feeling Bhagat is trying to introduce this term slyly in the hope that twitterati will pick this up and make this term famous like they made the “Internet Hindu” term famous.
Chetan Bhagat’s piece is filled with several inconsistencies and stupid generalizations. If his fellow Modi-baiters like Rajdeep Sardesai have trashed him for his piece, it should count as an authentic barometer of how disgusting it is.
Let me take his logic forward and extend his argument for a minute. If we accept Bhagat’s thesis, then let’s examine the reverse. If you are a confident, savvy, urbane Indian male with excellent communication skills, don’t have an inferiority complex about being Indian or Hindu, are sexually not frustrated and you are not a nationalist, then you won’t be a Modi/BJP/RSS Bhakt, and are probably a Sonia Gandhi/Congress supporter which is what people like Bhagat are under the hood.
This blog post is actually an interesting Freudian slip by Bhagat. It exposes a very common mindset which people like Bhagat carry: that if you are a smart, suave, urban English-speaking male, you can’t feel any thing good about being a Hindu and Indian and you would be a fool to support the BJP or RSS or Modi and should support Congress which according to Bhagat is the “default party” of India.
Bhagat is partially right about the inferiority complex part though. The hard reality is that most Indians suffer from an inferiority complex about India per se. When a nation has been under foreign rule for over 1000 years and then for the first 60 years by an elite which borrows all its ideas from the west, it is hard not to suffer a complex.
There is an important difference though. All the “Bhakts” who suffer from an inferiority complex feel bad about the state of India, are optimists, are proud of India and want to see India regain its lost glory. They see in this regime a ray of hope, after a long time. Their reactions and words–though unforgivable, when it turns to abuse–are an expression of that hope and confidence.
The Bhagats of the world, the Adarsh liberals, the secularists and all those who believe India is best served by the Congress are cynics and have long given up on India. They loathe every thing Indian and secretly wish they were born in the US or a European country. They are sure that the path to salvation for India is only through the hallowed portals of the West and anything Indian, is all bunkum and not worth anything unless certified by the West. Chetan Bhagat firmly belongs to this camp.
Individuals have their good and bad days. Nations and civilizations have their crests and troughs. We were a great civilization and nation once, and we have slipped and slipped badly. We are not alone though.
Greece which was supposedly the cradle of civilization is today a bankrupt nation begging for its sustenance. Rome which was once a powerful leader of the world is today known more for its mafia. Egypt which was once a great civilization is today just another country torn with internal strife and perennial crises. The Sun never set on the British empire but today it is a small country shorn of its glory, sending its satellites to space on the back of ISRO’s launch vehicles because this is more cost effective. And the US, for all its claims to be the super power, has not yet emerged from the 2008 crisis and is no longer able to call the shots geopolitically and economically as it once did.
As Indians keep moving ahead, slowly getting rid of their inferiority complexes, discovering their true potential and power, and learn to think for themselves and take pride in their own heritage, we can once again be a great nation, and stay longer in that place.
The blog post by Chetan Bhagat and similar rants from people like Hartosh Bal and other pseudo liberals is actually an expression of their frustration at their increasing marginalization and losing plot to alternative viewpoints.
Neither is this sort of racist abuse new to Chetan Bhagat. Earlier, he had showed his supercilious derision by throwing around terms like “Bhakts/Internet Hindus/Chaddiwallahs” when the BJP was not in power, and when the RSS and its organizations were supposed to be on fringes, although these organizations have continued to do their nation building activities silently for last 86 years ignoring the Bhagats of the world.
Now that the nationalist forces have acquired power, are making their presence felt in all areas, the Chetan Bhagat Types (CBT) are feeling threatened. Their inability to shape media discourse and their irrelevance to the way the nation thinks is slowly growing since social media, and mainstream institutions are slowly recovering the decades of imbalance which was tilted in favor of Adarsh Liberals.
If you cut the roots of a tree, it will stop growing. CBT Types who take pride in bashing those who love this country are actually rootless wonders, cut off from their roots and clueless about themselves and exposing their deep insecurities through mindless attacks on the so-called “Bhakts”.
Chetan Bhagat ends the column with a prediction that Indian voters will go back to the Congress, and gratuitously advises Bhakts to learn English and to learn how to talk to girls and start dating them.
And so, my advice to Bhagat: to focus on his writing, on trying to author at least one decent book and take a hard look at himself first and his own idiocies, inconsistencies and insecurities.
We have this peculiar trait in India where once you get success in one field, you acquire a license to comment on everything with the air of an expert. Just because he has a few bestsellers to his credit, Chetan Bhagat is now an expert on anthropology, psychoanalysis, politics, history and dancing.
This is not to justify internet abuse of any kind, whether against men or women, or misogyny of any sorts. It is only to expose the mindsets of pseudo liberals and pseudo intellectuals like Bhagat who are slowly becoming irrelevant in the public discourse as they should be.