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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Presenting Garbage Fiction As Facts - Pankaj Mishra

Pankaj Mishra single handily made up allegations that Indian security forces massacred Sikhs in Chittisinghpura when Clinton visited India in 2000. Clinton probably read his writing in New York Times, and without getting confirmation from his intelligence agencies (they would parrot ISI, anyway), made allegations in Madeleine Albright's autobiography's introduction that Hindus killed Sikhs during his trip to, apparently, make a point. (Publisher of the autobiography later retracts the story but Clinton's people refuses to do so.)

When push come to shove, Mr. Mishra says no one really knows about who killed those poor J&K Sikh villagers and wants an investigation and talks about fragile Indian democracy and (laughably) play with words. Talk about obscurantism. Because his fiction gets space in western newspapers and magazines as facts, he is given wide coverage in Indian newspapers.

Now Economist (July 1-7) gleefully reviews his another garbage portrayed as facts. This garbage has a lengthy title - "Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet and Beyond" (apparently to China and Japan). I don't think I would ever read the book but the review is quite entertaining by itself. I couldn't stop laughing after reading the review:

"His part in the wider drama established, Mr Mishra identifies himself with all manner of strugglers on the sub-continent...

"His eye is keenest in his homeland, the subject of more than half the book. Mr Mishra shreds the Hindu nationalists, purveyors of a religion cobbled together from folk beliefs in the 19th century, for the political purpose of opposing foreign rule. He reveals their contradictory ideas of caste and the imbecility of their world-view which is haunted by fears of the World Trade Organisation and the pope. In their rhetoric, they are as anti-America as al-Qaeda. Yet, at the same time, Hindu extremists seek to co-opt Western countries through mastery of their own scientific achievements. Mr Mishra discovers, in a secret laboratory hidden in a teak forest, Hindu extremists making dental powder out of cow's urine. But the nationalists' violence is no joke: 2,000 Indian Muslims were slaughtered in Gujarat in 2002 alone. In Kashmir the army, backed by every Indian government of the past decade, has murdered thousands of people in a failed effort to quell an insurgency that is rooted in legitimate grievance.

"India is not shining, but its people do have the advantagein violent and corrupt elections of changing their government. That has rarely, or never, been the case in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal and Tibet,...."

Ah, the wonderful struggling garbage maker:

Hindus fundamentalists can out do al-Qaeda in their hatred of US; Hindus haunted by WTO and pope; Hindus making dental power from cow's urine; Hindu army murdering thousands of people - what else is missing: naked Hindu sandus dipping in Ganga; Hindus praying to multiple gods (all at the same time); Hindus myriad languages and customs - they all play into this surreal image of destructive power of Hindus.

But he throws the Hindus a bone...despite all this the Hindus can change their government. And their neighbours can't.

Update:Salil Tripathi provides an excellent rebuttal to Mishra's nostalgia to India socialistic past and aborring present in UK's Guardians commentisfree section (via Confused - read both Salil's rebuttal to Mishra original article and his reply to Mishra reply to his rebuttal). Sandeep and Acorn critique Mishra latest tirade on India in NYT op-ed.


cynical nerd said...

Chandra: A good summary of the rebuttals. This Mishra chap needs to watched - he sure will be given more editorial space in NYT, Guardian and other 'internationalist' outlets.

Nice blog you have got here, should visit more often :-)


Chandra said...

Thanks CN.