Monday, July 13, 2015

Anatomy of an Inferior Writer: How Desktop publishing birthed strange new phenomenon in India, the Bhagats.

This satirical article is a paraphrasing of this. Even proper names are to be viewed as place holders and I welcome you to imagine your favorite targets in their place.

The rise of desktop publishing and cyber marketing has led to a strange new phenomenon in India. It is the strong and distinctive presence of a celebrity-species often referred to as 'Bhagats'. The term used to refer to shallow and voyeurish writers who tend to be aggressive peddlers of all things of cheap quality.

Intellectually they often lend their support to low grade intellectuals like themselves, for that is the way to being invited to various LitFests. (It is a different matter that when self certified low grade individuals and so-so authors like Salman Rushdie mock their caliber, these authors are equal to merely give furtive and sheepish smiles.) And they are extremely protective of freedom of low-grade speech. They dislike old Hindu kings for they strongly believe that those kings conspired to shortchange their subjects in the past. They often swap their ignorance of history online.

These true bhagats would have been an interesting anthropological phenomenon, had they not been causing cacophony all the time on twitter, blogs, and even main stream TV channels. A few years ago, Salman Rushdie rightly categorized them as "they also have to live". Just a few days ago, a true bhagat attacked soft spoken women on twitter who were feeling nice, if not proud, by the well meaning 'selfie with daughter' campaign. 

So who are these bhagats? What drives them? And what can we - and more importantly, they - do to calm themselves down? For this, it is important to understand them.

One, these true bhagats are not just LitFest membership seekers. They are not all The-Halka members. Some of them managed to graduate from IIT/M, they call themselves "authors" instead. Their stated aim, if you are to believe them, is national entertainment, and winning back for India its lost humorous story.

In reality, they are neither engineers, nor managers, and least of all, authors. Typically, and at the cost of stereotyping, true bhagats have the following four traits in common. First, they are almost all incoherent. Second, they have weak communication skills, particularly in English. This in turn leads to a bit of an inferiority complex, of not being cool or sophisticated enough to write even within a mile of Shobha De in a fast declining, literary world.

Third, they often believe that they are great at talking to members of opposite sex. As a result they are unlikely to know how to behave with them or understand the "shoo away" signal from them. For example, the men 'bhagats',  think all women desire them, but are shy of approach them. So they try to inspire shamelessness in them during conversation in lifts/elevators. In simple words, if i may say so, their minds are filled with imagination that they are in an elevator even while their bodies are obviously elsewhere. But being logically and perceptually challenged, they have no way of getting it.

Fourth, there is an over-riding sense of shame about being an incompetent author, about having worse pulp writing skills, and even their own readers. Deep down they know that pulp writing authors like themselves are among India's most mentally negligible. They also know that they are third rate writers with third rate plots, with few achievements in style, narrative or even vulgarity.

To hide this shame, they over-compensate in terms of chest-beating their potential readers (who in the heart of their hearts they hate for reading their low grade writings). Also to them, Media anchors and in particular men-hating snobbish and conceited women represent the highest aspirational figures. Sagarika Ugly-Indian-Male Ghose, they pleasantly discover to be incontrovertibly from intellectually modest means-background and represents the best that writers like them can aspire to be.

Success of such men-hating snobs gives true bhagats a genuine reason to rejoice and feel that they have a place at the top. Hence, defending them as those being  "confident women" is vital. Therefore, you have seen true bhagats defending misandric inanities on various issues, and find they are vigorously attacking anyone questioning such. Objectivity is lost when the person they are trying to protect and worship is seen as an idealization of their own kind.

Hence, an inferiority amplified by inferiority complex overcompensated as superiority complex ridden Indian writer who is frustrated, ashamed of his writing skills and has poor ability in communication is vulnerable to transforming into a true bhagat. And that’s why confident persons, notwithstanding their "English skills" who mock bhagat-adored "confident women" hit a raw nerve on all counts and get the worst of the true bhagat treatment.

Since main stream media allows verbal as well as textual diarrhea, their anger expresses itself as thinly disguised personal rant. Note that MSM always invites these true bhagats to rant on their shows. In fact the MSM had to tell this one specifically, as even they seemed to have had run out of their hyper-aggressive ranters.

Of course, at the end of the day, any ranters are welcome and MSM doesn’t mind them. Especially, as MSM never distances itself from this unrestrained, in-elevator-expressing testosterone carriers. Yet, what seems like rant starts to look schizophrenic mega delusion pretty soon and cements the  off-the-onion image of the writer. Ultimately, the Indian MSM will get sated and go back to its default ranters – The-Halkas. There’s a reason The-Halkas adorn all LitFests whereas the 'bhagat' has just about managed to attend a few.

Meanwhile what can we do? The best strategy is to not take true bhagats too seriously. Of course, it is difficult to ignore personal abuse. But try to understand their motivations. They are not writers; they are simply Frustrated And Complex-ridden Textual-Verbal-diarrhea patients (FACTVPs, pronounced fact-wups, not to be confused with the past participle of the cuss word you may want to use on them). Of course FACT-VP doesn’t have the same ring to it as bhagat, but it is a more accurate descriptor.

To FACT-VPs themselves i would only like to say this. Read more, talk less, and practice writing even lesser. Get some female editors and ask their advice on writing as well as how (and why) not to grope in elevators. When confident, try to ask someone to read a precis you wrote and accept her feedback like a man. Who knows, you may get a few paragraphs worthy soon. Once you do, trust me, you will have better things to do than just rant.

Good luck, so long as you don't shower your ill-luck, of unsolicited rant on the unsuspecting.

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