Episode 19: The tragic(?) defenestration of Pratap Bhanu Mehta
Enough of portraying liberal India as some autocracy!
Did Pratap Bhanu Mehta jump from Ashoka University? Or was he pushed? This seems to be the Hamlet-esque “to-be-or-not-to-be” question of the day in the Indian media. The simple answer is that it is very good if he was pushed. And it’s even better if he jumped.
That of course needs an explanation. The push option is if the Government of India made an offer to the trustees of Ashoka that they couldn’t refuse: get rid of the fellow, or else! That, of course, would be Godfather-esque, and it would mark a welcome change from the pusillanimity that India has traditionally exhibited. Soft States don’t work, which should have been abundantly clear to us all along.
If it wasn’t clear, the antics of Xi Jinping’s minions in Alaska just a few days ago should have been enough to convince the most obtuse among us. They calculate that Biden is soft (we can speculate as to why they are so confident about that), so they humiliated the US side as is their wolf-warrior habit. Xi is broadcasting loudly that Biden’s US is a Soft State and that he pwns Biden. Whether this is true remains to be seen, but it is a good opening gambit.
India has been the ultimate Soft State, mouthing meaningless platitudes and cringe-inducing homilies while spectators roll their eyes and silently pray: “Just kill me now!”. Hark back to V K Krishna Menon delivering marathon lectures at the UN General Assembly or J Nehru turning down the offer of the Security Council Seat “because China deserves it more”. (By the way, I can quote chapter and verse: no, it is not an urban myth).
So if there is — finally — a change of heart, and India does stand up for its interests, then it would be welcome news. Doing tejovadham to undesirables is part of what governments are supposed to do. This was visible in the case of yesterday’s cause celebre as well, the mop-haired Disha Ravi. The fact that she was arrested is important. She herself is unimportant, but it sends a message to other wannabe Urban Naxals: “Your ass is on the line, kid!”, pardon the French.
For a long time, secessionists have labored under the illusion that they were immune to the power of the State. They have seen overground and underground purveyors of sedition treated with kid gloves, and they got used to thinking that this is the natural order of things. Not quite. They should look up Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden.
The human rights of outlaws or insurgents or their middle-class supporters are not — and they cannot be — greater than those of the average, law-abiding citizen. That is an axiom, and all the billions of the Open Society Foundation and #DeepState are not going to change that very easily.
The alternative in Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s case, the jump option, is even better because it means he had no option but to fall on the sword. In other words, the Government didn’t do anything, but out of enlightened self-interest, the trustees of Ashoka informed him that he should resign, or else they would have to fire him: Because he was causing real damage to the Ashoka brand.
Of course, Mehta has friends, powerful and shadowy friends. Within 24 hours, there was a letter written by 150 professors from “Harvard, MIT, Yale, Columbia, Oxford, Cambridge” and so on, in his support. Commendably swift. The Ecosystem has its act together to protect its own.
The letter also means… exactly nothing.
It is precisely like the letter signed by 22 (or was it 35?) Nobel laureates supporting a Naxalite doctor some years ago. I would wager that none of these worthies could even spell that man’s name, or pick him out in a police lineup of suspects. They just blindly signed a piece of paper somebody put in front of their noses.
There was also the petition signed by 47.5 “ancient India scholars” some years ago regarding the Aryan Invasion Mythology and related stories in the California Textbook Case. I wrote an unpublished piece then where I pointed out that these alleged “scholars” included people who can’t read Sanskrit or Tamil, urban planners, astrophysicists, economists, sociologists, linguists in unrelated languages, deconstructionists, etc. The one person who had the requisite background in both ancient history and languages retracted her support.
In other words, these letters are part of a “toolkit”, a term immortalized by Disha Ravi in her 15 minutes of fame.
The same worthies crying about Mehta’s “freedom of expression” or whatever chose to ignore the fact that a young, brown, foreign, racial/religious minority Hindu woman, Rashmi Samant, was cyber-bullied, trolled, terrorized, and forced to resign from her post as elected president of the Oxford Student Union, just days ago. Why? That was a rhetorical question. We know the answer.
The same worthies have also ignored a vile campaign by a foul-mouthed assistant professor at Rutgers University to demonize a small racial and religious minority, Hindus, mostly Asian Americans.
Tulsi Gabbard, a Hindu though not Asian (she’s a Pacific Islander), has been attacked directly for her faith. Although the hate campaign against her was utterly horrifying, not a single academic bothered to condemn it. Here is an actual campaign poster against Gabbard. (Hat tip to Sheenie Ambardar for this).
No, none of this bothers the 150 letter writers. That means they have no moral leg to stand on: they are hypocrites.
But they make it sound like Mehta was subjected to something akin to what Hypatia, the foremost woman scholar of her time, and a philosopher and mathematician of repute, experienced in Rome around 300CE. They dragged her out of her chariot and into a church, stripped her naked, gouged out her eyeballs while she was still alive, slashed her to pieces with broken tiles, then cut her body up, dragged the pieces through the streets, and burned them: all because newly-ascendant Christians hated pagans.
In fact, it was Rashmi Sawant who was treated a bit like Hypatia, not Pratap Bhanu Mehta; and explicitly for the same reason: she is a Hindu. Abrahamics have a serious problem with Hindus and others of the Old Religions. As described in the fascinating book The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, majoritarian rule by Christians meant the total destruction of the old Roman religion around 400-500 CE.
Majoritarian rule by Abrahamics almost inevitably means religious minorities are oppressed, and frequently they are wiped out, exterminated. So there is good reason to fear majoritarian Abrahamic rule, as freedoms will be curtailed.
However, by sleight of hand, this Abrahamic technique is ascribed to Hindus, and the likes of Mehta talk up a storm about ‘fascistic’, ‘majoritarian Hindu nationalist’ rule! This sells well to the Deep State and Christian fundamentalists and regime-change enthusiasts in the West, but is entirely without basis. It is a gigantic fraud that ordinary Indians have also been gaslighted into.
Hindu rule is demonstrably benign and liberal. Look at the classical Chanakya niti: he advocates sama, dana, bheda and only when other avenues are explored and fruitless, danda. The Pandavas give the Kauravas innumerable opportunities to negotiate a settlement without bloodshed, even willing to accept merely five villages for themselves, while the empire went to the Kauravas.
Then there’s the Sisupala story, where Lord Krishna forgives 99 transgressions before slaying him.
And look at India today. It may have a large numerical majority of Hindus, but it is a Minoritarian State, as interpreted by the Executive and Judiciary and enshrined in the Constitution. Religious minorities get all sorts of privileges not available to Hindus, most distressingly the fact that Hindu temples are captured by the State. Just two days ago, government bureaucrats were selling off 35,000 acres of land belonging to the Lord Jagannath temple.
The vast holdings of churches (the #2 land-owner in the country, after the government), much of it expired 99-year-leases that they squat on illegally as though they were land grants, are never touched. Waqf properties, that is Muslim community properties, are also left alone.
There are special provisions for all sorts of things for minorities. Kerala’s government has posted employment advertisements that are reserved for converts to Christianity! There are schemes to pay Muslim priests salaries and Christian priests pensions and to greatly subsidize Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca and Christian pilgrimage to Jerusalem, while Hindus have to pay for their pilgrimages out of their own pockets.
And the Modi government, accused of ‘majoritarianism’ has itself rolled out goodies like scholarship schemes, even entire universities and schemes for women, explicitly for non-Hindus! In other words, extreme liberalism is being painted as fascism! How very predictable! How very Orwellian!
All the breast-beating by Mehta and friends about ‘majoritarianism’ boils down to a concern that Hindus will get equality. That’s right: any attempt by Hindus to merely demand equality under the law is treated as ‘fascism’. This is the kind of extreme rhetoric that the malcontents in India espouse.
For instance, they made a godawful fuss about the badly-named Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which merely provides non-Muslim minorities being genocided in Pakistan and Afghanistan fast-track access to Indian citizenship. This was portrayed as a grave offense: why? Because the Pak and Afghan Muslims doing the genocide would not gain Indian citizenship! That is utterly absurd!
The genocide is not theoretical, either. Just two days ago, there was news of Ajay Lalwani, a Hindu journalist in Pakistan, being shot dead by a gunman. His crime: he had reported on how underage Hindu girls in Pakistan suffer regular kidnap, rape, conversion to Islam, and forced marriage to Muslims. This happens on average to three teenage girls a day, every day. That is explicit Abrahamic majoritarianism. And that is precisely why CAA is an utterly liberal law, protecting the victims of religious apartheid and genocide.
Nevertheless, here is Pratap Bhanu Mehta fulminating against the CAA, passed into law by the elected Indian parliament, and suggesting in so many words that the way to challenge it was not to use the Judiciary, but to riot in the streets.
But we should recognise that this direction is not going to be set through the nice formalisms of law, or the contrived conventions we can adhere to in normal times. The direction is going to be set by the mob, by brute power, by mobilisation.
This is outrageous. Some might call it seditious. If there were McCarthyites in India, they would nail Mehta. There aren’t, so he gets cushy sinecures, while spearheading a reverse-McCarthyite movement to blackball anybody who is not part of his cohort’s Big Brother thought control!
What explains this strange power Mehta has to keep an entire country in thrall to his views? It couldn’t possibly be his regular op-eds in the Indian Express. I have been surprised by the drivel he churns out. It is verbose and prolix, full of the turgid and impenetrable vocabulary of the cultural Marxist. He writes 3,000-word essays that say… exactly nothing.
That is, of course, when he’s not inciting people to riot, as above. On second thoughts, maybe it is better that he not use many verbs, unlike this famous Doonesbury strip from 1980 lampooning Ted Kennedy.
Pratap Bhanu Mehta remains an enigma; nay, a mystery wrapped in a conundrum. What is the source of his influence? How does he regularly end up in prestigious positions for which he may or may not be qualified or competent? Is he an outstanding scholar who has produced great work? Why is he the darling of the Ecosystem?
The blurb on Mehta says this:
His areas of research include political theory, constitutional law, society and politics in India, governance and political economy, and international affairs.
Not being in that business, I have no idea what his contribution is. I used to think he must be a globally-renowned scholar. But so far as I can tell, he has not done any path-breaking, seminal work. The only awards on his blurb are from India. So why is there such a fuss about him from Anglosphere friends? Mehta sounds rather like Yogendra Yadav, who is famous only for being famous.
It would also be interesting to see if any of those worthies from Columbia, Yale, Harvard, MIT, Oxford, etc. actually invites Mehta to a position in their home institutions. Somehow I doubt that, because they have their own bailiwicks to protect, and anyway he’s probably more useful to them if he is in India.
But it is not unknown for washed-up Ecosystem journalists (I can name at least two) to be given cushy slots in the Deep State newspapers of the West. There was also a journalist who said she was an Associate Professor at Harvard, until it crashed and burned and she made (hard to believe) excuses about mail fraud.
So I for one would not be surprised if Mehta were to turn up at some university that is friendly to the Deep State and Atlanticism.
Don’t cry for Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Argentina. Or Lutyens, or Khan Market. I am pretty sure he’ll pop up somewhere, being hailed as the new Solzhenitsyn. The real Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, poor guy, will turn over in his grave.
POSTSCRIPT: Gurcharan Das confirms that Mehta jumped, and was not pushed. Somehow that is a little disappointing. So we are still a Soft State? Sigh. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/a-tale-of-two-heroes-tragedy-at-ashoka-university-shows-the-difficulty-of-doing-good-in-todays-world/