How Chetan Bhagat can inspire Modi bhakts to troll themselves

These are people trained to see the world in no way other than empirically.

 |  3-minute read |   11-07-2015
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Almost at the end of a column on the pain, that is online Modi bhakts, Chetan Bhagat writes,"The best strategy is to not take true bhakts too seriously".

The writer of popular fiction who sees himself as the voice of Indian youth, takes recourse to four stereotypes. That bhakts are sexually frustrated, that they have an inferiority complex about not being great at English, that India is a poor country, and they are ashamed of being Hindu. Stereotypes have a grain of truth in them, but only a grain.

As stereotypes go, Bhagat left out an important one. That they are all from a science and technology background. This one, I bet, has more than a grain of truth. In Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, a left bastion and a favourite punching bag of bhakts, there's a small but strident right wing on the campus. It consists almost entirely of students from the science departments.

It is not hard to see why this is the case. India makes engineers and business managers like Bangladesh makes clothes. These are people trained to see the world in no way other than empirically. It's either black or white, yes or no, 1 or 0, enemy or friend. Seeing the world in binaries is what makes the techie-bhakts troll so viciously. If you are not an admirer of the Hindutva worldview, you must be sympathetic to the Congress. If you advocate minority rights, you must be anti-Hindu. If you advocate India-Pakistan peace, you must be anti-national. If the Muslim rulers ruled India, they were all bad for the Hindus.

There is an urgent need for engineer-producing factories to train students in some critical thinking as well. The arts make you see shades of grey. They rote-learning of history in schools is in sharp contrast with history education in universities, which encourage critical engagement with how the past is read, its processes understood.

The reason why a lot of bhakts on Twitter are misogynist, going to the extent of giving rape threats, is also because they haven't been exposed to too many women in peers. Their colleges and workplaces are heavily male-dominated. Liberal arts education and the careers that follow from there, however, are increasingly gender balanced. Men who have to study and work with women have to learn to deal with them with respect.

The opposite is also true. Left-liberals often don't need empirical evidence to support their point of view. Liberals can go to the other extreme and put on ideological blinkers. As a result, our public discourse is getting reduced to a shouting match. We don't realise we are only shouting at the mirror.

In the US, more educated people are more likely to be Democrats. This is perhaps true of India as well. This will again make the bhakts say that one is calling them uneducated. But that is not the point. There's a reason why those who are into pure science research are less likely to be vicious trolls on Twitter. An educational pursuit leads you to think outside the binary of 1 and 0.

Chetan Bhagat is an IIT-IIM product who thinks like a marketing genius. He takes positions and changes them with calculation. Bhakts were his admirers until recently. If even Chetan Bhagat is fed up of the bloodthirsty trolling and abuse of online Modi bhakts, it is time the bhakts did some introspection.

Writer

Shivam Vij Shivam Vij @dillidurast

Shivam Vij is a journalist in Delhi.

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