[Reader-list] Look Ahead In Terror
rehanhasanansari at yahoo.com
Tue Dec 31 08:11:02 IST 2002
Look ahead in terror
By: Rehan Ansari
Ashis Nandy, a psychologist, interviewed Narendra Modi
10 years ago and made the assessment that Modi is a
Nandy wrote that he never uses the term fascist as a
term of abuse but as a diagnostic category.
He goes on to say, in a short essay called Obituary
of a Culture,: Modi, it gives me no pleasure to tell
the readers, met virtually all the criteria that
psychiatrists, psycho-analysts and psychologists had
set up after years of empirical work on the
He had the same mix of puritanical rigidity,
narrowing of emotional life, massive use of the ego
defense of projection, denial and fear of his own
passion combined with fantasies of violence.
I still remember the cool, measured tone in which he
elaborated a theory of cosmic conspiracy against India
that painted every Muslim as a suspected traitor and a
I came out of the interview shaken and (realised) I
had met a textbook case of a fascist and a prospective
killer, perhaps even a future mass murderer.
The very fact that he has wormed his way to the post
of the chief minister tells you something about our
political process and the trajectory our democracy has
traversed in the last fifty years. I am afraid I
cannot look at the future of the country with anything
but great foreboding.
The only good thing about that assessment of Modi is
that it shows the psychologist Ashis Nandy in a good
light: he has not minced words as social scientists
But what depressing news! Another reason to feel that
Pakistan is not better than India! I say India and not
Gujarat, because Gujarat may become the model for the
Whenever I feel that public culture in India is as
worse as Pakistan I feel that the desolate public
culture of Pakistan that Faiz Ahmed Faiz shows in his
poems has no border.
All over Punjab and Karachi Sunni supremacist
organisations assassinate Shias. Shias are less than
10 percent of the population.
In Gujarat the number of Muslims are the same as Shias
The difference between Gujarat and Pakistan now
becomes that Gujarat has free and fair elections, Modi
can deliver his hate speech, whereas in Pakistan
assassins let guns speak for them.
Gujarat has a chief minister who does not say, after a
train burned, that we should catch the criminals, but
says we should punish Muslims. Sunni supremacists in
Pakistan have guns speaking for them.
In college I decided that that I would learn Pakistani
history through Faiz Ahmed Faiz's poems. Not that
there really was an alternative as our libraries are
full of third rate state historians (thats a triple
In any case, I thought a poet whose career spanned
Partition and the advent of Zia ul Haq would provide a
history of emotion, hope, virtue and resistance.
I found all of that but I also found plenty of dismay.
In Subh Azadi (1947) I heard him singing about the
dawn that was like night falling, in Hum kay theray
ajnabi (it is about 1971 but he wrote it in 1973, on a
trip to Dacca), he wondered when there will be a
harvest that will be unsullied and unbloodied.
My favourite lament, which I have no idea when he
wrote but I always associate with Zia and his 80s is
called Loneliness (Tanhaai).
In Tanhaai it is dawn breaking over a city and in
every sign of the dawn there is despair.
Stars are no longer visible, as if blotted out by dust
, the streetlights of the city are staggering shut,
people are waking up from dreamless sleep, and the
poet has given up waiting for someone, or for a good
idea. The poem ends with: Ab yahan koi nahin, koi
nahin aay ga. (No one and nothing will come here
We wait and see how much of India is going to turn
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