Development is back in focus after the endless noise about cow protection, nationalism, Hindu-Muslim, janeus, Shiv Bhakti, Gorakhpur governance, casteism, love jihad, enemy nation and the rest. Why this talk about development now? Perhaps the dissent and protests on the ground by various sections in Gujarat in the last few years have compelled even the diehards to acknowledge (Mr. Amit Shah recently said ‘It is not my point that the issues raised in those agitations are not an issue’), that something is deeply problematic about the “Gujarat Model of Development”. The ASHA workers have taken to the streets demanding a living wage, regularized working hours and social security; dalits are no longer silent about the violence, indignity and intimidation heaped upon them; displaced families from Sardar Sarovar Dams have occupied streets seeking rehabilitation; farmers are demanding reprieve from a crisis to which they have had no hand in creating; tribals and evicted farmers are protesting against showpiece infrastructure projects which have meant their displacement and destruction of human habitations; and the youth from cultivating castes are seeking guarantee for jobs. The list is continuing.
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.
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.
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
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.
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/
[This is the text of the open letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala from the celebrated Tamil poet Rajathi Salma, a leading literary and activist voice from South India whose writing has often revealed the pain and poignancy of women’s unfreedoms and the denial of a creative life of choice to them. This is about the never-ending agony that the confinement of a young woman, Hadiya, by her father, has become. Hadiya is to be heard by the Supreme Court of India on 27 November 2017, but the Kerala government refuses to take responsibility for her safe travel to Delhi, after many many pleas from civil society] Continue reading “Hadiya’s Safety is the Kerala Government’s Responsibility: Rajathi Salma writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala”→
In early November, the JNU administration forwarded to all Centres/Special Centres/Schools, the Government of India proposal to establish twenty “Institutions of Eminence” to achieve world class status, from amongst the existing Government/Private institutions and new institutions from the private sector. It conveyed its intentions to submit an application to the UGC under the scheme and has asked Centres/Special Centres/Schools to provide comments on Part-1 – III [Vision for Institute of Eminence], Part-1 – IV [proposed fifteen year strategic plan], and Part-1 – VI [Proposed five years implementation plan] of the attached proforma.
This note from JNUTA is first to direct colleagues’ attention to the serious debate that this GoI plan has occasioned, in a country where higher education has simply failed to deliver in terms of access, quality, and justice — with a Gross Enrolment Ratio of just 20.4, as per the All India Survey of Higher Education (2013), it is the responsibility of educationists to query whether an outlay of Rs. 10,000 crore on ten institutions is warranted in the first place. (Please see the following pieces in favour of the proposal, and against it, in particular). Given that the goal of this whole initiative is a limited one of achieving a breakthrough into the world top 100 rankings, the teaching community must thoroughly discuss what rankings are good for anyway, and what significance the term ‘world class’ truly signifies, if the goals of education are essentially humanist and necessarily inclusive in character.