A ringside view

A ringside view

The Indian intelligentsia is like broilers that cannot fly, our youngsters feel defeated and ashamed of our culture and most of our elitist liberals...

The Indian intelligentsia is like broilers that cannot fly, our youngsters feel defeated and ashamed of our culture and most of our elitist liberals are setting the agenda in educational institutions which have become politically charged centres notorious for manufactured revolutions—the key takeaways that led to author and filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri’s book ‘Urban Naxals’ are being discussed in academic institutions across the country. Vivek traverses educational institutions and cities in the nook and corner of the country to talk about his book and the context in which it was written.

Visiting more than 45 campuses including the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) that witnessed many agitations in the recent past and is scornfully referred to as a “Marxist Madarassa” by right-wingers, Agnihotri speaks of his efforts in the making of the film ‘Buddha in a Traffic Jam’.

According to the author, the book was “a self-discovery unravelling layers in the continents of his mind”. Quick to clarify that he is not associated with any political party as people seem to think, he speaks of the whirl of ideas imposed on young minds by people who want to create restlessness at the behest of sources outside the country.

They do this by whipping up passions that have a negative impact on society. “What we need today is not manufactured conflict or chaos. We need to evolve as a society and see a renaissance of art and culture, science and logical rationality. The only revolution we needed was the one waged for our country’s freedom,” says Agnihotri.

The idea to write a book emerged from a suggestion made by his friend Hari Kiran of the Indic Academy, who encouraged him to document his varied experiences in making the film, which provided him with new and rare insights. Referring to an “Indic Citizen” as one with a decolonised mind, Vivek Agnihotri says he took off to Goa to find ‘Creative Moksha’ and articulate his thoughts.

Recalling his own reluctance to accept Hindu culture and middle-class values as a youth, he says he grew up in a household that valued culture and integrity as important qualities. While both his parents were freedom fighters, his father was a Sanskrit scholar who translated the ‘Atharva Veda’ into Hindi.

Like others caught in the traffic of ideas imposed on them, he too was a victim of ideological propaganda till reality dawned on him. In 2010 while researching for a short film on the ‘Adivasis’ as part of a project that his students undertook in the Indian School of Business (ISB) at Hyderabad (where he taught a course on creative thinking), he realised the false thinking that had shaped his thoughts in identifying Naxals as saints, who were helping the tribals.

As he researched and looked deeper for answers he found a lot of disconnected narratives that were woven together that emerged as a coherent stream in his film ‘Buddha in a Traffic Jam’. Atrocities committed in the name of ideology and the nexus with corrupt elements, he found were omnipresent with those championing their cause present among teachers, media and film personalities.

Taking on an ideology that was fashionable and liberal because it was paraded by elitist sections who claimed to know the harsh realities of economic inequalities that they had no idea about was the real challenge. “Your love and relationships are always tested in crisis situations and my relationship with my country had become the crisis of my life,” says Agnihotri, who looks at secularism as a political tool that has been misused in our country.

In contrast to the past, where invaders attacked and physically destroyed places of learning, our institutions are now infiltrated and made safe bastions for brainwashing generations of students who become ardent followers of socialism, Marxism, Maoism and Naxalism. From here they emerge as “Urban Naxals” out in the open unlike their counterparts in the jungles. With universities like the JNU emerging as hotbeds of communism and sedition. Agnihotri says the degrees and doctorates of students, who spend many years on the campus never take off while their political careers do.

The author chronicles the difficulties he faced in screening the film at campuses, where the faculty created several obstacles by not according to permissions, declaring a holiday on the day of screening and used other methods of coercion. Bracing up to all difficulties Agnihotri recalls the spectacular screening in several places including JNU, Jadhavpur, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and other cities.

Omnipresent in centres of higher learning, media, bureaucracy and self-proclaimed liberal voices “Urban Naxals” are bent upon creating unrest through false outrage and engineered agitations that hold democracy at siege Agnihotri is convinced.

A country with the greatest diversity where different religious beliefs, castes, languages and cultures thrive unbroken by invasions and machinations needs to counter efforts that are creating divisiveness in the name of secularism according to him. Reaching out to young minds then has become an enduring passion for Vivek Agnihotri, who chronicles several bitter facts in a bid to get to the crux of the problem. His history of “Urban Naxals” and their mysterious ways are part of a discovery replete with new insights and unwavering optimism. It is a labour of love that calls for attention.

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