This is the text of the Ambedkar Memorial lecture delivered by ASHIS NANDY at the India International Centre on 14 April 2012, under the auspices of Ambedkar University, Delhi.
It was published in Economic and Political Weekly, July 28, 2010
Every generation likes to believe that it is living in momentous times, witnessing the death of one world and the birth of another, negotiating what pre-war Bengali writers used to grandly call yugasandhikshana, the moment when two epochs meet. This generation of Indians too believes that it is seeing such changes and even participating in them. Perhaps they are. However, I shall argue here that, along with transitions in society and politics to which they like to stand witness, there are transitions in cultures of knowledge and states of awareness of which they may be gloriously innocent. And they perhaps try to protect that innocence. The categories we deploy to construe our world images are parts of our innermost self and to disown them is to disown parts of ourselves and jeopardise our self-esteem. Even when we struggle to shed these categories, they survive like phantom limbs do in some amputees. Or perhaps they survive the way one of Freud’s three universal fantasies, the one about immortality, does. When you imagine yourself dead, you are still there, fully alive, looking at yourself as dead. Continue reading Theories of Oppression and another Dialogue of Cultures: Ashis Nandy
Guest post by MIHIR PANDYA
गणतंत्र दिवस की सुबह। अौर उस सत्र का शीर्षक था ‘विचारों का गणतंत्र’। अशिस नंदी पहले उदाहरण द्वारा विस्तार से समझाते हैं कि क्यों एक सवर्ण एलीट का भ्रष्टाचार हमारी बनायी ‘भ्रष्टाचार’ की मानक परिभाषाअों में फिट नहीं होता अौर क्यों सिर्फ दलित का भ्रष्टाचार ही ‘भ्रष्टाचार’ नज़र अाता है। इसलिए जब वे यह कहते हैं कि भ्रष्टाचारियों का बहुमत वंचित जातियों से अाता है तो वह यह कहते हुए वापिस पुरानी बात दोहराना ज़रूरी नहीं समझते कि यहाँ दोष उनका नहीं, ‘भ्रष्टाचार’ की उस भ्रामक परिभाषा का है जिसमें एलीट का भ्रष्टाचार फिट ही नहीं होता। इसे वह अंत में जवाब देने के लिए मिले दो मिनट के समय भी दोहराते हैं कि उनके उक्त कथन को दो मिनट पहले कही बात के संदर्भ में देखा जाए। जैसा नंदी ने बाद में भी कहा, अौर उनकी अध्ययन शैली से परिचित लोग यह जानते भी हैं, वे किसी भी वक़्त यह नहीं कह रहे थे कि भ्रष्टाचार की कोई जाति होती है, बल्कि वे भ्रष्टाचार को पहचानने अौर निर्धारित करने की जो प्रचलित समाजदृष्टि है, उसके पीछे छिपी जातिवादी मानसिकता को पहचानने की अोर इशारा कर रहे थे। यह तर्क प्रणाली समझने में थोड़ी जटिल हो सकती है, लेकिन इसकी कोई वजह मुझे फिर भी नज़र नहीं अाती कि ठहरकर, ज़रा सा समय देने पर भी यह बात समझ न अाए। Continue reading जहाँ वे सेतु बनते हैं: मिहिर पंड्या
We are posting below an interview of Dr K SATYANARAYANA on the issues arising out of the ‘Ashis Nandy case’. The interview was conducted by DALIT CAMERA and sent to us by RAVICHANDRAN
The interview raises some important issues that call for a reasoned public debate and we welcome this opportunity provided by this interview.
Guest post by ANIRBAN GUPTA NIGAM
The hornet’s nest stirred by Ashis Nandy’s comments at the Jaipur Literature Festival might – hopefully – be dying down, but certain questions raised by the occurrences on the 26th probably require a little reflection on everyone’s part.
In the corporate and social media blitz, a lot of the details have been forgotten, excised and overlooked. Till yesterday it was not clear what his entire speech consisted of. The most quoted line from his talk at the festival is: “it is a fact that most of the corrupt come from the OBC, the Scheduled Castes and now increasingly the STs and as long as it is the case, the Indian republic will survive.” None of those attacking Nandy for being casteist or spewing hate-speech have in fact even attempted to explain the latter part of the quote: “as long as it is the case, the Indian republic will survive.” How is that a casteist statement? More importantly, media reproductions of his statement have excised a crucial disclaimer he himself gives at the beginning: “It will be an undignified, even vulgar statement, but it is a fact that most of the corrupt come from the OBC, the Scheduled Castes and now increasingly the STs and as long as it is the case, the Indian republic will survive.” Continue reading Ashis Nandy, Media and the Work of Acceleration: Anirban Gupta Nigam
Guest post by MEERA ASHAR
Ashis Nandy has been called, rather, accused of being, many things—sociologist, historian, political theorist, public intellectual, philosopher, psychoanalyst, leftist, centrist, right wing, Dalit, Christian, Brahmanical, casteist (he describes himself, more poetically, as an intellectual street fighter and reason buster)—but ‘politically correct’ has never been one of them.
This time, Nandy’s political incorrectness has cost him more than before. As in the past, he has been attacked by politicians and the popular media for presenting his analysis of social phenomena—for doing his job well. The response of the Indian intelligentsia to Nandy’s threatened arrest by the right wing government of Gujarat in 2008 was markedly different from the response now. The difference this time, of course, is that Nandy has not offended the right people. He is seen to have betrayed the marginalized. This time, he has been unfashionably politically incorrect. The similarity between the two episodes is the ‘freedom of speech’ brigade, which has dutifully stood by Nandy. But I shall turn to them later.
Continue reading Corruption and Political Correctness: A Severe Case of Intellectual Laziness: Meera Ashar
For the past few days I have been preoccupied in one part of my mind in dealing with two reasons for anguish. The first reason has to do with the profound sense of disappointment and anger with which I heard Prof. Ashis Nandy, a man I consider to be a great teacher, friend and in possession of one of the finest minds of our time, commit himself in public to a flippant and vulgar position when speaking of the relationship between caste and corruption at the Jaipur Literary Festival.
I was saddened because Prof. Nandy’s statements do a great disservice to the suppleness and ethical integrity of his thinking, and represent one of those sadly paradoxical situations where an intellectual can become their own worst adversary. I am unambiguously critical of the Nandy who chooses to be pompously opinionated and misinformed at a forum like the Jaipur Literary Festival or while riding the hot-air currents of television especially because I remain a partisan of the Nandy who can be (when he chooses to be) one of the most thoughtful and insightful witnesses to our time in his writing. Continue reading Ashis Nandy’s Predicament and Ours
It is no coincidence that Salman Rushdie who remains the poster child of the censorship debate in India begins his celebrated Midnight’s Children with the twin image of the birth of a child and that of a nation. The rest of the novel traces the intertwined stories of the child’s growth with the political history of independent India. But if one were to extend this allegory taking into account the kind of public sphere that seems to exist in India 65 years after independence there seems to be something amiss about this metaphor of birth and subsequent growth into maturity. A strange malaise pervades the public sphere in India today, where it seems almost as if we have turned the natural cycle of growth around and the children of midnight appears to suffer from the malady of the protagonist in David Fincher’s film “The Curious case of Benjamin Button” where a man is born a mature adult but ages backwards and slowly slides into infantile regression. If we were to consider the unreasonable response to Ashis Nandy’s talk at the Jaipur literary festival as one in a long continuum of such cases where individuals are hounded for hurting sentiments of communities, the Indian public sphere sadly appears as a weak and sickly child suffering from irony deficiency. Continue reading A Guide to Infantalising and Trivialising the Public sphere