Rohan Oberoi's email

Rohit Chopra cosmicomic at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 13 05:48:26 UTC 2000

Apropos Rohan Oberoi's mail, you can add my name to the super-short list of
the 2 secular Indians on this discussion group. I must say that I am amazed
at the number of people who just seem to believe that India is, by
definition, a Hindu country. I'd just like to know what anyone's definition
of Hindu is. I consider myself a Hindu but would not be presumptuous enough
to believe that my understanding of what it means to be a Hindu is the last
word. Yes, I believe in the importance of debate but how is any kind of
debate possible if one side wants to set certain terms of the debate - a
priori assumptions about whom India 'belongs' to for instance.

Incidentally I also notice lots of remarks against 'Macaulayite' Indians.
Will someone tell me exactly what is meant by that term? I presume it
revolves around the "secularized India elite" vs. "nativist" issue. I just
want to make a couple of observations here. I have on occasion been called
elitist, metropolitan Macaulayite etc. (a) by some people at seminars in
India (when I presented a paper on literary theory that people said was in
too high-falutin' English)(b) in the context of discussions when I put forth
my secular views. That led me to wonder what exactly qualifies one as
"elitist". In my case, it seemed because (a) I had chosen to study English
(b) Because I seem to take the Indian constitution seriously when it says
that India is a secular country and because I do not think that the
BJP/RSS/VHP is the greatest thing to happen to India.

What surprises me though is that my classmates / acquaintances / friends /
associates  - from an identical middle-class background as me -who went on
to study engineering/computers etc and are making ten times as much as I do
are not considered elitist by the 'accusers', if I may be permitted my own
prejudice. In fact many of them are the 'accusers' themselves. So can any
one tell me why not being pro-BJP is itself an index of being 'Macaulayite'
and what the exact criteria for being elitist are. Also what, in the opinion
of those who would call me Macaulayite, would it take for me not to be
called by this pejorative term? If it means taking up Y2K programming, sorry
- no can do - don't have that interest or ability. If it means supporting
the BJP - no can do either because I respect the Indian constitution. Any
other ways to become a non-Macaulayite true-blue son of the soil?

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