Resurgent Bharat and Other Issues: An Anthology of Essays
1. Indic Civilisation and Culture
2. Politics: Twists and Turns
3. The Eastern Caliphate
4. A Resurgent India?
5. International Politics
6. Military & Strategic Issues
7. The Republic Under Siege
8. Lutyens Zone’s Toxic Lobby
9. Corporate Affairs
10. The Judiciary and Justice Delivery
11. Humour and Satire
ForewordResurgent Bharat And Other Issues - An Anthology of Essays, is a scintillating collection of thoughtful essays and reviews by Jay Bhattacharjee that were published in various journals and newspapers between the mid-1990s to 2021. When put together in a single tome, they convey a significant message that India has undergone a major change—one that is not merely wedded to the fortunes of its two major political parties, the Congress and the BJP and its allied organisations.
Another significant change is the near-permanent wilting away of the dogmas of Socialism and Secularism as they were practised by the Nehru Parivar, and their replacement by Hindu aspirations that had been denied their natural flowering earlier. This suppression was perpetrated under the previous colonial yoke, as well as during the successor regimes under Gandhi and Nehru.
Through the sheer vitality of his arguments, the author unmistakably conveys that the direction of change is irreversible, no matter how much resentment, rebellion, chicanery or sabotage the beneficiaries of the earlier established order may provoke or drum up.
Very early in the book, he takes up the question of why the creamy classes resist the change so vehemently. Is it their education in the Christian convent schools or their monolingual grooming through the English medium? The writer points out something more. The classes to whose good fortune fell the enjoyment of governing India after the “Transfer of Power”, were colonised not just by Macaulay but also by eight hundred years of Islamic rule before the British came to our country. The syndrome of ingratiating oneself before the invader has a longer recorded history. It is a result of such a humiliation, such a dhimmitude, that the official historians of the Nehru-Indra era denied the ravages of Islamic rule and concocted the story that British historians should be credited with the depiction of Islamic oppression.
Jay Bhattacharjee has no hesitation in pointing out that the core ethos of India is under siege today. There is a blatantly negative treatment of Hindus, particularly by the agencies of social reform. The bias is ingrained into the Constitution which calls for social reform only for Hindus while the minorities, namely Muslims, are exempted from that burden. On the contrary, they are provided with state-sponsored facilities of being as conservative as possible. He gives clear examples of the provisions in Article 25 and the reversal of relief granted to Muslim women who seek divorce.
Not content with mentioning the above blunders, the author has chosen to speak out against the much-venerated English language proponents and advocates in Nehruvian India. As somebody who has been part of the Anglophonic class of India by virtue of his job as teacher of English literature at a premier university, I have myself not been blinded to the unethical tyranny of the English language in India that has resulted in stultifying the Indian languages and their literatures. Despite all the attention our ruling establishment gave to English, our country has not succeeded in creating a class with any special facility in English. The writer points out that “English is now getting to be an albatross around our neck.” Most people never go beyond the pidgin level in handling it and, by turning away from their own mother tongues, they end up causing serious damage to the indigenous Indian languages. What is more, as the author describes so perceptively, many erstwhile premier institutes of India, such as the author’s own alma mater, Presidency College, Kolkata, have failed to maintain their glorious standards. They now wallow in utter mediocrity.
To salvage the linguistic decline, while examining the confusion created by national leaders like Gandhi and Nehru, Jay Bhattacharjee advocates the adoption of a high dose of Sanskrit-vocabulary usage in all modern Indian languages. He clearly points out such a common denominator will make it easier for all Indians to be at home with languages that are not their mother tongues. At this point, one wonders how our linguists and literary giants, simply overlooked this basic fact, and got deluded by spurious claims of religious harmony supposedly created by Hindi-Urdu bonhomie and Marxist fascination with plebian speech.
The book is not devoted to a reassessment of Nehru as a leader, but some crucial facts are stated by our author. He clearly says that Nehru had hardly anything Indian in his education and little to recommend by way of academic achievements. He contrasts Nehru’s performance with the academic careers of Sri Aurobindo and Subhash Bose who ranked at the top, while Nehru could only make it to a ‘compassionate pass’ degree in Cambridge. Not very generous as it may sound, this truth surely explains the momentous impact that Nehru’s ignorance of Indian culture had on the course of events in India’s history.
The theme of India under siege is expanded by the current rise of Islamism in West Bengal. In our author’s mind, the situation resembles what happened in Kosovo when Yugoslavia underwent its calamitous disintegration. Thus, he makes a clear call for the dismissal of the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal. For him, India must never wither away into a soft state under the onslaught of Islamist and liberal-Leftist machinations.
Some parts of the book may not be of interest to the general reader, since they concern issues that have passed into history, such as the Trump Presidency in the U.S. However, many critical issues still remain like the Jihadi violence in many countries in Europe. Here, the author attempts to remind us of the history of Islam’s foray into Europe and its later retreat, hoping that European people, though appearing very helpless right now before the Islamic onslaught through forced migration, may recover their defences soon.
While giving a pithy account of how Christians reclaimed Cordoba in 732 CE through the valour of Charles Martel, the Frankish King, and then much of Europe in 1236 CE by the Spaniards during the Reconquista, followed by the battle of Vienna in 1683 CE won by the Polish king John III Sobieski, the author is exasperated by the terrible short-sightedness of the German Chancellor Merkel and the British Labour Party, who refuse to note that the number of Muslim refugees or migrants has crossed a dangerous threshold in Western Europe.
There are many insightful essays in the book on how the Indian politicians have been treating the country’s armed forces by not giving them their dues, either financially, or in terms of the status and respect they deserve. Jay Bhattacharjee discusses at length the basic flaws in the Indian state’s policies pertaining to the nation’s sword-arm.
The book calls for an enormous amount of introspection by all thinking persons and classes responsible for governance at every level. Publications like this are most necessary, when the political classes are wont to drum up a nationalism that does not have its feet firmly on the ground, when heritage and lived culture are seen through a clouded lens of half-baked ideology, and when leadership has to invigorate itself by eschewing all lethargy and senility.
At this stage of its history, India awaits a leadership that is firm in resolve, meticulous in planning and generous of heart to usher in a new Indic civilisation. This is no time to dilly dally or to be hesitant and depressed. This is the moment to hear and answer the clarion call once given to a great warrior, “Uttishtha parantapa. Rise and subdue the vicious.”
Through these essays and articles written over a span of twenty- five years, Jay Bhattacharjee issues a clarion call to his readers and to a wider audience that our ancient civilisation is on the cusp of a giant leap forward. A failure at this juncture would be cataclysmic.
PrefaceResurgent Bharat And Other Issues - An Anthology of Essays is a valuable compilation of Jay Bhattacharjee’s (JB’s) work over several decades. This may sound like a cliché, but the truth is that JB’s essays are unputdownable. He is sharp, witty, acerbic and irreverent, and it seems as if he regularly dips his keyboard in a trough of sarcasm!
JB has his pet aversions, and they make his essays eminently readable! They include the denizens of Lutyens Delhi (The LZ Gang) and pseudo- intellectuals of all varieties, especially pseudo-secularists, who go by the delightful acronym SS (Sarkari Secularists) and “media honchos”, including foreign correspondents stationed in Delhi. These two terms were clearly patented by JB at some stage of his writing career.
As one reads this book, one soon realises that it is indeed not advisable to ever get into his cross hairs, for JB can be punishing, unrelenting and unforgiving. Once he takes aim, there is little chance of survival for the victim. It is a lethal fusillade of words that hits the bull’s eye.
If this was indeed a battlefield, the images that come to mind are those of his bruised and battered opponents being carried away in stretchers by the International Red Cross.
If you find him irascible at times, forgive him, because he is doing your job! While you fret and fume all your life about the frauds and fakes you shake hands with at the Delhi Gymkhana Club, India International Centre and other watering holes in the Capital, JB goes for the jugular, so that your spirits may be buoyed by vicarious pleasure, as you enjoy your drink!
Sarcasm is a very special weapon in the armoury of a writer. Most writers who deploy it generally cause some damage to reputation. But, in JB’s case, you could get bludgeoned!
Here is a sample:
“The building belongs to the Central Government and has almost certainly been rented out to the FCC (The Foreign Correspondents Club of South Asia) at the ridiculously low rate that the President of India is pleased to charge from his most privileged and affluent citizens. In other words, the hapless Indian tax-payer heavily subsidises a coterie of foreign scribes, whose purported mandate is to report objectively on this country’s affairs for their global readers, but who do precisely the opposite. The FCC is a sepulchral and dreary establishment, which also manages to project a distinctly sinister and eerie image. Its dimly lit rooms, tastelessly furnished, remind you of Eric Ambler and the Balkans of the 1930s….
The whole ambience reeks of petty intrigue and low-level skulduggery… On the few occasions when I have visited the FCC in the last few years, I have always found the experience interesting. Invariably, the members of the international rat pack stunned me with their devastating ignorance of this country, its history and its people—worse was their mind-set and disposition”.
The denizens of Lutyens Zone (LZ)—“purveyors of a sordid ideology”—come in for appropriately harsh treatment at JB’s hands. He says, “The insidious elite in New Delhi’s Lutyens Zone (LZ) had honed its skills for decades after 1947 and indeed for many hundreds of years earlier, under Muslim rule, and then under Pax Britannica. I must hasten to clarify that the LZ denizens do not merely comprise folks who are inhabitants of this small municipal zone in the nation’s Capital. LZ wallahs include all those who subscribe to the ethos and “values” of an ideology spawned here. To give just a few examples, the LZ mafia have in their fold the media honchos (particularly in the English MSM), the jholawallahs from all over the country, the Muslim-Christian clergies, the erstwhile comrades who are now confined to two backward enclaves of the country, and assorted “intellectuals” from universities, academic/research institutions and other talking shops, especially in the JNU and other similar cesspools.”
The other large component in the LZ cabal is made up of the beneficiaries of the loot and corruption of the Indian economic system that was designed and run by the GNG trio”. (Note: GNG is an acronym for Gandhi-Nehru-Gandhi).
Further, “Their make-believe world is that of the Mughal conquerors and the English overlords; it is through these prisms that they look at their own pre-colonial civilisation and heritage”.
The second characteristic of the LZ Gang, he says, “is their visceral animosity to this country’s ancient culture and civilisation. 4,000-odd years of glorious achievements and accomplishments of this land and our Indic civilisation in numerous fields have all been brushed under the carpet and made to disappear”. In his view, “the most prominent figures in the desi media and the academic world are ardent “secularists,” whose raison d’être is to “mock, trivialise, distort and undermine our ancient civilisation and heritage”.
All this is not to say that he is an angry citizen who is out to whack anyone who crosses his path. He has a great sense of humour. For example, his take on “Begum Mawmota Banerjee’s Eengland Bheejit” comes with this self-deprecating advisory: “Some portions of this article, especially those that reproduce conversations and ruminations of some of the persons featured in the report, are in a language called Bongleesh. Readers who are not familiar with this language may be advised to consult their Bongo friends”.
Or this: “Empress Ponya was now in distress. Her son, Praoul, who was also referred to rather unkindly by the desi press as “always on the prowl” (AOTP), was clearly not cast in the mould of a great leader. Her daughter, Bianka, and son-in-law Herbert Dadra were even more disappointing…… Most…… members of her inner council were referred to as the “Cousins Zone” coterie because they all stayed in that part of the national capital, New Tilli, where relatives or close friends of the power elite stayed.”
In the essay titled “In Defence of Puppies and Dogs”, it becomes obvious that JB is an admirer of the famous French philosopher and moralist, Duc de Rochefoucauld, who is well known for his maxims, the source of which was his cynicism about human behaviour. JB says Rochefoucauld’s epic dictum (“The more I see of human beings, the more I love my dogs”) “is forever etched in my mind and heart”.
Like Duc de Rochefoucauld, JB believes that life is all about scruples, and any shortfall on that score deserves the harshest punishment that prose can offer. Therefore, he is the ace detective like Hercule Poirot, whose métier is not only to crack criminal cases but to sniff out the unscrupulous. So, once the detection is over, the assault begins! That is why, politicians and journalists, who get low scores on JB’s moral meter are sitting ducks when JB offloads his ammunition.
Finally, like Rochefoucauld, there is no sugar-coating, and, therefore, JB offers the ideal literary and intellectual diet for all those who wish to lead a healthy life. This book is, therefore, safe, and indeed ideal, for everyone, including cardiac patients and diabetics!