I would like to think of myself as a progressive liberal, because I find myself agreeing with writers of such political disposition. I have always found brilliant the Left smugness. My idols though are not India.
I love Jon Stewart, the American talk show host, whose Left smug was awesome because it was backed by solid research. I love Robert Reich because he talks of topics like income inequality with such passion that I have wondered why don’t we have such public personalities here. Among the humourists too, I loved the Left of centrists. (I don’t think many in the Right of centre have much of a sense of humour.)
Most journalists I admire are left leaning. I think it just makes for better journalism somehow, because by and large the liberals question the status quo. Somehow, it is sexier as a viewpoint.
But before I go on a hyperbole, let me clarify that any ideology stretched to the extremes is no good. The extreme Left is as dangerous as the extreme Right. I don’t just say this hypothetically.
I have traveled a little in my life, thankfully. If you keep your eyes wide open, travelling through Berlin and through Cambodia, you will know that history has shown that in such places the extreme Left ideology had the same pitfalls as the extreme Right.
Now I would like to position myself as maybe a moderate Leftist, where I think many views worth pursuing lie. That said, I think there are views within the moderate Right that are worth welcoming too.
One of the grudges that my Right leaning friends have with the other side is that sometimes Left ideology is dimissive of historical contexts. This applies extraordinarily to the Indian example because there is definitive proof that this geographic region was thriving culturally and scientifically much before the Western Civilization as we know it came to be.
There are enough examples of movements now in recent decades where people are going back to traditional wisdom backed by scientific proof.
There is no question that any Indian should not take pride in what was. (There is a programme in EPIC TV “Made in India” that I strongly recommend.) The only question is to what degree one should take pride over such things, and to what effect.
A lot of trolling and counter-trolling seems to happen in a space where many like me – I am candid to admit that my political views are still a work in progress – are coming up against people who are so sure of their political leanings.
In many ways, instead of me finding out where my moorings truly lie, I am being defined constantly by what I oppose.
I just have to construct a small logic on why I think BJP is not good for India, almost immediately some friends tag me a “secular liberal”.
I think there can be a better way to go about this. I would allow all my friends to encourage selecting their political associations not based on who they oppose but more by virtue of what they find reasonable.
Luckily, I had helpful people who pointed me towards the literature that made sensible reading, the columnists who made sense and the humourists who made me laugh.
I have said this before. I do not want to be pigeon holed to one ideology. I have asked my Right wing friends who keep arguing with me, to point me towards columnists who good Right wing commentators who speak about in a moderately palatable tone. Most of the times, what I get instead are viral rants. Silly questions about “where were they when this happened” “what were they doing when they were killed”. It is evident most of these things do not do much more than provoke and mobilise.
I just am past a stage where I allow people to do that to me. I am at a stage where I want to question back, and engage in conversations.
In my opinion, there is a need for a moderate Left movement in India. People like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn are capturing the imagination of youngsters in US and UK.
And for the youngsters too, I would say it is time they started expressing their political views, even on fora like Facebook or Twitter. It might be trivialised by many as “paper campaign” or “benign protest” but the more anyone starts writing, the better chances for self-motivation to be able to step out and express on the ground.
It is time to acknowledge that all of us are political. Whether or not we like it. If you are not willing to take control of your own politics, someone else will. Most probably, someone else has already.