PM Modi with Devendra Fadnavis and Uddhav Thackeray | Vasant Prabhu
PM Modi with Devendra Fadnavis and Uddhav Thackeray | Vasant Prabhu | ThePrint
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As is my weekly habit, I read Shekhar Gupta’s National Interest column in ThePrint published Saturday last week. As usual, it was crisp, analytical, precise in its ideation, and laid out a superb analysis of the recently concluded assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra. Whether you agree with Shekhar Gupta or not, his National Interest column is usually good food for thought. But even as I reread it to make sure, I couldn’t help feeling a deep sense of foreboding. Almost as if I had lost something precious. A sense of having been let down when I least expected it. Even betrayal if you will. So, I tried to puzzle out why and this is what I found.

If anything, Shekhar Gupta’s intellection was brilliant. The pith and substance of his argument is reproduced below in three quotes from his column:

  1. “Then, a voter was convinced India had faced an existential threat from Pakistan for seven decades, nobody had done anything about it, and that (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi was nailing the problem, with a finality. And that while he would do it mostly by “decisive, deterrent and fearless” military punishment, he was also raising India’s global stature to “isolate” Pakistan. Once enough voters bought into these, they forgot their other, traditional political loyalties and binaries. The rest then followed. Pakistan is Muslim, it spreads terrorism in the name of jihad, blood-thirsty jihadis are a pestilence for the entire world. Again, the implicit insinuation was that the threat was pan-Islamic, Indian Muslims were not immune, and Hindus needed to consolidate. Of course, all this would not have worked so well but for the spectacularly efficient distribution of almost Rs 12 lakh crore in visible welfare to the poor: Cooking gas, toilets, homes, and MUDRA loans. I have written and spoken about these often in the campaign weeks.”

This is as crisp a précis of Modi and BJP president Amit Shah’s political strategy that you will find anywhere. This is also the political strategy that went awry in the recent elections, failing to deliver the numbers that the BJP was expecting. That it is a pure myth is only to be expected?

  1. “And remember, all of this happened within 11 weeks of the scrapping of Article 370 in Kashmir, five weeks of ‘Howdy, Modi!’, the talks with Donald Trump and the speech at UNGA. Add to these the TV spectacle of Mamallapuram with Xi Jinping, P. Chidambaram and D.K. Shivakumar’s arrests, and key NCP leader Praful Patel’s inquisition for an alleged ‘terror-financing link with Iqbal Mirchi’. Moreover, the hearings on Ayodhya were going on a day-to-day basis in the Supreme Court, bringing the issue back into national consciousness.”

Very few commentators have been able to so succinctly capture the failure of this strategy as Shekhar Gupta does. How could someone like me, vehemently opposed to the BJP/RSS ideology, not possibly approve this, notwithstanding the failure to mention elusive trade deals?

  1. “My central proposition therefore is that the winds of nationalism laden with religion will now yield to those of concern over the stalled economy, unemployment and a general malaise and unhappiness. Fresh noises and action on Pakistan, Kashmir and terror will not be able to reverse these. Except, in the most unlikely event of a larger armed conflict.”

Having laid out his case, Shekhar Gupta concludes that voters are no longer mesmerised by the nationalist narrative and will henceforth focus on the economy. He concludes his article with an advisory that says it all. “They (voters) want the return of economic optimism.” “Optimism”, not growth of 8 per cent plus in GDP.

All good writers, like all good tweeters, address their articles/tweets to a specific person/audience, even if unnamed. You always write with someone in mind, who you think will read your stuff and react in a certain way. This is what gives coherence and logical structure to what you write or tweet. Good writing is rarely an abstraction.


Also read: Tough message for Modi: Political winds are shifting, from nationalism to economy, jobs


Shekhar Gupta’s audience

So, who is Shekhar Gupta addressing with this piece? Your guess is as good as mine but I would say the target audience here is the top policymakers in the BJP/RSS who craft political strategies. That much is clear from a recap of the BJP/RSS strategy in the first quote, followed by how it translated in praxis in the second quote, and, having failed, how the policy, according to Shekhar Gupta, must now focus on the economic instead of rhetoric. You and I are not the audience here. We may or may not read, but this piece is not aimed at our hearts or minds. It is for the elite policymakers, written as a prescription or suggestion – a way out – now that the old strategy has failed.

What has Shekhar Gupta done in the process of his analysis for the laity – you and I – without ever intending to do so? Let us look at the three quotes.

  1. For 70 years nothing was done to address the Pakistani threat across the border. Really? The fact is, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had more or less tacitly agreed that Kashmir would go to Pakistan. It was Maharaja Hari Singh who thwarted Mountbatten’s attempts to push him into Pakistan’s lap. India fought four wars, in the teeth of world opposition, to keep Kashmir, and in the process, split Pakistan in two in 1971. Modi’s decision to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir through Article 370 pales into insignificance compared to what previous governments accomplished in the face of world opposition, when the US-led West was firmly on Pakistan’s side. And here you have Shekhar Gupta, quite inadvertently, but nonchalantly, normalising a maliciously false narrative floated by the BJP and the RSS to ensnare Indian citizens. In Shekhar Gupta’s defense, I would concede that he is merely recapping the RSS/BJP narrative. Fine. But is there any word, anything in the recap, that says it is false, malicious, inaccurate, contrary to history, misleading and wholly inappropriate to use as a narrative, even in a partisan election campaign, leave alone form the bedrock, so to speak, of a national political strategy over six years? What does false, malicious, mendacious propaganda do to the foundations of the polity? How corrosive is this acid to mutual trust and how will we ever mend what it has destroyed? On the other hand, this is straight normalisation of a despicably evil and mendacious strategy, intended or not.
  1. There is much more in the first quote that normalises many a heinous feature of the Narendra Modi government’s politics. For instance, how was the welfarism funded before the elections when there was no money for it? Clearly, payments to regular government vendors were stopped to pay for the pre-election bonanza, which left a king-sized hole in the budget and was later made up by dividends and capital transfer from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The present slowdown can be traced to stopped payments. All this stand normalised now as part of realpolitik. The abuse of agencies, mentioned in the second quote, the politics of vendetta, the scrapping of Article 370, the showmanship at Houston, the stark failure to get a trade deal, the lies to confuse substance with hype – all stand normalised as if it was politics as usual. Intended or not.

Some of you may think I am being too harsh. In a sense I am. Everybody in the media, not just Shekhar Gupta, in a sense is guilty of the same wholesale normalisation of the most mendacious myths and fabrications of the Modi regime. So why single out Shekhar Gupta? Fair point. Tell me who to start with, if not your own favourite column?


Also read: If anything can defeat Modi, it’s the economy


Normalising, legitimising lies

But more seriously, consider what Modi has but US President Donald Trump lacks? No, it is not the lack of a serious opposition that helps Modi, as compared to Trump, to dominate the discourse with false narrative and fabricated myths. In a word, it is that rather hard-to-pin-down quality called legitimacy. Modi has easy legitimacy, while Trump is denied it day in day out by the US media because it refuses to normalise even a single lie by the President. No, it is not normal to lie, it is not normal to use myths instead of history, it is not normal to misrepresent facts, fudge statistics, make false claims, etc. The list goes on but the fact stands that while Trump may be President, his aberrant conduct is not normalised, and so he lacks the essential legitimacy to roll all his critics and opponents into a barrel and float it out into the sea. Instead, many keep a daily tally of his lies, call him out at every presser, and anybody who can thwart the President has the legitimacy to do so. Trump may rave and rant at the media but legitimacy eludes him and he is reminded of it every single day. Legitimacy is essential to exercise of power. Trump doesn’t have it. Modi does. Why?

Abuse of agencies by the ruling party is not new. Congress and others have also misused this power. They too have lied, and adopted unfair means at elections. Go back in history. Was the Congress’ abuse of power, its corruption, its lies ever normalised and made legitimate by the media? That is the essential difference between the past and the present. In the past, we called out abuse by default. Today, we condone, normalise, overlook, and thus legitimise abuse of power by default. That is a huge change. Who has conferred legitimacy to such a process? The media, of which Shekhar Gupta is the leading light, one of my favourites.

So okay, thought leaders like Shekhar Gupta and the media have been normalising what can never be normalised, and in a manner that is so casual and routine, indeed banal, that it goes almost undetected and uncommented upon. But where does my sense of loss come from?

Who was Shekhar Gupta addressing and writing for? The top 10 strategist in the BJP/RSS. May be some other parts of the elite as well. Now, if he was an analyst or a strategist at a think tank, I would say brilliantly done and then walk away. But Shekhar Gupta is, first and last, a journalist, not a think tanker, strategist, or mythmaker for some political party. And as a journalist, he sees, hears, observes things and events for me, and questions the government on my behalf. He is my agent, I give him agency, as well as the protection he gets from the government, for being my eyes and ears. But where am I in his superb piece? Where are my questions for the government? Where are my fears and concerns? Has Shekhar Gupta done anything – anything at all – in this piece that reflects his obligations to his readers as a journalist? In which part of the piece has he called out and questioned mendacious narratives, abuse of power, arm twisting, vendetta politics or even pointed out that this is unacceptable? Was the Congress given such a free pass ever in the past from such scrutiny? This abandonment of the laity, almost as if the voters are just gullible sheep to be herded by the ruling party, is a new phenomenon in journalism. Not everybody is guilty, nor to the same degree, but on the whole, the most damaged part of our polity is the media. And intellectuals. And thought leaders.

Listen to people from the Kashmir Valley. Listen carefully. What are they saying? Over and over again, you will find the same complaint – that they have been let down, betrayed, abandoned and orphaned, not so much by the Indian state as the Indian media. The very people who made their careers on the misery and dilemmas of the Kashmiri people were among the first to turn the official narrative against them. This corrosion of trust spills over to everything else in their lives. I am not alone when I say I feel abandoned, and betrayed. There are millions more who are crying out the same and their plight is far more acute than mine. How can you continue to hide behind the facade of a profession that you are no longer able to honour?

Politics today is not normal. In the ideological war unleashed by the RSS/BJP, the first casualty has been the spirit of the Constitution. It has been trampled upon in so many ways that tomes can be written about them. The alternative to it hasn’t been codified; nobody knows what the alternative is, or whether it even exists. Instead, patently dishonest obeisance is paid to the existing Constitution even as it is quietly subverted and shredded. Why not ask for a return to honesty? You want a Hindu Rashtra? So be it. Let us see what it looks like? Please put it down on a piece of paper and let us debate it in all honesty and vote on it? Why this subterfuge, the backdoor intrigues, the doublespeak, the lies, the corrosive distrust, the destruction of institutions? Is it too much to ask what exactly do you have in mind in place of the Constitution for our future?

Can the media not resolve to ask the BJP to publish such a blueprint of the future that we can debate? Is that too much to ask of the media? You sir, Shekhar Gupta, is that too much to ask? Politics is about we, the people. Not the politicians. Return what belongs to us.

We do not know the real identity of the author who tweets as @sonaliranade. We are publishing this response to Shekhar Gupta’s latest #NationalInterest in the spirit of free debate and healthy disagreement.

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51 Comments Share Your Views

51 COMMENTS

  1. The reason Modi govt. and bureaucracy looks increasingly incompetent
    ————————————————————————————————

    They never had concrete plan for economy, thought economy because of size & India’s population will be on cruise control no matter what and nationalism will come to rescue when needed. But the problem is almost all nationalism cards played already and economy beyond repair now.All their current responses are usually the opposite of the tough measures needed. They are getting effected by criticism (which is the quality of a dictator) which is why they take measures to instant solutions. Stock market down, lower corporate tax, stock market rises, modi image intact. No long term strategy. They are clueless but even if they had a clue they cannot implement it because they would have to agree that they were clueless before. And all resources poured in propagating that modi is faultless. This faultless image of his is his Achilles heel. Caught in their own web. Nothing is in their hand now. They are wishing, praying (or even managing favorable) ayodhya verdict will resurrect their dwindling popularity but for how long? The longer they try to juggle without addressing real issues, the tied their hands will be. History repeating itself.

  2. I am a great fan of Shekar Gupta and like his analysis of subjects, but I have also noticed that he speaks like someone who nurtures ill-will for the Congress. Has he or any of his kith
    and kin suffered under Indira’s emergency?

  3. Exactly my thoughts. It is as though you have read my mind. He wrote as a fierce critic when others were in power, now he writes as a pliant political advisor. Kudos to ThePrint for publishing this article.

  4. wow !!! brilliant article sonali. shekhar has been getting away with it for a while , sometimes I think he secretly adores modiji but pretends to be impartial. also he seems to have no empathy for those who bear the brunt of hasty actions. for that matter not many in india can empathize with how it feels to be locked down in a militarized zone running out of supplies and struggling every day to survive. like Warren says , a policy is perfect if you were in their shoes and you still liked it. but problem it seems is indians dont know how to be in anyone else’s shoe in these times. we have to remember : lack of empathy is root of all evil!

  5. I perfectly agree with Ganesh
    BJP govt is groping in the dark
    These liberals do not even the slightest variation from their narrative of JNU style.They are extremely intolerant.In sophisticated way. not in the stupid way o sakshi maharaj.I wonder how P B Mehta wrote that piece on Bipin Chandra i n Indian Express few years back
    How could an organization could continue for 93 years even though labeled fascist from its first day. Left liberals fail to explain that.
    It is extremely difficult to govern this mass of extremely irresponsible., undisciplined, and mostly dishonest people. No economist can tell how to get out of this mess. We will muddle through. All the talk of 3rd largest economy etc is meaningless
    And that is the truth

  6. Modi hate virus has eaten the major white matter of anti Hindu and anti India journalists, writers and intellectuals. Their state of mid is so bad that they can churn only bad smelling GARBAGE. Leftists are like rats looking for food in the badly smelling garbage. It looks ThePrint would soon start smelling like rotten eggs.

  7. India is the only country where majority community is indirectly ruled by minority in the guise of “secularism”. Nehru was the one who created Kashmir problem by taking the issue to UN.

  8. If Sonali is a left sickular ideologue ( which is absolutely fine by itself), she should critique BJP/RSS directly and not look for firing over Shekhar’s ‘national interest’ shoulders. You do not have to ask and wait for BJP/RSS to announce their (much feared) Hindutva ideology or working towards (so called) Hindu Rashtra. Sonali can do it herself and build up mass opinion against it. In fact, we would know the outer (or the worst) contours of such (much feared) ideological project from its adversaries and will be able to judge it on balance. Sonali does not want to do this but is expecting Shekhar to do this. In his National Interest column, Shekhar has always been balanced and nuanced in his approach and analysis and he goes beyond his usual left sickular leanings. And this is what it should be. By the way, Art 370 is now out of the way. Ram Mandir and UCC will be sorted in near future. And removal of the word ‘secular’ from the Preamble to the Constitution of India can wait till BJP get majority in Rajya Sabha. With this, all the right wing issues are over and we are back to ‘normal’ state, which will be called Hindu Rashtra! A good, non corrupt governance will make it a Ram Rajya. Economic issues are forever, whether you are a underdeveloped, developing or developed country and will be dealt with from time to time as such by the governments in power.
    Of course (in a lighter vein), Sonali would an interesting addition to ThePrint quartet of Kumar Ketkar, Jyoti Malhotra, Shivam Vij and Naymina Bose!!

  9. There was a time when I gladly outsourced my thinking and the analytical power to the likes of Shekhar Gupta. I lazily depended on their columns to nudge me in the right direction. But I miscalculated one part. I foolishly expected them to stand and hold on to the ground in all the adversial circumstances even at the cost of their personal losses. In real life, this is not possible. When you see how a Rahul Bajaj is treated or a TATA or an upright police officer or a judge or a professional soldier is made to fall in line or a sharp Narayanmurthy or a Mahindra act naively and your subconscious mind gets influenced. Slowly, the procedural thin layers of fear overshadow one’s thinking. The intrinsic survival instinct comes to fore.

    I had read the change in the stance of Shekhar Gupta a few years back and stopped reading his columns because I sensed the integrity missing.

    I should have been happy reading Sonali’s article. But something held me back. First, I wondered why Sonali took so long to read Shekhar Gupta’s shift. Second, I recalled why I unfollowed Sonali on Twitter. Yes, I think Sonali has been too slow to catch the deviations on Shekhar’s part. But Sonali missed one part. Shekhar Gupta has been tolerant to the criticisms over the years. Is she?

    I had to unfollow her on Twitter because she was intolerant even to the mild counter views. She always preferred a curated timeline of her liking.

    Today, I have empathy for Shekhar Gupta. I understand it takes a lot to express one’s honest viewpoints in today’s environment. If today Shekhar Gupta sings Bhajans ( spiritual songs ) in the tune of the popular Bollywood songs, it’s okay. Perhaps, he hopes 0.001% will get the right spiritual message.

    • Prabhat I held similar views about Shekhar, but it took me longer to stop reading him, which happened only a few months ago.

      I have read Sonali for the first time and taking her article as stand alone case I feel she has done a commendable job.

  10. An article written with such precision that it destroys the credentials of Shekhar Gupta as a journalist. His pretentiousness has been called out & like most of his ilk has proudly bowed to normalizing the cruelties of this regime. I think the most potent part of this article is when Sonali shows how a despicable & wretched liar like Modi can gain legitimacy in our Democracy when we in India have been witness to the perils of the Emergency & should be more alert. The people & the fourth estate have simply caved in to this extreme power lust by a dubious man whose only aim is to project himself as larger than life & grab power forever without any moral binding. The fact is the economy is a small part of the issue but the reality is that our Democracy is being subverted, held hostage, ruined to the point where people will question the need for it & ultimately subjugated to be trashed & metamorphosed into a monster of a Kingdom with no accountability.

  11. the writer has admitted herself in her article that she is bjp/rss hater. So the article seems to be written with prejudiced mind. As on today there are only 2 types of journalists.- 1. Modi Haters and the other 2. Modi Lover. Nobody is impartial including T.V channels.

    • I wanted to write the following comment but write a comment column is not opening.
      Congratulations to The Print for publishing this criticism. For a long time views of readers are being treated by Indian press with great scorn. Last time as I remember letters to editors were treated with respect was when Mr. Khushwant Singh was editor of The Illustrated Weekly of India.

  12. The trouble with people on the left is they don’t read stuff they don’t already agree with. The sarsanghchalak of rss has already stated multiple times that they believe india is a hindu rashtra. We should have disagreements with RSS but let us at least know what they are talking about. They have a particular socio-cultural conception of nationhood that prioritizes culture and at times is at odds with what one might call civic nationalism. They have not staked any unconstitutional positions. The comparison of Modi with Trump is laughably specious and you know it. Trump is an entitled billionaire who speaks in hyperbole , his lies are blatant and often contradicts himself every third sentence. While a lot of my liberal friends think Modi is like Trump, the truth is they couldn’t be more different. Modi has a more deliberative and cautious speaking style despite being combative. On matters of policy many Congress people think that all the toilets, electricity and gas connections, homes were built just one month before elections, that is just not true. You need to be honest with yourself if you are going to make any real political progress.

    • ” all the toilets, electricity and gas connections” hahahahaha and you call one need to be honest. Do you know that 97% of India had electricity by 2014 and if modi had covered the rest (still doubt he did), you will say ALLLLLL the electricity. Get real facts and numbers not the one propagated by modi or whatsapp. Download documents from the concerned departments and check. Accusing others of the same thing that you actaully are suffering from (facts) , very typical of bh….s

  13. Shekhar Gupta has been a fan of the hindutva brigade right from early days. He was in awe of Modi, the contender. He has been a tacit supporter of many of the hare brained schemes at work in NDA 2&3. Pithy, incicive and deep may be his analysis, it’s always been insidious too!!
    Be it on rumoured coup attempt, Rafale, or for that matter the current Kashmir situation, Gupta ji flies his own kite.
    I should warn again and again that this insidious propaganda is harmful! Beware!!!

  14. Brilliant blog by Sonali Ranade.
    It might shock Shekhar Gupta into realising that he has possibly unknowingly given credence to the faie harratives of the BJP.

  15. This is an excellent analysis and surely Shekhar Gupta should introspect. Since I started to read national newspaper, I follow what Mr. Gupta writes – notably then at IE. His analysis is good and indeed sometimes it ‘cut the clutter’. But he is too hesitant to take a strong position, rather always doing the balancing act. This was the same during the last two UPA govts, and now also. The writer correctly points out his general strategy is ‘normalizing’ the issue to provide u a balanced view. That is sad from such a senior journalist. When Mr. Gupta left IE and started the Print, I hoped that he must be struggling with the institution and wants to free up to put his journalistic ethics above everything. More I read Print, I see it more as a venturing new thing for financial cause – less of journalistic cause! It is needless to say that Indian media is on the floor even when they are not asked to crawl, and people like Shekhar is doing it gently and subtly! That is very sad! This is actually more dangerous than the people who puts their view/analysis strongly in either of the sides!

  16. There is a slight mistake in analysis here. There is a middle ground between unscrupulous politicians and ignorant public as audience.

    Since people are ignorant, it should be duty of media to question and scrutiny, thus acting as safeguard for people. Thus people should be the audience and articles should be written with that in mind.

    However,. There is a middle ground as I said earlier. An intellectual elite, the one which already knows the false info, the lies, distrust, they know it and express it. For them, it is more important to analyse and these articles can have these intellectual elite as audience.

    Sonali’s article wrongly assumes that audience are only the strategists. It can be observers too. Individual observers, those who know evil and condone it, but also make effort to know how evil moves, acts and works. This involves not getting hyperbole over the Evilness of the act.

  17. Its always amazing to see Left Libs think that Hindutva project is all about Aallo being Rs 5 cheaper in the bazzaar. Unless they understand the breadth and more importantly the depth of what Hindutva is achieving, they will continue to be fringe Twitter voices.

  18. It’s true that much of the media in India – which includes this Mr Gupta – are not doing what responsible journalists should do, which is ‘Tell the truth’, in its widest sense. It’s also true that the Congress party has done some seriously ‘bad stuff’ in its time, including intimidating the media, but in broad terms journalists were less ‘compliant’ then. The question is – why are journalists more compliant now? The answer is probably quite simple -that the pressures on them are greater now.

  19. sekar is another swapan das gupta. A shaka student , cannot but be an apologist. farcical commitment to liberal views and democracy. fundamentally fascists.

  20. So what happened to Trump after all these so called media exposes? He is coming back with more vote share.So called journalists must understand that in democracy, it’s the people choose what they want ,not that some liberal journalists . So people of india chose Modi and Trump was elected by people of USA.If you don’t like them so be it, but majority of the people like them and that’s why they are there

  21. I hadn’t quite figured out what could be going on by way of justification, rationalization, omission, twiddling of facts in a subtle manner by respected journalists, though some of their writing didn’t quite add up, causing a vague sense of dread. While you can figure out the morons on TV easily, being aware of this subtle bias is quite difficult because it’s insidious.

    I must say Ms. Ranade has made her case very well. I hope she writes regularly and on a wide variety of topics. With people like her, there is still hope for journalism in this country.

  22. first of all : Shekhar Gupat’s (SG) audience are all of us – including so call top 10 elites in current ruling party. he routinely write for and against all policies of government and everyone is free to interpret his thoughts in their own way, including Sonali.
    Second : Media/press is not legitimating Modi’s words. In fact except some “Commando Comic Channels” (using SG’s words) every other channel is thrashing him and criticizing him for policies – be it economy, be it Kashmir or even politics of NRC etc. It is up to a viewer what channel she wants to see. All respected media – The Hindu, NDTV, India Today even The Print are routinely writing articles against the government. India Today even run the Video of PM commenting on Neembu Mirchi episode.
    Third : Comparing Modi with Trump is completely unfair. All issues in Trump administration is a creation of Trump himself. Had he kept his mouth clean (remember S*** hole country, attack on muller, Nick name calling of all Democrats , Attack on Media etc.. list is very long) he should not have nay issues.And after using those words and nasty tweets, if you expect no Media will pick it, you are naïve. Tell me one incident when Modi used such bad words as he used. Ans whenever a BJP person used bad words, press never let him go easy (see the case of Giriraj singh) now if you think that a media is fair only when it thrash Modi day in and day out – best of luck. Even US media houses which do this with Trump- despite he being so rash- are losing their credibility (see what is happening with CNN viewership).
    Fourth: when Modi is saying nothing has happen in last 70 years, he just want to remind us that we had been promised a Moon and we even not got a Roti. Every time in the name of Secularism – minority appeasement has been done (Nehru change the law of Multiple marriages for Hindus NOT for Muslims, Shabano case, As per Manmohan Singh – Muslims has first right on all resources ). in the name of democracy, militants has been released in Kashmir, in the name of free press books has been banned. We as a common citizen just got promises and empty words. That’s what he means by nothing has been done in 70 years.

    And finally – you are getting your article published, even you are kind of anonyms is proof that all voices are being heard. I always believe that Justice doesn’t mean that I get a judgement in my favor. Similarly Free press doesn’t mean it voices only my voice. It needs all voices – even not so good one- to be broadcast and listen.

  23. Very happy that Shekhar Gupta has been called out in this manner. His ‘ fence- sitting’ takes on current issues has merely been a mask to claim impartiality. Well, the mask is now ripped off. He might as well change the the title to “The Print” : ‘ BJP rationalised’

  24. I love your last sentence.”No bigger picture than our Country’s beautiful democracy”. With all its problems, our democratic institutions brought hope to people of the country with most diverse culture, ethnicities, languages.. When the institutions failed, media used to be our conscious keeper. Not any more. Social media is used as a powerful weapon to troll, abuse and mute everyone with different views. Anyone who disagrees is branded as congi, commie or anti national by the so called nationalists. Now the only last hope is God. Only she /he can save our beautiful democracy.

  25. Perfect! You nailed it. Everything I wished to express but couldn’t because I felt it to be an Herculean task to assemble all the facts and place them appropriately and shoot back so gently and yet with such an impact. You spoke our mind. Thank you Sonali.
    My salute to The Print for publishing this article. To know that I am not alone but have so many sensible people around is a great relief.

  26. Whatever may be Modi’s short comings, one cannot compare him to Trump.
    Neither Shekhar Gupta nor you nor the media give legitimacy to a government.
    In a democracy, legitimacy is given by the people who elect a government to power. Modi has run a successful campaign, and people of the country have re-elected him. You might have been very disappointed by the result.
    We have been listening to you liberals for far too long, you have your vested interest and you have taken sides. I know it is difficult for you to accept this but I for one don’t want to listen to you anymore.

  27. Hit the nail on the head!
    I too like Shekar Guptas cut the clutter style
    because he always has a very different
    and interesting perspective.
    However .in a ever so subtle and genteel manner
    he normalizes the ruling dispensations excesses and
    flagrant breach on norms.For me such a sophisticated
    subterfuge is far more damaging than foul mouthed
    outbursts of fanatics.The writer is every but as eloquent as
    Mr Gupta and I suggest she write more often.

    • Mr Gupta is one of them. In all probability an RSS man. His views subtle as well as not so subtle ones are all right wing. Critique is a clever ploy for him. He wants bigger army, free markets, big business and all of that RSS wants, gets it done through BJP and thousands of other offsprings.

  28. There was a time when I sued to idolise Shekar Guptha, not anymore. Stopped doing that when i realised he a fascist enabler. To me he stopped being a journalist a very long time ago. He is what we in the journalism profession would call a “wheeler dealer” , someone who uses his journalistic skills for personal gains. To think i even looked up to him makes me feel ashamed.

  29. Bakwaass. Kya likha samaj he nahi aaya!! What is your point? Problem kya hai? Why so worked up? Sonia is doing too much unneeded intellectualization here.

  30. Dear Mr Gupta, this critique screams one word – introspection. Even your Bell curve analysis where you hold the success of the state to suppress resistance fails to highlight the misery of the people caught in the middle. People make the country. Not just real estate. My sincere respect for your work comes with one footnote – people deserve better.

  31. Truly excellent analysis by Sonali. BJP/RSS have two kinds of supporters. First, brainless, RSS Bhaktas and two, the hidden ones, who intellectualise their bhakti and market them as free opinions! You correctly caught the second one in Shekhar Gupta.

  32. I though Shekhar Gupta was a true Journalist,but as more and more I read his columns here on ThePrint I am slowly feeling sad that he too is slowly but surely becoming a mouth piece of the current government. Impartiality it seems has no meaning for Shekhar Sir too.
    One thing which Shekhar Sir now does very frequently is to legitimize every controversial decision of the current government by saying so what if little has gone wrong here and there but just look at the big picture. Sir those small small wrongs are coming together and collecting as a big wrong,which i fear is very dangerous.
    Previous governments especially the congress governments have done unimaginable wrongs they should be condemned in the harshest way possible,but legitimizing the wrongs currently is very sad .
    After all ours is the worlds largest and most beautiful democracy,we should strive to make it more stronger,but sadly i think with every passing day we are moving away from it,Sir if you can’t see that or chose to ignore and say look at big picture,I would say there is no bigger picture than our Country’s beautiful democracy.

  33. Loyalty to a lady from a small country from South Europe should not be extended to dish out trash to Indian readers.. Please keep in mind the profile of the readers who read at or reach out and spend some precious time on news views websites. They are matured enough to understand where your loyalties are. They also understand how hard beneficiaries of old Congii order have been feeling punch. But please refrain from publishing trash. The internet is full of news views cites.. The new age media should project unbiased views and not become a Modi haters/ Hindu hater outfit. Criticism is O.K. acceptable, but trash is not.

  34. A paid, foul mouth Anonymous Congress stooge Ranade, who can go any length to justify anything in defence of her Congress master. I don’t understand from where does the print gets these jokers.

  35. Shekhar,
    Every word of this finely nuanced analysis/ feedback – should be enormously valuable to you.
    I like your cut-the-clutter style too, and as expressed in this feedback, I am troubled by the same “free-pass” that you give to the ruling party.
    If you can’t digest this valuable feedback and choose to do better, it’s ok too! You will also be counted amongst the larger bigotry and ‘strong leadership’ proponents in our nation.

  36. I coin a new term now. It is ‘Division of Liberal’.
    The new classes of liberals:
    1. Hate Modi. So hate India.: “Pappu Class”
    2. Hate Modi. No harm India. But at the same time ‘do no good to India’. “Ramachandra Guha/Pratap Bhanu Mehta Class”
    3. Somewhat grudgingly agree with Modi. Declare it as policy and objective support only. “Shashi Tharoor Class”
    4. Agree with Modi but also old loyaties cannot be wished away and cannot openly declare their new love . “Shekhar Gupta Class” ??

    I welcome readers to discuss and suitably finetune this new ‘Division of Liberal’!

    • You forgot another type. The liberal who hates Modi but loves his country, and will fight to protect the Desh from Modi’s idiocy.

  37. Kudos Sonali. As a layman reader of the National Interest column and Cut the Clutter videos I have been wondering why the only argument about J&K situation by The Print has been that since India is a strong economy now, it’s not facing a global backlash as it would have earlier. Strong economy means you can get away with everything? Not a single comment/protest/calling out of how fate of a people was decided WITHOUT asking them even ONCE. Media is indeed normalizing the bizzare st/ate actions without questioning them. Are we not supposed to stand with the people and speak out for them? Media is as short of expectation on upholding people’s rights on this as the SC has been.

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