Sunday, 6 December 2015

How intellectual are our intellectuals ?
In a speech at the Bangalore Literature Festival recently historian Ramchandra Guha described the Modi Government as the most anti-intellectual Government India has ever had.
 Apart from doubting whether the Indira Gandhi government, Morarji Desai government and several other governments were ' intellectual ',  I wonder how really intellectual are our professed intellectuals who are complaining ?
 India is facing massive socio-economic problems today---massive poverty, unemployment, soaring prices , malnutrition, healthcare and education problems, etc. Have our so called intellectuals really come up with solutions to these problems ?
I was at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi some time back with some of the top senior academicians in Delhi, being the only non academic amongst these 'intellectuals'
I was told that the budget of the University Grants Commission was Rs.41,000 crores in the Five Year plan and the annual budget of JNU was about Rs.200 crores. In my usual blunt way I asked, “How has this benefited the Indian masses ? It seems that the huge funds being ploughed into education in India are for the benefit of foreign countries and to give you professors huge salaries and fine houses to live in rather than to benefit the Indian people.” This sparked off a lively debate. Some of the professors tried to refute my statement, but I stuck to my guns.
 I posed them the question : the test of every system is one simple question. Does it raise the standard of living of the masses or not? Despite the huge amount of money being spent on  education in India it is not raising the standard of living of the Indian masses because over 75 per cent of Indians live in dire poverty. There is massive poverty, unemployment, skyrocketing prices, huge problems of health care, housing, etc. A UNICEF report states that one out of every three malnourished children in the world is an Indian child. Lacs of farmers have committed suicide.  Delhi is perhaps the most polluted city in India ( many other cities being no better ), and Chennai was almost drowned in the recent floods.  10 million youth are entering into the Indian job market every year, but only half a million jobs are being created in the organized sector of our economy. So what do the remaining do ? They become hawkers, street vendors, bouncers, criminals, prostitutes ( there are an estimated 20-30 million prostitutes in India ) or suicides
 As regards our literary writers, have they lately produced any work anywhere of the level of Dickens, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Gorki, Victor Hugo, Balzac, John Steinbeck, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyaya, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Premchand, Faiz, Subramania Bharati, etc. ? Most of our writers are thoroughly commercialized, they write third rate books only for making money.
Real intellectualism requires creative thinking.  A real intellectual is a person who engages in critical study, thought, and discussion with others. He has modesty and curiosity, always having the questioning attitude. and till his end regards himself a student, always wanting to learn, and seeking persons who will teach him. Having done that for a long period, he then uses his creativity to propose real solutions for the problems of society, But are our 'intellectuals' doing that ? I am afraid the answer has to be in the negative. Most of our 'intellectuals'  are really conceited, puffed up,peudo intellectuals, who only seek  comfortable lives, as Professors or writers, but have little creativity, modesty, or curiosity. Many of them became flunkeys and toadies of the then governments, getting various benefits and sinecures from them. Where are our Newtons or Darwins or Voltaires or Rousseaus in India ? Where are our John Lockes, Adam Smiths or the French Encyclopedists ?
 I certainly do not support the present Indian Government's actions in appointing persons of their own thinking to various cultural and academic posts.. But does it really lie in the mouths of our so called 'intellectuals', who have let down the nation, to complain ?
 I do not deny the great importance of intellectuals in the progress of mankind. In modern times great Revolutions like the American, French and Russian Revolutions were led by intellectuals. Intellectuals are the eyes and brains of society, and without them society is blind and stupid. But they must be real and not pseudo intellectuals if they wish to be respected and contribute to society's progress.

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