From his lofty ivory tower, Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju has a 360-degree view of India – and it’s plain from his every pronouncement that he doesn’t like what he sees. Long after he retired as Supreme Court judge, the man continues to sit in judgement on virtually every aspect of humanity and its many failings. And he has been unabashed about pronouncing his verdict on every subject under the sun, typically with a sneer.
Today, Katju has fleshed out one of his earlier comments in which he said that 90 percent of Indians are fools. In an editorial page contribution in The Indian Express, Katju reiterates the point, and offers it as “the unpleasant truth” he insists on telling us. And to validate his point, he is even rewriting the scriptures.
The shastras, he says, tells us not to speak the “unpleasant truth”. But “I wish to rectify this. The country’s situation today require that we…. ‘speak the unpleasant truth’’.”
And what is that truth? That 90 percent of Indians are fools.
To establish his case, Katju points out that “the minds of 90 percent of Indians are full of casteism, communalism, superstition.” In elections, 90 percent of people vote on the basis of caste or community, not the merits of the candidate – which accounts for why dacoits like Phoolan Devi were elected to Parliament.
Second, Katju claims, 90 percent of Indians believe in astrology, “which is pure superstition and humbug”. Which is why television channels that beam programmes on astrology have high viewership ratings.
Katju then picks on another of his pet peeves: the Indian media’s obsession with cricket and Bollywood. The game, he says, “has been turned into a religion by our corporatised media, and most people lap it up like opium.” Rahul Dravid’s retirement is treated like a national calamity, and Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th century as if it were a great achievement for India. Likewise, the media’s breathless reportage of Dev Anand’s recent death gets Katju’s goat.
In the process, India’s real problems that affect 80 percent of the people – mass deprivation, unemployment, and a whole lot more – are ignored, he points out.
And then, there’s the Anna Hazare movement for a Jan Lokpal to combat corruption. Katju likens the movement’s followers to a lynch mob – and blames the media for playing it up.
“It is time,” Katju writes, “for Indians to wake up to all this. When I called 90 per cent of them fools my intention was not to harm them, rather it was just the contrary. I want to see Indians prosper, I want poverty and unemployment abolished…”
But for that to happen, he reasons, Indians should cultivate a “scientific outlook”; until that happens, “the vast majority of our people will continue to be taken for a ride.”
Read Katju’s commentary in full in The Indian Express here.