Tag Archives: ideology

The Indian Unconscious : Ravi Sinha

Guest Post by Ravi Sinha

There is yet another head on the political platter of the world’s largest democracy. This head is not metaphorical. It does not signify a disgraced leader or a government that has fallen. It is a literal head dripping with literal blood – battered with bricks that supported a leg-less bed. The bed belonged to one Muhammad Akhlaq who lived in a village called Basehara in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, not too far from the national capital of India. The head too belonged to him.

It has been only a few days but this latest episode in the long-running Indian serial is already well-known to the world. On a late September night it was announced over the loudspeakers of the village temple that there was going to be beef on Akhlaq’s dinner plate. A mob hundreds-strong – some say thousands – gathered within no time. It attacked the family killing Akhlaq on the spot and badly injuring his son, Danish.

In the meantime, meat-loafs confiscated from the family fridge have been sent for forensic examination. The system of justice must check whether it actually was beef, although, as one commentator points out, “…mere possession of beef isn’t illegal in Uttar Pradesh.”[1] Shedding helpful light on feebly lit corners of the Hindu moral universe, a prominent Hindutva ideologue wrote in a national daily, “Lynching a person merely on suspicion is absolutely wrong, the antithesis of all that India stands for and all that Hinduism preaches.”[2] The lynch-mob should have waited till the forensic reports came.

A few suspects have been apprehended for the murder. This has made the village livid with anger. There are protestations that those arrested are innocent. Journalists have been attacked for making such a big thing out of a small matter and bringing a bad name to the village. Cameras have been broken and OB vans damaged. There is a pertinacious wall of angry women guarding the village against any further intrusion by outsiders who can neither understand the village mind nor the Indian culture.

It is not easy to understand the collective mind of an Indian village. Even learned anthropologists are of little help. Their ethnographic techniques of studying a form of life from its internal standpoint are particularly susceptible to the rationalizations of a complex cultural species. If anyone has a chance, it would, perhaps, be a villager who has stepped out – an Archimedean Point created out of the same cultural universe. Ravish Kumar, by now a near iconic journalist and anchor of a prominent Hindi news channel, stood out for this very reason.[3] His eyes could see the natural rhythm and the instinctual response of an Indian village in the immediate aftermath of a collective crime. Nearly everyone had disappeared from the village. Whoever could be found claimed that he was miles away at the time of the incident. The lynch-mob had materialized instantaneously out of thin air. It had as quickly melted away after the job was done. Everyone has now returned to defend the honor of the village and strategize about how to deal with the unwarranted intrusions of modernity including that of the law. Continue reading The Indian Unconscious : Ravi Sinha

The English Media and AAP – Should One Rush to Endorse the Party: Shankar Gopalakrishnan

Guest post by SHANKAR GOPALAKRISHNAN

Over the last few weeks, the blizzard of news about the Aam Aadmi Party – and the move of many independent intellectuals and some activists into the party – has seemed like a roller coaster ride. One week we were told the world had changed, the following week that it had collapsed, and now we have no idea what next week is going to bring. But the roller coaster should not blind us to the deeper dynamics at work. In particular, there’s one that is uncannily familiar – the role being played by the English media. Those rushing to endorse and celebrate AAP should pause to consider recent events before they do so.

A good place to start is the India Against Corruption protests, which were clearly a media mobilisation. It was the media – particularly the English and Hindi electronic media – that called people on to the streets, that announced the locations and demands of the protests, and that consistently described the movement as being “universal” and about “ordinary people” (for examples, see the paragraph in this article on Times Now’s role in April 2011; or The Hoot’s analysis of TV coverage). Social media, the Sangh Parivar and the IAC’s local committees did so too, but they all jumped in after the mainstream media did, and they continued to rely on it. No other mass mobilisation of recent times, except the anti-rape protests, has received this kind of treatment at the hands of the media. Continue reading The English Media and AAP – Should One Rush to Endorse the Party: Shankar Gopalakrishnan

AAP and the Ideology Warriors

If ideology-warriors had their way, they would rather have Narendra Modi as the next prime minister than have their ideological purity compromised. Soon after AAP’s victory, many secularists rushed to declare, on Facebook and elsewhere, that they do not and will not partake of the AAP euphoria. ‘What is their stand on communalism?’, they asked indignantly. Some other friends insisted that Muslims need an assurance about AAP’s position on communalism and it should clarify its stand if it wanted the Muslim vote.

So what do the ideology warriors want? Just when the political agenda for the elections has decisively changed, throwing the BJP into a complete quandary, upsetting its strategic plans, they want the old familiar, secular/ communal divide back in place, opening up the political field once more to the same Hindu-Muslim polarization that we are so used to. The secular/ communal divide has been the millstone around our neck, preventing any other issue from being brought into public debate at election time and effectively preventing the emergence of any new force or formation. And let there be no mistake that in a communal polarization of Hindus and Muslims, secular forces will always, in the on-going drama of secular masochism, have to deposit themselves tied hand and foot, into the Congress party’s dungeon. The Amit Shahs will have a field day, creating one Muzaffarnagar after another, and erstwhile secular mascots like Mulayam Singh Yadav will vie with them in further entrenching the Hindu-Muslim divide. In all of this, the Congress will present itself as the saviour of Muslims.

The Congress, the BJP, the imaginary ‘third front’ – all have been able players and winners in this game. Continue reading AAP and the Ideology Warriors

CPI(M) shelves class struggle in action: Sankar Ray

Guest post by SANKAR RAY

[As the CPIM)’s 20th Congress began in Kozhikhode today, we bring two pieces marking the occasion. AN]

Unbelievable though it may seem even to the staunchest critic of CPI(M), ‘class struggle’ is totally missing in the 20950-plus word Draft Political Resolution (DPR) of the CPI(M), circulated and debated inside the party for over two months, that will be finalized with amendments, deletions and additions, at the 20th party Congress at Kozhikode between 4 and 9 April. The finalized political resolution is to be party’s tactical line until the 21st Congress four years later. The omission of ‘class struggle’ in the DPR, a basic document for committed struggle is stupefying as communists the world over frequently quote Marx that the history of mankind is “the history of class struggles”.

It’s not new as class struggle was omitted in the Political Resolution adopted at the 19th Congress ( Coimbatore, 29 March- 3 April 2008). But unlike at Coimbatore, the latest draft document talks of ‘people’s democracy’, CPI(M)’s main ideology, enshrined in the Updated Party Programme ( adopted at a special party conference in October 2000 at Thiruvananthapuram). But the pledge for moving forward to “a new, alternative path – towards people’s democracy and socialism” is vague.

Continue reading CPI(M) shelves class struggle in action: Sankar Ray

The Fascist Mind: Reading Mein Kampf Today

NOTES ON THE THEORY OF IDEOLOGY

It is highly instructive to go through the range of comments that some of our recent posts on terrorism and violence have elicited. Apart from some of the more mindless ones, there have also been some that raise supposedly substantive questions but in a manner that presupposes the answers. The very manner of raising the ‘questions’ is such that any answer but the one contained in the ‘question’ is bound to bring forth a volley of charges to which the comments themselves stand witness.

Continue reading The Fascist Mind: Reading Mein Kampf Today