The Many Indian Apartheids

It is easily noticed, starting with the language apartheid.

Then the many come into view :

— money apartheid, with GINI coeff of over 0.7;
— judicial ” , with language-dress and colonial legacy;
— political ” , with secular-lib-left white sheen necessity.

It all sums up in the social apartheid picture of elitism within both  wealthy and marginalised, and incomes high or low. The troubling part is not even understood till we discover the overlap these apartheids have with the language apartheid. The extent of correlation between the preferred language of speakers and the disproportionate advantages they enjoy financially, politically and judicially… splits the very sky overhead and the ground on which we stand. They are more frequently the same people and the ecosystem is primed to educate and push more of our countrymen into those segregated realms, one elite with advantages and the other plebian off whom the elite derive their distinctions.

The problem would be greatly reduced and almost disappear if the language characterstic of elites in media, art world, and every other we have pointed to, was not consistently “english” and their faith was not compulsorily “secular”. But that is invariably how they occupy the elitist and advantaged layers, glib and shining, with english credentials in media and finance, Raj legacies in judiciary, Gandhian secularism in politics, and leftist ideals within terrorist and insurgent outfits.

Make no mistake, the entire elitist edifice is raised on english grounds and secular-left-liberal pillars, rising glib and shining to positions of power and authority in every material profession of Indian life, public or private. And there lies the rub. There would little or no problem if they all had a common ground in vernacular speech because the latter is not monolithic and would hence not facilitate cohesive nexus and cliques. People with advantages would be split in several tongues : politics with Hindi, media with Engligh, art with Konkani, Pahadi or Bengali, money with Marwari and Tamil, literature and performance arts with Malayali, Kannada and Marathi, and so on. But, today, the english system co-opts even the vernacular elites. Their disparate successes are smoothened into the same fold — english, liberal and left, and secular.

Theoretically, the other alternative to disrupt the elitist ecosystem would be to spread english as linga franca and make western ways commonplace. But that would be too theoretical a solution and, even as it is implemented, would come with several unintended consequences, a few of which would be both fundamentally deleterious and intractably endanger our existence as a nation of diverse people with local look, custom, attire and speech, but bound with few uniting threads of beliefs, values and a sea of transcendent narratives in our common heritage in form and speech, casual practice and formal thought. In short, such a solution negates the historical India out of its contemporary State.

The conflicting apartheids of India must unite in their vernacular cradles, not spiral out of touch in their ideated and airy overreach. It’s the only reasonable hope that is backed by the size of vernacular audience compared to the miniscule viewership of English media. And, very optimistically, it reflects in the successes of homegrown political calls and people centered economic policies of the mainstream government since voted to power.



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