Open Letter to Neoliberal Lord Meghnad Desai Against Fascism in India


Dear Mr. Desai,

I write to you as a concerned fellow citizen of a republic that reeks like a nauseating carcass. That the Indian economy is in sad shape is evident daily to anyone who buys the most trivial things. I agree with you on this. It is sadder still to see able, privileged sons of the republic sing a paean to a dictator who would descend on us like a deadly plague. A few weeks ago, Justice V. R. Kirshna Iyer compared the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, to Mohandas K. Gandhi: a proposition that is an outright insult to common sense. Gandhi was a victim of Hindu fascism, whose shameless protégé you have become.


Your articles are akin to a long melancholic cry that inaugurates the death-infested era of fascism. You suggest stoicism in governance as the solution. It is untrue that, for fascism to operate, this is the pre-emptive ideological ground it needs; in arts and academics it is the golden rule of supposed objectivity and an insistence on the differences that separate people.


I share your pain when you say that India has gone to the dogs but nevertheless reject a system that allows men like you to act as Lords who dictate the fate of millions at the stroke of pen. This is too much power for any man. A society run by profiteers such as the one you support will end in destruction. Shut upon itself, fascism always wishes to annihilate itself. How can one afford to forget this? You demand a system that will remain under perpetual emergency, whereas what we seek is nothing short of permanent peace. We too, as honorable citizens, are ashamed of our government. Unlike you, however, we live with it. Must we demand a one-point system to resolve all our problems?


I join you when you condemn the congress for the bad management of the economy but refuse to believe that Narendra Modi alone can restore it. How can one, as a peace-loving citizen hand over the affairs of the entire nation to a mass murderer? Do you mean to suggest that it is irrelevant whether or not one’s prime minister is a criminal? You support a man who, if he stands before the International Criminal Court (ICC), will end up in a jail; it is therefore reasonable to assume, in all sincerity, that anyone who accommodates Modi and the likes of him are culpable of harboring criminal intent. Modi’s candidature is not a mere ethical question that relates to polity and economics, but rather a fate, a foreboding disaster that men like you, willingly or unwillingly, have stamped on the lives of ordinary people.


You demand that genocides be forgotten. Memories of genocide, like any great misfortune, live within us. Like hidden sores, they remind us of their presence at the most inopportune moments. That your hero Modi would turn this country into a concentration camp seems to be of little interest to you. That a few months ago the BJP was involved in communal riots in Muzzafarnagar seems to be of no importance to you. You brush these facts aside like fleas as you sit at your table to compose eloquent songs. How can one forget this? By what logic have men of your standing managed to convince themselves about the supposed indispensable role of Modi. As a nation, this shows that we suffer from an acute poverty of imagination. How can we separate questions of ethics and criminality from politics? Does this speak well of our republican virtues?


My colleagues and I are, sir, as we admit, young men and women who are thoroughly inexperienced in the thing that philosophers call life. But with all humility, we, as the inheritors of this world, reject the forms of dominance and violence that lubricate the machinery which men like you offer to us. This nation, alas, has bled for too long. We too are tired of seeing men shot dead in Kashmir and elsewhere. We deplore our government’s rule, which is based on a colossal abuse of human rights.


Some day, if you get time, Mr. Desai, we hope you will visit working-class neighborhoods that are the major targets during communal riots. It is the poor who die like rodents; somehow the rich always die in big beds like power-hungry generals. In your secluded world, it must be impossible to imagine the fear of a girl who has to walk those streets in the dead of night. We also hope, sir, that when the acrimony subsides, you and the ethereal writers who populate your attic will find time to reflect on how Meghnad Desai became Lord Meghnad Desai.

With regards,
From a concerned fellow citizen

Imtiaz Akhtar (Student)
November 1, 2013


Editor’s Note: Photographs one, three, six, seven and eight by Dey. Photographs four and five from Narendra Modi photo-stream and photograph two from London School of Economics Library.


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