An Open Letter to Prof Makarand Paranjape

Guest post by SHOURJENDRA NATH MUKHERJEE

Please note that this response was first sent to Swarajya Mag, where Prof Paranjpe’s Open letter appeared, but was not published. It was then sent to Kafila.

Dear Prof Paranjape

I am Shourjendra, an MPhil research scholar in the Department of History, DU. I write this letter as a rejoinder to your open letter in response to Maitreyee Shukla. Your open letter was not addressed to me and therefore you can feel free to not reply to my letter.

You sir, seem to reflect a lot of the opinions expressed very strongly by a section of the urban middle classes. Granted, these views are by their very nature not ‘fascist’ but nonetheless they help perpetuate and legitimate the regime in power. You are also one of the most eminent academicians to have sought to engage in these raging debates in the public sphere, and I very strongly appreciate you for this. Your open letter is one such statement and I would like to take this up as an opportunity to critically engage with some of the issues that you have raised. (Since, your statements are mostly uncritical appreciation and endorsement of these ideas, I would regard your statements as statements made by an academician who has paused to think academically.)

In this letter I want to try to deconstruct and contextualise your arguments to  understand them better, and to provide some answers (not necessarily favourable) to the points that you have raised. My open letter to you is as much an academic exercise for me as it is political.

The root of your concern is, “how these vulnerable young women and men are being used by political parties for their own purposes”. You have said, “…so when you say that the entire student movement as manufacturers of discontent, surely you have not understood me. The manufacturers of discontent may be forces far more sinister, using gullible, idealistic and impressionable students for their own purposes.” Basically you are saying that the movement is not manufacturing discontent but it is, itself the manufactured discontent. Manufactured, by the ‘Left’ forces.

Firstly, your argument doesn’t allow the space to the students to have any agency of their own. When you say ‘they are being used’, you erase the space for any kind of agency in the very construction of your sentences. The position from within which this kind of an argument can be made is quite disturbing to say the least. Using words like ‘brainwashed’ and ‘used’ betrays the lack of willingness to recognise, the students as active participants in their own political movement. It also suggests an unwillingness to engage with the actual causes of this movement. This unwillingness, then is a political statement which you are making.

Secondly, you seem to suggest that the participants of this movement have all ‘Leftist’ leanings. This is a myth which needs to be conclusively deconstructed and publicly buried. The movement is not and had never been limited to JNU nor to the Leftist parties. It has been a spontaneous movement of students from every kind of universities against fascist forces. How will your ‘brainwash’ thesis work outside JNU? Students from IITs, AIMS, DU, JNU, HCU, Ambedkar University, Jamia, BHU, IP University, South East Asian University and many more have participated in the movement. Are all these students, supporters of left parties? I for myself have never been a part of any party. If you had come to any protest march you would have actually realised that 90% of the participants are not part of any party organisation. And a majority of them are even critical of left politics.

Your primary concerns are followed by other concerns, such as a defence of your stance on beef eating. The first thing that struck me was your example of pork and Kashmir. The issue of pork being actually raised by Maitreyee. Kashmir’s example is striking. The question is what is the role of this example in your narrative strategy? To my mind it is doing two things. Firstly, it creates a binary opposite of beef eating within India. Secondly, this opposition is then used as an ethical deterrent against beef eating. I do agree with you that in a democracy the people should not hurt each other’s sentiments. I also believe that democracy is not about the choice of the majority, that would be majoritarianism. Democracy is, when the voice of the minority is listened to and negotiated with. You go on to say that the beef parties actually aim at dividing the society and are, “aim(ed) to offend, provoke, and attack those who are against cow slaughter. Now who are there targets? Mostly Hindus...” As I understand, you are also against ‘Hindu-phobia and Hindu-bashing’.

These beef parties needs to be contextualised. Did anyone hear of beef parties, 2 or 3 years back? The first party was organized only after the Dadri Lynchings. The idea is not to target Hindus but Hindutva. Dadri lynchings are not isolated incidents. The last one took place just a week back where students were beaten on the doubt of beef cooking. So what people now fear are not Hindus, but the political ideology of Hindutva. No one has asked the Hindus to eat beef. What is asked is, not to deny others the right to have it. The real issue at hand is not eating or not eating beef/pork. It is when things like these begin to be used as icons to define a nation and nationalism. A nation which is defined by icons, not by its citizens.

Next sir, you talk on the issue of Mahishasur. You said that, “as long as such worship is not intended to give offense but express alternate traditions, it is not objectionable. But when it is combined with abuse of Durga, then it is bound to create hatred and divide”. Is ‘abuse’, in practice not relative and contested? What may seem abusive to an upper cast Hindu, may actually be a very valid form of contestation for a dalit. A number of sociologists and historians have written on how ritual practices reproduce caste inequalities on a daily basis. Gyan Prakash has done that in his article, “Reproducing Inequalities: Spirit Cults and Labour relations in Colonial Eastern India.”

These rituals are extremely political. Therefore, when they are taken out of context for contestation, similar political statements are made in other ways, by those who are contesting. Calling Durga a seductress might be one of them. But the problem here is not that. It is the elevation of Durga into an image of national mother. You are supporting this wholeheartedly. What you are actually doing is  taking the space to contest caste oppression from the dalits. You are taking away discursive spaces of contestations in the construction of your own narrative.

Rohit Vemula was a Dalit who had to commit suicide. He is not just ‘any young person’. His suicide needs to be looked as the suicide of a dalit scholar. Nothing more. Nothing less. Your attempt to reduce the movement into an effort to capitalize on his death has been thoroughly criticized already. I would just ask, when you use the word ‘capitalize’ in a negative sense what is the positive binary to it? Answering this will reveal more on your idea of the other (positive) kind of political movements, which do not capitalize. Moreover, is there any means or mechanism to argue or show, when or how does a protest capitalize on the acts against which it is protesting? By using your logic, Gandhi was capitalizing on India’s unfreedom; Mandela was capitalizing on apartheid and so on. Is this a responsible comment to be made by a scholar of your stature?

Yet another serious argument you make is regarding the payment of taxes. You say that, “I merely said that middle class, taxpaying citizens ask why should they subsidize “anti-nationalism”. I didn’t say they were right or wrong, only that you can’t blame them for thinking this way.” You seem by these lines, to suggest that you are taking a neutral stand, but is that really what you are doing? The taxpaying citizens believe the things that are happening to be ‘anti national ‘and are therefore asking such questions. The idea of anti-nationalism then becomes the reason for the questions to be raised in the first place. Thus when you say that one can not blame them for thinking like this you are actually, by the very construction of your argument, accepting the questions asked and the reason for those question being asked.

You, quite intelligently tie up this argument with another argument about how, “to offer dissent in the name of poorest of the poor is a bad logic and even worst ethics on the part of essentially middle class students. This is merely to appropriate someone else’s victimhood for your own, some would say parasitical privilege.”  This line is the most interesting line in the entire letter. It is only here that you inadvertently give the students their agency back. We have come far away from the idea of manufactured discontent. Here the students are not brainwashed. They think, they understand how to appropriate someone else’ victimhood for their own privileges. But sadly, throughout your whole article, this is the only instance where students are not working only as a mindless mass. Thanks.

Sir, you say that you have talked to the domestic workers who have pointed out there objections to constant ‘politicking and sloganeering’. Your stand on separating academics from politics is not yours alone. You share this stand with many people, our HRD minister most importantly. This stand has also been thoroughly criticized and condemned. Hence, I would not talk about it in this letter.

In your response you have argued that, “these institutions (IIT’s and IIMs) also give research degrees, such as PHDs, even in social science.” You went on to say that, “there theses are far better than ours? That is because these schools are run more professionally, with greater academic accountability, and a better work culture.” This raises several critical questions like what is greater accountability and greater work culture? Does not participating in politics, in itself guarantees these qualities? Who and by what mechanisms can one not only define these qualities, but impose and judge on the basis of them? Most importantly, various departments, in universities like JNU and DU have contributed immensely towards the development of the respective disciplines. If Phds and Mphils from JNU are contributing more to the field, how are they qualitatively inferior?  Just to make myself clear I am not saying that IITs IIMs don’t contribute but I am saying that the contribution of social science departments in universities like JNU and DU is way more important in the shaping of the disciplines themselves. Such comment on your part in a public space is not only flawed but irresponsible and misleading for the people outside academics. Who should be responsible for misleading those who are not aware? Is it not ‘manufacturing of discontent’?

I also intend to question the very position from where such a binary between IITs and Universities are created. I have personally seen students from IITs and AIMS joining the protest marches. Of course they are a minority. But does this have to do with being a part of IIT/ IIM or being trained in a certain particular discipline?

History manifests in the society in many different ways. Every one has a history and everyone has a right over his/her history. It is the very basis of how individuals make sense of their identities. These identities can be of many kind, it can be national, gender, linguistic, caste based and so on. Accepting and responding from with in these identities is also a very political act. Every individual has to necessarily participate in this, and these types of histories form popular histories. Science students are not taught to question and deconstruct these processes. Social Science students are. Hence it is an extremely flawed and dubious way to use this kind of difference to create binaries between academic institutions. It is even more unethical to then link it up with dubious comments about work culture and academic accountability.

I think this is also the place to remind you that this movement is not only about JNU. Universities like DU charge a big amount as hostel fees. Which is directly correlated to economic factors. It has increased every year. It is the same with a lot of other universities. But still, you say “many JNU students can afford to pay more”. It is a very misleading idea. Income tax is based on individual income. If I am a JNU student, coming from the middle class who dines at 24×7 and studies in a coaching centre, my father and mother is already a part of the middle class and hence already paying their taxes. Thus they are already paying according to their ability.  But the student himself/herself is not earning. How can he/she afford to pay then?

What about to each according to his need part of your argument? Are the students being paid sufficiently for their research? From a personal experience I can tell you that going to the national archive from DU, North Campus, having lunch and then coming back takes around 200 Rs daily. That is 6000 Rs in a month. There are a lot of other expenses incurred in photocopying, buying stationary, eating regularly and so on. But I am being paid just Rs 5000. How am I going to do my research then? Clearly my research would not effect people outside academics directly. But you as an academician should have been the first one to understand it. Your statement falls completely flat.

Finally coming to the last section of the response where you have quoted Gandhi, where he said, “it will be your duty to tell the revolutionaries and everybody else that the freedom they want, or they think they want, is not to be obtained by killing people or doing violence, but by setting themselves right, and by becoming and remaining truly Indian.” I have personally found the idea of quoting very interesting. It helps, the person who is quoting to appropriate the original author/speaker’s authority, simultaneously being able to decontextualize, recontextualize and finally negate his/her original intent. No wonder why you have several quotes in your response. Coming back to the last quote by Gandhi, I don’t know how it can be applied in the present situation since no one is taking recourse to violence. No one is also claiming to be non or anti- Indian. Actually the very fight is against branding anyone as anti-Indian.

The movement is not about JNU, it is also not about ‘Father Marx’. I am not from JNU, I have never been a part of any political party. But does that also mean I cannot have my politics? What we are seeing is a nation wide spontaneous students’ movement against fascist forces. The major chunk of your response from the beginning has been to snatch the students of their agency. You have not only questioned their capacity to think independently but you are actually saying that they don’t even have the capacity to make sense of what they are thinking. You might also argue that I am also snatching away agency from the middle classes, when I say that, “they support and help fascist govt. without much critical thinking”. You can say that. I will respond to you if you say that. But not now.

I also wonder why you feel ‘othered’?  Because are you not on your own, otherizing yourself? Your discourse by its very logic makes you the other. You can think, students cant; you are independent; students are appropriated, your politics would make the educational space prosper; students, will bring ruin. Why do you blame ‘others’ for otherizing you then? To borrow your term, ‘naïveté’? Perhaps.

I was appalled by your response. It is to my mind, not your logical inconsistency but the failure of logic that is important. Most of your arguments are reductionist and flawed. But it is the irresponsibility with which they are made that disturbs me. We are at a time, when the entire student movement is being reduced to a Left front lead JNU movement by its critics to counter it. This, I think will be a timely intervention by someone without those labels.

Chastising anyone is not my intention. Drawing and redrawing boundaries is not my concern. These things are being taken care of, by people much more able than me. I am also not sure about the amount of authority which history can give. But one thing the discipline teaches all its students, is to ask questions. That was my intention here. I am sure that will be the intention of the historians who will write about these troubled times.

Regards,

Shourjendra N. Mukherjee

(Shourjendra N. Mukherjee is a history student from DU.)

15 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Prof Makarand Paranjape

  1. Prachi

    Dear Shourjendra,
    This is one of the finest responses i have read to an open letter. Very well timed, the way you have thoroughly dealt and criticised the response by Prof. Paranjape is brilliant.

  2. K SHESYU BABU

    In the furore of national and anti-national, anyone opposing ‘official’ ideas is branded ‘anti-national’ and /or ‘left’. But, what is ‘left’, when there are all shades of ‘left’ — from mainstream communist parties clamouring a place in Durga poojan in West Bengal to prosaic Maoists in the jungles. When the fanatics call anyone opposing Hinduism as ‘leftist’, most people who oppose Hinduism,hasten to say they are not ‘left’ oriented. This shows lack of courage? Leftist or left, in the absence of clear demarcation, has become a negative connotation and very few feel comfortable with the label ‘left’. This notion is effecting marguements must be heard regardless of one agrees or disagrees. Distressing problem with academicians as well as puritan political analystsis they are unwilling to entertain novel and unconventional ideas as they are unable to muster enough courage. obilisation of opposition forces. While those who support students demands may not be a ‘leftist’ to the core, they should not be ashamed to be called a ‘leftist’.
    Same way, if a Kashmiri or any other person argues that Kashmir should not be a part of India or never was it a part of India,(as Arundhati Roy said), why should he be looked upon as a terrorist or unpatriotic or anti-national? Why should his arguments not be heard? Why should one not be in favour of drinking all borders and vouch for a border less world? Such

  3. A fitting reply to Professor Makarand Paranjape, with all the flaws in his arguments duly exposed. Dr. Paranjape has offered convoluted arguments on the JNU affair and other issues like beef-eating and the worship of Mahishasur. Curious to know what his agenda could be… currying favour with the present dispensation at the centre is a definite possibility! Is he due for retirement shortly?

  4. method man

    Hello

    What I heard when I listened to Prof. Paranjape’s lecture and read his response to the open letter (both online) wasn’t so much a criticisms of the content of the protests at JNU and elsewhere, but seemingly a criticism of student protests, and of the admixture of politics and academics everwhere. It seems as if the current climate has just thrown up a stream of incidents where the political powers-that-be have mishandled protests by students, on confrontational and essentially ideological grounds.

    But here’s the thing: academic institutions by their very nature will always be hotbeds for political discussion. The questions that arose in my mind are (a) whether students must consider the long view while engaging in protests, and see their actions as having unintended consequences (in this case, the perceived victimisatision felt by durga worshippers and beef eaters) and (b) whether protests by students are “innocent” of a wider political agenda.

    I think you would yourself protest that student movements are part of the broader political firmament. But student leaders have also been deeply involved in the political agendas of their parent parties (most notably the ABVP/BJP and SFI/CPIM connections). I think it would be naive to isolate student movements, and I think protests to the contrary (both by right-wingers and left-wingers) would be seen as disingenuous. Student movements must accept that they have lost the right to call themselves movements that address issues felt by students when convenient, and then act as if they’re part of a political power structure. They must either drop one or the other, or at least be willing to admit their biases.

    As to the other issue, of whether protests should be ‘responsible’ in their inten… I am conflicted, and would like to hear others’ views. On the one hand, freedom of speech cannot be constrained on such flimsy grounds as “hurt sentiments”. And students, like any other group, should be allowed to protest on any issue that they feel fit. On the other hand, some protests do seem instrumental rather than aimed at some sort of real result. In the case of the JNU/HCU affair, they could be seen as ideological disagreements about freedom of expression/nationalism/sedition/azaadi/caste relations/student rights/the autonomy of universities. But as I see it, these issues bleed into political conflicts on campus between entrenched political parties, one-upmanship, and the creation of “martyrs” to rally the troops. Surely both sides have a responsibility to consider whether they’re not using these events as part of a larger game? Personally, I would think protest is best reserved for use against a power that has been established to be intransigent and unwilling to engage, rather than being pulled out as the first intervention (seemingly to show political strength/commitment and strengthen negotiating positions). I know that these have been the bases of almost every political protest I have been a part of (though my knowledge is limited). For example, my alma mater tried to tag onto the Youth for Equality bandwagon because the students union felt that a show of strength was in order (for their own internal needs). More recently, I’ve seen organizations provide “dalit” cover to protests about hairy issues of competence and academic misconduct (in this case, I’m not aware of all the facts, but from what I know, everyone involved comes out looking bad).

    And that academics’ political views do connect with clientilistic relationships with their students, and that they can often allow their political views to influence their academic duties, is something that it would be foolish to deny. What we need is a system that’s robust to these, rather than declaring that individual academics do manage to rise above these.

    On a personal level, two issues I’d like to raise with you, the author. One, stipends are to be seen as support for your research, not funding that covers 100% of your research costs (if so, they would best be governed by a reimbursement of your bills). so the Rs. 5000, which covers nearly 85% of your research costs, seems quite liberal, seen through that prism. Is it enough? that’s an entirely different debate, and one that should be argued on facts.

    Secondly, if you’re referring to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, that’s usually abbreviated to AIIMS, rather than AIMS. I’m unsure whether that’s the one you’re referring to, although I do know friends from AIIMS who were part of the JNU protests.

  5. Sreejith

    I have not read Prof. Paranjape’s letter. So, my response will be on the basis of what I understood from reading this article. You are right; the general student unrest is not coordinated by the Left political movement. How I wish it were? And this is where it defeats itself. The way it has panned out through media, it looks as if JNU, HCU and other academic institutions were a haven of free thought, was free of casteist and religious discrimination, until the BJP came to power. I beg to differ. It was not. These problems had existed in our universities long before BJP came to power. Unfortunately, all that I see in activities such as observing Afzal Guru day, beef mela, Mahishasur Jayanti where Durga is a seductress, are attempts to provoke the right-wing fundamentalists, to foment violence, thereby claiming victimhood. I can understand Dalit reinterpretation of popular mythology, but why offend another religion (assuming that Dalits prefer to identify with Buddhism)? I can understand an individual’s right of choice to determine what his cuisine should be. But beef ban was put in place by state governments and while it works in Maharashtra, it doesn’t work in Kerala. So, why blame the central government for it? Throughout the UPA regime, my understanding was that law and order was under the control of the states. Did it change after BJP came to power? Barring Delhi, isn’t law and order still a state responsibility? Shouldn’t the SP government in UP be considered responsible for not being able to prevent Dadri lynching? I will be happy to see Dalits being empowered with education, and not being discriminated against. I will be happy to see a Kashmir with relevant number of paramilitary and police forces, where no more unmarked graves are dug (I would still condemn militancy). I would be happy to see every individual eat food of his/her own preference, with dogs, snakes, beetles and birds(for some people from Northeast), pork (for the non-Muslims) and beef (for the non-Hindus) being readily and freely available for consumption (and liquor too. I condemn attempts to ban liquor as well). Unfortunately, I feel that the current student unrest, apart from sloganeering and trying to tarnish the central government (which they deserve), is not focused on the issues. I feel that even Kanhaiya Kumar, who started his protests in favour of Kashmir’s ‘azaadi’, redefined it as ‘azaadi within India’ once he was out on bail. If the Indian Left had the ideological strength that it once had in the past, if they were able to generate public opinion through grassroot activities and education as they used to in the past, this student movement would definitely have had better direction, focus and coordination; and probably better results too.

    1. Nivedita Menon

      Sreejith, you say – “I have not read Prof. Paranjape’s letter. So, my response will be on the basis of what I understood from reading this article” But you could have read Prof Paranjpe’s Open Letter at the link given in the first sentence of the post. I don’t understand the compulsion to comment before bothering to read the debate fully.
      Two – you say “Kanhaiya Kumar, who started his protests in favour of Kashmir’s ‘azaadi’, redefined it as ‘azaadi within India’ once he was out on bail.” Not true, again. If you would follow what the sequence of events actually was, and not rely on Times Now and Zee News’s doctored videos, you would know that Kanhaiya Kumar is not part of the student organization that organized the event of February 9th, that he arrived at the event only when the ABVP started (pre-planned) trouble, and that the organization that he does belong to, AISF, which is linked to CPI, does in fact hold that “Kashmir is an integral part of India.”
      If you are going to repeat their lies, I am forced to correct them.

      1. Sreejith

        Dear Prof. Menon, I apologise for the errors in details. Let me summarise my unhappiness in as few words as possible. I’m unhappy that there are only knee-jerk political reactions, which are equally short-lived, from the student community (and Left-wing political groups as well). This unhappiness is not generated out of only the current sorry state of affairs in the Left front. I have witnessed it deterioration at close quarters during my own student days and thereafter. What I would love to see is more of dedicated grass-root-level action and education from the Left-wing (remember 50s and 60s of Kerala), rather than joining the mahaghathbandhan bandwagon. It’s more of this frustration that made me write this response, rather than an interest in debating about Shourjendra’s article. Once again, apologies for the errors in details, I wish to look at the bigger picture.

  6. K Shesyu Babu, you are right. There is no, one monolithic ‘left’. You are also right that anyone who opposes the official ideas are branded red. I have argued exactly against this kind of branding. But I would disagree with you, that a lot of people say that they are not leftist because of lack of courage. Maybe, they just do not subscribe to any of the various strands within the political left. Yes, definitely no one should be ashamed to be called a ‘leftist’, but if there are a lot of people who do not consider themselves leftist, how can they be termed as leftist? In doing so, you are doing the same thing of branding everyone a leftist and reducing it only to a left dominated movement. But the movement to my mind is much more inclusive and that’s the way it should be.

  7. Palash

    Shourjendra
    Firstly I’d like to compliment you on the meticulity and skill with which you have deconstructed and contested the arguments made by Prof. Paranjape. It speaks volumes about your skills as a debator.
    However, I do differ with you a little. You claim that the movement is inclusive and accomodates all kinds of thoughts. As I see it, the movement in its present state accomodates only the voices which are only slughtly dissenting, what I call ‘the mainstream dissent’ ( no, it is not an oxymoron). But what about the radical ideas ? Don’t they also deserve space in a movement which is essentially about the right to have an opinion ? In my opinion, Kanhaiya Kumar reduced the scope of the movement when he said that he wants ‘bharat mein azadi’ and not ‘bharat se azadi’ but did not bother to talk about the rights of those who actually want ‘bharat se azadi’ for Kashmir. His friend Umar Khalid believes in the self determination of Kashmiris. He also reiterated his stand at the India Today Conclave that he believes Kashmir to be an integral part of India again not bothering to say that those who hold contrary views also have the right to express them. Thus in my mind the movement needs to widen. In a democracy we not only have the right to hold opinions different from those in power but also to have views contrary to the majority of the population i.e. controversial opinions.

    1. Sreejith

      Dear Palash, you summarized my point in a much better fashion than I could have done. The “dissenters” are not “dissenting” on the basis of an ideology or an ethical stand-point. Rather, their “dissent” is conditioned by what is to be considered as “fashionable” or “marketable”. In the current context – just being anti-Sangh Parivar is good enough.

      It’s also quite saddening that Kafila, which paid a lot of attention to JNU, HCU and other Universities, never bothered to comment on NIT Srinagar. So, majoritarian violence becomes condemnable only when it’s pursued by ABVP/BJP. Quite saddening!

      1. Nivedita Menon

        Sreejith, you express sorrow that Kafila does not pay attention to what happened at NIT Srinagar, and you term it as majoritarian violence. On the contrary, what I see at any rate, is a concerted campaign all over the country to make cricket matches the flashpoint of pre-planned violence, coordinated by the RSS machinery. In how many places did you hear reports of flag burning, cheering when india lost etc, supposedly by Muslim students, especially Kashmiris? How many of these stories were accompanied by any evidence whatsoever? The same students who were falsely accused of “cooking beef” in one institution were found to be out of town that weekend, and the next thing you know, they have been “found” chanting anti-India slogans/burning flags/cheering India’s defeat in the match!
        In Delhi, the incident of road rage in which a dentist was killed by a group from a neighbouring slum was sought to be given the same communal colour, including linking it to the India Bangladesh match by the RSS rumour machine. The brave young police officer who exposed this lie, showing that it was nothing to do with religious identities, faced vicious trolling.
        In my opinion all cricket matches should be banned until the RSS stops using them for their riot manufacturing.
        The truth of NIT Srinagar and the role of ABVP there, is yet t be exposed.

    2. Thanks Palash, for your complements. The questions you raise here are very important. I have also thought about these question at length. I would still say that the movement is inclusive, and I will tell you why.
      The movement started as a student’s movement. But it got support from a much wider community of teachers, lawyers, ex-army officers, civil right activists and so on. It is a spontaneous movement. This spontaneity is its strength. The movement lacks any formal organisation. Hence, it doesn’t have an organisational limit. I can publicly say that I am a part of this movement and speak for it, without anyone telling me that since i disagree with him/her, I am not its part.
      I do not agree with Kanhaiya in a lot of issues. In some issues, I actually might find myself in opposition to him. Kanhaiya as an individual is limited by his party line, but the movement is definitely not. I remember that, Prof Menon, in her lecture at the Freedom Square clearly spoke in favour of rights of a people to self determination. Personally I would strongly support such a right too.
      Like you said, Umar believes in self determination of Kashmiris, Kanhaiya does not, yet they are part of the same movement. But I agree, it needs to widen itself. Any movement, worth the name should continuously try to widen itself.

      1. Shiela Choudhri

        Shourjendra, what worries me is that you- a budding historian- conceded victory to your interlocutor, a Professor of Literature, ab ovo, by invoking a Derridaesque notion of deconstruction which rendered your own pronunciamentos amphibolous and subversive to your own cause.
        Let me be clear- a Historian, like Foucauld, has a notion of ‘Crisis’ which conditions ‘parrhesia’. Literary Theory, however, has a notion of ‘Lysis’ as in that pederastic Platonic dialogue which judges ‘proof’ to be either apophatic or destructive of its own argument.

        There are people like Rohith Wanchoo who understand this very well. Indeed, I am no doubt plagiarising him, to some extent, on the basis of a conversation back in 1982!

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