The Hindu newspaper of this morning carried an opinion piece from Karan Thapar, titled 'The Two Faces of Mr Modi', and it appears that the piece is much more than just the author picking a bone against our Prime Minister. It is the angst he carries against the Indian ethos in general, and it a wonderful explanation of the reason why the term 'Lutyens' is so hated by most sane people.
I have picked up the post from The Hindu and pasted it below, and for clarity's sake, I've broken up the post after each paragraph with my comments. In this Op-Ed, Karan chooses to critique a speech that Modi made recently at the inauguration of the Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Center, at Mumbai. You can watch the speech here if you'd like, before reading the Blogpost. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_K_tK1d9PFg
Read on. The Italicized part is from Karan Thapar, and the regular font is mine.
(Op-Ed originally published at http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/comment-the-two-faces-of-mr-modi/article6553304.ece?homepage=true)
What do we expect of our prime ministers? This is not a rhetorical question and you’ll soon see why. We expect integrity, commitment, dedication, administrative expertise and, hopefully, a fair modicum of intelligence. But is that all?
As important as all the other qualities, we also expect rationality. We may not always agree with what our prime ministers say or are committed to do but we assume that their thoughts and actions are rational, well-considered and credible. In other words, even if their decisions turn out to be wrong — and that often happens — they won’t offend against common sense.
Upto here is sheer baloney. Under the guise of an introduction, Karan just lays it thick. And for the record, when you say 'Integrity, Commitment, Dedication, Administrative expertise, Intelligence, and Rationality', you are describing Modi! These qualities are the primary reasons the nation chose him with such a resounding verdict - in spite of all your efforts. And Common Sense is precisely what got Modi to where he is today. You fail at the first paragraph itself, sir.
It is here that I have a bone to pick with Narendra Modi. Speaking at the inauguration of the Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre last Saturday, he said: “Mahabharat ka kehna hai ki Karn maa ki godh se paida nahi hua tha. Iska matlab yeh hai ki us samaye genetic science mojud tha … Hum Ganeshji ki puja kiya karte hain, koi to plastic surgeon hoga us zamane main, jisne manushye ke sharir par haathi ka sar rakh kar ke plastic surgery ka prarambh kiya hoga.” [It is said in the Mahabharata that Karna was not born from his mother’s womb. This means in the times in which the epic was written genetic science was very much present. We all worship Lord Ganesha; for sure there must have been some plastic surgeon at that time, to fit an elephant’s head on the body of a human being.]
There has been a lot of picking from the Media about Modi going to inaugurate the hospital, about the PMO handle live-tweeting the Ambanis' speeches, etc. Honestly, I couldn't care less. I'm proud of the fact that the man has atleast gone to open one of India's most advanced centers of health, rather than yet another memorial to a dynasty that has done more harm than good. Ok. Lets get on with it. Has your 'education' spoilt your Indianness so much? I'm not talking about blind belief or about superstition. Even the most rational scientist cannot but accept the facts that the Rig Veda is older than any other science treatise written in the world, and there have been enough theses about it already from people much more qualified in science than you are and I am. Religion aside, most stories in our mythology serve to reinforce a deeper concept. So yes, if Modi chooses to pick Ganesha as a successful example of plastic surgery, he certainly has a right to do so! The same goes for the Karna story also. But examples aside, do you genuinely not believe that India has successful scientists (rishis) who have proven pretty much the same stuff thousands of years ago? So Akshar Dham at Delhi, which is one of our country's top tourist destinations, is what? You think they spent crores to showcase all our ancient achievements in that beautiful boat ride just to tell us the kids a bedtime story? Pity on you, sir.
No doubt many Hindus share Mr. Modi’s assumption that in prehistoric mythological times India had mastered genetic science and plastic surgery. As individuals they are free to believe what they want. But for the Prime Minister of India to proclaim this belief as fact — and that too at the inauguration of a hospital — is something else.
Only 'many Hindus' share that assumption? Do you want me to give you examples of non-Hindus who openly credited our ancient texts for their discoveries and said that they just re-discovered something which was actually discovered centuries ago? A certain Mr Edison, if you please? Or you think Mueller was Hindu? But again, like your 'Mr Modi' said a few months ago, Hinduism is nothing but a way of life. So these people were actually Hindus if you'd like to call them that so they fit into your rhetoric.
Why? This is because it’s not rational to use mythology as the basis for claiming scientific achievements. First, there’s no proof other than the assumption the myth is true and that’s an unwarranted assumption. Second, how do you account for the fact the scientific knowledge and achievements you are boasting of have been lost, if not also long forgotten, and there is no trace of any records to substantiate they ever occurred?
Get a life, man! Mythology is the basis for most things in our culture - if you have the patience and the wherewithal to research with an open mind. Most things in our universe don't have a proof. No absolute proof exists for the creation of our universe itself! Just because you've been given 20 inches in a newspaper that has been misnamed, you don't go around saying whatever you want. 'No trace of any records'? Really?? Ever heard of a certain Dr Subramaniam Swamy? Or Francois Gautier? Dr N Gopalakrishnan? I can name a hundred people who have been fighting this fight - for your and my sakes, and for our children. But you'll probably just call me a Right winger if I refer to them, and I don't mind! Clear proof that parts of our history were erased and replaced is available, and you choose to ignore it, and then call it a lie? Do you have any idea of the number of people you're influencing with your nonsense? No wonder it'll take a hundred more years for a thought change to come about.
Even worse, Mr. Modi’s views echo those of Dinanath Batra. His books are now part of the curriculum in 42,000 schools across Gujarat and carry messages from Mr. Modi when he was Chief Minister. They claim stem cell research was known in the days of Kunti and the Kauravas, television was invented at the time of the Mahabharata and the motor car existed in the Vedic period. Few would deny this is nonsense. Why wouldn’t you say the same for the claim India mastered genetic science and plastic surgery in prehistoric times?
You really think stem cell was discovered a few decades ago, Karan? No one else had the intellectual capacity to figure out what humans were made of before this? Really? The world accepts that Airplane models were successfully deployed during the Rig Veda period. Is a Car really that difficult to accept? Ok. Lets not accept it. But what gives you the right to refute it? Would you rather we study twenty chapters of Mughal History as 'Indian History'? I have nothing against 'Akbar defeated Hemu in the first battle of Panipat 1526', but we have a history much before that. Sadly, you choose to call it 'mythology'. The Greeks and Romans are immensely proud of their 'mythology' and their culture even today treasures that. We pose at the Pyramid of Giza, celebrating Egyptian mythology. But back on our shores, we act snobby. Seriously, I pity you, sir.
I have two further points. First, Mr. Modi wants to build smart cities, stresses the need for education and is proud of the successful mission to Mars. He believes in digital India, wants to import bullet trains and ‘Make in India’ state-of-the-art defence weaponry. These are 21st century ambitions. How does all of that sit alongside this belief in unverified mythology? Are they not contradictory?
Second, Greek mythology has centaurs and minotaurs; the Persians have the griffin; the British the unicorn; and fairy tales have mermaids and werewolves. Mr. Modi’s position would also lead us to believe these creatures actually existed. But does anyone believe they did? Surely only in our dreams? Or only whilst we were children?
The beauty of India is that we have always been co-existing. Our culture, in a single word, can be called as 'accommodative'. We adapt, accommodate, and co-exist with all the changes around us, and that is why Indians are so respected the world over. You certainly have taken advantage of that respect several times in the past, haven't you? When you travel abroad as a 'celebrated journalist from India'? When the chairman of ISRO, who is certainly more 'educated', 'intelligent', and 'scientific' than you, can go to Tirupati before the launch of a Rocket to pray for its success, does it undermine his achievements? Make him lesser of an intellectual, in your opinion? Dr Kalam, probably our most loved president ever, plays the Veena and hears Carnatic classical. Does hearing Bach or Beethoven make someone more cultured than him?
Mr Modi doesn't have a 'position' about Minotaurs and Werewolves. His biggest problem and 'position' is about wolves in the society who use anything they can find to further their own carefully cultivated image in the so called 'intelligentsia'. He mentions Ganesha and Karna, and you go and dig up Minotaurs, Centaurs, Griffins, Unicorns! Is this what journalism is about in today's world?
Ultimately, my problem with the Prime Minister’s comment goes a step further, but it could be the most critical of all. Under Article 51 A (h) of the Constitution it’s the fundamental duty of every citizen to develop a scientific temper. I can’t see how the Prime Minister is doing that by blatantly claiming medical advances on the basis of unverified myths. His views clearly and undeniably contradict this constitutional requirement. In fact, if he thinks about it I feel confident Mr. Modi would not disagree!
These are troubling doubts and for the Prime Minister to be the cause of them is even more worrying. Finally, I’m dismayed this issue has not got greater attention in the media. Nor, to my astonishment, has any Indian scientist refuted the Prime Minister’s claims. Their silence is perplexing. The silence of the media is deeply disturbing. It feels as though it’s been deliberately blanked out by everyone.
Look at the words you choose to use - troubling, worrying, dismayed, astonishment, perplexing, disturbing, deliberate. All of these in the span of four sentences. Do I need to say more on the level of frustration you have built up within yourself about a man the nation has chosen as its leader with pride? So many adjectives to describe a private speech? I am immensely proud of the fact that my Prime Minister chooses to refer to our epics and mythology to pick up examples relating to the topic he speaks about. I am so glad we haven't elected a perpetual kid who doesn't know the state in which he's speaking, can't answer two straight questions, runs away abroad every other week, treats elders with utter disregard, and has an immensely false sense of entitlement. If Modi says Ganesha's elephant head is an example of Plastic Surgery, I have the intellect to smile about it and clap wholeheartedly for Modi's wit. You, sir, choose to fill a tome with nonsense, while the real issue is not about Plastic Surgery or Stem Cell treatment in the ancient ages, but the fear that you will be rendered inconsequential if you don't keep spouting up like a geyser of liberalism once every other week. You and your tribe have set the nation back by decades, with all your doctored 'news' over the years. Shame on you for it.
In closing, just one question, Mr Thapar. Why don't you dare ask questions about a certain practice of veiling women and packing them in black like they're a sack of unspeakable? Why don't you have the guts to ask organizations that openly proclaim that humans can be saved only if they subscribe to a certain God? Have you never watched those videos before? Why don't you question it when a certain sub-sect announces that there are virgins waiting in a certain 'heaven' if one goes and KILLS innocent children? Nah - that'll set you up as a right winger and you can't afford that. In your neglect, if a few hundred more people convert into that path and end up killing thousands more, so be it. Your image is safe. Correct?
Like you chose Mr Modi's simple speech to vent your insecurity of being forgotten, I choose your article as an example of what's wrong with our Media. People like @mediacrooks have been fighting this battle for long. But is isn't enough! They get drowned in the noise you manage to generate.
If I choose to believe that Karna was indeed born out of Genetics, it is my choice. And that doesn't make me any less intelligent than I already am. Atleast I have a belief that I'm comfortable with! Unlike you, I don't fret about the past. My interest lies in the future, and more importantly, in the present. I will teach my kids how to choose between right and wrong, and to sift through the nonsense, and Ganesha willing, they will develop their own intellect and form their own opinions once they grow up. That is the real Scientific Temper, mentioned in your Article 51 A (h), which our constitution wants its citizens to develop. Not the 'temper' you're advocating.