Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chandrahas Choudhury, Pushparaj Deshpande, and Anirban Ganguly › Sep 28, 2015 - Chandrahas Choudhury 
The RSS’ sense of mission is rooted in a profound sense of grievance. In the RSS’ worldview, India always was – and should remain - the home of the Hindu faith and the homeland of Hindu people. Whatever the currents that run through Indian history, the widest and strongest of them is Hinduism.

The members of the RSS believe that, for nearly a millennium, Hinduism has been under siege from sinister forces, such as Muslim invaders from the northwest and then British colonialism – and even by the Indian government after independence, which showed that it was ‘anti-Hindu’ by establishing rights and protections for religious minorities as it ‘gave up’ a part of the motherland for the formation of Pakistan.

It is an article of faith for the RSS that even though India is now a free nation, it is in need, after so many centuries of contamination by foreign religions and ideas, of realignment. In an ideal world, ‘Hindu’ and ‘Indian’ should be virtually interchangeable terms. Hindus are proudly and naturally and originally Indian; others earn their Indian-ness through good behaviour and submission to the Hindu consensus. [...]

There are also a number of interesting ways in which the RSS’ worldview is in denial: Although one of the main currents of modern Hinduism is the battle, by democratic means, of underprivileged castes to overturn centuries of privileged-caste oppression, the RSS prefers to ignore caste prejudice. That would destroy its construct of a united Hindu society assailed only by external forces.

Another word that that barely exists in the RSS’ vocabulary is ‘state’, which refers to a political form that has a definite point of origin (in the case of India in 1947) and is bound by definite rules and commitments, such as those of the Indian Constitution of 1950. Rather, the RSS seeks at all times to substitute that prosaic word with the more poetic and pressuring ‘nation’, which allows for a far more invasive and inflammatory set of demands.

Last, the RSS is profoundly suspicious not just of Muslims and Christians, but of democracy itself. For the RSS, democracy is not a profoundly liberating new force in Indian history and a catalyst for a new order of freedoms. Rather, democracy is only desirable as long as its own logic ratifies the rule of the Hindu majority.

Feb 11, 2015 - By Chandrahas Choudhury ... Modi and the BJP's high command had poured considerable amounts of time and money into the Delhi elections.

Finally, the setback in Delhi may prove, in the long run, to be good for both the prime minister and his party. Since last May, the BJP has been unable to resist the temptation to deploy Modi extensively in state elections. And perhaps Modi, who loves the thrill of rousing a crowd, had been unable to resist the rhetorical arts too, and had rationalized this tendency -- and the enormous investment of time that campaigning requires -- to himself as a way of spreading his gospel of “development” among his country's far-flung citizenry.

One might say that, nine months into his term, Modi was yet to exit campaign mode. Every new victory he delivered for his party further confirmed and extended the Modi effect. A party with a huge cadre and a wide base of capable politicians was becoming ever more reliant on the figure of a Great Leader, come from the capital to help win the state. Whether this was good for Indian democracy, it certainly was not good for democracy within the BJP.

The office of the prime minister is a full-time job -- more than full time. Perhaps, after the reverse in Delhi and the realization that defeats in state elections are more embarrassing than victories are pleasurable, Modi will now focus on his primary task and leave the state units of the party and their leaders to find their own language and their own strategies.

Sat, Nov 07, 2015 - Pushparaj Deshpande
In lamenting PM Modi’s dilemma (damned if he does and equally damned if he doesn’t), Chandan Mitra, in classic propagandist fashion, first provides us with a cleansed version of what happened to Mohammad and Danish Akhlaq in Uttar Pradesh. A rejoinder is necessary.

RSS and BJP leaders have instrumentally used the concepts of “love-jihad” to whip up communal sentiments (“ghar-wapsi” also falls in this category). It is this politics of intolerance that is responsible both for the vicious attacks on writers and rationalists and for inciting the mob that lynched the Akhlaqs. This is bound to be misinterpreted so a clarification is necessary here. In attacking the Sangh and the BJP, this author is not attacking Hindus. In fact, the vast majority of Indians believe in and follow ‘Sarva Dharma Sambhava’ or the equality of all religions, which is something both the Sangh and the BJP are opposed to. To put it plainly, the RSS is to Hinduism what the Ku Klux clan is to Christianity and ISIS is to Islam. – The author is an analyst with the Congress party. Views expressed by the author are personal. 

Sat, Nov 07, 2015 - Pushparaj Deshpande - What most Indians who voted for the BJP don’t realise (or accept) is that they were duped by Prime Minister Modi.

How is it that the RSS and its agents (who first effected its agenda through stealth) so brazenly scuttle the Constitution? And why is it that people are so unconcerned with the waves of injustice that threaten to engulf India? Are we as a people simply indifferent to it all? Or even more worryingly, do Indians genuinely believe that what’s happening is acceptable and legitimate? In unravelling this, one must understand that in India, there exist two sets of laws: a law of the land, and the law in the land. The law of the land is the set of secular norms and principles enshrined in the Constitution of India, which every government in India is mandated to uphold (which the NDA has been found wanting in). Resisting and opposing this supra framework exist various associations (the most prominent example being the Sangh Parivar) who religiously adhere to the law in the land (that is diagrammatically opposed to the law of the land). 

Essentially, the Sangh overtly and covertly challenges not just the sovereign position of the State, but also the Constitution of India. The Sangh Parivar and the BJP have, and are consciously undermining the rights which the Constitution of India guarantees (be it freedom of religion, of speech, of expression etc.). They first did that by infiltrating the state, and now by capturing it. What most Indians who voted for the BJP don’t realise (or accept) is that they were duped by Prime Minister Modi. The BJP instrumentally sold hope and the idea of development, and now in office, it has embarked on its real project. The reason Amit Shah and Venkaiah Naidu are scrambling to be seen to pull up the most visible of these so called “fringe elements” is because they know that this will cost them electorally (the first impending jolt being Bihar). But this doesn’t really explain why as a people, we accept their heinous assault on India. To do that, we needn’t look any further than the father of India’s Constitution, who precisely anticipated this organised resistance. Ambedkar argued that “rights are not protected by law but by the social and moral conscience of society. If social conscience is such that it is prepared to recognises the rights which law chooses to enact rights will be safe and secure. But if the fundamental rights are opposed by the community, no Law no Parliament, no judiciary can guarantee them in the real sense of the word”. And therein lies the real problem. 

Why people tolerate the Sangh’s divisive agenda is because constitutional principles (which define the idea of India) are not deeply embedded in the “collective consciousness” of India. This has in turn created fertile ground for the instrumental exploitation of communal (Muzzafarnagar, Dadri, Mainpuri etc.), casteist (Dankaur, Hamirpur, Virar etc.), regional and linguistic disunities. This is partly because the Sangh has rigorously engaged with society, hoping to embed radical Hindutva norms in India’s collective consciousness. It is because of their tireless efforts that large sections of India have been socialised to orthodox norms. In stark contrast, the numerous conscientious individuals and groups of people who oppose the RSS’ talibanised idea of India keep pinning their hopes on the state. They hope against hope that the state will leash the madness that is the RSS. However, it is not adequately recognised that the state’s ability to influence people is very limited (simply because in the Weberian imagination, it can only impose rules and guidelines). And what they also fail to realise is that this particular government doesn’t really subscribe to the constitutional idea of India at all, and that the BJP will always allow the Sangh to run amuck. – The author is an analyst with the Congress party. Views expressed by the author are personal. 

EPW Vol - XLIX No. 48, November 29, 2014 | Pushparaj V Deshpande
The Bharatiya Janata Party has calculatingly couched their anti-minority slanted race myth in the idea of nationalism, and combined it with a protest against fossilised institutions and political norms. This has helped produce a potent illusion which has paid rich electoral dividends to the BJP, and which no party seems to be able to dispel. This article argues that the ideological antagonism of BJP and the Sangh Parivar to Congress values is, by extension, a veiled opposition to the principles enshrined in the Constitution of India.

Intolerance against Modi, RSS reeks of class hatred - Anirban Ganguly, New Indian Express 
Read Full Article›› Wednesday, November 18, 2015
The CP(M) politburo, which routinely passes homilies and propaganda statements on the deteriorating state of tolerance in the country and comes out in support of every sundry activist who is involved in demonising the RSS, BJP and Narendra Modi, was itself complicit in that massacre and bloodshed of innocent farmers. For historians—who have been lifelong cardholders of the communists parties—thus, it would be worthwhile to revise the statement that likened the RSS to the ISIS. The RSS never ever in its history shot at and killed people, never instigated people to do so, it never set up gulags where revisionism could be practised and did not send people to concentration camps in sub-zero temperatures—the communists in India and in the history of the world have done all of these and much more and, therefore, are more similar and in tune with the ISIS ideology and its methods.

These same Stalinist apologists kept silent when Taslima Nasreen was hounded out of Kolkata in the winter of 2007 by the CP(M)-led Left front regime just because Islamist lumpens felt she had no place in Kolkata. For those who recall that day, entire stretches of the city were given over to lumpens, who also doubled up as communist cadres and mayhem was unleashed terrorising the ordinary people. These same Maoist intellectuals kept silent when in March 2014, an MP of the state’s ruling party organised a massive rally in support of Bangladeshi war criminals and called for putting to death those holding war crimes in Bangladesh. The facile pens of these intellectuals had gone silent then as it had when a series of murders of RSS and BJP functionaries took place in Tamil Nadu between 2012 and 2014 or in CP(M)-ruled Kerala when lecturer T J Joseph’s hands were chopped off just because he held views that were different from Islamist radicals.

Thus, the intolerance that these sham intellectuals display against the RSS and Modi is actually a class hatred and disdain. The return of awards and the accusations of intolerance is simply an expression of that hatred—nothing more and nothing less. Ganguly is Director, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, New Delhi Follow him on Twitter @anirbanganguly

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Different modes of belonging and group membership

The Clasp of Civilizations by Richard Alan Hartz … 
Richard Hartz looks primarily at cultural contacts, especially between what are still called “the East” and “the West” — although these terms have now lost much of their meaning on account, precisely, of globalization. How Eastern is a software engineer working for a German firm in Bangalore, speaking English as his primary language, and queuing up to see the latest Hollywood film? And how Western is a Manchester-born woman who trades in her mini-dress for a burqa, quits her job in a biochemistry lab and flies to Turkey to join the ISIS? Regional cultures still count for something, but global mashups will dominate the future. [...]
As a Westerner who has spent most of his adult life in India, Hartz brings balance and breadth to the discussion of topics that often encourage the taking of extreme positions. A careful reader of his sources, he avoids the pitfalls of oversimplification that people who come to the debate with fixed agendas tend to fall into. There is much to criticize in Huntington’s thesis, but most of those who attack him, Hartz observes, skewer a straw man of their own creation. The same is true of many Indian critics of Aurobindo and Nehru, who know their works only in the form of snippets circulated on the Internet. Hartz is at his best when he shows the hollowness of such tendentious criticism, but he may, by trying over-hard to avoid the same mistakes, keep himself from expressing his own views with sufficient vigour. But this is a minor quibble. His Clasp of Civilizations is an important contribution to the globalization debate written, appropriately, from a cosmopolitan standpoint.
Peter Heehs is an American historian living in Pondicherry, who writes on modern Indian History, Spirituality and Religion.
by R Hartz - ‎Related articlesThe Forgotten September 11 and the Clasp of Civilizations. Richard Hartz. An event in the 1890s has been called “the dawn of religious pluralism.” It was also ...

Open Democracy - ‎Nov 13, 2015‎ ENGIN ISIN 13 November 2015
To me his speech acts and his work on parrhesia are intimately related in ways that we have yet to understand. I have written about his speech in Geneva and I consider it a significant text. InCitizens Without Frontiers I drew on the three principles that Foucault outlines in this speech [3]. I especially focused on his point that organizations such as Amnesty International and Medécins du Monde have created new rights to act across borders.
Jun 19, 2013 - Book Review: Citizens Without Frontiers by Engin F. Isin ... December2012. ... Following on from a series of books on citizenship, including Being Political and Acts of Citizenship, Engin F. Isin continues to push the boundaries ...
Zalfa Feghali
Tracing a brief history of Médecins Sans Frontières, Isin highlights how historically it has been professions that traverse borders or frontiers. Accordingly, the idea of ‘citizens without frontiers’ “signifies the kind of politics and political subjects that are emerging and what happens when they enact their political subjectivity traversing frontiers”. His aim, then, is “to participate in creating or constructing a field in which a new figure can acquire capacities to act as a citizen”. What is most paradoxical about these suggestions is the fact that citizenship is, by its very nature, tied to the notion of the demarcated state. Is a citizen still a citizen when she traverses the frontiers that affirm her very existence?

In chapter 5, the title chapter “Citizens Without Frontiers”, Isin imagines a new field in which the citizen without frontiers is an activist whose existence allows us to distinguish between “traversal citizenship” from “universal citizenship.” What is key to remember here, Isin argues, is that citizens without frontiers “exercise a right that does not exist” – in fact what I would argue, does not yet exist, but is a “right” within citizenship studies that Isin theorizes here, for the first time. The three “acts” outlined in this chapter, “Of Declaration: We, the Roma Nation”, “Of Resistance: International Solidarity Movement”, “Of Sharing: Open Rights Group”, bring this argument together. What each of these “acts” has in common is the formation of alternative communities – whether nations, movements, or groups. The formation – and acts – of these communities emphasizes how our understanding of citizenship must be flexible and adaptive to different modes of belonging and group membership that have been critically ignored within citizenship studies.

Following on from this, the final chapter, “Emancipating (Acts of) Citizenship”, makes the useful distinction between the state and the nation. Isin argues that the state is being taken apart from the nation. This is not a new crisis, and Isin acknowledges the long history of tension between the ideas of nation and state.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dahl and Kahn

By DOUGLAS MARTINFEB. 7, 2014 - Perhaps Professor Dahl’s best-known work was one of his earliest: “Who Governs? Democracy and Power in an American City” (1961), which examined the political workings of New Haven. In contrast to the view that power in American society was concentrated in a business elite, he depicted a multitude of groups competing for influence. “Instead of a single center of sovereign power,” he wrote, “there must be multiple centers of power, none of which is or can be wholly sovereign.”

New Haven, he argued, had experienced a historical progression from patrician rule to a more contested form of government in which political parties and candidates of different ethnic and economic backgrounds competed.

Professor Dahl initially defended pluralistic competition as inherently democratic, but in later books he theorized that powerful, politically agile minorities could thwart the will of other minorities and, indeed, majorities. He particularly worried that corporate managers could dictate the direction of their companies, often without reference to shareholders. He advocated giving outsiders, including government and interest groups like consumer representatives, a greater role in corporate governance.

He also wrote that citizens in recent years have had less influence over the political process, even as they have demanded more of it. He pointed to growing economic inequality as a threat to the political process. And he criticized the Constitution as undemocratic, saying it disregarded population differences in guaranteeing at least one representative and only two senators to each state.

Professor Dahl saw no way of changing this, because the Constitution specifically prohibits it. But he suggested reforms, like term limits for senators and representatives and runoff elections so that the winner of every race could claim a majority. Continue reading the main story
“He punctured our smug self-satisfaction that what we have is so great,” Professor Fishkin said.

A polyarchy is a modern representative democracy w... Throughout On Democracy, Dahl emphasizes the importance of words and their definitions. To illustrate their importance Dahl looks to Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass where he says 'When I use a word, it means what I want it to mean-- neither more, nor less. According to this everyone is free to call any government a democracy, even a despotic one.

Kahn, P.W.: Out of Eden: Adam and Eve and the Problem of ...
by PW Kahn - ‎Cited by 24 - ‎Related articles
In Out of Eden, Paul W. Kahn offers a philosophical meditation on the problem of evil. He uses the Genesis story of the Fall as the starting point for a profound ...

Paul W. Kahn - Huffington Post
Jul 30, 2015 - Paul W. Kahn is Robert W. Winner Professor of Law and the Humanities, and Director of the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human ...

Book Details : Political Theology - Columbia University Press
In this strikingly original work, Paul W. Kahn rethinks the meaning of political theology. In a text innovative in both form and substance, he describes an American ...

Sacred Violence: Torture, Terror, and Sovereignty
Paul W. Kahn - 2009 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
In Sacred Violence, the distinguished political and legal theorist Paul W. Kahn investigates the reasons for the resort to violence characteristic of premodern states.

Interview with Paul W. Kahn, Author of Finding Ourselves at ...
Jan 29, 2014 - “Plato may have done philosophy, but he wrote dramas.” That is one of the first lines in Paul W. Kahn’s new book, Finding Ourselves at the Movies: Philosophy for a New Generation (buy from Columbia UP or Amazon). Kahn points out that many of us get little exposure to philosophy in school or elsewhere in our lives. In his book, he makes the case for the value of philosophy and argues that one of the best venues for exposure to it is popular culture: the movies, specifically.

First of all, Paul, one of the first statements in your book is the following, “philosophy begins with narrative, not abstraction.” Could you give us some examples from both ancient times and our own day?
While there are fragments preserved from the pre-Socratics, Western philosophy begins its written tradition with Plato. Plato, however, wrote nothing that we would identify as a philosophical text. He wrote something that looked considerably more like drama. They were dialogues that addressed particular questions in a dramatic context.
Finding Ourselves at the Movies
Finding Ourselves at the Movies
The tradition of writing dialogues continued for some time in classical thought. Cicero and Seneca, for example, wrote dialogues. In modern philosophy, David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion may be the most famous. The narrative form of reflective inquiry is rooted for Westerners in Christ’s use of parables. Modern philosophers have sometimes used a narrative form – most famously in Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra. In popular culture, I am reminded of the very successful work Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig.

Could you tell us what you mean by the idea that the defense of philosophy is the practice of philosophy?
Philosophy is not a means to some other end. I cannot prove the usefulness of philosophy by showing you that it will improve your job prospects, find you a partner, or make your life easier. We engage in philosophy because we are drawn to self-reflection. We not only act, we think about what we are doing. At times, we think about our entire lives, what we are committed to and why. Everyone, in some way or another, is drawn to these reflections. That is part of what it means to be a person. Philosophy is only a more sustained effort to engage in this sort of self-reflection. The importance of that experience in one’s own life is the only ground upon which philosophy can be defended.