We Are Becoming a Nation of Resentful Hearts, Small Minds and Constricted Souls: Pratap Bhanu Mehta
Speaking at the India Today Conclave, he said, "The act of speaking has become a dangerous act in our democracy."
Pratap Bhanu Mehta, the vice-chancellor of Ashoka University, noted columnist and public intellectual, spoke at the India Today Conclave 2019 about what the nation has lost in the five years of the Bharatiya Janata Party regime in India. The following are a few noteworthy quotes from his speech:
- Over the last few years, all the big repositories of hope we had accumulated over the last 10-15 years — India is at the cusp of structural transformation, right? India will, in a sense, reach a new stratosphere of growth, inclusion and employment. I think all of those expectations have been deeply disappointed.
- It’s (upcoming Lok Sabha polls) going to be an election of high stakes and low expectations.
- There is something happening to our democracy that is mutilating what one might grandiosely call the democratic soul. We are becoming a nation of resentful hearts, small minds and constricted souls.
- What is our democracy becoming? A throwback to the past.
- The first thing that has been taken from us is our own nationalism. Rather than the presumption that all of us are nationalists, this has become something we have to prove.
- All societies are marked by mendacity, propaganda; all regimes like to manipulate the grey zone between truth and falsehood… But have you ever experienced a moment in the last 20 years in Indian democracy where the purpose of the production of knowledge was not the truth, but something far more insidious. It was to relieve you of the burden of thinking altogether.
- The act of speaking has become a dangerous act in our democracy.
- This canard — modern India, secular India has marginalised Indian traditions — I think it has marginalised on those people who did not have confidence in Indian traditions.
- We are at the cusp of a fundamental restructuring and transformation of the idea of religion in modern India.
- Religion, that very thing that behoves us to transcend our identity, is being reduced to the identity that marks you for which you will be targeted.
- Societies are always uncivil in some respects. But the norms of civility are set by those who are in the highest positions of power. That’s, in fact, their only job… But when those in highest positions of authority empower those who would threaten, intimidate, those who would declare most people in this room “anti-national”. What is going to be left of civility?
- If you want to draw up the scorecard of the last five years, the most important fact to focus on is that the last five years have been a mutilation of the Indian soul.
- They (the BJP) stand for everything that is un-Indian. They stand against every promise that this democracy gave to every one of its citizens.
- No matter what the election results (are), unless there is a massive repudiation of the public culture we have created in the last five years, you will not be able to recover either the nation or your freedom or your truth or your religion.