Category Archives: Debates

Thoughts on the AAP’s Hindu Gestures from Kerala’s History

I have been reading with interest the exchange between Aditya Nigam and Satish Deshpande on the AAP’s strategy of avoiding ‘politics’ – or rather, distancing itself mostly from the polarised ideological debates while making small moves to shape for itself a space, arguably fuzzy, in the hegemonic discourse of Hindu. I am also witness to the unbelievably egregious attacks by the CPM leadership in Kerala against Islamist organizations protesting the CAA — the free reign granted to an explicitly communalised police force, the appallingly soft treatment of Hindutva offenders, even when they make open threats that warn Malayalis to ‘remember Gujarat’, the wanton attack on internal dissidents in the CPM using the worst instruments of the security states such as the UAPA, and the threat to dismantle the pandal of the Shaheen Bagh solidarity satyagraha in Thiruvananthapuram, something even Amit Shah has not dared to do (thankfully withdrawn after public outrage), and its blatant caste-elite majoritarian thrust while claiming to be the (sole) guardians of secularism. Continue reading Thoughts on the AAP’s Hindu Gestures from Kerala’s History

Lessons from Ambedkar and Gandhi to take forward

They represented two foundational but antagonistic visions of “what we as a society, what we as a state should embody”

( Review of ‘Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and The Risk of Democracy’ By Aishwary Kumar Navayana, Rs 599)

The book, Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and the Risk of Democracy by Aishwary Kumar, takes forward the conversation around the two “most formidable non-Western thinkers of the twentieth century, whose visions of moral and political life have left the deepest imprints”.

In the early 1990s D.R. Nagaraj published The Flaming Feet, a compilation of his essays in which he admired both Gandhi and Ambedkar. Coming close on the heels of the phenomenon of Dalit assertion, it argued that “there is a compelling necessity to achieve a synthesis of the two”. But that has not been the only attempt to examine how the ideas of these two leaders interacted, challenged each other, and how they extended or revisited the meanings of different concepts.

The book, Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and the Risk of Democracy by Aishwary Kumar, takes forward the conversation around the two “most formidable non-Western thinkers of the twentieth century, whose visions of moral and political life have left the deepest imprints”. For the author they “exemplified two incommensurable ways of forging a relationship between sovereignty and justice, force and disobedience”, or represented two foundational but antagonistic visions of “what we as a society, what we as a state should embody”.

Focusing mainly on Hind Swaraj — a monograph written by Gandhi on a ship to South Africa from London (1909) — and Annihilation of Caste, which happens to be the undelivered speech by Dr Ambedkar when he was invited by the Jat Pat Todak Mandal, Lahore (1936) — the organization rescinded the invite when it came across the ‘radical’ proposals he had put forward in the draft — this around 400-page book discerns “an insurrectionary element at the limit of politics” in the works of these two stalwarts. It is “an insurrection that sought to extract the political itself — and the social question — from the doctrinal prescriptions and certitude of its European past”

( Read the full text here : https://www.telegraphindia.com/culture/books/lessons-from-ambedkar-and-gandhi-to-take-forward/cid/1747042?ref=books_culture-books-page)

Apropos AAP Victory in Delhi: Satish Deshpande Responds

Guest post by SATISH DESHPANDE

[This post responds to the piece by Aditya Nigam on Kafila last week, which was partially in response to pieces by Satish Deshpande and Apoorvanand.]

Thanks for your response, which (despite its tone 😊) helps to underline the seriousness of our broader predicament today.

I readily concede that my article was not sufficiently respectful of AAP’s major achievement in winning a second landslide against heavy odds.  But I do not think – as you seem to do – that this lack of respect (even if it was ungenerous) was without any justification whatsoever.

The article expresses my frustration at the fact (yes, this is a fact and not just my opinion) that the most effective and astute non-BJP political party around today chose not to use even a small fraction of its proven on-the-ground capabilities to counter the poison being spewed daily.  I have no prescription to offer AAP, and I don’t know why you think I do – where have I said that or even implied it?  Though I had no specific acts in mind (such as AK visiting Shaheen Bagh, etc.) I did expect AAP to do something (in its own unique way) to take back at least an inch or two of the political ground that is being ceded every day.

Continue reading Apropos AAP Victory in Delhi: Satish Deshpande Responds

Towards BJP’s Hindutva Lite Template

BJP’s Delhi campaign was not divisive by sanyog or coincidence. That is its prayog or experiment. Which it will take to other elections.

BJP’s Delhi campaign was not divisive by sanyog

Kitney aadmi thhe—how many were there?

A meme based on this famous monologue from the highly successful film, Sholay (Embers), from the early seventies, started trending when “David” Kejriwal, leader of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), defeated “Goliath” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Delhi’s recent Assembly elections.

No doubt this election’s result has put paid to the efforts of Home Minister Amit Shah to retain his image as “Chanakya” of Indian politics, at least for now. The result is despite BJP’s desperate attempts to win Delhi, as part of which pulled chief ministers, former chief ministers, cabinet ministers and more than 240 Members of Parliament to campaign in the city. Blame it on the high stakes battle that allegations surfaced that they had distributed cash and liquor ahead of the polls.

The result is for everyone to see.

The most toxic electoral campaign, perhaps ever, in which leaders of the ruling dispensation even provoked violence through their hate speeches, did not work. The BJP’s seat tally rose by merely five and a bloody nose.

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/Towards-BJP-Hindutva-Lite-Template)

Winning Delhi Elections – AAP, Gandhi and the Ideology Wars

 

What has Gandhi got to do with the recently concluded elections in Delhi? On the face of it nothing. But at another level, the election process, its campaign and its results – all invite us to revisit Gandhi’s stupendous moral-political project of cementing the Hindu-Muslim division with his own blood and his heroic failure. He could not prevent the Partition and ultimately fell to the bullets of a fanatic Hindu nationalist of the kind who are in power today.

I remember Gandhi today because gung-ho secularists (the political community that I inhabit, if very uncomfortably) are once again at their favourite occupation of daring Arvind Kejriwal and AAP to ‘prove’ their ‘anti-communal stance’ and all that it can mean today – as though they alone have the talisman to fight communalism. I am reminded of Gandhi because his was by far the most audacious  attempt to fight the communal menace but he too had no readymade answers to it.

Secular warrriors have been basically daring Kejriwal and AAP to do and say things that he had been avoiding doing or saying all these days. Just two instances – of the quotes below from two dear friends – should suffice to indicate what I mean.  The first is from Apoorvanand, writing in the Business Standard,

‘Voters in Delhi were confident that the AAP victory in the assembly elections wouldn’t so much as serve as an irritant to the BJP, let alone rock its boat, as the saffron outfit was firmly and safely ensconced in power. An efficient delivery boy is all the electorate wanted. In the Delhi voters mindset, an ideology-agnostic party that does not impede the BJP’s nationalist drive is tolerable.’

Continue reading Winning Delhi Elections – AAP, Gandhi and the Ideology Wars

Why Pakistan’s Islamists Don’t Want India’s CAA Repealed

Of all reasons to oppose CAA, NPR and NRC, most worrying is the Islamists across the borders feeling enthused.

Anti CAA Protest in India

Seattle City Council, one of the most powerful city councils in the United States, recently made history. It became the world’s first elected body to pass a resolution asking the Indian government to repeal the CAA, stop the National Register of Citizens and uphold the Indian Constitution. It also sought ratification of United Nations treaties on refugees. The said resolution is being seen to be “leading the moral consensus in the global outcry against the CAA”.

Seattle is definitely not an exception.

Many concerned voices have spoken against the highly controversial discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019, which excludes Muslims [and Jews] and enforces a selective citizenship criteria based on faith. This new law effectively reduces the status of millions of Muslims in India to illegal migrants. A similar resolution was tabled by members of the European Union Parliament last month. It stands postponed right now, but that will be a short reprieve, for the members have resolved to take it up again shortly.

For the first time in independent India’s history the Indian diaspora—which is normally projected as pro-Prime Minister Narendra Modi and which does participate in rallies in his support—has been protesting against the bill along with Indian students studying in the West. These protests have been going on for close to two months in different cities and towns in different cities in the West.

Couple this development with the resistance within the country spreading to new areas and broadening to include more sections of society, as people gradually wake up to the CAA’s grim portents. Definitely, there is growing discomfort against the Modi-Shah regime. Perhaps it is a sign of desperation that in order to legitimise this law the government has been peddling half-truths even in Parliament. Prime Minister Modi quoted selectively from the Nehru-Liaquat pact to buttress his case. He used the same Nehru-Bordoloi letter to defend the CAA, which his party had earlier used to slam the Congress. Gopinath Bordoloi was the first Chief Minister of Assam after Independence.

( Read the full text here : https://www.newsclick.in/why-pakistans-islamists-dont-want-indias-caa-repealed)

Gandhi and the Hindutva Right

From Nehru to Patel and Ambedkar, the saffron party has appropriated freedom-fighters or tarnished legacies. Gandhi, however, poses a different problem.

Why BJP’s Subjugation of Gandhi

Death ends all enmity’ (Marnanti Vairani) goes a maxim in Hinduism.

The story also goes that when Ravana was on death bed, Ram had even asked Laxman to go to him and learn something which no other person except a great scholar like him could teach him, declaring that though he has been forced to punish him for his terrible crime, ‘you are no more my enemy’.

It is a different matter that Hindutva supremacists — who are keen ‘to transform Hinduism from a variety of religious practices into a consolidated ethnic identity’ — are believers in the exact opposite.

For them, once the enemy is dead, the enmity flares up without any limits. They have no qualms that their adversary is no more to defend himself/ herself.

It has been more than five and half years that they are in power at the Centre and we have been witness to complete vilification, demonisation and obfuscation of many of their adversaries, all great leaders of the anti-colonial struggle. Of course, few were found to be ‘lucky’ enough that were promptly co-opted/appropriated by them, of course, in a sanitised form.

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/BJP-Subjugation-Gandhi-Legacy-Roadblock-Shaheen-Bagh