Ep. 50: December is the cruelest month; but maybe memory and desire are stirring
The Anglo-Mughalai State still reigns; but events show that despite withering attacks, Bharat is rising, bloodied maybe, but unbowed
Note: a version of this essay was published by firstpost.com at Bharat is rising as 2022 looks like a year of living dangerously (firstpost.com)
I have long thought T S Eliot was wrong: April isn’t the cruellest month, but November. For there is the anniversary on the 12th of the momentous Temple Entry Proclamation by the Maharaja of Travancore in 1936; on the 14th is the birthday of my late, dear friend Varsha Bhosle; on the 18th is 13 Kumaon’s magnificent last stand at Rezang-la; and on the 26th was the attack on Mumbai.
But this year, I am beginning to think it is December, although it is only halfway done. On December 4th, the much-loved Chief of Defense Staff, General Bipin Rawat, died in a helicopter crash. On the 15th, there was the grand inauguration of the Kashi Viswanath Corridor. On the 16th is the 50th anniversary of the surrender of the Pakistani Army in Bangladesh. Also on the 16th, a $10 billion announcement about support for semiconductor fabs.
And, as in ‘The Waste Land’, a pandemic still stalks the land.
It is a mixture of hope and despair:
April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain.
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After the devastating death of General Rawat and 12 others, there was the astonishing spectacle of ordinary highland Tamils lining the route of his funeral cortege and showering flower petals on the vehicles carrying their mortal remains. It startled me, because I have been led to believe that the average Tamil is this close to secession.
The outpouring of genuine grief all over the country at the death of the General is a signal that there is a new India emerging, one where a nation is finally being built, overcoming the fissiparous tendencies and separatism that have bedevilled the country. This is a ray of hope. Gen Rawat stood for a hard, capable, and rising Indian State: he was lionized by the average Indian because he had stood up against the enemies of the nation.
There is another India, though, the one that has long claimed to represent the masses. They showed their abundant churlishness by mocking the General’s death. A famous newspaper had a headline where they didn’t even call him General, but just Rawat, an egregious violation of protocol. And there were others who could barely contain their glee.
These people may even actually represent some strands of India: those that are thrusting rentiers, footloose, beholden to or mentally colonized by or pure fifth columnists of various hostile powers, or just plain awed by the West and impelled to copy them. But their days in the sun are over, because Bharat is rising and their India, of connections and plummy accents, is falling.
The nationalist Dharampal once wrote movingly of a group of villagers on yatra, pilgrimage, that he met on a train. They were a group from two villages in UP, of different jatis, and they had gone all the way to Rameswaram. Now they were going to Haridwar, and they had voluntarily skipped the great cities, the Nehruvian ‘temples of modern India’. They were indifferent to them, and to people like us, Anglophone urban residents.
That Bharat has always been there, even if it is not visible to most of us. It was this Bharat that, with tearful faces, mourned the General. It is this Bharat that is happy that the dirty, disgusting bylanes of Varanasi have been removed. This Bharat will visit Ayodhya. And this Bharat is the one that has taken to UPI, QR codes, and digitization with a vengeance.
It is they who have benefited from various development programs in the recent past, including Direct Benefit Transfer, JAM, UPI, health insurance, crop insurance, new roads and other infrastructure being built, the cooking-gas revolution, reliable electricity, and most of all, the Jal Jeevan mission. If they can be freed from the fetters of the colonial-Nehruvian State (a friend calls it the Anglo-Mughlai State) I suspect they will create miracles.
It is this cohort, the salt of the earth, that we are only vaguely aware of, that has sustained Hindu civilization, bloodied but yet unbowed. And they are the ones under withering attack by various enemies of the nation, targets of conversion drives, false narratives, and outright extermination attempts. But it is they who are our hope.
There will be a realignment, too. The low-hanging fruits are in the formerly benighted interior, the Gangetic Plain, sometimes derisively called BIMARU. From my vantage point, I see Kerala, which got an early start, now declining in the state rankings; perhaps like West Bengal. The North shall rise again, and that is a good thing.
But others are inventing dangerous myths. There is the oft-repeated (but repudiated even by the Vatican) claim that Saint Thomas came to Kerala in 72 CE. Similarly, there is an effort in Tamil Nadu’s Keezhadi and Kerala’s Pattanam to create a perception respectively, that a) Tamil civilization is older and different from Hindu civilization, and b) that Saint Thomas brought Christianity to Kerala even before Hinduism arrived.
The latest instalment in this saga is a story that some ancient rice has been discovered in a dig in Tamil Nadu. This has been breathlessly turned into ‘proof’ that Tamils are different, and in effect not part of Indian or Hindu civilization.
Just today I read about the new American ambassador-designate’s plans for India, which include vaguely-worded threats about inciting that mysterious animal, ‘civil society’. That’s a euphemism for creating and sustaining fault lines in Indian society. There was, for instance, an American named Gail Omvedt who lived (lives?) in India, and was systematically attempting balkanization under the rubric of human rights.
The ambassador-designate, by some accounts, has messed up so badly as Los Angeles mayor that he has to lie low for a while and get rehabilitated. What better than to send him to India on an errand of ‘sub-national diplomacy’? Surely he’s going to threaten India with sanctions over the Russian S-400 missile system, as well as on other Democrat hot buttons, for instance Ilhan Omar’s new Islamophobia Bill.
It is downright insane that a politician is the US envoy to India, when a rising India surely needs a savvy businessman: India will likely grow its trade and manufacturing clout especially given the trend towards reducing China exposure. It shows Democrat animosity towards India, and is further proof that the Quad is dead, after being put on life-support by AUKUS.
With the threat of war on the Tibet frontier, and of Omicron in the pandemic, 2022 looks like a year of living dangerously. The only consolation is that Bharat is rising, and that Kashi and Ayodhya have been reclaimed, though not in full measure, for Hindu civilization.
1130 words, 17 December 2021