"I am also not under any delusion that all this hysteria that we sometimes see in some posts is spurred only by the plight of “the other half” (don’t even get me started on how I feel about this phrase). Sometimes, when you are writing it is not unusual for us to feel that all the good and evil in the world is flowing through our pen (or through our “crazyfingers”:-)), and there’s an unavoidable urge to herd all the good men and women and force them to announce their allegiance right here and right now. OK, I can live with that hysteria. As readers I think we ought to let the writer go where he/she wants to go, and we nevertheless do serve “the cause” by picking up the pieces in the aftermath.
And internet being such a swift impersonalizer, we actually don’t know if the rage behind the rant is from a hardened real-life experience or an emotional rant of a wet behind the ears greenhorn. One-click access to documented knowledge repositories like Wikipedia and to erstwhile “foreign” newspapers boost an energized illusion that knowledge and experience are one and the same. They are not, but tell that to some and they’ll scratch and bite with indignation. So all of us who debate and discuss need to be aware of this false illusion and temper ourselves.
What is missing, not on this blog in particular, but in general, is an inability, no scratch that, the unwillingness, to think with an independent mind. We jump from rage to indignation to suspicion. Our debates lack the discriminating quality to distinguish between a healthy intellectual disagreement from a class struggle. And the most debilitating of all, is the backward-looking tendency to deify. I am not talking about deifying a Gandhi or a Nehru chacha but right here on the Indian blogsphere, the subtle deifying of the bloggers/journalists/writers/intellectuals/politicians whose ideas are so sacred that anything less than full agreement with them would be deemed sacrilegeous. That is the problem.
No amount of opinion-reading from world’s top newspapers is going to change that attitude of deification. It’d be illiterate to think that. What one needs is a certain kind of a emotional fearless-ness and the boldness to change one’s own opinion/mindset in the light of the changing world. That is hard, because most of us in India don’t know what it means to change our long-held beliefs, what it means to breath the fresh air of new ideas, new thinking tools. I don’t mean rhetorically, I mean we really don’t know what it means to change. Where and when in our history we have made anything like that? The handful of folks who managed to do this new thinking, managed to do the best they could under extra-ordinary political and international circumstances (independence struggle), are now routinely pilloried with the sweet benefit of the hindsight. I mean, try convincing 500 people with the force of your idea and spur them to take the streets and see how hard that is! We are all glued to a, “God damn it, I am not going to take that first step! You do it if it’s that promising!” attitude.
To me, this is “the other half” within each of us: the unthinking, the ungraceful, the deifying, the I-can-take-all-your-love-but-giving-is-painful, the Mr. Hyde in all of us, that really needs emanicipation. Blogging can be a medium to inculcate that open-mindedness into this “other half,” but I am not holding my breath."