Conference, Patriotism and Surveys

by the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal

A few days ago I attended the much controversial Dismantling Global Hindutva conference. Though I do not agree or subscribe to the views and thoughts of the speakers, I acknowledge and respect their right to express themselves, to discuss and debate a topic. They should not be threatened with violence offline or online but rather countered on the grounds of ideas, facts, and arguments.

Some of the speakers passed sweeping statements towards Hinduism and its adherents. For example, some of the speakers generalized all Hindus from some castes as biased, racist, and fascist which was far removed from the realities of real life. Castism just like Racism is alive and can still be seen in some parts of our society but that doesn’t mean that everyone in our society is a bigot. There were some Racists who voted for Trump but that does not mean that everyone who voted for Trump is a racist.

In India today, in urban settings, many people are educated, aware, and do not believe in castism. Many of the speakers in that conference did not appreciate the work of many groups and organizations who are working towards breaking the barrier of caste in society. Yes, there are incidents like Hathras that come to light from time to time but many practicing Hindus like me feel outraged by such heinous acts. Every society has its challenges and Hindu society is no different. Another aspect where I feel this conference was lacking was representation from the Hindutva side. If you are trying to dismantle the ideology of the other side, what’s wrong in calling them for debate?

Despite my disagreements, I do not wish them harm; I have no ill feelings towards them.  But recently the patriotism of Infosys and its workers was called into question. It was surprising because Infosys is a company, not a person, despite being an India-based company, it has employees and offices all over the world. It’s driven more by profits and not by national interests. One disclaimer here is that I did work for Infosys in the past and I found my colleagues as professionals who loved India immensely, never during my experience at Infosys I came across an instance where its employee or management deliberately tried to jeopardize a client project. Sometimes IT projects fail, sometimes they succeed but that does not mean that we bring into question the patriotism of its employees. Our cricket team wins some matches and loses some but we never question their commitment towards the sport or the country. That is not to say that Infosys does not have accountability towards the glitches in the system it designed but system bugs do not make its employees turncoats.

Another important development that happened was income tax “Surveys” on web portals like NewsClick and Newslaundry. Another person to find taxman knocking on his doors was actor Sonu Sood, I am not saying that some people or organizations are above the law but because the people in question here are media organizations and an individual who could be seen as a potential political rival, the income tax department should be more proactive, forthcoming and transparent in their queries. A government agency should not be perceived as a tool to suppress dissent and disagreement. Though the actor, as per recent development, is charged by the tax agency for tax evasion. The IT department may still find eyebrows and questions raised over the timing of its actions.

Ideas are our weapon in democracy, the more you discuss and debate the sharper your argument gets. Dissent should never be suppressed but rather debated.

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