Tag Archives: nationalism

One month at an Indian Yoga Centre: Dhruv Ramnath

Guest post by DHRUV RAMNATH

“When you are in India, you must follow Modi. When you are in America, you must follow Trump,” said the semi-literate Odia instructor to a batch of 70-odd students at Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA), a university which received crores from our prime minister not so long ago. 30 kms from Bangalore, its Vice-Chancellor, Dr. H. R. Nagendra (“Guruji” to his devotees), went further. “Thanks to Modi, we are now taking yoga to the world,” he said on the first day. Both the Odia speaker and Guruji told us to “have a smile on our face all the time”. Repeated so often whilst we performed our asanas, it became patently corny and destroyed any sense of feeling welcome and of enjoying a simple, one-hour class.
Continue reading One month at an Indian Yoga Centre: Dhruv Ramnath

The Impossible Gandhian Project and its Limits – Remembering the Mahatma Today

Gandhi, Nehru and Azad, Wardha 1935, image courtesy Governance Now

Majboori ka naam Mahatma Gandhi (Roughly: Compulsion thy name is Mahatma Gandhi)

I have grown up hearing this expression and have often wondered about its meaning and at the almost proverbial status acquired by it. Whose majboori or compulsion was Gandhi really? Well, at one level, everybody’s, for practically every current within the anti-colonial struggle was uncomfortable with his presence and his leadership. Jawaharlal Nehru had even remarked once that after independence, his fads would have to be kept in check. All nationalists who fought for independence from colonial rule (as opposed to the pseudo-nationalists who tried to convert it into a cow-protection movement) had their gaze fixed on the state. They wanted control of that coveted instrument – that was the crux of their anticolonial struggle. There were others like BR Ambedkar, who too invested a lot in the state but realized that the state in the hands of the nationalists would be a disaster for his people. But no one among them (poet-thinkers like Tagore apart) was prepared to look beyond the state. And Gandhi’s disavowal of the state – and of politics as such – was something that no one could digest. More than anything else, that was what made him a majboori for this set of people who could only lay their hands on their object of desire as long as Gandhi was in the leadership – for he alone could move millions like no one among his contemporaries could.

But my hunch is that these were not the people who coined this expression. Gandhi was a bigger majboori for another set of people who were, ironically, equally disinterested in the state and its ‘capture’ – at least till recently. Yes, these were the different currents of the Hindutva Brigade (VD Savarkar of the Hindu Mahasabha and his followers and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). They had to tolerate Gandhi – that is exactly what their majboori meant – till they could finally eliminate him. And it was one Nathuram Godse, with connections to both Savarkar and the RSS, who eventually killed him. There were earlier attempts too on Gandhi’s life – all from upper caste Hindus (one lot being Chitpavan Brahmins). Continue reading The Impossible Gandhian Project and its Limits – Remembering the Mahatma Today

How Does Raazi Resolve The Tension Between Patriotism and Humanity? Kavita Krishnan

Guest Post by KAVITA KRISHNAN

SPOILER ALERT: If you have not seen Raazi, please don’t read this review because it contains spoilers.

Rabindranath Tagore, the composer of the poems that serve as the national anthems of India and Bangladesh, wrote an essay on nationalism in which he asserted, “it is my conviction that my countrymen will gain truly their India by fighting against that education which teaches them that a country is greater than the ideals of humanity.” In a letter to a friend, he wrote, “I will not buy glass for the price of diamonds and I will never allow patriotism to triumph over humanity as long as I live.”

My concern, as I watched Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi, was about how the film handles its central tension – between the values of humanity and patriotism. Continue reading How Does Raazi Resolve The Tension Between Patriotism and Humanity? Kavita Krishnan

When Charlatans Become Ideologues – The Real ‘Prisoners of the Binary’

Present day Hindus are probably the strongest opponents of Marxism. They are horrified at its doctrine of class-struggle. But they forget that India has been not merely the land of class struggle but she has been the land of class wars. – B. R. Ambedkar, Philosophy of Hinduism.

I often find myself in a bind over whether or not to respond to supposed RSS ideologues, given that they simply trade in lies and hatred with the supreme arrogance of ignorance. One such is the upcoming star on the RSS horizon, a gentleman called Rakesh Sinha, who like the rest of his pack (led by the supreme leader) is currently engaged in a cheap attack on the outgoing Vice-President, Hamid Ansari. His piece in the Indian Express today (linked above) is an  instance of a combination of all these things. So, why should one bother about such a character? Why take him and his discourse seriously? Well, someone had better respond because, because, for one thing they are in power, and are going to teach generations of students that valorous ‘Hindus’ like Maharana Pratap won all the wars, though by some magic, ‘Muslims’ continued to rule for about 8 centuries! For another, there are enough gullible types who really think these people ‘have a point of view’, which should be debated.

As we have repeatedly seen, their ‘having a point of view’ has nothing to do with debate. It is to be enforced by gangs of gorakshaks, anti-romeo squads, hoodlums deciding what will or will not be taught in universities and schools, what will be written, how people should dress and love – and when nothing works, ‘win’ a ‘debate’ like Arun Jaitley claimed they did, by simply arresting the opponents and slapping sedition charges on them. Given this, I do not really address, in person, the ideologue, Rakesh Sinha, who has now made it a fine art to pick up some phrases from the toolkit of what is understood as ‘postmodernism’ by many. Wasn’t it postmodernism, one can  hear them say, that said all viewpoints are equally valid and ‘everything goes’? Wasn’t it postmodernism that challenged the hegemony of Western thought, its logocentrism, its Rationalism (with a capital R) from within that very tradition? Wasn’t it postmodernism again, that by decentering West’s logocentrism, actually gave these RSS-type creatures the gumption to claim that their utterly unsubstantiated viewpoint about the past too was as valid as that of historians who struggled with evidence, painstakingly putting together texts, artefacts and procedures of dating in order to produce a plausible account of the past?

Continue reading When Charlatans Become Ideologues – The Real ‘Prisoners of the Binary’

विश्वविद्यालय, अंध राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति : वैभव सिंह

Guest post by VAIBHAV SINGH

भारत खुद को भले किसी महान प्राचीन ज्ञान-परंपरा का वारिस समझता हो पर उसके विश्वविद्यालयों की दशा चंद चमकदार अपवादों के बावजूद खस्ताहाल है। उच्चशिक्षा की हालत किसी मरणासन्न नदी जैसी है जिसपर पुल तो बहुत बड़ा बन गया है पर पानी सूखता जा रहा है। भारत अपने साथ ही यह झूठ बोल रहा है कि वह ज्ञान या ज्ञानियों का आदर करता है, जबकि सचाई इसके विपरीत है। आधुनिक युग में भारत ने जितना ज्ञान की अवहेलना और अनादर किया है, उतना शायद ही किसी देश ने किया होगा। हर तिमाही-छमाही आने वाली रिपोर्ट्स हमें शर्मिंदा करती हैं कि संसार के सर्वोच्च 100 विश्वविद्यालयों में भारत के किसी विश्वविद्यालय को नहीं रखा जा सका। पूरा शिक्षा-जगत डिग्रियों की खरीदफरोख्त में लगे विचित्र किस्म के अराजक और अपराधिक सौदेबाजियों से भरे बाजार में बदलता जा रहा है। यहां अपराधी, दलाल और कलंकित नेता अपने काले धन व डिजिटल मनी की समन्वित ताकत लेकर उतर पड़े हैं और हर तरह की कीमत की एवज में कागजी शिक्षा बेचने लगे हैं। इस बाजार में ‘नालेज’ और ‘डिग्री’ का संबंध छिन्नभिन्न हो चुका है। कमाल की बात यह है कि यह स्थिति हमें चिंतित नहीं करती।

दूसरी ओर, उच्चशिक्षा अभी भी समाज की नब्बे फीसदी आबादी के लिए सपने सरीखी है। उच्चशिक्षा में जीईआर यानी दाखिले के अनुपात की गणना 18-23 आयुवर्ग के छात्रों को ध्यान में रखकर की जाती है और अभी भी भारत में केवल दस फीसदी लोग उच्चशिक्षा के संस्थानों के दरवाजे तक पहुंच पाते हैं। इसमें भी दलित व गरीब मुस्लिमों की हालत बेहद खराब है। दलितों में दो फीसदी से भी कम लोग उच्चशिक्षा प्राप्त कर पाते हैं तो मुस्लिमों में यह आंकड़ा केवल 2.1 फीसदी का है। भारत की ग्रामीण आबादी में केवल दो फीसदी लोग ही उच्च माध्यमिक शिक्षा के पार जा पाते हैं। ये आंकड़े भारत में उच्चशिक्षा की आम लोगों तक पहुंच की भयावह तस्वीर को प्रस्तुत करते हैं और दिखाते हैं कि हम जिन संस्थानों, बड़े कालेजों-विश्वविद्यालयों आदि को भारत के विकास के प्रमाण के रूप में पेश करने की इच्छा रखते हैं, वे देश की नब्बे फीसदी आबादी से बहुत दूर रहे हैं। Continue reading विश्वविद्यालय, अंध राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति : वैभव सिंह

No Flag Large Enough – Jubilation in India and Collateral Damage in Kashmir

The recent incident of violence that led to the death of a police officer, DSP Ayub Pandith, was condemned by all kinds of people in Kashmir, as well as elsewhere. It prompted introspection, sadness and regret – like any tragedy of this nature should.

Yesterday two unarmed civilians, Tahira Begum, a forty three year old woman and a young man called Shahdab Ahmed Chopan of Brenty Batapora Village in Anantnag district in South Kashmir were killed along with two Kashmiri combatants (Bashir Ahmed Lashkari and another person who may or may not be called Abu Maz) in the course of a joint operation by the 19th Rasthriya Rifles of the Indian Army, CRPF and the Special Operations Group of Jammu & Kashmir police.

Continue reading No Flag Large Enough – Jubilation in India and Collateral Damage in Kashmir

Students In Solidarity With Professor Nivedita Menon and Rajshree Ranawat – A Statement – UPDATED SIGNATORIES.

We, the undersigned, condemn the repeated attacks on Professor Nivedita Menon, the most recent of which being the police complaint lodged against her on the 3rd of February, 2017 (as also against Professor Rajshree Ranawat) for allegedly making ‘anti-national’ remarks during a seminar organised by the Department of English, Jai Narain Vyas University. This incident, we believe, is continuous with the spate of attacks that Professor Menon has had to face for taking an astute stand against the RashtriyaSwayamsevakSangh (RSS), its student-wing the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), and the nefarious politics of Hindutva in general. We refuse the rationale of dissent against Hindutva as dissent against the nation, because our idea of the nation is not of the Hindu Rashtra but of secularism, democracy, and social justice. Both as a voice of dissent and a formidable scholar of politics, Professor Nivedita Menon is an inspirational figure. She is a consistent articulation of conscience and an abiding commitment to the ideals that our freedom fighters envisioned for our nation. It is our conviction that patriotism is not only love for the abstract entity of the nation but also for its people, regardless of class, caste, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or any other marker that is used to advantage or disadvantage groups. The ‘patriotism’ that the RSS and its henchmen claim to champion is hateful, divisive, and truly anti-national.

It is our concern as students, therefore, that the ABVP claims to speak for the student community. This petition is a rejection of that assertion, and a statement in solidarity with Professor Nivedita Menon. We hope for and demand the cessation of attacks on Professor Nivedita Menon and the protection of her inalienable freedom and right to oppose the politics of division and communalism. Continue reading Students In Solidarity With Professor Nivedita Menon and Rajshree Ranawat – A Statement – UPDATED SIGNATORIES.