The Indian Constitution too was Demolished Along With Babri Masjid 25 Years Ago

Twenty five years ago, on 6 December 1992, the structure of Babri Masjid was brought down by a mob of vandals, presided over by the top leadership of the BJP/RSS/VHP, as the Congress government led by prime minister Narasimha Rao looked on benignly. As did the Supreme Court before which a commitment was made by the Kalyan Singh (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh – to the effect that nothing would be allowed to happen to the structure of the mosque.

Journalist Sajeda Momin, covering the demolition, recalls the scene thus,

I can still see the thousands of saffron-clad ‘kar sevaks’ clambering atop the 16th century mosque and pounding it with shovels, iron rods, pickaxes and anything they could lay their hands on. I can hear the screeching of Sadhvi Uma Bharti egging them on shouting “ek dhakka aur do, Babri Masjid tod do” through the microphones from atop the specially-built watchtower for the BJP/RSS/VHP leadership. I can visualize the three domes of the mosque collapsing inwards one by one at intervals of roughly an hour on that cold, wintery Sunday afternoon.

Everyone knew who were the dramatis personae at each level – and practically every bit of evidence that would ever have been required exists, captured in videos and photographs. Our present prime minister was said to be  one of the key organizers of the of the Rath Yatra that led up to the demolition and can be seen holding the microphone in his  hands in the photograph below.

Rath Yatra – precursor to the demolition, image courtesy Quora.com

Worse was to follow the demolition. The  demolition of the structure of the mosque was over that day but the process of the demolition of the Indian Constitution that had begun with what was called the ‘Ram janmabhoomi movement’ continued. By ‘Constitution’ I do not simply mean the book that embodies the law of the land but rather the very weave that came to constitute Indian society as a result of the new contract that the document called the Constitution embodied. Constitution, therefore in a triple sense. The document called the Constitution too was not merely a book of laws; it was rather, the only existing, largely agreed upon, vision of a modern India. It was a vision which was put in place through the long process of struggles, debates and contestations over the long decades of the anticolonial movement and finally given shape in, in the Constituent Assembly. There was nothing benign or innocuous about it – every bit of it had to be achieved through a fight. And yet, in the end, that was the document that embodied the vision of modern India. The only political current that stood far away from both the anticolonial struggle and had no role in the creation of this vision is the political force that rules India today.

The RSS and its numerous offshoots were neither fighting the British nor joining in the anti-caste and anti-untouchability struggles through the period since they came into existence in the mid-1920s. No wonder leaders of the Sangh combine think the anti-colonial/ national struggle was about cow-protection. That they neither subscribed to the anti-British agenda nor to the anti-caste agenda around which struggles of that period took shape, is not just a matter of historical record but is also visible in the way its leaders and ranks conduct their politics today. Every single step taken by the Sangh leaders is a step out of sync with the vision of the future spelt out by the social contract of modern India. That the Sangh attributes this vision to the Congress is an expression of its own illiteracy about the diverse forces in struggle throughout that period.

Even though it is conducted in the name of Hindus, there is nothing ‘Hindu’ about its agenda. Sangh and Sanghism is the name of a malignant political machine that seeks to destroy the very body of society in the name of an ancient past. That is the political machine we confront today. That is the political machine that we must fight today with all our vigour.

What’s in a Name? The Demolition of ‘Babri Masjid’, the Name and the Mosque: Hilal Ahmed

Babri-Masjid – Before the Demolition, image courtesy Tehelka.com

The gradual erasure of the words ‘Babri Masjid’ from our everyday memory actually began in 1986, when the Hindu community was granted the exclusive right to worship there. This happened without any regard ownership disputes the and illegal conversion of this mosque into a temple in 1949.

This story of the dispute itself is disputable. It is imperative to revisit three interesting moments, which no one talks of these days.

The 1949 moment

On the night of 23 December 1949, a group of local Hindus entered the mosque and installed the idols of Lord Ram inside it. Although the police filed an FIR in which the building is clearly defined as a functional mosque, the local administration took charge of the building, and without removing the idols from the mosque space, declared it a legally “disputed site”. Read the full article here

 

‘Revolution against Das Kapital’ and the ‘Lonely Hour of the Economy’

This is a modified version of the article that was published earlier in The Wire

(T)he economic dialectic is never active in the pure state; in History, these instances, the superstructures etc – are never seen to step respectfully aside when their work is done or, when the Time comes, as his pure phenomena, to scatter before His Majesty the Economy as he strides along the royal road of the Dialectic. From the first moment to the last, the lonely hour of the ‘last instance’ never comes. – Louis Althusser, For Marx, London: Verso 1979, p. 113

The event known to the world as the ‘October’ revolution in Russia – or simply as the ‘Russian revolution’ – took place on 7-8 November, a hundred years ago. But then why call it the October revolution? Thereby hangs a tale – the tale of modernity, myth-making and of a new imagination of Time.

The moment of revolution, image courtesy libcom.org
The moment of revolution, image courtesy libcom.org

As a matter of fact, the Revolution occurred on 25-26 October, according to the Julian calendar (so called because it had been promulgated by Julius Caesar), which Russia, along with a large part of the Western world, followed at that time. It was only in January 1918 that the Soviet government decreed the shift to the Gregorian calendar. The reason was that Russia should join ‘all cultured nations in counting time’, as a decree cited by historian Mark Steinberg put it. Accordingly, the first anniversary of the revolution was celebrated on 7 November 1918 throughout the Soviet Union.

What is interesting here is not so much the shift but the reason assigned for it – joining other ‘cultured nations’ of the world, which in the language of the early twentieth century meant only one thing – the modern West, which had long been setting the norm for everything desirable. Ways of ‘counting time’ too had to be aligned with Europe, lest one be considered insufficiently modern. Spatially, the Czarist Russian empire straddled both Europe and Asia, which had already, in the new reckoning of Time, been cast as ‘advanced’ and ‘backward’ respectively. The desire to become modern and join the ‘cultured nations’ was to run through the history of the revolution and its consolidation into the new Stalinist state. This desire was to be manifested in its deep distrust of the peasantry and rural life on the one hand, and in the frenetic drive to ‘catch up’ with Western Europe. As Stalin would say, he wanted to accomplish in a couple of decades what Europe had in a few centuries, compressing time, as it were, into one dizzying experience for entire society. The continuing ‘past’ had to be annihilated.

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Revoke NSA Charges against Chandrashekhar of Bhim Army: Committee for the Defense of Bhim Army

The Committee for the Defense of Bhim Army has released the following statement against framing of Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ under NSA

Committee for the Defense of Bhim Army

 

#StandWithChandrashekharAzad

 

PRESS RELEASE

4 November 2017

The Committee for the Defense of Bhim Army (CDBA) expresses it shock at the act of the Uttar Pradesh government and the Saharanpur district administration in slapping charges under the National Security Act on Bhim Army founder President Chandrashekhar.

It is telling that the NSA was slapped against Chandrashekhar after the Allahabad High Court gave him bail on 2 November after a long legal battle. The High Court had observed while granting bail to Chandrashekhar and three other Bhim Army activists that the charges were politically motivated.

It appears that the decision of the district administration to book Chandrashekhar under NSA was taken a long time back and the government and local administration were keeping their options open about when exactly to move in this direction. Around 6-7 September, Chandrashekhar had already written about this in a hand-written letter from prison, addressed to his comrades, friends and well wishers of the Bhim Army. He had mentioned that he had learnt from sources in the jail that the administration (and state government) did not want him to fight for his bail, and if he did, they would book him under NSA. This information and Chandrashekhar’s letter was shared by the CDBA in its press conference held in Press Club, in New Delhi on 12 September 2017.

The decision to invoke the NSA now, immediately after Chandrashekhar and others were granted bail by the High Court proves that the information put out by Chandrashekhar in early September was correct and that the decision is mala fide.

We consider that the UP government and the district administration is invoking the NSA to delay, if not actually circumvent the judicial process and thus keep Chandrashekhar in prison as long as possible – even though they know that these charges cannot be sustained in the court of law.

This step by the Yogi Adityanath government, we believe, is in keeping with its consistently anti-Dalit attitude and its attempts to keep its upper caste support intact. The increasing attacks on Dalits with complete impunity has, in fact, now become a hallmark of BJP governments everywhere in the country.

The Committee for the Defense of Bhim Army calls upon all democratic forces to raise their voice against this monstrous decision to frame Chandrashekhar. The attack on Bhim Army and Chandrashekhar and his comrades is an attack on the very principles of democracy and the rule of law and it is of utmost importance that voices across the board join in opposing this act of the UP government and its Saharanpur district administration.

 

Sanjeev Mathur                                Pradeep Narwal                    Praveen Verma

Coordinators, Committee for the Defense of Bhim Army

Failings Foretold – Reflections on the Unreflective Masculinity in the Time of the List: R Srivatsan

Guest post by  R. SRIVATSAN

It is with a recognition of a failing foretold that I read the different posts, letters and conversations around the list (the unmistakable one today).  That one’s teachers, seniors, peers and respected fellow academics have been named as having sexually harassed women cannot be digested without trouble.  I struggled to comprehend what had happened and went through all the emotions of denial and outrage, followed by shock, acceptance and hopefully a slowly emerging wisdom.

It then came back to memory that I too have sexually harassed women on three occasions.  However, I was in anonymous situations which were not explicitly relationships of power or authority.  And I did withdraw an overture (or a pass, to call it out by its name) when rejected.  Perhaps I have been cautious in not letting my shenanigans come back from the past to bite me.  Or perhaps I cleverly chose occasions and situations that would not be traceable to me.  Also, most importantly, perhaps those women who could have named and shamed me have been kinder and gentler than I deserved.  Finally, if I were a successful teacher today, perhaps my name too would have been on the list.  This response is based on the recognition that I virtually am.

Continue reading “Failings Foretold – Reflections on the Unreflective Masculinity in the Time of the List: R Srivatsan”

Response to ‘From Feminazi to Savarna Rape Apologist in 24 hours’: Sayantan Datta

Guest post by SAYANTAN DATTA

 [Note- The author believes that the structure of language has mirrored the patriarchal structure of the society, and therefore they practices aungendering mechanism persynally by neutralizing gendered roots of some words.]

I write this from my persynal discomfort with Prof.Menon’s recent response – this, although situated in the ‘Name and Shame’ debate, doesn’t derive anything more than grounding from it; this response is based on what Prof. Menon writes in the blog, and my somewhat naïve, but absolutely honest thoughts about it.

Firstly, I would like to myntion my constant and almost stagnant disapproval of how our loci as feminists are suddenly becoming one of legal negotiation – I refuse to engage in such a form of reimagining of feminism that, as she duly points out, has taken decades to strengthen its voice. She, in her response, points at ‘an atmosphere in which Indian courts are increasingly referring to ‘false’ complaints of domestic violence, and ‘misuse’ of rape laws, it is incumbent upon feminists to establish to the extent possible, context and explanation around our claims of sexual harassment’.

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Against the De-politicization of Mental Health- Harassment is Not a Myth: Simple Rajrah

Guest post by SIMPLE RAJRAH

This article is written in response to the article Activism as a blue whale challenge by Manu Joseph that first appeared in Livemint.

“Our love is constructed. Our beliefs colored. Our originality valid through artificial art. It has become truly difficult to love without getting hurt”

Dalit Scholar Rohith Vemula, who was institutionally murdered.

Often academic interests die a quiet death due to crassly political reasons but they die yet again, due to non-recognition and to their relentless reduction to the apolitical. Much as there must be emphasis on seeking solutions to the troubles that humanity is facing, it cannot be ignored that reducing the ‘root’ cause of everything to the realm of ‘apolitical’ can be academically simplistic and politically dangerous.  And why must there be an obsession with relegating everything to the ‘apolitical’ domain? Why do journalists who continually work within political systems still consider depression to be something external to the sphere of politics? Why must there be academicians who discount historicity and complexity by equating violence with counter violence? And why, similarly, must there be politicians who condemn violence on ‘both sides’? Because, even a simple reading of the political should reveal its association with power, challenge its centralization, and more importantly the show up the invisibilization that generates hegemony.

Continue reading “Against the De-politicization of Mental Health- Harassment is Not a Myth: Simple Rajrah”