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Forget 'bheek', by this logic, Gujarat was free of British rule in 1995, 19 yrs before India

The real freedom fighting brigade
By Rajiv Shah 
Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut may have her own reasons to say that India acquired real freedom in May 2014, when Narendra Modi came to occupy India’s seat of power.  There was little to be amused by what she said, for, as many commentators have variously pointed out, her viewpoint was surely based on her little or no knowledge of the history of the Indian freedom movement.
I wasn’t surprised, as most of the Bollywood “stars” are devoid of any sense of history; they appear to be more guided by their own circumstances when utter something. But what amused me was a Facebook post with a screenshot of a Guardian editorial dated May 18, 2014, which said virtually the same thing as Ranaut -- except that it didn’t call India achieving independence as “bheek” (alms) in 1947. I decided to search for a link – and I found it: here it is!
The Facebook post which I have referred to expressed surprise over the Guardian editorial, stating, it’s a Left-wing British newspaper, wondering, why should it have said so is difficult to understand. Let me quote from the editorial itself. It started by saying: “It should be obvious that underlying changes in Indian society have brought us Modi and not the other way round”, insisting, “Today, May 18, 2014, may well go down in history as the day when Britain finally left India.”
Explained the editorial, “Narendra Modi's victory in the elections marks the end of a long era in which the structures of power did not differ greatly from those through which Britain ruled the subcontinent”, adding, “India under the Congress party was in many ways a continuation of the British Raj by other means.”
It continued, “The India those men and women lived in was one that, like its predecessor, was centralised, garrisoned, culturally constricted, and ruled by a relatively small English-speaking elite whose attitude toward the masses was alternately benevolent and exploitative but never inclusive”, even as calling Modi “a new kind of leader ... from the lower castes”, who is “not a natural English speaker”, having “no truck with the secular and socialist traditions that shaped Congress.”
Under this English speaking elite, the Guardian underlined, “the poor were there to be helped, when the elite remembered to do so or when they needed to seek or, in effect, to buy votes”, but as for the middling classes, they “were taken for granted and sometimes snubbed.” Suggesting that this appeared to have changed with the change of guards, it said, Modi “has discarded the deference it displayed toward the Gandhi family and toward the Anglicised or, these days, Americanised top levels of society.”
According to Guardian, Modi “sensed a great shift in mood and played to it”, yet, it said skeptically, “It matters enormously what kind of man he is... we really do not know.” Refusing to question what role Modi “played in the Gujarat massacres of 2002”, which it said has remained “unresolved”, it tried to predict, he would show “balance” between “pragmatism and the extremist ideology”. In fact, it went on to state: “Pragmatism would lead him to avoid sharp confrontation with Indian Muslims, perhaps offsetting any trouble at home by a peace-seeking diplomacy with Pakistan.”
Going by Guardian’s seven year old logic, Gujarat won freedom much before India. But its seeds were sown, ironically, by Congress rulers
While last part of Guardian prediction – a typical journalistic one having little knowledge of what Modi was (and is) – hasn’t come true, one thing is clear: the BJP successfully wooed majority of the non-Anglicised (or Americanised) middle classes, catching their imagination, one reason why it was so successful in “breaking” from the past. Today, Modi’s closest associate Amit Shah dares suggest, he has little or nothing to with the “Aglicised” past – going so far as to declare that all Ministry of Home Affairs (which he heads) files are in Hindi, and not in English!
Going by Guardian’s seven year old logic, Gujarat won “real” independence much before India. But its seeds were sown, ironically, by Congress leaders. There used to be two education “experts” in the Gujarat government under the Congress rule, which finally ended in 1995, after which the party has never returned to power. One of them was called “Thakor panchmo”, and another “Thakor athmo”. Both having Thakor surnames, the first one wanted English education to be introduced from fifth class, while the second one favoured it from eighth.
Kangana Ranaut: Enjoying freedom
Finally, it was left to the schools in Gujarat to decide whether to begin teaching English from class five or class eight. Many schools (including those in Ahmedabad) opted to teach English from class eighth, with the result that many children began learning ABCD in eighth standard, and forgot about the language in high school, when it was optional.
A whole generation in middle classes in Gujarat, therefore, knows no English, something that Modi tried to correct in 2001, even though he was very poor in English language, which he slowly learned when in power as chief minister. He did this despite one his closest allies, Anandiben Patel, now Uttar Pradesh governor, once told me (when I was the Times of India man in Gandhinagar) as education minister that “Sanskrit is more important than English.”
As for Shah, I suspect, even today he pretends to be happy that he knows little or no English. He once told me in his chamber of state home minister, when I used to meet him as in Gandhinagar: “What’s wrong with our education system? It’s perfectly fine!” On another occasion, he proudly told me, he reads “no English newspaper.”
It is another thing that Shah always kept tab with everything that appeared in the Times of India, so much so that he once objected to a story which I did when I met him ahead of a Modi rally in Khedbrahma. I quipped, “But Sir, you don’t read English dailies”, and he replied, “Others tell me what appears in our paper.” On another occasion he reached our office in Gandhinagar to register a complain with the editor about a particular news item.
Be that as it may, going by the Guardian logic, Gujarat got rid of any “Anglicised” past in 1995, when Keshubhai Patel became the first BJP chief minister. He knew no English, so much so that when he wanted to speak in English in order to address a “broader audience” (which included Mukesh Ambani and Sam Pitroda) while inaugurating the Infocity in Gandhinagar, he was given an English language speech written in Gujarati script. I recall, he started reading out, but after some time, pushed it aside, and began speaking in Hindi, as he found it very uncomfortable.
Most BJP ministers and BJP MLAs knew no or little English – and the ones who some knew (like former Narmada minister Jay Narayan Vyas or home minister late Haren Pandya) were pushed around at some point or the other. One BJP MLA, whom I believed was pretty “polished”, wanted my phone number. I asked him to write it down, and he sounded reluctant. Finally, he took out a paper and wrote “Rajiv Shah, Taims”! Yet another leader (now a Union minister), when I asked in 2001 how did he assess Modi, tried replying in English, “Hardly working… hardly working…”!
There are several other instances of this type, but among most interesting ones are: Modi himself called delegates “dulgats” while addressing Resurgent Gujarat, his first business meet as chief minister in early 2002, weeks before the infamous riots erupted in February. An ex-BJP industries and tourism minister whom I intimately know called in reporters to his chamber to tell them, “Come in! I want to brief you about something important… We have planned to eliminate Somnath”. A reporter smiled and told him in Gujarati, “You will be eliminated if you do this… it’s illuminate.” 
All this is not to undermine all these top persons' real capacities, which were surely immense, but the fact is, I have always wondered: who is responsible for this state of affairs? Why couldn’t the "Anglicised" leaders, who virtually ruled the country for 70-odd years, ensure that local languages should be as important as English for making policy decisions or discussing policies on public fora? Even today, English in the language is High Courts and the Supreme Court. All top intellectuals write in English – but seldom in local languages – in order to sound “authentic.”
Further: English newspapers and electronic media carry more weight among policy makers than local languages. The Gujarat government even today considers English language alone as “authentic” for all legal papers, including laws passed in the Gujarat state assembly (ironically voted upon by MLAs, most of whom know no English), government resolutions (GRs) and notifications. I don’t know whether this is true of other Indian States or the Union government… But these are bare facts...

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