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Pseudo-intellectuals shouldn’t complain: Markandey Katju slams Ramchandra Guha

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New Delhi: A day after eminent historian Ramachandra Guha described the Modi government as “the most anti-intellectual and philistine” that India has ever had, former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju slammed the so-called “intellectuals” who have let the nation down.

While speaking at the Bangalore Literature Festival (BLF), Guha said anti-intellectualism was manifest in the appointments made by the Modi government.

“Directors of IITs tell me that Smriti Irani (HRD minister) makes them nostalgic for Murli Manohar Joshi… As for Mahesh Sharma, in charge of culture, who could be more grossly anti-intellectual and philistine than him?” Guha said.

Taking a jibe at the intellectuals, Katju wrote in a Facebook post that “they are in really conceited, puffed up pseudo-intellectuals, who only seek comfortable lives, as professors or writers, but have little creativity, modesty, or curiosity.”

“Many of them became flunkeys and toadies of governments, getting various benefits and sinecures from them. Where are our Newtons or Darwins or Voltaires or Rousseaus in India? Where are our John Lockes, Adam Smiths or the French encyclopaedists?

“I certainly do not support the present Indian government’s actions in appointing people of their own thinking to various cultural and academic posts. But does it really lie with our so-called “intellectuals”, who have let down the nation, to complain?

“I do not deny the great importance of intellectuals in the progress of mankind. In modern times, great revolutions like the American, French and Russian revolutions were led by intellectuals. They are the eyes and brains of the society, and without them the society is blind and stupid. But they must be real and not pseudo-intellectuals if they wish to be respected and contribute to the society’s progress.”

(Image: Markandey Katju/Facebook)

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World Sanskrit Conference: Allow Sanskrit to spread its wings like other global languages

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New Delhi: Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during a programme organised on the culmination of Indio-Nepal Car Rally at India Gate in New Delhi, on March 8, 2015. (Photo: Sunil Majumdar/IANS)

By Gaurav Sharma

There was a time, when Sanskrit usage spanned the entire Indian subcontinent. At its zenith, the language of the Gods became the lingua franca of the Indian cultural zone.

Reminiscent of its mass expansion, the ancient medium of communication has now ebbed to its nadir.

Sanskrit in contemporary India

The last census of 2011 revealed a shocking reality with a pitiable 14,000 people stating Sanskrit as their primary language. Almost no speaker was to be found in Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the north-eastern states.

Given that a miniscule 1 per cent of the entire Indian population speaks Sanskrit, it is commendable that Doordarshan has launched a weekly program in that language.

Telecasting a five-minute news bulletin–Varta–was hardly doing justice to a language which had mothered several hundred dialects during its heyday.

Can Sanskrit be bracketed into the Hindutva agenda?

The recent invitation of External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj as guest of honor at the 16th World Sanskrit Conference in Bangkok is a significant reminder of the special place India and more specifically, Sanskrit holds in the academic circles of the world.

In spite of its deep scholarly appreciation, the language continues to be taught as an optional subject. This is mainly due to the increase in the relevance of other contemporary languages in the globalized world vis-a-vis Sanskrit.

To amplify its declining popularity, the language is given false religious connotations, viz Hindu credentials.

The liberal secularist of India keeps blowing the communal trumpet against measures to revitalize the glory of Sanskrit as a scientific dialect, a fact which can be corroborated by its astounding suitability as a computer language.

In this regard, it would be pertinent to note that apart from being serving liturgical purposes, Sanskrit was a philosophical language encompassing a rich mixture of poetry, drama and music.

Is Sanskrit literature only religious?

“People have a misunderstanding that it is the language of the Hindus. Ninety-five per cent of Sanskrit literature has nothing to do with religion”, says retired Supreme Court Judge Markandey Katju.

katju

 

This is not to say that the language cannot be used to indoctrinate young minds.

But if re-introducing Sanskrit in the school curriculum is termed as Hindutva propaganda, isn’t flooding of English literature in our school textbooks a classic case of Anglicization?

In the end it is not a question of whether Sanskrit is a holy language worthy of reverence but rather about providing an equal opportunity for an ancient language to re-live itself.