Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Don’t defy Prof. Babones bravado, instead introspect 

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By Bimal Prasad Mohapatra

Australia’s Sydney University Associate Professor of Sociology, Salvatore Babones, came to India invited to attend India Today’s Mumbai Conclave and was interviewed by the group’s Consulting Editor-cum-Anchor Rajdeep Sardesai, who has been often found controversial and so apologized for misrepresentation and twisting of news and facts and was suspended in January 2021 by his current employer, on performance of India Democracy which is now celebrating its Azadi Ka Amrit Mahostov.

Prof. Babones statements on Indian Democracy and the country’s intellectuals as a class have generated a monstrous hurricane. In fact, his statements have brutally flattened many Indian intellectuals as if they had never expected such kind of statements and analysis from someone from the West which had been Indian intellectuals’ intellectual inspiration since independence. In the end of the interview, Sardesai himself was visible so frustrated that he couldn’t resist the urge to brand Prof. Babones a ‘Modi Bhakta’ and ‘Foreign Agent’, and asked sarcastically, “Who is Prof. Salvatore Babones, an American in Australian University, an Associate Professor of Sociology and visiting India for the first time, to brand Indian Intellectuals ‘Anti-India’ and questions their ‘patriotism’?”

To prove his branding of Indian Intellectuals ‘Anti-India’, Prof. Babones placed some facts which haven’t been countered by any Indian intellectuals by their worth so far. Here, there are some star examples. To the question that Indian Democracy has been rated negatively by the Western rating agencies and branded as an ‘Elected Autocracy’, Professor replied, “Indian Democracy is a greatest success story post colonial era in the world. All over the world, there is no example of sustained democratic country, which has per capita income less than $10,000, but in India where per capita income is $2,000.” And he alleged that the Western rating agencies for their above conclusion are heavily relied on Indian intellectuals’ publications and talks in Western media and universities respectively. In regard to the question that journalists aren’t safe and ‘freedom of speech’ has been compromised in India in comparison with the same in the Western democracies, he replied, “In the Western democracies, per one billion population 6.5 journalists are killed while performing their job, but in India only 3.5 journalists were killed per one billion populations.” And Professor told Sardesai on his face confidently, “You as a journalist are the safest in India than you would have been in the West.”

The Babones issue did not end in the hurricanian India Today Conclave. Latter, Prof. Babones visited New Delhi, bought some books to further educate him about India from the Khan Market of the much talked about Khan Market Gang fame and addressed a programme in Indian International Centre on the neighbourhood of the very same Khan Market. Over the credential of Prof. Babones, some Indian eminent journalists and authors published columns in which they accused him derogatorily as an officially designated ‘Foreign Agent’. But, when Babones responded to all these accusations with interpretation of ‘Foreign Agent’ as per his native and employer countries’ laws, there is no substantially justified response from his Indian critics. Though he has left India after the above discussed short itinerary, he has not given of his effort to tell the truth about India to all who continue to troll him over his research findings and expressions about Indian intellectuals’ activities. He has been since then very active in social media responding every charge against him.

Now, let’s discuss what is the reality in India? And should Indian intellectuals afford to defy the facts, forget about what Prof. Salvatore Babones bravadoed? If so, how long? Mind, not for long! Indian Democracy needs intellectuals. Don’t be pariah any more. Let bygones be bygones. Indians at large are very forgetful in nature. Try to come to reality. Reality is: India is now 5th largest economy, and by every estimate going to be 3rd largest economy within next half decade in dollar term. And as per purchasing power parity, it is by now the 3rd largest economy. Alongside, it is a mighty military power in the region, which has been the pivot of world economy, and as a result of this, has started leading the world politics if one goes by the role India played during two years long unprecedented Covid19 pandemic havoc, and now the world at large look at her to mediate in devastating Russia-Ukraine war which has pushed world economy but Indian economy to possible all time long recession. In the meanwhile, Indian leadership without much hullaballoo helped Russia-Turkey-Ukraine to come to an understanding to evacuate lakhs of tons of long stacked food grain in the Ukraine ports on The Black Sea to take care of food crisis in several countries.

In the given situation, the Western white supremacists and Abrahamics preachers’, who consider themselves as custodian of the Western so-called liberal value system, long persuaded anti-India activities may not be sustained in the long run. Today, Professor Salvatore Babones, brought up in the above system, revolted. It is not known whether Babones’ recent outburst against Indian intellectuals is due to his recognition of India’s truth or he is an opportunist. But, it is certain that he has set a trend which Indian intellectuals cannot afford to ignore. Tomorrow, some more foreigners may follow Prof. Babones a la Indian intellectuals follow the Western value-system defying with Indian truth for some obvious monetary gains which has seen fast tracked post-George Soros Davos 2020 $1 billion investment announcement. Prof. Babones statements are not all. Even the Western political class started accepting India’s truth. Despite present Indian leadership’s defiant neutral stand over Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the Western leadership could not abandon India, and literally allow and in many issues cooperate with India to pursue her policy of strategic autonomy and independent foreign policy.

While concluding the column, this author like to remind Indian intellectuals the followings believing these issues among others must be in Prof. Babones mind when he told with confidence that Indian intellectuals are ‘anti-India’. They are: Were Indian intellectuals not in the pay roll of KGB and CIA during Cold War period? Are not they now silent over Supreme Court’s self-designed and implemented Collegium System of judges recruiting judges –not seen in any Indian intellectuals valued Western democracy- who often encroaches Executive and Legislative domains, and recruited Markandey Katju and Abhay Thipsay –now retired- kind elements to Supreme Court and High Court benches respectively, who inflicted unrepairable damage to Indian judiciary in London Westminster District Court in fugitive Nirov Modi case, and the sitting apex court judges, who recently have exposed their lack of understanding of criminal laws of the land, not to forget that one of them is going to succeed the present Chief Justice of India after two years. During the course of above quoted interview, Prof. Babones asked, “Will the UPA, if comes to power in future, reverse Ram Temple?” Here, I may dare to ask Indian intellectuals, “Who opened the Ram Temple-Babri Masjid gate in 1987 in tearing hurry, which was locked in 1949 by Congress leader and Iron Man Sardar Patel? And why?” Their branded fascist BJP, with only two MPs in the Lok Sabha, was not in power then and was rejected comprehensively by electorates in 1984 general election. Remember: India is secular only because it is Hindu majority, the faith which is a minority religion in the world and the most persecuted, and struggling to survive on the face of several centuries’ long brutal aggression of Abrahamic faiths which have policies of swallowing others with bloody sword in one hand and Bible/Koran in the other.

(Author is Sr. Research Fellow – DRaS & Faculty of Management Studies in TGI. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at [email protected])

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