Can the Lutyens’ elite resolve the mistrust they evoke from an aspirational Indian? My response to @MalikAshok ‘s column.

The noted columnist, Ashok Malik in his very thoughtful piece opines that the Modi Government needs to over come its ‘Lutyens Paranoia’. He says that the under performance of the present Government in the last 18 months is a result of its dysfunctional relationship with Delhi and the institutions that constitute the political sinews of this city.

From an ideal point of view, a dysfunctional relationship with crucial institution is a no-no. One would not want to disengage from those domain experts and intellectuals who are expected to contribute their experience and insights for the good of the country and economy.

Before going further, let me admit that I have been a vociferous supporter of the Bharatiya Janata Party and of Narendra Modi. But that does not fix my identity. I am an average aspirational Indian who wants to have a better life than my father did and in future, give my children a better life than I have. I am sure that many share this aspiration and this was the crucial factor behind Narendra Modi’s thumping victory in 2014.

18 months down the line, it does feel concerning see lack of coherence and clarity from the government. (Yes, I am more than willing to give it time and I dearly want this government and the country to succeed.) I would even encourage the government to listen to opinions from all sides of political and ideological corners. However, a call to the government to start engaging with Lutyens’ gives me a sense of insecurity. While not against the engagement, I want to list down reasons for my insecurities.

The residents of Lutyens’ (Shall consciously use this term and not resort to rhetoric) are believed to be elites. Political opinions also paint them as loyalists of the Gandhi dynasty. Many times, I got a feeling that they shun the aspirations of an average Indian. While the country suffers from multiple problems, they are seen engaging in discussions and sensational issues that do not speak highly about their priorities. They feel that profit is a dirty word. They are seen supporting activists who protest infrastructural projects, but are not ready to provide workable alternatives.

What is sauce for the goose, is not for the gander. What goes for the elite and posh Lutyens’ Delhi doesn’t go for the villages in Haryana. For instance, trying to hold every village to their exalted standards of clothing and “freedom” where women get raped when they go out to the fields, smacks of elitist arrogance. Horror of horrors, we even hear some voices of the Lutyens’ openly campaigning to pardon the very heinous rapists. How can they love the criminal but then take a high ground and put the blame of the crime on the society?

Most of them are even inflicted with a compulsive obsession to speak against every nationalist initiative. Some of them from the media front even resort to cheap baiting on Social media just to suit their narrative. Some of them are thought to be sympathisers of hostile countries across the border than our own. In other words, their ability to solve the country’s problems in the last ten years came under extreme suspicion. Their elitist high headedness doesn’t help.

Yes I sound paranoid, because I am paranoid. Call me harsh and uncharitable. But the truth is that the mistrust is way too entrenched in me and I can say with reasonable confidence that many middle class Indians feel the same way. Considering the state the country is in, and the action it needs, I am not against Modi government taking a step in engaging them back in action but before that, can I as an average Indian have the Lutyens’ assurance that they care for me?

If they expect the government to warm up to them, they also need to come out of their cosy cocoons and engage with us, the common lot. No, the beef and intolerance dramas make me feel that they would rather see the country fail than let Modi succeed. Yes, this is the crux of the mistrust that I would expect the residents of Lutyens’ to address. They need to come clean with their priorities. They need to prove that they would like to see the country succeed though it is in the hands of their ‘bitter enemy’ Modi. I again repeat, they let their hatred and disdain for Modi show in every action of theirs than their intention to see India succeed.

They need to take a step forward and voice actionable solutions than while away time and money on theoretical flaws of the proposed solutions. They need to be seen openly engaging with constructive initiatives of the government (say Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao for instance) than sit and pass cynical comments about the regressive ironies of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or take pot shots at Hindu civilization. They need to stop nit picking if they cannot give saner alternatives and admit what is a wiser solution for any current issue.

Guilty of repeating. But my question to the residents of Lutyens’ remains. Are you willing to swallow your hatred for Modi and let your love for Indians show up instead? If yes, unfurl the white flag and prove it.

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