Sunday, November 6, 2016

What I Think of Chetan Bhagat

Chetan Bhagat is a commercial fiction writer who supported Narendra Modi for PM, but should that make him an object of ridicule? Those supporting Modi included several acclaimed public intellectuals like Andre Beteile, Lord Meghnad Desai (soaked in the Marxist tradition), Dilip Chakrabarti, K. Gopinath, Kapil Kapoor and the likes.

However much one may despise Modi, should their scholarship be written off on account of their believing that Modi was a reasonably good administrator, and was the best option for India at the time (as compared to a then thoroughly discredited Congress, an inexperienced AAP and a potentially unstable Third Front), with one not possibly being completely sure of his involvement in the riots in Gujarat in 2002 and given Modi’s many efforts at demonstrating his commitment to religious pluralism? (I may clarify that I, for one, I did not wish to see Modi as PM, and I voted for the AAP in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.)

Moving on, has Chetan Bhagat just blindly supported Modi or the BJP on every occasion and has he ever exhibited bigotry towards the minorities? His views on the religious minorities can be seen in these articles of his, which don’t exhibit the faintest trace of bigotry. Nor, as these articles make clear, is he a blind fan of Modi or the BJP, nor was he even before Modi became PM.

Finally, coming to Chetan Bhagat’s credentials as a fiction writer. He is not a very literary writer and writes commercial fiction in a sincere, though not serious, manner that appeals to large sections of the youth, telling their stories, and he raises legitimate issues like sexism, regionalism, communalism, income divides and drawbacks of the education system in our country, with fairly interesting and gripping plots, which have even done well in cinematic adaptations. While one may not like his genre, to ridicule him as a writer is just symptomatic of an intellectually elitist superiority complex, which doesn’t suit left-leaning folks. This article exposing Bhagat's snobbish critics would make a good read in this regard, as would this one on Chetan by Aakar Patel, who is interestingly also a known Modi-basher.

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