Liberal cultural elites in India
I was wondering if you could ask your Hindu interlocutor, an Indian living in the West, what he thinks of the creeping liberalization of his home country. India’s rapid advancement and its continuing cultural and educational ties to Britain has led to the rise of a cultural elite just as destructive as any in the West (I’m thinking particularly of the novelist Arundhati Roy). His view that such elites use liberalism as a form of status competition is I think particularly true of culturally arriviste countries such as India or the smaller nations of the Anglosphere (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.).
An Indian living in the West replies:
He’s right. The cultural westernised elite in our big cities shows the exact same tendencies because they follow the West’s liberals almost with blind faith. This process will worsen in the years to come. And their tendencies will worsen. They have followed all the West’s intellectual movements in the last four decades. They are for example, currently working to legalise sodomy in India. They have tried to influence Indian films and make films about homosexuality to try to normalise it. This has worked to some extent.
But this process is not new—it has been going on for decades. Going as far back as the 1960s. Delhi, which has always been considered India’s intellectual capital, has always been filled with Marxists, pseudo-Marxists and now left-Liberals of every description. Delhi’s university campuses are known for this stuff and the professors are dyed in the wool Marxists. I have cousins who are very rich and who are carbon copies of your New York liberals. Arundhati Roy, by the way, is an atrocious writer—but not exceptional in that way.
However, and one cannot emphasise this too often, India is a very different country. Delhi is not New York and India is not the United States. The vast majority of India is far removed from Liberalism. This India will take decades if not centuries to be completely “liberalised”. So the influence that the “Delhi intellectuals” (and I use that as a short hand for all our metropolitan intellectual elites) have is much more limited. Also, one has to remember that in the West the intellectuals try to loosen everything by changing the law. In India, what the laws say is almost irrelevant because in much of the country the police is very corrupt and the police shares the prejudices of the populace. Therefore, to take a hypothetical example, if they wanted to legalise gay marriage, it wouldn’t work because in the smaller towns and the countryside, the people would laugh at it. Even in the big cities, aside from a small number of intellectuals, no one would accept it.
The metropolitan elite in India looks at people from the smaller towns and from the countryside with contempt. This is also a carbon copy of the way American liberals look at people from the country as “the residents of flyover country” or “stupid rednecks”. The same process is underway in India too. I have known people who have grown up in Delhi and who have seen the entire world while they were growing up but haven’t even seen the state or province next to Delhi. The same people are also ashamed of speaking Hindi and as a matter of snobbery, only speak English.
The big difference between India and the countries of the Far East (for example, Japan, South Korea and China) is that these nations were never intellectually colonised. Japan is a particularly good example of this. On paper it is a liberal democracy (if one reads the Japanese constitution) but the liberal principles are meaningless because the Japanese civil service reduces politics to a side show and drains liberalism of all its toxic content. As a result, the country is, even today, a patriarchy and homogenous. The Japanese also have tremendous pride in their country and in their language and they will never be completely colonised by the West. India is different because we were under British rule and the Indian elite became “anglicised”. The anglicization was more than one of simply manners, taste or language—it was an anglicization of the mind too. And as a result, we have elites who ape the West to the nth degree.
Sorry I rambled so much. This is a fairly broad subject!
Mainstreaming homosexuality in India. Unbelievable.
Yet there it is—the logic of liberalism will have its way.
The driving force behind this are westernised women of Indian origin such as a director called Deepa Mehta who was born and raised in America. She is a far leftist who has made films about a woman having an affair with a black man in Mississippi (Mississippi Masala), lesbianism in ancient India and lesbianism in modern India. She has “allies” in India—mainly among urban westernised women and their neutered male allies. The Hindu right-wing Shiv Sena (a sort of fascistic organisation based in Bombay) prevented Mehta’s films from playing in Bombay and Delhi. They first warned the cinema hall owners that if they played those films, their theatres would be burnt. They didn’t listen. So on the day of the premiere, they went to the cinema hall and destroyed it. And they prevented the films from being played anywhere in the country. Now of course, we would think that this unenlightened and barbaric. I would say, hardly. Can you imagine what would have happened if they played such films in America in, say, 1807? My point exactly.
That is precisely the reaction of a healthy society that wants to preserve its own existence.
Regarding Deepa Mehta, she is not American, but Canadian. She was born in India and immigrated to Canada as an adult.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 03, 2007 07:59 AM | Send
She married a Canadian (Jewish, I believe) filmmaker whom she later divorced.
Their one daughter was part of her production team of “Water,” her 2005 film which caused her original production site to be shut down by Indian authorities due to violent protests over its contents—widows turned into prostitution. Accusers said her story was exaggerated, and also defiled the holy city of Varasani located by the Ganges River, where the film was to have been shot. One Indian official exclaimed: “The Ganges is the most revered place for us, to call it Water is so insulting! Calling it plain Water!.”
But, the most incredible part of this whole story is that her film, secretly shot in Sri Lanka (as a substitute for India), entirely in Hindi, but was given the honorary position of opening the Toronto International Film Festival in 2005—an honor usually given to a “Canadian” film. It won three “Canadian” film awards—Best Actress for non-English speaking Seema Biswas, one for Cinematography (of Sri Lanka), and on for Original Score (of Indian music).
Mehta has said things like: “I’ve never felt Canadian.” and “My daughter is a Canadian. I’m an immigrant here, and I wouldn’t stay exclusively in either place.” In fact, the loyalties of both her and her daughter are in question. And even Indian people are questioning them.