Nehru, Ambedkar and Challenge of Majoritarianism

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( Photo courtesy : The hoot)

(To be published in the special issue of ‘Janata’)

 

The spectacle of what is called religion, or at any rate organised religion, in India and elsewhere, has filled me with horror and I have frequently condemned it and wished to make a clean sweep of it. Almost always it seemed to stand for blind belief and reaction, dogma and bigotry, superstition, exploitation and the preservation of vested interests.

– Toward Freedom: The Autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru (1936), pp. 240–241.

If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will no doubt, be the greatest calamity for this country. No matter what the Hindus say, Hinduism is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity. On that account it is incompatible with democracy. Hindu Raj must be prevented at any cost.

– Ambedkar, ‘Pakistan or Partition of India’, p. 358.

Introduction

India’s slow ushering into a majoritarian democracy is a matter of concern for every such individual who still believes in pluralism, democracy, equality and a clear separation of religion and politics. The way people are being hounded for raising dissenting opinions, for eating food of their choice or entering into relationships of their own liking or celebrating festivals according to their own faith is unprecedented. The situation has reached such extremes that one can even be publicly lynched for belonging to one of the minority religions or for engaging in an activity which is considered to be ‘suspicious’ by the majority community.

No doubt there is no direct harm to the basic structure of the Constitution, its formal structure remains intact, de jure India does remain a democracy as well as a republic, but de facto democracy has slowly metamorphosed into majoritarianism and the sine qua non of a republic—that its citizens are supreme—is being watered down fast. It does not need underlining that this process has received tremendous boost with the ascent of Hindutva supremacist forces at the centrestage of Indian politics. Continue reading “Nehru, Ambedkar and Challenge of Majoritarianism”

An open letter to Brinda Karat: why do female supporters of the Kerala CPIM spew such venom at Hadiya?

Dear Comrade

I can hardly describe the joy and relief I felt reading your piece on the Hadiya case in the Hindu yesterday. By now I am nearly deaf from the cacophony of misogyny, islamophobia, and sheer short-sighted rage that CPM supporters on Facebook are unleashing against this young woman.

Your voice of sanity, Comrade, is therefore a great restorative. If not for your writing, one could have well thought that the CPM was nothing more than a bunch of short sighted, power hungry, strategisers, whose total lack of ethics and values is covered up by a vapid, outdated rationalism and an equally problematic liberalism. You refuse to condemn Hadiya for choosing Islam. You acknowledge that she is brave. You unequivocally reject the father and other minions of patriarchy. You rightly criticise state patriarchy evident in the Supreme Court. Unlike many CPM supporters here, you have no illusions about the times we live in; you are clearly aware that the NIA is not something which will spare us if we stay good. Importantly, you put paid to the idea that the High Court judgement that sanctioned her illegal custody was justified — an idea assiduously nurtured by certain public figures allied with the CPM against religious Muslims. Comrade, thank you again for being so forthright and in the face of snarling islamophobes in your own ranks actually gunning for the voice you raised against her illegal custody long back.

Continue reading “An open letter to Brinda Karat: why do female supporters of the Kerala CPIM spew such venom at Hadiya?”

The Gates of Vaikuntam?

When Hadiya Shafin shouted to the crowd that she converted voluntarily, that Shafin was her chosen husband, and that she wished to spend her life with him, some leading rationalist liberal feminists in Kerala sniggered at her: be grateful for the Indian Constitution which allows you to make a choice. This statement hid a despicable insult to her choice of Islam, slyly implying that it would not permit her any choices.

Goodness knows where these puerile, vain, indurate minds live their everyday lives.  Maybe they are either still able to insulate themselves somehow from the onslaught of Hindutva violence, or find it useful to use the arms of this Hindutva hegemonised thuggish state to their narrow, shamefully narrow, ends.

Whatever, I could see no trace of the protective presence of the Indian Constitution when the Supreme Court heard Hadiya. I could see not the highest court of Justice of a vibrant democracy but I got a sense of how the Gates of Celestial Vaikuntam may look like:

Read more at : https://thewire.in/200701/hadiya-supreme-court-nia/

 

 

 

महाड़ सत्याग्रह के नब्बे साल

‘‘जब पानी में आग लगी थी’’
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प्रस्तावना
‘क्या पानी में आग लग सकती है ?’’
किसी भी संतुलित मस्तिष्क व्यक्ति के लिए यह सवाल विचित्र मालूम पड़ सकता है। अलबत्ता सामाजिक-राजनीतिक आंदोलनों पर निगाह रखनेवाला व्यक्ति बता सकता है कि जब लोग सदियों से जकड़ी गुलामी की बेड़ियों को तोड़ कर आगे बढ़ते हैं तो न केवल /बकौल शायर/ ‘आसमां में भी सुराख हो सकता है’ बल्कि ‘ पानी में भी आग लग सकती है।’
2017 का यह वर्ष पश्चिमी भारत की सरजमीं पर हुए एक ऐसे ही मौके की नब्बेवी सालगिरह है, जब सार्वजनिक स्थानों से छूआछूत समाप्त करने को लेकर महाड नामक जगह पर सार्वजनिक तालाब से पानी पीने के लिए डा अंबेडकर की अगुआई में हजारों की तादाद में लोग पहुंचे थे। /19-20 मार्च 2017/ कहने के लिए यह एक मामूली घटना थी, लेकिन जिस तरह नमक सत्याग्रह ने आज़ादी के आन्दोलन में एक नयी रवानी पैदा की थी, उसी तर्ज पर इस अनोखे सत्याग्रह ने देश के सामाजिक सांस्कृतिक पटल पर बग़ावत के नए सुरों को अभिव्यक्ति दी थी।

Continue reading “महाड़ सत्याग्रह के नब्बे साल”

Taj Mahal as Tej Mahal – Once again “There is a Bee in the Bonnet”

It was probably late sixties or early seventies – when a gentleman called P N Oak started appearing in Marathi magazines peddling his weird theories about well known monuments in and outside India. An article which made lot of news then was centred around Taj Mahal where it was claimed that it was ‘Tejo Maha Aalay’ or hindu god Shiva’s abode. It tried to establish through various ‘explanations’ that a Shiva Temple was destroyed to build Taj Mahal and if we dig deep we can find ‘remnants’ of the earlier structure. Mr Vinay Katiyar’s latest advice to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath that he “should go into the Taj Mahal and see the Hindu signs inside it” reminded one of P N Oak. Continue reading “Taj Mahal as Tej Mahal – Once again “There is a Bee in the Bonnet””

Defend the tradition of fighting for the oppressed: Sohail Hashmi writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala

(This is the text of the open letter written by the eminent left cultural activist Sohail Hashmi to Com. Pinarayi Vijayan on the Hadiya case)

Continue reading “Defend the tradition of fighting for the oppressed: Sohail Hashmi writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala”

Let us rise to the defense of the Indian Constitution: Letter to the Kerala Chief Minister from Prof. Amit Bhaduri

[This is the text of the open letter written by eminent economist and leading development activist Prof. Amit Bhaduri, to Com. Pinarayi Vijayan] Continue reading “Let us rise to the defense of the Indian Constitution: Letter to the Kerala Chief Minister from Prof. Amit Bhaduri”