Thursday, December 29, 2005


Via Hindustan Times, read Barkha Dutt on secularism. Great writing and profound insight.

In my growing years, like many of my friends, I wore my scepticism like a badge of honour. On the sun-bathed lawns of St. Stephen’s College, we embraced rebellion, and as we got ready for our march to modernity, our freshly acquired liberalism had no space for petty denominations of identity — caste, region, religion. We belonged to a larger truth, a bigger India. The irony never struck us at the time — in a college Christian by birth, we believed that we needed to be pagan to be progressive.

It was only many years later, when journalism turned my simple ideas on their head, that I realised that agnostics like myself could only end up on the losing side of the battle for secularism. We had ended up misreading the signposts — in our firm walk away from religion, we had somehow lost our way, and ended up pretty far from culture as well, in a country where the two are inextricably woven together.

Link courtesy: Mangs


nukh said...

given ms.dutt's craven and blatantly biased coverage of the kashmir imbroglio, she should be the last person to lecture indians on secularism

Primary Red said...


Surely you don't disagree with her that sidelining faith is not the way to true secularism?

Also, could you elaborate a bit more about her Kashmir coverage? Not having watched NDTV much, not sure what you are alluding to.

Best regards

nukh said...

i do not have a problem with the idea.
it is just that the words lose meaning and ring hollow, when uttered by ms.dutt.
suffice to say, [for now] that she too is infected with that elitist virus, known as hypocrituslefti.
the virus causes the infected to draw distinctions between the suffering of peoples of different faiths.
the biases of ndtv's coverage in kashmir [especially during the bjp rule] are too numerous to list.
i shall attempt this weekend, however.

libertarian said...

Dutt's point of view closely parallels Nehru's - he underestimated the hold the (religious) temples of the 18th century had on the Indian mind, while focussing entirely on the (scientific) temples of the 21st century (paraphrasing Shashi Tharoor).

nukh she's certainly admitting her severe failure in relating to the vast majority of Indians, for whom religious ideas coexist relatively peacefully with secular ideas. In this regard India is quite unlike most other nation-states - with its fuzzy separation of mandir/masjid/church/gurdwara from state. Seems that the Abrahamic religions need that separation because of their tendency to encroach on statecraft.

indianpatriot said...

I watched some of dutt's kashmirs coverage. She was blaming India for illegal occupation of Kashmir(sic). For commiting human rights violation in Kashmir. I would have wondered if anybody in US would have survived as a journalist of a major news channel if he/she would have claimed US actions were responsible for 9/11.

cynical nerd said...

Last time I saw her was during the Kargil war, not bad coverage.

OTOH, NDTV has some interesting political connections. Mrs. Prannoy Roy and her sister both sit on its board. It is just that her sister happens to be Ms. Brinda Karat, a CPM politburo member. As you know, Mr. Karat is the CPM chief. So now you won't be suprised if they throw softball questions for Leftists during interviews.

It is said that NDTV management involved in some fishy insider trading when its IPO was released and made some killer money on that. If true, that's quite a bourgeois capitallistic indulgence, I should say.

libertarian said...

Very interesting info on NDTV, CN. Dutt does mention the "mullah-marxist mafia" label. It explains why they refer to Sourav Ganguly as the "Prince".

Her point on an agnostic/atheist being unable to relate to the majority in India is still valid though.

Anonymous said...

From her, the article rings hollow, definitely.

She's a very callous and biased reporter.
I still remember checking the news for information on the tsunami this time last year, and her callous remark "dont got to sleep thinking this wont happen to you!" while all the time gathering for a photo-op by having orphaned children surround her.

I had thought the fact Mrs Karat being a relative to Mr. Roy were quite well known - India today had published that nearly 2 years back or so!

cynical nerd said...

libertarian: Yes, she may have a point in this article.

BangaloreGuy: You would be surprised on how many people actually know about all these. There is a deep-rooted incestuous relationship between the media and political elites. Alas, we don't have the time and energy to monitor all this. May be something on the lines of the American Media Research Center would help a bit.

sand_dunes said...

Ms dutt and Mr roy have said that NDTV scientific poll for person of year in PlZ dont laugh SONIA Gandhi comon from 1st jan to 31st dec 2005 what extraordinary did Madam do... i dont remember anyhting if anything jharkhan d and bihar fiasco happened in 2005 wasnt she responsible for these she lead congress to victory in 2004 not 2005 i think pranoy and barkha must become CWC members and give direct advice to madam instead of thos crap my choice would have been nitish kumar or sania mirza simple fact on 1st jan sania was somebody when the year ended she proved to world there is more to world of india than cows on road kadva chauth films and computer geeks its immaterial what she does ffrom here on anywaz happy new year to all

Anonymous said...

Dear Secular Right, sorry to have to say: every half-assed nut with the 'right' opinion on secularism seems to be your secular idol.

Barkha Dutt is a *disgrace* to secularism. You can't point a gun to her head and get her to stop her from being an apologist of (Muslim) communalists.

Yes, Gujarat riots were Barkha Dutt's finest hour. Let me tell you why.

People were getting killed and embers were going on all around. This woman pops up somewhee, effects a choking voice for the camera, and fuses a few drops of liquid in her eyes. She tells you that she saw a half-burnt, "beautifully caligraphed" copy of Quran.

Remember. Houses were burnt. People were burnt to death. So naturally, you'll find burnt or half-burnt books too, holy or otherwise; so what is the point of making a special mention of it in the midst of communal mayhem?

The answer requires a little context. A few months earlier to the riots, there was another (minor) riot in Muslim areas of Bombay; a few people were killed. The riot was occasioned by rumours that copies of quran were burnt by Bajrnag Dal somewhere in Punjab.

It is not possible at all that this Dutt woman wasn't aware of this little history when she went on air faking emotion for a half-burnt Quran.

What's going on here? Doesn't require a genius to figure out. It's called 'provocation'. Some half-assed nuts obviously believe that it's ok to provoke one section of the people with allusions to burnt holy books but not ok to provoke the other with references to burnt train coaches.

Is that your secularism too, dear Secular Right? I hope not.

Barkah Dutt, by the way, owns her prominence to being the foster-daughter of Prannoy Roy. Nepotism, I agree, is an entriely secular trait.

Anonymous said...

"Barkah Dutt, by the way, owns her prominence to being the foster-daughter of Prannoy Roy."
I hope you are not kidding.
BTW, yes of course she is a very biased journo. Well then all at NDTV are biased.

Kumar said...


Ms. Dutt's article left me shaking my head, figuratively anyway. While you applaud Ms. Dutt's discovery that quite a few of her fellow Indians don't share her disdain for religion, I can only say that I am surprised that an Indian journalist would belatedly realize this elementary fact about her society. Or, rather I would be surprised, if I weren't acquainted with the ideological blinders of a significant portion of the English-speaking Indian elite.

Ultimately, I don't find Ms. Dutt's especially perspicacious. It's mostly a string of bromides: The answer lies in "faith"? Really? What can she possibly mean by this? What is a "faith", according to Ms. Dutt? Surely, she doesn't believe what she wrote: Ms. Dutt would not believe, I am fairly certain, that Hindutva 'faith' has the answers.

The article, though, is revealing in documenting her alienation from Hinduism (whatever her 'birth' religion was). Her remarks about the emotional impact of non-Hindu places of worship, her decades-long absence from mandirs, the posing of a false dilemma about Shree Rama's 'existence'--all these are the 'laksana' of the true Indian liberal. Ms. Dutt is quite right about how her beliefs are regarded by traditional Hindus. It's quite strange, but instructive, to see one's religious practices reflected back in the 'funhouse' mirror of Indian liberalism.

P.S., Belated Happy New Year to all the blog contributors.


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