Why Scroll.in survives but Niticentral didn’t
I’m using Scroll.in and Niticentral just as examples to represent 2 opposing sides of the ideological spectrum: extreme Left and extreme Right. Basically I wanted to write about the fundamental differences between the individuals and groups that represent the Left and the individuals and groups that represent the Right.
When I say “Left” I club all those people who call themselves secular, liberal, freedom-loving, pluralistic, et cetera, into this category. I have no problem with terms like secular, liberal, freedom-loving, pluralistic, et cetera (in themselves they are highly noble terms ) , it’s just that I don’t believe that they truly follow these ideals. I feel they just pretend to be following these ideas and since Leftists/Marxists/Communists/Congis and these individuals are often conniving and their survival depends on the survival of each other, for the sake of the argument, I am clubbing them into the category “Left”. This category also includes people who are quite vocal about the rights and privileges of religions like Islam and Christianity(in India, in the West it might be the other way round) , but are averse to the idea of bestowing the same rights and privileges to Hindus and Hinduism. Assertive, proud Hinduism is a dirty word for them. Nationalism and patriotism are insulting terms for them. If you assert your Hindu identity, you are a nationalist, and as mentioned above, nationalism is bad, very bad. Again, this is just a classification because I don’t want to get into the religious aspect of their socio-cultural proclivities.
Right, for the time being, are the people who are opposed to the Left-thinking people and additionally, they are not apologetic about voicing their opinions when it comes to issues related to Hindus and Hinduism. In my category of Right, these individuals are not hostile towards other religions but they want to put a stop to the nonsense going around about Hindus in Hinduism. They’re mostly bitching about the Left, with not much original thinking, and if original thinking is there, it is not easily accessible in the public domain.
But are the people belonging to the Right (my definition of Right) totally upright? Not necessarily. This category has its own conspirators and goons and opportunists and extremist and even fanatics. Many are disguised Leftists who, when they didn’t get enough breathing space in the Left circles, they took refuge among the Right. But given a choice, under the current scenario, I would rather be with the Right than with the Left. Associating with Left would be intellectually embarrassing for me because I think they are pretentious and actually illiberal. For them liberalism is a means to an end, not an end, and this troubles me. For that matter, secularism and pluralism too are means to an end, not an end in themselves, for the Left. For them, all these terms are mere tools to be used for manipulation.
People on the Right are not as conniving as people on the Left. People on the Right are mostly reactionaries right now. Intellectually, socially, culturally, they are constantly reacting and outraging to the one-sided intellectual propaganda of the Left. They are not self-motivated. They are driven into action due to the utterly lousy behaviour of the Left. It’s like, the Left does something nasty and then the Right reacts. This is why in many TV debates you see the Right representatives clueless, ill-at-ease, unsure, ill-informed and consequently, most of the time, out-shouted by the well-informed, motivated, coordinated and well-supported Left-representatives. The Right is constantly being put on the defensive, it DOES become defensive easily.
This brings me back to the subject of the title of this post: Why Scroll.in survived and Niticentral didn’t? Both the publications came into existence, if I remember correctly, pretty much around the same time. While scroll.in is supported by the Left, Niticentral, supposedly, was being supported by the Right. It was a breath of fresh air. The Left has infested almost every nook and corner of electronic and publishing media discourse. Everybody thought, at last, there is a publication to articulate the Right thought.
There was a time I was regularly writing for Niticentral. It was the ONLY online publication that actually paid. Yes, they actually sent me money each time they published my article.
Somewhere, I stopped writing for them. Despite the fact that they were paying me. After a while, it felt as if they were not interested in an intelligent discourse. They just wanted PR articles for the Narendra Modi government. I’m a writer and I like to articulate my thoughts the way I want, not the way I am “supposed” to articulate. Although I am a professional content writer (which means businesses pay me for writing what they want me to write), when it comes to journalistic writing, I prefer to write what I want to write rather than what I’m supposed to write. Due to my affiliation, I kept writing despite not liking what I was writing, but gradually I gave up. Kanchan Gupta’s sudden exit was also a big turnoff but back then I thought maybe he wanted to pursue some of his personal projects and that’s why he left. It’s just recently I have come to know that he left due to a big difference with the management. Anyway, this is just some context.
What I’m trying to say is, in the beginning it was a decent publication. In the beginning they even published articles that I insisted on writing rather than giving me a brief. I even thought of sending them suggestions regarding how they could publish diverse content to turn it into a full-fledged publication rather than simply publishing and circulating pro-government articles (which is fine, considering there are zillions of publications that are pro- Left-Congress), but somehow the way they kept fiddling with the format conveyed to me that something was not right with the direction the publication was taking.
Scroll.in on the other hand has been consistent with the format and the direction of the content. It is a Left-propaganda publication mostly to spread their own versions of stories and the job is being done with single mindedness and dedication.
Herein lies the difference between Left and Right that I would like to highlight. I’ll express these differences in points.
- The Left works with a sense of purpose. Scroll.in has a clear, well-defined purpose. Right, on the other hand, has no purpose. It’s always busy either righting the wrongs of the Left, or simply becoming another propaganda contraption.
- Left remains united, no matter what. You will never see them criticizing each other. Murderers, looters, rapists, extortionists, terrorist sympathisers, scamsters, thugs, journalists, authors, artists, intellectuals, politicians, social activists, disability rights groups, they all come together and put up a joint fight when the time comes. You will never come across one member of the Left criticizing another member of the Left, no matter how condemnable his or her conduct is. There is a tacit agreement not to condemn anything Islamic/Muslim unless totally pushed against the wall and they stick to this agreement with great regimen, no matter what. This is why, they will remain quiet when a Muslim leader declares a bounty on someone’s head or when a Charlie Hebdo sort of incident happens but they start crying in unison the moment a Kamlesh Tiwari says something. It’s not that they endorse violent Islamic acts, it’s just that, they detest the Right so much that they will stay away from these issues no matter how great these issues are if the find themselves on the same platform as the Right. If the Right says East, the Left definitely has to say West, North or South, or anything else but never, ever, East.
- Right is totally divided in that sense. It’s members criticize each other routinely. They don’t shy away from openly criticizing fellow Rightists. If they want to say something is good or something is bad they are not bothered what the Left think. Their ideology and day-to-day activities are not agenda or purpose-driven. Just recently many among the Right were abusing O P Sharma for thrashing a journalist or a student, and so were people on the Left. I’m not saying it’s good or bad, it just is.
- Left people promote each other, Right people don’t. You constantly see Scroll.in being promoted by known and unknown Leftists. They’re not bothered who is running the publication and what sort of content is being published. It needs to carry out a particular propaganda, it does, and that’s it. People on the Right didn’t bother much about Niticentral. It was a publication, like any other publication. People on the Right promoted individual articles and interviews, but they never promoted Niticentral content for the purpose of promoting Niticentral. Just like Niticentral there are many publications catering to the Right side, but when it comes to promotion, they’re pretty much on their own.
- The Left doesn’t indulge in bickering. The Right on the other hand bickers a lot. They are fragmented. People in the Left know that unity helps them not just survive but also thrive. People on the Right on the other hand are busy attacking each other all the time if they don’t agree. Most of the people on the Right are individualistic. They are islands. People on the Left, at the fundamental level, too, are individualistic for, everybody in this clique is serving his or her own interest, but they know how to put up a united front and they have mastered this art over many decades of deceit, intellectual manipulation and mutual backscratching.
- The Left has usurped the elite domain. It has an international network. It speaks elegantly. Even those who are not refined can easily put up an act and even if they cannot put up an act, the rest of them make sure that he or she can put up an act without making a fool of himself or herself. Its writers are excellent writers. They can use the words that can hit you like a ton of bricks. All the international forums, intellectual gatherings, literary events and discourses have been overrun by the Left. They have access to premium publications. They’ve created premium publications that they can use to disseminate their propaganda. They have strong, well-established communication platforms. They know the overarching significance of building, protecting and promoting these platforms. Right, unfortunately, either doesn’t grasp the significance of such platforms, and if it grasps it, it doesn’t have the perseverance and the resources the Left has.
- They make “eminent” people out of mediocre people. Among the Left, every scholar is an authority, an expert, an “ist”. They copiously quote people to turn them into experts and authority figures without letting their own egos get in the way. They understand the importance of propping up authority figures who can then later on be quoted to add weight to some obscure point they’re trying to make.
- The Left journalists and writers don’t shy away from reporting from the ground. Even someone like Arundhati Roy visits tribal belts and dishes out atrocity literature. Both Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai were in Bihar when elections were taking place. They visit riot areas. They interview rogues, murders, the incarcerated and the perpetrators. Srinivasan Jain went and talked to the JNU agitator Umar Khalid’s family. People were taunting why Srinivasan Jain didn’t interview Kamlesh Tiwari’s family. Why didn’t anybody from the Right talk to Kamlesh Tiwari’s family? No journalist went even from Zee TV. Why were they waiting for a Srinivasan Jain to go to an Umar Khalid’s family before getting such an idea? The point is, the Left can get the stories, or they can successfully pretend to get the stories, straight from the horse’s mouth. Then these stories get published in national and international publications. Quotes from these stories are used to create more stories and then those stories are published in national and international publications. How many Right journalists and writers have spent, or seemingly spent, time in troubled zones? How many Right intellectuals and writers have come up with original accounts of atrocities on their own kinds? How many Right journalists have done some investigative journalism? Even if such journalism takes place, where is it? How many have promoted it or spread it?
- Once they’ve somehow made a name for themselves, people in the Right want nothing to do with the lesser known in the Right. You’ll easily find someone like Shashi Tharoor or Ram Guha promoting an unknown journalist or writer published in scroll.in, but you’ll not come across a Right prominent personality promoting a lesser known Right writer or journalist published in Niticentral. There is an underlying disdain for their own kind, especially in the intellectual circles. Everybody on the Right is on his or her own. This way, the human capital that gets built-up benefits the Left but does not benefit the Right. Each time, almost everybody is starting from the scratch which does not happen on the Left.
- Even scholarship on the Right is reactionary. A major effort of the thought leaders like Rajiv Malhotra and Subramaniam Swamy goes into repair work. They are mostly reacting to whatever mess is being created by the Left. Very little independent thinking and scholarly pursuit exist on the Right. You will easily come across a Left-leaning film critic or a book critic, but very rarely you come across a Right-leaning film critic or a book critic.
- Right intellectuals are whimsical, short tempered and unpredictable. This also might be because they have to work against extreme odds in order to reach the place they have reached because there is no support system and on top of that, sometimes insurmountable hurdles are put by Left. The Left has overtaken almost all the institutions of intellectual pursuits and it’s extremely difficult for the Right thinking scholars to make a place in this sphere and hence by the time they have made a name for themselves their patience is running short, many of them turn bitter and in turn they take out the bitterness on the others. Whatever is the reason, the negative outcome of this attitude is that many people who would otherwise like to associate with them, don’t and end up associating with the Left intellectuals who are most of the time polite, suave and considerate (even though when they are putting up a pretense).
I don’t intend to list the differences above as weaknesses and strengths. They are just there and they have their impact on what happens and how it happens. What has happened with scroll.in and Niticentral will go on happening unless there is a concerted effort to build an ecosystem on the Right. There are many small efforts on their way but then again, as I say, most of the Right intellectuals are whimsical. Sometimes they are so secretive that I’m not even sure whether I should talk about those efforts here or not.
I know many are going to say that more than 70-years of Left-dominated terra firma is responsible for the condition of the Right and to an extent I would agree, but not fully. The Right has been lackadaisical for a very long time. Its existence is like the existence of Pakistan. Just like Pakistan exists just to oppose India, the Right seems to exist just as a reaction to the Left. It needs to have its own existence irrespective of the existence of the Left. It shouldn’t depend on a particular government, a particular establishment or a particular individual to come to prominence and pursue sociological, political and cultural goals. Instead of reacting to agendas, it must set its own agendas.