Tag Archives: Gail Omvedt

Response to Gail Omvedt: Nirmalangshu Mukherjee


First of all I strongly object to the various insinuations posted in several comments. However, with due respect to a veteran activist, I think the older generation of left activists are by and large failing to come to terms with an unfamiliar form of protest in the IT-age. For them perhaps, Tahrir square looks full of promise at a distance from where all the finer dark spots get blurred; not so when it is happening in the neighbourhood.

The janlokpal campaign has three broad components: the core group with Anna in front, the bill itself, and the people. The Maoist campaign also has these components. There are serious problems with the first component in either campaign insofar as the condition of “democratic elections” are concerned. In the Maoist case, it is just an upper caste and largely upper class coterie of people thrust on the adivasis. The programme of proctracted war to establish “new democracy,” i.e., the second component, is also deeply flawed. Yet, the Maoist campaign is routinely advertised as a just campaign because it is supposed to be a people’s campaign driven by a people’s army. The current terminology is “bottom-up.” The reality of this proclamation is not the issue here, the structure of justification is. The Maoist campaign with its flawed first two components is justified because “people” have accepted and wanted them, contrary to fact as indicated. But the same commentators are terrified when the same structure is offered for the janlokpal bill. Or is it because Dandakaranya, likeTahrir Square, is safely remote while these “middle-class people” are dangerously close?

Continue reading Response to Gail Omvedt: Nirmalangshu Mukherjee

Tired of Democracy? – Gail Omvedt

This guest post comes from  GAIL OMVEDT

Why are such masses of people (apparently: in our village some came out for a morcha organized by the Maharashtra Navnirman Samiti) following Anna Hazre, when it is now clear that his Lokpal is an authoritarian, centralized and undemocratically pushed proposal?

Several articles, including those by Arundhati Roy and Aruna Roy, have made this clear by now.  I can find only one point to disagree with in the otherwise excellent article by Arundhati:  that, like the Maoists, the Jan Lokpal Bill seeks the overthrow of the state.  It does not.  The movement wants to keep the state, in an even more centralized form, but replace its current rulers with a new set.  And Ranjit Hoskote’s comment that “Anna Hazare’s agitation is not a triumph of democracy [but] a triumph of demagoguery” deserves to be remembered.  The increasingly authoritarian, even fascist forms of activities are disturbing even many of its supporters.

Continue reading Tired of Democracy? – Gail Omvedt