Right Wing Ecosystem Paradox

I am a self confessed sympathiser of the right (culturally and economically). Lot of it had to do with my relatives and my own upbringing. However, this did not deter me from being critical about politics and the policy space, right or the left. There were inconsistencies, back-tracking, outright lying in politics. In the last 7-10 years, I have been observing the policies, particularly the economic policies. All was fine as long as my day job was of an engineer. It helped really. I did not remember what history was taught (barring major events) in my school. So, unlearning was fairly simple when there is access to the internet and twitter (especially the smart handles).

With common sense, general awareness, and societal upbringing, there was a clarity in terms of what the society should look like. However, it was when I entered social sciences through public policy masters that I realised that social sciences was in a sense ‘disconnected’ from the mainstream understanding. I do not mean ‘disconnected’ in a pejorative sense yet,  just that all my old friends, my social circle could not relate to or endorse any of the views shared by most of my peers. At an individual level, this was brilliant! It helped me meet a diverse set of students, majority who would not share my opinion. This helped me strengthen my opinion when I found the counter-arguments to be unconvincing and soften my stance when I was on a weak footing.

The former though, the cases where right leaning arguments were strongest in my opinion were missing in the academic discourse altogether. For example, the standard suggestion for a good research periodical would be the Economic and the Political Weekly (EPW) in India. Even glancing the titles of the papers would fairly give you an idea that the writings were heavily oriented towards the left. Well, initially I felt maybe it was an academic bias by the professors. I was wrong. EPW is a solid periodical when it comes to political and economic issues and there was nothing to match on the other side of the spectrum. The positive qualifier is purely because the periodical covered a wide range of social issues and the research at least had rigour albeit following questionable methodology at times.

The questionable methodology (overbearing marxist historiography, social construction taken to logical madness!) did not attain its ‘zenith’ overnight. The discourse suited the political class as class and caste divisions helped them maintain power relations.  Such a reputation could have been made possible only by nurturing an ecosystem for a long time. The Congress party, though far from the marxist ideology today maintained state patronage to a barrage of historians, economists, sociologists etc (Arun Shourie has gone into painstaking details regarding this in Eminent Historians). Speaking of history, primary commentators of the time  were no more interesting. Citations moved from Sarkar, Kane to Kosambi, Panikkar, Thapar and in some time Doniger. Court historians ‘exaggerated’, but their own political economy conjectures were more real.

We are taught in class that feudalism is juxtaposed with capitalism in a country like India, I can totally buy that since I can see these traits in their eminencies where they are gleefully accepting state patronage like vassals. In this context, BJP which won overwhelming majority in 2014 despite wanting to build a right wing ecosystem cannot undo this. For starters, with a voter base which comes from  poor and middle classes and  elite technocrats and NRIs do not have a day job of writing social science textbooks or teaching history.

This is the paradox where this government cannot find  historians who can correct our histories and upgrade our social sciences pedagogy in general. And any correction will be seen as a disruption by the establishment ‘scholars’ and all we are left with is ‘Award Wapsi’.

So where do we stand today? We are at a point where a significant number of youth are learning that mammary glands are social constructs, Aurangzeb was a pious human being forced to do untoward things due to the political economy and that democratic mandates are not acceptable when the candidature is not approved by intelligentsia. It is fine really! such universities have become universes disconnected from the ones we live in. What choice do these kids have? Their bread and butter is largely going to come from academia as it is almost compulsory for them to do a post grad and a PhD before any contribution to the society even in academia. This requires persistent subservience to the intelligent masters who dictate fellowships and scholarships.

As far as the right is concerned, it is almost mandatory to rebut in a fact-based manner at least in quasi-academic domains by writing non-fiction books, media etc. There has been some headway here, but a lot needs to be done to free the gulags disguising as universities.


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