Category Archives: Debates

Arming Children, Securing a Future?

By distributing knives to meritorious children, organisations like the Hindu Mahasabha, are trying to give religious legitimacy to what is essentially a political use of faith.

Hindu Mahasabha distributing knives to children

Image courtesy: Twitter

What does an organisation do when it wants to congratulate meritorious students who have excelled in exams?

Reward them with some gifts, say, books, and (if finances allow) give them scholarships or laptops to facilitate their further studies. Definitely not gift them knives.

Well, Pooja Shakuni Pandey, the national secretary of Hindu Mahasabha, who had been making news for controversial reasons for more than a year, exactly did this on Savarkar Jayanti. This mathematics professor made it clear that she was not much interested in how they study further or what they wanted to become. With this knife distribution programme, along with a copy of Bhagwad Gita, she wanted to ‘create Hindu soldiers out of these children’ and it was basically a “[s]tep to motivate Hindus and empower them, especially the younger generation, with knives to protect themselves.”

( Read the complete text here : https://www.newsclick.in/Hindu-Mahasabha-Distributing-Knives-Meritorious-Children-Political-Use-of-Religion)

Dear Hitler

Why does Hitler’s legacy in India greatly differs from that in the West. More removed from the traumas associated with World War II and the Holocaust  

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..An innocent question sometimes comes up with very troubling answer(s).

J’admire ( I admire)… a simple exercise given to students to know from them whom they appreciate as a great historical figure or a hero, became a great learning experience for a teacher who taught French at a private school.

Writer and Journalist Dileep D’souza, who has authored many books, and writes on social-political causes shared the experience of his wife who posed the said question before them during a discussion. What she was expecting that they would mention Gandhi or Bhagat Singh or other luminaries of India’s struggle for freedom and progress but none of her predictions came true. There was a lone student whose choice was Mahatma Gandhi but nine out of 25 students in her class admired Hitler as hero or as a great historical figure. Continue reading Dear Hitler

Democracy as Majoritarianism

Extract from the Preface of  ‘Hindutva’s Second Coming’

Preface

Democracy as Majoritarianism

We can never forget that everything that Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal,’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did was ‘illegal.’ It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany, but I am sure that if I lived in Germany during that time I would have comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal… we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.
— Martin Luther King, Jr

What is the signature of democracy?

It is the understanding that minority voices will be allowed to flourish and they will not be bulldozed.
At the apparent level majoritarianism – rule by majority – sounds very similar to democracy but it essentially stands democracy on its head. For real democracy to thrive, it is essential that ideas and principles of secularism are at its core. The idea that there will be a clear separation between state and religion and there won’t be any discrimination on the basis of religion has to be its guiding principle.
Majoritarianism clearly defeats democracy in idea as well as practice.
While democracy’s metamorphosis into majoritarianism is a real danger, under rule of capital – especially its present phase of neoliberalism – another lurking danger is its evolution into what can be called as plutocracy – government by the rich.
As India enters the race for elections to the 17 th Lok Sabha, these are the two broad questions which are staring in everyone’s mind, whether the same dynamic – which has made the last five years as unique in Independent India’s history – will continue or we will witness a rupture.
It is a disturbing scenario when the biggest democracy in the world seems to have taken a ‘[Q]uantum Jump In Wrong Direction Since 2014’ (Amartya Sen) – prompting even the normally reticient community of scientists to ask people to reject the politics which ‘.[d]ivides us, creates fears, and marginalises a large fraction of our society’ and remind them that “[D]iversity is our democracy’s greatest strength; discrimination and non-inclusivity strike at its very foundation.’
Whether there would be further normalisation of majoritianism or ordinary people’s desire to live a more inclusive, egalitarian life and in a less toxic world would ultimately triumph the designs of the hatemongers and secondly, whether free run being given to the crony capitalists and moneybags would be over and ideas of redistribution would make a comeback with vengeance.
What has added a new dimension to this dynamic is the existence of a ‘self proclaimed cultural organisation’ called RSS – whose principles, ideology and activities contravene the very basis of Constitution – which is de facto ruling the country. It is an organisation whose principles “[d]epicting Indian nationalism in terms of the faith of the religious majority – have serious negative social and political implications for sections of the citizen-body and are in violation of the Constitution.” ( http://caravandaily.com/rss-principles-are-in-violation-of-constitution-detrimental-to-india-hamid-ansari/)
It was exactly 42 years back that Indian people defeated the attempts to throttle the democratic experiment by their united struggle, whether they would be we able to have an encore when more secretive, sinister and communal forces are on ascent who are also popular among a significant section of people.
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The central concern of the collection of essays (some of them published earlier and revised for this collection) presented here is this normalisation of majoritarianism which is taking place here. A situation where representation of the biggest religious minority in the outgoing Parliament had been at its lowest since independence and where it is being slowly invisiblised even from public discourse.
Section I tries to situate these developments in India in South Asian context and search for any commonality in the experiences of people and also looks at the societal roots for this fascination of hate filled ideologies and leaders.
Section II deals with the ‘pioneers of the Hindutva Supremacist movement and the new icons they want to present for a ‘New India’ which is supposedly taking shape under their wings. Section III tries to offer tentative suggestions to fight the menace which is trying to overwhelm the Indian republic.
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The book is dedicated to the memory of the legendary Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Tur (February 20, 1925 – April 30, 2006) who survived persecution, imprisonment and censorship, whose writings have inspired generations of Indonesian People,
What was remarkable that Pramoedya, a leftist, was jailed not only during the anti-colonial struggle but had to undergo a long phase of detention which started in mid-sixties when Indonesia witnessed a CIA sponsored military coup – which witnessed killings of lakhs of people. He was released from imprisonment in 1979, but remained under house arrest in Jakarta until 1992.
His tetralogy of novels – for which he is best known – ‘Buru Quartet’ was written during the tormenting period of detention only. “Is it possible,” Pramoedya asked later, “to take from a man his right to speak to himself?”

 

Glory to his memory !

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Contents

Dedication
Preface
Section I
1. India: The Road Less Travelled by
2. Time to Militarise Hindus, Hinduise the Nation
3. South Asia: Forward March of Majoritarianism
4. Dear Hitler
Section II
5. Veer of a different Kind
6. Can the Real Shyamaprasad Mukherjee Ever Stand Up?
7. Godse: In Love with the Assasin
8. Deendayal Upadhyay: BJP’s “Gandhi”
9. Many Silences of Mr Mohan Bhagwat
Section III
10. Hindutva’s Second Coming
Appendix IV
Nehru, Ambedkar and Challenge of Majoritarianism

Index
—–
About the author
Subhash Gatade ( born 1957) is a left activist, writer and translator.
He has done M Tech ( Mech Engg 1981) from BHU-IT, Varanasi.
He has authored few books including  Modinama : On Caste, Cows and the Manusmriti ( Leftword, in press), Charvak ke Vaaris ( Authors Pride, Hindi, 2018), Ambedkar ani Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ( Sugava, Marathi, 2016), Beesavi Sadi Mein Ambedkar ka Sawal ( Dakhal, Hindi, 2014), Godse ki Aulad ( Pharos, Urdu, 2013) , Godse’s Children – Hindutva Terror in India (Pharos,  2011), The Saffron Condition ( Three Essays, 2011)
He also occasionally writes for children. Pahad Se Uncha Aadmi ( NCERT, Hindi, 2010)

 

 

 

 

संस्कृति की ज़मीन, बदलाव के बीज : रवि सिन्हा

Guest Post by Ravi Sinha
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मार्क ट्वेन ने कभी कहा था – धूम्रपान की आदत छोड़ने में मैं ख़ासा माहिर हूँ; यह काम मैंने हज़ारों बार किया है.सन्धान की यह केवल तीसरी शुरुआत है. वह भी काग़ज़ पर छप कर नहीं. अभी केवल वेब-पेज़ के रूप में. अतः यह दावा तो नहीं किया जा सकता कि हमलोग शुरुआत करने के विशेषज्ञ हो गए. बल्कि ये मनायें कि इस मामले में ट्वेन सरीखी महारत न हासिल हो. इरादा नयी शुरुआत का और हौसले दूर तक चलने के हों तो फिर से शुरू करने में कोई बुराई नहीं है.
हज़ारों साल पहले एक्लेसियास्टीज़ की किताब में कहा गया था – जो हो चुका है, वही फिर होगा. जो किया जा चुका है, वही फिर किया जायेगा. सूरज के तले कुछ भी नया नहीं है. लेकिन दूसरी तरफ़ हेराक्लिटस का कहना था – तुम एक ही नदी में दो बार पाँव नहीं रख सकते. पानी हर पल बदल चुका होता है. अगला पाँव नयी नदी में पड़ेगा.बुद्धिमानी शायद इसमें हो कि एक जेब में एक्लेसियास्टीज़ और दूसरी में हेराक्लिटस को रख कर चला जाय. एक कुछ बिल्कुल नया कर गुज़रने के घमण्ड को क़ाबू में रक्खेगा तो दूसरा नये का सामना करने की हिम्मत देगा. जो हो चुका है वही फिर होगा तो भी कुछ नया होगा. और, उम्मीद है, जो कहा जा चुका है वही फिर से कहा जाय तो भी कुछ नया कहा जायेगा और अर्थ कुछ नये निकलेंगें. समय की उसी नदी में आप दो बार पाँव नहीं रख सकते.
और, इस नदी में त्वरण है. समय के बदलने की रफ़्तार बदल चुकी है. पिछली एक सदी में जितना कुछ हुआ है, उतना पहले के हज़ार सालों में नहीं हुआ था. इन्सानी इतिहास का प्रवाह समय के उबड़-खाबड़ भूगोल से गुज़रा है. थोड़ी देर का समतल थके विजेताओं को उस असीम-अनन्त चरागाह की तरह दिखने लगता है जिसकी खोज में वे पाँच सौ या पाँच हज़ार साल पहले निकले थे. इतिहास के अन्त की घोषणाएँ होती हैं. लेकिन घोषणाओं की समाप्ति के पहले ही समय का समतल समाप्त होने लगता है. आगे कुछ के लिये ख़तरनाक ढलान है तो दूसरों के लिये कठिन चढ़ाई है.

Continue reading संस्कृति की ज़मीन, बदलाव के बीज : रवि सिन्हा

‘विश्व गुरु का सत्य’ और ज्ञान की दूसरी परम्परा : धीरेश सैनी

Guest Post by Dheeresh Saini – Review of ‘Charvak ke Vaaris’

 `चार्वाक के वारिस` को पढ़ते हुए ही मुझे हिंदी के आलोचक और जेएनयू के रिटायर्ड प्रोफेसर नामवर सिंह के निधन की ख़बर मिली। एक ऐसी किताब को, जो भारतीय समाज-संस्कृति में अतीत से लेकर आज तक ज्ञान-विज्ञान की विभिन्न प्रगतिशील, विवेकवादी, तर्कवादी और विद्रोही धाराओं के प्रति वर्णवादी-ब्राह्मणवादी शक्तियों के हिंसक रवैये की पड़ताल करती हो, पढ़ते हुए विचलित होते चले जाना स्वाभाविक था। Continue reading ‘विश्व गुरु का सत्य’ और ज्ञान की दूसरी परम्परा : धीरेश सैनी

‘Mother to Indians’ Kasturba, Bose versus Hindu Sangathanists

Image result for kasturba gandhi

“Kasturba Gandhi is no more. She died at the age of 74 in British jail….I salute this great woman who was like a mother to Indians ….Kasturba was an inspiration for millions of Indian girls with whom she lived and met during the freedom struggle of our motherland. She was party to the many travails and tribulations of life with her great husband since the days of Satyagrah in South Africa.. She went to jail many times, which severely impacted her health but she did not fear going to jail even at the age of 74 years. When Mahatma Gandhi led the Civil Disobedience Movement, Kasturba was in the forefront of that struggle’

With these words Subhash Chandra Bose remembered Kasturba when she expired in detention at Agha Khan Palace – which had in fact been turned into a jail – on 22 nd February 1944. History bears witness to the fact that it was a death precipitated by the callous and ruthless colonial rulers who had refused to release her despite her worsening medical condition. She had been suffering from heart disease for more than four months. She also had a heart attack during this period. Continue reading ‘Mother to Indians’ Kasturba, Bose versus Hindu Sangathanists

A Statement against Suppression of Dissent by IACLALS

We are publishing below a statement sent to us by the Indian Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies against the suppression and criminalizing of dissent in India

The Indian Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (IACLALS) expresses its deep dismay over the continuing assault on civic freedoms and constitutional rights of writers, teachers, students, human rights activists and public intellectuals in the country. The current political climate of fear and intimidation – fuelled and vindicated by the state and the ruling party – has simultaneously targetted entire communities through a range of religious-ethnic violence, as much as it has sought to silence conscientious voices that have spoken up against such onslaughts. Vacuous rhetorical constructions like “anti-national” and “urban naxal” – with no basis in fact or in principles of democratic governance – have been repeatedly manufactured as the grounds for punitive-legal action and media trials, through the invoking of outdated colonial codes like the sedition laws. The latest of these forms of orchestrated witch-hunt has seen the attempted arrest or chargesheeting of Hiren Gohain, Anand Teltumbde and of several JNU students – in the cause of raking up an electoral consensus against the spirit of scientific inquiry and free-thinking.

The IACLALS’ academic investments have engaged with and gained from the works and ideas of these scholars, who now face the ire of the state. As a scholarly association, we believe in the need and power of a critical public sphere, as the only promise of a living democracy. We stand in firm solidarity with them, and strongly condemn every attempt being made at gagging forms of dissent and enforcing regimes of censorship.

Pondicherry University, Feb. 8, 2019.

GJV Prasad (Chariperson), Subhendu Mund and M. Asaduddin (Vice Chairpersons), Rina Ramdev (Secretary), Angelie Multani (Treasurer)