Sarcasm in the moment of death? For this you need to be evil. For, the first human reaction to death is silence. Even in the case of a normal death. It suddenly reminds us of our own mortality. Impermanence of our existence. When death is not normal, when it is an accident, a suicide or a murder, it shocks us. Or, it should. A life cut short unnaturally creates a void in us. A sense of unfulfillment. And our gaze turns inwards. We tend to become reflective. Words do not come easily to you. On most of the occasions they sound false, even obscene. Therefore, we console the grieving not though words but by touching them. It is not easy to make sense of death, in whichever form it strikes us. Continue reading An inability to grieve
Guest Post by RAVI SINHA
…it takes an error to father a sin. ─ J. Robert Oppenheimer
Future historians of India may well describe the past year as a year of political sin. This was the year in which the man who had earlier presided over the Gujarat Carnage was awarded the ultimate prize. The year saw an election that touched a new low marked by shallowness, vulgarities and lies – in no small measure by the labors of the man himself. Equally appalling have been the exertions of a large class of literati and glitterati to portray philistinism and inanities spouted by the most powerful mouth as wisdom of a visionary leader.
An entire country seems to have gone blind – unable to see that the emperor has no clothes. In this age of incessant television it should be obvious to anyone that the supreme leader does not carry conviction even when enunciating relatively higher banalities. He is at his natural best only when he mocks someone as a shehzada or slanders and vilifies an entire community through phrases such as ame paanch, amara pachees. It is an irony of history that the republic which had Nehru as its first prime minister has one now for whom even common mythology is too cerebral. He must vulgarize Pushpak Viman and Ganesha and reduce them to quackeries of aviation and surgery.
Misfortune of the nation goes beyond the man. Forces of the diabolic housed in the hydra-headed Parivaar can now accomplish the impossible. They can now occupy the political center stage without leaving off the lunatic fringe. They can adopt Gandhi without renouncing Godse; erect world’s tallest statue of a leader who had punished their forefathers for assassinating Gandhi; even co-opt Bhagat Singh without batting an eyelid about what he stood for and what he had to say about ideologies like theirs. They can further refine the art of doublespeak. Their “statesmen” can pave the way for corporate plunder and call it sab ka vikas (development for all). Their “ideologues” can advocate sab ka saath (inclusion of all) by exhorting Hindu women to give birth to a minimum of four children each, lest Hindus are reduced to a minority “in their own country”. Continue reading The Sin and the Error : Ravi Sinha
आम आदमी पार्टी में जो कुछ भी हुआ उससे वे ही हैरान हैं जो पार्टियों की अंदरूनी ज़िंदगी के बारे में कभी विचार नहीं करते. किसी भी पार्टी में कभी भी नेतृत्व के प्रस्ताव से अलग दूसरा प्रस्ताव शायद ही कबूल होता हो .कम्युनिस्ट पार्टियों पर नेतृत्व की तानाशाही का आरोप लगता रहा है लेकिन कांग्रेस हो या कोई भी और पार्टी, नेतृत्व के खिलाफ खड़े होने की कीमत उस दल के सदस्यों को पता है. ऐसे अवसर दुर्लभ हैं जब नेतृत्व की इच्छा से स्वतंत्र या उसके विरुद्ध कोई प्रस्ताव स्वीकार किया गया हो. जब ऐसा होता है तो नेतृत्व के बदलने की शुरुआत हो जाती है.
भारत में पार्टियों के आतंरिक जीवन का अध्ययन नहीं के बराबर हुआ है.ऐसा क्यों नहीं होता कि निर्णयकारी समितियों के सदस्य खुलकर, आज़ादी और हिम्मत के साथ अपनी बात कह सकें? यह अनुभव उन सबका है जो पार्टियों में भिन्न मत रखते ही ‘डिसिडेंट’ घोषित कर दिए जाते हैं.यह भी समिति की बैठक के दौरान जो उनके खिलाफ वोट दे चुके हैं वे अक्सर बाहर आकर कहते हैं कि आप तो ठीक ही कह रहे थे लेकिन हम क्या करते! हमारी मजबूरी तो आप समझते ही हैं ! Continue reading जीत की राजनीति की जीत
Guest post by Satya Sagar
While the Indian media goes ballistic over the possibility of a split in the Aam Aadmi Party and ardent supporters stand demoralised, for me this is probably the best news I have heard since the party’s historic win in the recent Delhi assembly elections. I love anything with ‘splittist tendencies’.
The reason is simple. For anyone even vaguely familiar with the nature of living systems, particularly microbial life (and this is a bacterial planet we live on) one of its fundamental characteristics is ‘divide and rule’. Let me explain in more detail, before Markandeya Katju accuses me of being a ‘British agent’.
Basically, anything that possesses life, propagates and spreads its influence only through the process of splitting itself repeatedly till it finds its true balance within the larger ecosystem. All of evolution is possible only because of the constant churning, that results in repeated mutation of basic genetic structures, from which the most durable and relevant ones survive.
Lifeless, inanimate objects on the other hand, by definition, do not possess any internal contradictions and can move around only when pushed by external forces. In political terms it is simple to understand this point – when was the last time the Congress, BJP or for that matter CPI or CPM split anywhere? If there is no opinion at all, there can’t be a ‘difference of opinion’ too. Continue reading AAP’s Divide & Rule: Satya Sagar
There is no way of discussing the ongoing crisis in AAP without being blunt and frank. The terrain of politics is, after all, a brutal and treacherous one. So let me put it without mincing words. The ongoing crisis in AAP is not just about ‘differences of opinion’ or ‘toleration of dissent’ but a power struggle. And before squeamish liberal stomachs start churning, let me also add – power struggles are not always only about power in and of itself. Sometimes they are, but quite often they have to do with alternative visions, imaginations and of course, contrary interests. It is only likely that every serious political party or organization will, if it has any life in it, be faced with a struggle over any or all of these matters, for what is politics if not about steering the party/ movement in the direction one understands to be the best course. And these alternative visions, imaginations, policies and interests are inseparable from the position of individual personalities involved. Individual ambitions are pretty much the stuff of politics and it is unrealistic to expect to see a politics without all of this. The will to power is not exactly a self-effacing virtue.
For this reason, factions and platforms are inevitable in all political formations and it is best to recognize them as legitimate entities and have open public debate, on matters at stake. These cannot be matters of concern to only a small group of leaders in the National Executive and Political Affairs Committee (in AAP’s case) or in Politburos and Central Committees (in the case of communist parties). So, if collective deliberations are important in the apex committees, they would do well to be preceded by a public debate among different tendencies within the organization. At one level, this means moving away from the party-form itself to the form of a platform or coalition, where the different groupings and ideological currents are honestly and openly recognized, as are the personal inclinations and angularities of each individual leader.
This longish preface should make it very clear that my concerns here have nothing to do with the usual liberal platitudes about ‘amicably and democratically’ resolving ‘difference of opinion’. A political movement or party is not an academic seminar. Every such struggle, in the final analysis, is a power struggle – so is the current one in AAP. And there can be no doubt that both sides in this conflict are deeply involved in it. Decoding the stakes in the absence of a clear public debate, apart from selective leaks in the press, is not an easy task. But it does not involve rocket science either. One can read the signs, one can read between the lines of the narratives from both sides that have emerged, howsoever partially, in the media. What follows below, though, is a reading quite different from the ones inundating the media about intolerance of dissent. Continue reading Reading the Power Struggle in AAP
Guest post by SATYA SAGAR
Among the epithets, most frequently hurled at Arvind Kejriwal by the BJP, in the run up to the Delhi assembly elections, were ‘anarchist’, closely followed by ‘urban naxal’. What is it about AAP that threatens the Sangh Parivar to a point of exhibiting such great hysteria and anxiety?
AAP, despite some novelties, is after all a very mainstream political formation, operating completely within the ambit of the Indian Constitution and no pretensions of turning the system upside down?Is there something deeper happening here?
One possibility is of course that, in its name-calling, the BJP presumed the average Delhi voter would run scared, straight into the waiting arms of Papa Modi. In that case then, it was obviously a complete misreading of the public mood of anger and defiance against established national parties. Continue reading Peace, bread and politics of AAP: Satya Sagar
Let me say it once again, the AAP victory cannot be understood outside the post-ideological moment. I have argued earlier on Kafila (here and here), that one of the key features of AAP was its post-ideological character – one that moved relentlessly beyond many verities of 20th century ideologies and binaries like state versus market, or religious/communal versus secular and so forth. To reiterate, this formation represents the spirit of the moment that is itself post-ideological.
But it is also time perhaps, to underline that post-ideological does not mean post-political. At least, not any longer. There is no doubt that a politics of AAP is gradually and clearly coming into view – but it is a politics whose edifice is being built from the bottom up. It does not derive from any settled ideological blueprint that comes ready-made – a blueprint around which a politics is then sought to be constructed. That was the project of all 20th century ideologies, which had already divided the world into neat camps and made the divisions into permanent battle lines. Ideologies became repositories of Truth – universal and unchanging, taking away from politics the very contingency and fluidity that defines it. Ideology, in other words, was fundamentally anti-political. In parenthesis, it may be relevant to point out that that is why, perhaps, Marx himself celebrated the Paris Commune by underlining that the workers “had no ideals to realize, no blueprints to which the world must conform”; they merely had to set free the new forces that were challenging the old order. Socialism in the 19th century was not yet an ideology in that sense. Continue reading AAP Victory and the Challenges of a New Politics