There are three kinds of people on this planet: those who admire Aakar Patel, those who resent him and those who haven't heard of him. The fourth kind is still in the making. For the beginners, he is someone who arouses attention more than anything else. Although his views are rigid at times, they don't vacillate like most other writers' do. If Destiny had a Child from a surrogate mother named Controversy, Aakar would be him. However, he's not the bad guy here.
Just that he simply doesn't give a damn about being the sugarcoating good guy who is liked by all. His writings throw light on topics we care not to discuss. Or too ashamed to even talk about. He presumptively owns an excellent nose that digs out subjects of mass digression. Be it on caste, religion, riots, regional identity, music, society, entertainment or just bare philosophy. It's pretty obvious that his sole intention is to bring forth the possibility that a mainstream columnist can and should write what has to written. And while doing so, he prefers to be honest to himself first and his readers, second—if not last. No surprise this journalistic idealism doesn't always get appreciated and often backfires because being the straightforward guy that he is, he rarely sees himself as the eyes of his beholders.
Yes, his articles sound drunk sometimes. But he punches his way through to the final round and delivers obscure inputs too. Over the years, there have been several contentions related to his columns, the most recent ones hovering over his decision to praise South India over North, not to forget that 'deplorable' article on Bollywood biggies and Sachin. Even his harmless conclusion that crowned the restless yet intellectual past of Kolkata over Mumbai's present didn't go too well with the public.
What people don't seem to get is the fact that India and the elements that make it an undivided country are distinctly divisive. And trying to homogenize those crumbs won't serve the purpose. 65 years is a blatant proof of that approach. At the most, it will procrastinate on the uncomfortable questions that needs to be asked whereby disgusting answers will start to flow. In simpler words, he's facilitating healthy discussions on the very platform that loves to kill time with words: Internet.
There is a spark of knowledge in this guy that masquerades as wisdom. He pretends as if he doesn't know the sort of impact his sentences have almost every weekend on the Twitter (a den prone to unnecessary outrages and trending topics). And to make matters sorrier, he doesn't even bother to be on the social media. After all, Dalai Lama and Pope tweet regularly! Aakar's not on Facebook either.
The reason why I'm writing this piece is not to be his mouthpiece. I haven't met him yet but I've heard a lot about him. Folks in my office who have worked with him have nothing but nice stuff to say about their former editor. He was known for his vision and uprightness. I feel that the so-called literate class of India is better off with somebody like him chiding our sagacity. His insights may occasionally appear biased but then so are ours, aren't they? Just because he refuses to take a middle path and decides to accompany his intuition doesn't make him an incompetent fool. On the contrary, i think an Aakar Patel who compels others to speak out their mind for a change is a must.