Good Weaponization vs Bad Weaponization - the Deceit of India's Intelligentsia


The Kashi Nandi, Staring Towards Gyanvapi 

It is with irony that I note the manner in which the ongoings in Kashi are seen as some sort of weaponization. The thing that I find extremely depressing about Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s weaponization of academia to target a manifestation of the expression of faith repeatedly tells me more about the intellectual dishonesty that has been perpetuated by his comity for the last seven decades.

If reclaiming temple sites is weaponization, how is it that temple demolition by the Islamic invaders in the name of jihad gets the term 'recontextualization'? I don’t even need to take Mr. Mehta to Kashi – this is the case given for the formation of Quwat-ul-Islam mosque, which was built by ‘reusing’ rubble from destroyed Jain temples alongside Hindu ones in Delhi. The answer evades us to this day, except when one sees the blunt truth behind it. Over the past seven decades, there has been a rather blitheful effort bordering dishonesty to justify actions in the name of politics, power display and much more sophistry. It thus makes one believe that some kinds of weaponization are indeed good, while other kinds of weaponization are bad. The awning that shelters such academic thought continues to stand, despite all the holes in it that let the rain of logic drench those standing under it.

Speaking of weaponization, it is said that Brahminical patriarchal mindsets weaponize the religious canon of Hinduism to target women, the subaltern and the ‘other’ of society. How is it that this weaponization of academia can and must be accepted by millions of people on face value, but questions on the multifarious demeaning practices of the Islamic invaders and supremacists over the centuries is not weaponization? Why is it that the good weaponization rather gets classified as ‘laundo ki shararat’, as the quibble about the creation of Pakistan is oft repeated?

Since we get to hear so much about Gangalahari, it is also time for me to quote an American historian’s views on the weaponization of Islam in India. I deliberately quote an American scholar because Indian ones are not deemed worthy enough. They never can be better Sanskrit speakers and knowledge holders than Sheldon Pollock, they can’t know Aurangzeb better than Audrey Truschke, and they cannot know Hinduism better than Wendy Doniger’s genitalia obsession. Anyhow, digressions aside, let me quote the Badshah Namah as quoted by Andrew Titus in his book ‘Islam in India and Pakistan’ to highlight how Shah Jahan, and not even Aurangzeb, weaponized Islamism to target the ‘infidels’:

“It had been brought to the notice of His Majesty that during the late reign (of Akbar) had been begun but remained unfinished at Benares, the great stronghold of infidelity. The infidels were now desirous of completing them. His Majesty, the defender of the faith, gave orders that at Benares and throughout all his dominions in every place all temples that been begun should be cast down. It was reported from the province of Allahabad that seventy-six temples had been destroyed in the district of Benares.”

This good weaponization – bad weaponization dichotomy was also used to justify several other actions, such as eating beef in this country. To enable that, we often hear that the Vedas contain references of people eating beef. The scholars who choose to use this weaponization and call for violence on the religious sensibilities of Hindus should be asked whether evolution of belief is acceptable to them. If that not be the case, then why were people being slaughtered for drawing images of certain people? That was very much allowed in the past? Is it again a case of good weaponization versus bad weaponization on display, the bad arising only in the case of the infidel heathens?

This also raises the question of weaponization of the idea of inclusivity. The stick of inclusivity is the moral guilt that has to be induced in Hindus ever so often for committing humanitarian crimes. However, when it comes to the Goa inquisition, the stick of inclusivity magically disappears. Since we are let into holy places of others, it is seen as inclusivity. The fact that tolerance and inclusivity are seen interchangeably is sardonic in nature – the very purpose of that entry is to influence people and lure them accordingly. If inclusivity be such an important yardstick, let me be told that people will allow us to defile holy places and then pretend to search for water, as a recent case has popped up. A robbery was seen as an attack on a religion, but the desecration of an idol has to be tolerated because the ultimate responsibility of inclusivity has to be borne by the heathens of India.

Selective reading on inclusion and the moral yoke being forced on sections of society in the name of academic rigour and integrity is a poor reflection on the intelligentsia’s integrity and honesty to itself, let alone others. The socialist doyen Ram Manohar Lohia had been rather prescient about this intellectual dishonesty in his lifetime. Mr. Lohia had written:

“Surrender has been transformed into the virtue of synthesis by these historians. They have presented India’s history over the past one thousand years in such a manner, also aspects of the earlier one, that most Indians do not today know the difference between shame and glory.”

In fact, having lamented how the state of history and mathematics academics in India was poor and that Indians were not telling their own history and were depending on foreigners to be objective, it is a pity that much of his criticism stands true even today. The responsibility of India’s intelligentsia of degradation of India’s academic institutions should lie at their doorstep. Instead, the obsession with weaponizing academics for satiating their own socio-political views of the world has resulted in finding blame with everything but the self. One must perhaps sit back and ponder on whether this inability to be honest and to be deceitful with the truth may have resulted in serious backlashes, and indeed the purported weaponization of religion as has been propagated by Mr. Mehta time and again.


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