As the 2014 elections get under way, marking one of the most critical events in the life of our young Republic (also one of the world’s oldest civilisations), it’s time to take stock of how some of our intellectuals (desi secularists) are behaving in the debates that are taking place.

I use the term “intellectuals” in the generic sense, without going into the potential minefield of whether some of these people really deserve that designation. This is because “buddhi jeevi” in Sanskrit has very honourable and ethical connotations. And so, we can use terms like “analysts”, “commentators” et al if “intellectual” seems over the top.

Recently, a few of them have teamed up and issued a ringing declaration about how they perceive the dangers from a BJP-led alliance forming the government at the centre.  One of the “threats” from this future administration that these worthies have identified is the curtailment of artistic and cultural freedoms. The former Bombay painter of film-posters, M.F. Husain (hereafter MFH), is the figure our manifesto-wallahs have in mind as the iconic victim of repression and censorship  by the Indic civilisation movement. In the worldview of this bunch, MFH is nothing less than a contemporary male version of Joan of Arc.

When MFH departed from this world on the 9 June 2011, I couldn’t resist writing a short essay to my list of friends on the next day, summarising the main issues involved in the debate surrounding MFH. I focused specifically on the reactions from the circle of admirers and sycophants of MFH, all of whom were from the secularist camp or the SS (“sarkari secularists”, as I had labelled them) battalions.

Even now, this lot is singing the same refrain. I feel that the secularist high-priests again need to be told a few home-truths about their delusions and fantasies. How is it that creatures like MFH and Wendy Doniger are part of their pantheon, while any scholar or commentator who emphasises the accomplishments and glories of our ancient civilisation becomes a “Hindutva” proponent?

The most pestilential worm is the hookworm. The lowest of the low and the most despised.

Husain was the archetypal hookworm (the queen of the street-cats among the worms – and no apologies for mixing metaphors). He has no doubt become vitamin for the worms, as his faith dictates. Bully for him – whether the other worms would have survived a Husain diet is not something I am sure about.

Although I have always believed in John Dunne’s dictum of no man being an island and not asking for whom the bell tolls, since it tolls for thee, I found it difficult to be unhappy about the departure of MF. He was a waste of space and the universe became a manifestly better place without him.

A creature who took such sadistic delight in (gratuitously) insulting the sentiments of a billion human beings cannot and must not be adulated or deified.

I have always subscribed to the Vedic notion of a supreme “Brahman”. The Hindu movement has always accepted people like me as part of its pantheon and given me full space. It is the only “religion” that allows this supreme freedom : others, like Islam and Christianity, would have deprived me of vital parts of my anatomy and / or imposed other severe (albeit non-lethal) sanctions if I had not followed the diktats of their “holy” texts and their supreme leaders.

Therefore, I am outraged when the sentiments of my sisters and brothers in the Hindu movement who venerate various deities are trampled upon so despicably by hookworms like Husain and Doniger.

What bothered and angered me in equal measure in June 2011 was the reaction of the self-anointed desi intellectuals, press hacks, politicos and Page 3 denizens.  Now, I can understand the last three categories – they were born to be venal and egregious.

But the “intellectuals” – the “buddhi – jeevis“? Why does this wretched country produce so many academicians and thinkers who are either hallucinating or selling themselves to the local sabzi wallah ?  These low-lives were clearly in Saul Bellow’s thoughts when he wrote that “a great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep”. The caveat in this case: for the Indian secularists, the word “ignorance”  should be replaced by “disingenuousness” / or “subterfuge”.  Camus believed that an intellectual is a person whose mind watches itself. In these shores, intellectual minds watch Page 3.

It was amazing (and extremely disagreeable) that every single English broadsheet had MFH as the lead item on page 1 and also devoted 3-4 pages to him. Leading the parade of shame was the old Lady of Boribunder, as the Times of India likes to label itself. Nothing new about it.  The other rag from Delhi, the Hindustan Times, did the same.  As far as The Hindu is concerned, what can one say?

In all of them the same bunch of frauds and poseurs, with minor variations, were quoted as saying that the hookworm was India’s Picasso. What a travesty of truth and morality!  These unwashed hacks have never seen a Picasso or read anything serious about the true genius – the nearest they came to the icon was probably the perfume or the car bearing his name. Brother Pablo would have recoiled in horror had he been confronted by this obscene charlatan, MFH, or his pretentious  admirers. This gang should really be designated as “patsies” of the ruling classes, as the American playwright Lillian Hellman put it so well.

In this ancient country of ours, patsies are referred to as naukar – chakars.  As far as selling is concerned, they are always selling snake juice to the public and to their own group.

An interesting aspect of this SS core group is that many of them went to the so-called convent schools where they picked up a veneer of western (specifically Anglo-Saxon) culture, while conveniently forsaking their own civilisational roots.

Now, I would not like to generalise this phenomenon and make it an axiom.  I too attended some of these institutions in my formative years but never abandoned my culture and my historic moorings. Clearly, one’s family atmosphere and civilisational moorings are critical factors, but that would be a separate study by itself.  However, I would like to revisit some of the ideas I have expounded in some articles written on the theme of loss of one’s cultural roots. The great French-West Indian sociologist and psychoanalyst covered this subject exhaustively in his path-breaking work, Black Skin, White Masks (1952), which remains the standard reference till today. Fanon studied the feeling of inferiority and inadequacy that colonised people experience vis-à-vis their white colonial masters.

Fanon felt that the compartmentalised self-perception of a black person (or a brown person in our case) who has lost his or her indigenous cultural roots and has enthusiastically “embraced the culture of the “Mother Country”, inevitably produces an inferiority complex. These people then attempt to blindly imitate and internalise the culture of the coloniser. More importantly, especially in the Indian context, this type of craven admiration for the white man is more common in the case of upwardly-mobile and educated natives. We now have, here, an excellent summary of the mind-sets of our SS lot, the Jug Suraiyas, the Bachi Karkarias, the Arundhati Roys, the Ram Guhas, the Dipankar Guptas, the Romila Thapars, the Mani Shankar Aiyars and the whole jingbang lot.

Brought up on a diet of Billy Bunter, Enid Blyton et al, they are past masters at bowing and scraping before the white man’s High Table.  A compulsory element in their regular routine has to be the denigration of Indian civilisation and culture. Without that, there will be no crumbs thrown in their direction.  Any  Delhi resident like me gets glimpses of the antics of this bunch, week after week, at various get-togethers in the capital’s salon world.  While one can at least understand the logic of this conduct (from their viewpoint), what is impossible to divine is their rationalisation and defence of Islamic fundamentalism and extremism.

Certain pertinent questions arise when this lot stridently defend Husain’s antics and Doniger’s shenanigans. I am obliged to remind them that freedom of speech and liberty of expression are always circumscribed in any civilised society. Jug Suraiya is no scholar, but surely Doniger and company are aware of the landmark judgement of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (pronounced many decades back) that no one has the right to shout “fire” in a crowded theatre when there is no conflagration. In other words, there can be no dissemination of a false warning under the umbrella of free speech. This is a cogent analysis of the limits to freedom of expression. The relevant words in the Holmes judgment are : “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. […] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.  (United States Supreme Court,  Schenck v. United States, 1919).

A more recent judgement of the American Supreme Court in 1999 says categorically : ”The First Amendment, however, does not protect certain limited categories of speech that are “utterly without redeeming social importance.”. . (Free Speech Coalition Case, 1999).

The former film poster specialist Husain’s paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses and Wendy Doniger’s pseudo-academic efforts fall under the category of “being utterly without redeeming social importance” by any rational standards. It is a no-brainer to understand that an individual has no right whatsoever (under any platform, whether legal, constitutional, moral or philosophical) to depict the deities of 1 billion people copulating with animals. It hurts when it is done. It morally outrages when it is defended and it provokes when it is encouraged.

When will the Indian SS lot grasp these basic truths ? Or will they continue to sip from their toxic goblets forever?


  • Latika Joshi

    Having been recently introduced to your portal by a friend, I visited it today and I feel I must felicitate you on your efforts to project a fresh perspective on Indian culture, politics and society.

    I saw this article by chance, tucked away as it is, in a corner of your home page.

    I have to say that this essay sets new benchmarks on a number of counts – its extremely impressive analysis, its range, the quality of its prose and, above all, the courage of conviction that the writer manifestly possesses. I am circulating it to as many people as I can.


  • Himangshu Roy

    It is rare to come across an article like this that is simultaneously riveting, accurate, informative and analytical.As some of the earlier commentators have said, the debate in India on this subject has been monopolised for many decades by the gang of frauds and crooks who label themselves “secularist”. The Indian SS lot, as the author has titled them so aptly, are in many ways as sinister and ruthless as the original gangsters and criminals. Therefore, I am more than delighted when I see this essayist tearing them to pieces.

    May we hope for suitable follow-up pieces as and when the situation so warrants ?

  • It has been perhaps the first time when such thoughts and true sentiments are up for struggle against the Anti India groups. The bizarre stupidity touted in the name of scholarship, and considered intellect. Keep it up you the true sons of this country!

  • Pradip Tripathi

    I agree completely with my fellow-commentators that this is a landmark essay and deserves to be disseminated as widely as possible. I have not read anything on this subject as incisive and perceptive as this article.

    My heartfelt thanks to the author.

  • Ashish Bardhan

    The author deserves our heartfelt thanks for this outstanding essay on an issue that concerns all thinking Indians. Readers of your portal will be looking forward to more articles by Jay Bhattacharjee on this subject and other related themes.

    As some of the other commentators feared, the members of the SS gang are merrily continuing their despicable capers. As is evident from what some Bollywood buffoons said yesterday. This, however, should not, by any means, detract from the need to have more critiques, like this article, of the SS lot and their depraved mind-sets.

  • D.Raja Ganesan

    Clear, cogent and hard hitting. May your mission against pseudo-secularist pseudo intellectuals continue

  • Samarendra Sharma

    I will merely follow my fellow-commentator Shanth and repeat the author’s observation in the article: “It hurts when it is done. It morally outrages when it is defended and it provokes when it is encouraged. ”

    These are very moving words. Yes, they are a warning to the SS cabal but, as other commentators have also written, these people are so shameless and wretched that it will be just another day wallowing in the gutters for them.

    Superb essay, Jay Bhattacharjee.

  • Nitin Bhandarkar

    This is a most welcome contribution to the debate between the SS coterie and those of us who take pride in our Indic civilisation ethos. For decades, the debate has been one-sided and loaded in favour of the “secularists”. The latter have, of course, benefited from the enormous state patronage they have enjoyed under the Gandhi-Nehru-Gandhi clique. The mainstream media, too, has always sided with the SS brigade, and has allowed very limited space to our camp.

    It is only recently that we have some electronic media where the writings of the Indic civilisation movement are able to find space. “Indiafacts”, clearly, is a platform that is doing great work in spreading the thoughts of thinkers and scholars who don’t buy the “secular” fables and myths.

    However, one needs essayists and writers of the calibre of Jay Bhattacharjee who combine erudition, insight, flair and analysis for the benefit of general readers. All I can say is that I wish more power to his pen.

  • Mohinder Rawat

    There is no doubt that the SS gang has played an insidious and thoroughly perverse role in India’s intellectual discourse ever since independence. Their brazenness and impudence have, of course, increased exponentially during the 10 years of the Sonia Gandhi – Manmohan Singh regime.

    I have been looking for effective critiques of the “secularists” for some time. And I now find this seminal essay that addresses all the issues I have had with the SS lot. Torn them to shreds. However, as a fellow commentator, Mohan Ramaswamy, says, these people are so shameless and thick-skinned that they will such lump it and carry on regardless.

    Like Cyrus Katrak, I will be reading this article periodically in the future to keep up my spirits.

  • Ganesh

    “As the 2104 elections get under way…..” typo error ? Please correct it.

  • Cyrus Katrak

    One of the saddest spectacles in contemporary India’s social and cultural milieu is the near-complete domination of the nation’s intellectual arena by a sorry bunch of pseudos and frauds, whose only preoccupation is to run down and belittle this country’s magnificent civilisation and ethos. Mr. Bhattacharjee has done a signal service to all of us by demolishing these wretched poseurs. This is an essay that will be quoted for many years.

    P.S. I totally endorse the sentiments of my colleague Mr. Ramaswamy. The portal editors may like to think of a policy of weeding out posts that are meaningless and irrelevant. Just a thought.

  • Mohan Ramaswamy

    Bravo, Jay Bhattacharjee, for this scintillating essay. Insightful and perceptive, as usual. The secularist brigade should be running for cover, but they are so brazen and shameless, that they will just digest this and start their preparations for their next outrage.

    Thank you, Indiafacts.

    P.S. Harihara’s post : can anyone understand what he is saying ? I suppose this is one of the perils of democracy that people can just get on their keyboard and write whatever they want. Seriously, meaningless bumf like Harihara’s post detract from the standards of your publication and insult the author, who must have put in a lot of time and effort to write this article.

  • Fateh Singh

    The secular gang includes Kejriwal’s clan, Aam Admi Party and its sympathisers.

  • harihara

    what we meant when we introduced that adjective secular was actually with plural or pluralism in mind- that is sarva dharma samanvata and NOT nirapekshata . In fact the indian civilization right from the begining of humanity has been plural in its striving to seek the relationship between matter and spirit. even the later postulates that my gad is only gad , gad and creation are different etc and even such things as there is no gad -all fall into the plural mass of dynamic wisdom of the indians from times immemorial and as such the civilization is evergreen and evolving in its seeking truth and knowledge bharateeyata is pluralism . Now the mass of people see divinity in everything and use namah te For some artists, who are into dogma and especially when they might be sex starved , the fraudian finding of intense sexuality in what they consider as not divine will be a trait and find expression in art or action; the plural indian need not worry too much to the ignorance of such people, but proceed to seek and achieve while enjoying the benifits of market economy

  • Shanth


    ” It hurts when it is done. It morally outrages when it is defended and it provokes when it is encouraged.” – this is a stern warning to these SS insects. Although their time is numbered in seconds they will retreat with bruised egos. They have to be rendered meaningless in India forever.

    Thanks for this wonderful article.

  • Virendra Thapa

    A typo in my earlier post. Should, of course, be “Thank you, Indiacts”. Apologies.

  • Virendra Thapa

    What a devastating salvo across the bow of the SS gang’s sinking ship ! This exquisite essay has made my day. Thanks you, Indiafacts.

    P.S. Your Likes, Shares,Tweets and related icons have suddenly disappeared.