Amidst the bustle of talk and announcements on stage, there is a surprise at Shaheen Bagh. A young, slim girl student in ankle length boots, dark pants and shirt is invited to take the podium. She begins her speech by saying that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has put her in a dilemma. She studies in Jharkhand where many of her close friends are Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members. Their opinions matter to her personally. At the same time, when she comes to Shaheen Bagh she is gripped by the dangers and stakes involved in the CAA.
Siddharth Varadarajan’s article raises some very important dilemmas before Modi which is really a rehearsal of the development versus welfare debate now bound to be exacerbated with the runaway capitalism that Modi promises to unleash.
But it raises another important question. Can we simply forget the past and get on with the future? Can we join the futurist chorus of Modi and his Thatcherite – Reaganite followers? Can an electoral mandate, even one as powerful as this, remove permanently the memory of 2002?
The immediate analogy comes with the anti Sikh riots followed by the 1984 verdict. 1984 returns every election to haunt the Congress even after they have made a Sikh prime minister for 10 years. Some historical memories are very stubborn and refuse to leave off the haunting of the future. It is not as if there have not been many riots. But only some riots achieve a historically emblematic status that remove them from the realms of simple memory alone. Some events become symbolic rallying points and they invite an excess of documentation, of witness testimonies, of cultural representations, all of which memorialize and fix them in chronology as a rupture in time that can never quite be bridged by the stitchings or blurrings of popular oral memory alone. In such events the archive becomes memory. Continue reading The Modi Mandate – A Belated Response to S Varadarajan: Pradip Datta→