April 20, 2021
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'A Prurient Fascination With The Enemies Of India'

'A Prurient Fascination With The Enemies Of India'

Aatish Taseer does the "TNB Self-Interview" for The Nervous Breakdown where he asks and answers questions on one who is not named:

You’ve said some pretty harsh things about a certain writer cum activists on the Left–no names!–who, we in the States, kind of like. She seems, in an environment of rapacious capitalism, to be a friend of the poor and marginalised. What possible objection could you have to her?

Aatish: None except that I don’t think she’s a friend of the poor at all. She would like to doom them to a permanent state of picturesque poverty. They are beautiful to her–the poor–beautiful, benign and faceless. And that is exactly how she wants them to stay. Let me say also that it is not the poor who animate her politics. Oh, no! The people who get her into the streets are the new middle classes. This class, still among the most fragile in India, people who have newly emerged from the most dire conditions, are despicable to her. She mocks their clothes; their trouble with English; she hates their ambitions; when India wins the cricket and she sees them celebrating, her skin crawls; she wants, more than anything, to do these people down. And it is her overwhelming hatred of them that allows her to be a friend of movements that are seemingly far apart. The jihadists, the Maoists, the Kashmir movement, the anti-development people…they’re all her friends. Anyone who can prove a credible threat to the future of India is a friend of that woman. I would go so far as to say she has a prurient fascination with the enemies of India. And where do they love her? In Pakistan, and in the faculty rooms of Europe and America. No surprise there.

Also, this business of pretending she’s a lone voice in the wilderness. What rubbish! At least have the good grace to admit that not one thing she says is provocative or new; it is perfectly banal. And we know how well the universities Europe and America reward this bogus cant!

And Young Taseer did not just stop there. He also went on to vent his spleen at "a grotesque figure, a man become obese on the affections of Indians...this great whale of a man, dressed in a mirrorwork kaftan, if you please, his dirty feet hanging off. And all about him, like little pixies, Baul singers skittered around":

...They’re Bengali bards of a kind. And to complete this awful scene was an audience of embassy trash. They sat among bolsters and fountains, sipping white wine. You’ve never seen anything more hideous in your life. But we mustn’t blame him alone; the fault is as much India’s; it is India who makes giants of these mediocrities, fattening them up till they’re as corrupt as Kurtz.

That’s a bit harsh…

In this respect, one cannot be harsh enough. In a more confident country—like Russia, say, in the 19th century; or, even China today—a man like that would have been booted out. He would have been a figure of fun and contempt. He would not have been able to position himself as a gatekeeper to intellectual life. But in India, he can; we love a man like that!

Have you got it all out, Aatish?


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