Tuesday, 27 December 2016

The Delhi Elite Culture spaces - Jeyamohan

B. Jeyamohan is one of the most influential contemporary, Tamil and Malayalam writer[1] and literary critic from Nagercoil
This is the translation of the article: 


I learnt the meaning of “Power” when I visited Delhi in 1994 to receive my Sanskriti Samman award and stayed for two days in India International Centre. I did have some familiarities with Information and culture ministries. However, IIC is the place where “Power” is served on a gold plate.

IIC is located in a peaceful and luxurious bungalow with lawns, high class food and drinks, quietly moving waiters, the butter English spoken without the upper lip moving, lipsticked women gracefully adjusting their hair, the elegant welcome given to the inner circle members with signs and hugs without making any noise!

I have stayed in many star hotels later. But I have never seen anywhere the luxury and comfort of IIC.
IIC was established and funded by the Indian government as an independent body to promote arts and free thinking. If my memory serves me right, Dr. Karan Singh was also its head. I saw him in that evening.

I saw every intellectual that I had known through my reading of English language magazines. U R Ananthamurthy was staying there for almost four years almost as a permanent fixture. Girish Karnad was staying for a few days. Writers, journalists and thinkers such as Pritish Nandi, Makarant Parajpe, Shobha De were seen everywhere in the Centre.

It was true that I was overwhelmed that day. Arunmozhi (my wife) ran to Girish Karnad on spotting him and was thrilled to introduce herself to him. I was told that Nayantara Sehgal used to come there on daily basis to have a drink. I saw her that day too. I realized that the two other individuals who were given the award along with me, Rajdeep Sardesai and Anamika Haksar were regulars there.
They wear rough Kolkata kurtas and Kolhapuri chappals. Wear small glasses. Women in pure white hair and khadi saris. One of them, they said, was Kapila Vatsyayan. They said, Pupul Jayakar will also come. Wherever you turn, there were literary talks and art discussions.

That pomp kind of unnerved me. The ultra high intellectualism seen there somewhat alienated me. Venkat Swaminathan, who saw me the next day, immediately recognised my sense of discomfort. He said, "Hey, three fourth of this crowd is just a perfect horde of crows (the Tamil equivalent of psychophants). The snobs that make their living are draw their power by licking the boots of power centres. Most of them are mere power brokers. At best you may find one or two artists who you will really respect. And they can't bear this atmosphere for too long and will just run away.
But these are the people who decide what is culture for this country. They can talk about every thing in the world for one hour in colourful English with the right number of jargons. But on the 61st minute, the colour will start fading. Actually they don't know any thing in the real sense. Almost all are like the little boxes we find in attics which held hing a long time back", said Venkat Swaminathan.

Everyone will have four or five trusts in the name of Service Organizations or Cultural Organizations. They will be flying from one conference to the other. Once given accommodation in a government bungalow, they can never be removed from there. In Delhi alone this crowd has illegally occupied about 5,000 bungalows. There is another Power Centre similar to this in Delhi which is called the JNU. It is the same story there too.

Can't the government get rid of them?", I asked. He said, "normally governments do not think in that line. Because this crowd has stuck itself from the time of Nehru. They support each other. Even if some IAS officials try, they will fall at the right feet and escape".

"There is one more thing added to it" said Venkat Swaminathan. "Not only were these people just parasites, they also derive great power by showing themselves as progressive leftists. Did you notice it?". I said "Yes" with an amazement.

They are known throughout the world through the numerous seminars they attend. They are highly networked. Journalists around the world seek their opinion on whatever happens in India. They are the people who gave a leftist mask to the Congress Government. If you look at it that way, the amount spent on them is quite low”, he said. They are the trolls sitting on the head of India and nobody can do anything to them. They decide what is art or culture or thought of India.
I have often been to IIC with my Malayalam journalist friends. For them, this is the place to pick rumours and convert them in to news. They know there are no secrets as the day wears out and the spirits rise higher and higher in the head.

But I can only pity those people who engage in to political debates based on the supposedly rare gems of wisdoms dished out by these “intellectuals” through the middle pages of English newspapers. These intellectuals never actually know the real politics. They just shout on the basis of the superfluous knowledge and stand points, with the prime space enable by the network. That’s all.
Long time back when I wrote about this Circle, I had mentioned that Barkha Dutt is none but a power broker, my own friends fought with me for degrading a “progressive fighter”. Fortunately for me, within a few days, the brokering she did with Tata leaked out through the Nira Radia tapes. (Incidentally, what happened to that case, does any body know?). But even those stark revelations could not bring down Barkha Dutt from her exalted pedestal even for a month. That is the kind of power they have.

But now, for the first time in the history of independent India someone has dared to touch this power circle. Warnings were circulated at the lower level for the last about 6 months. Last week the Culture Ministry decided to send a notice to them. This, perhaps, is the reason for these intellectuals to suddenly flare up against “intolerance”.

For example, painter Jatin Das, father of actress Nandita Das is occupying a large government bungalow at one of the premium locations in Delhi free of cost for many years. Government has sent an eviction notice to him. This is the real reason for Nandita Das strongly speaking about intolerance in television channels and writing in English newspapers (all diligently carried by the network).
Even for a man like Modi, I think he has touched a wrong nerve. These elements are too powerful. They can destroy India through the media worldwide. They can create a picture that rivers of blood are flowing in India. They can make businessmen around the world to halt. They can wreck the tourism industry. The truth is there is no other power centre like this in India. Tolerating them is unavoidable for India. And Modi’s intolerance of them is extremely dangerous – not only for him but for the country itself. "
Aparna Krishnan Sunny Narang, reminds me of the mail.

Sunny Narang
Sunny Narang Absolutely spot on. The only way is to shift all cultural action to the state capitals . Or make at least 5 IIC equivalent regional centres for North in Chandigarh , West in Pune , East in Kolkata , North East in Guwahati , South in Chennai and Central in Bhopal . 

Aparna Krishnan Komakkambedu Himakiran Anugula, this centralization of culture leads here finally. 

Sunny Narang
Sunny Narang Centralization is actually only good for printing currency, defense , foreign relations and central taxation like customs etc . In almost everything else it should be decentralized . Even the Supreme Court should have at least 2 benches . In one city having so much power creates unlimited corruption and arrogance of elites . Culture should 100% be decentralized .

 Aparna Krishnan
Aparna Krishnan many intellectuals will be out of a vocation if culture is decentralized !

Sunny Narang
Sunny Narang It is very simple, all dialects and their cultures need to be supported in-situ, where they are . North East alone has more than 300 communities and tribes . Same for every region . It makes absolute no sense for there to be so much funding in Delhi . It should be spread to local regional universities and centres .

Karthik T Duraisamy
Karthik T Duraisamy The real culture is actually De-centralized at any point in history and it will remain like that for any time in future too! Only ARTICULATION of the culture can be centralized and that is wading with raise of social media where people still in any remote place can make a difference - If you observe closely, most of these intellectuals and journalist avoid being active in social media.

Sunny Narang
Sunny Narang Absolutely . And they vilify and hate social media for the "trolls" . As of now only social media offers the space , but for long-term sustainability and growth of even the articulation , and even more a conscious interaction among all "localities" ,eg Coimbatore with Agartala , Ambala with Dharwad , we need a structure that is multi-nodal and networked , away from any centre . Only in cultures can first such experiments be tried. Just like India can now access Brazil directly , we do not need London or Lisbon as intermediaries.

Aparna Krishnan Rama Subramanian, where would you place Jeyamohan ?

Rama Subramanian
Rama Subramanian I respect Jeyamohan as one of the best writers in tamil today (with my very limited exposure to tamil literature) and perhaps a very independent one. two of the books i haven't managed to complete this year and am carrying into the next year in tamil a...See more

Sunny Narang Aparna, Komakkambedu Himakiran Anugula , Delhi has majority free-booters with no quality , except to manipulate the system . IIC is old socialist types and IHC next gen corporate types . Delhi alone gets more than Rs 2,500 crore of NGO funding , the EU , Ford Foundation, World Bank , IIC , IHC are all in the same area where Golf Club is and Gymkhana Club is . We only had a Crony Socialist State with Crony capitalists who made an Crony Intellectual elite that thought they would run everything from JNU and DU , IIC and IHC , and that they would sit judgement on every regional elite on who is the right ideology , Left or Nationalist , then just theoretical "Subaltern" . Without cultural, legal , intellectual decentralisation there is no way forward . "Freedom fighter, in his book, means one who wants everything free" . 'If money is the strongest determinant of Dilliwalas' identity, it also divides and grades the city geographically, architecturally and geographically. South rich and elite, south-central richest and most powerful, west rich, plain rich and hungry for more, and then the poorer north and east, with the tiring, declining Walled City thrown in between." http://indiatoday.intoday.in/.../delhi.../1/416028.html
Sunny Narang
Sunny Narang I always joked that Congress versus BJP is just South , Central Delhi versus West Delhi ! Left was never in the picture except in the University and Foundations . AAP took over the Congress vote using the Lefties , and then chucked the Lefties out ! "In the bruising, unseemly factional fight of AAP, Yadav and his friends – Prashant Bhushan, Anand Kumar, and Ajit Jha – would define themselves, as would also many outside the party, as the progressive wing of the party, trying their utmost to uphold the best democratic practices, implement the idea of swaraj in the party, and expand the party elsewhere in the country.

“Arrogance. Elite arrogance…” you might say, much in the same way Yadav spoke of the progressives and radicals in 2013." http://scroll.in/.../yogendra-yadavs-rebellion-is-an...

Sunny Narang
Sunny Narang Majority of Government NGO funds go to relatives of IAS officers or friends , and they mix well with this crowd. Similar people are in national news media. Its a highly incestuous group. Similar family backgrounds . Delhi is just a Political temple town , with its own gangs of various priesthoods . "In its report titled 'India's Funds to NGOs Squandered', the ACHR says: 'The selection of grantees (NGOs to whom government funds are allocated) is often determined not on ability or technical expertise but rather on the applicant's ability to pay a bribe.'

'NGOs allegedly had to pay bribes amounting to 15 per cent to 30 per cent of the grant to have their projects approved. If a conservative estimate of 15 per cent is used as a bribe to process the applications, during the fiscal years 2002-2003 to 2008-2009 at least Rs 1000 crore have been spent on bribes to different layers of officials approving the projects.'

As per the replies by central and state governments to RTI pleas filed by ACHR, over Rs 6654.36 crore as grants to NGOs/voluntary organisations during 2002-2003 to 2008-2009 or an average of over Rs 950 crore every year. This includes over Rs 4756 crore given by the central Government and Rs 1,897 crore by the state governments. It noted that the Council for Advancement of People's Action and Rural Technology sanctioned 24,760 projects during September 1, 1986 to February 28, 2007 involving a total sanctioned grant of over Rs 252 crore. Out of these, 511 NGOs were placed under the blacklist category due to irregularities committed.

However, out of 511 blacklisted agencies/NGOs only 10 cases were referred to the Central Bureau of Investigation for investigation while the First Information Reports were lodged against only 101 NGOs. By August 3, 2009, the number of NGOs blacklisted by the CAPART increased to 830 and FIRs were lodged against 129 blacklisted NGOs. By May 3, 2012, another 81 NGOs were placed under Black List category and 195 NGOs were placed under Further Assistance Stopped category by the CAPART." http://www.rediff.com/.../slide-show-1.../20130118.htm...

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