There are many remarkable things about the Indian Elections 2014. Many in the country believe that this will mark an end and a beginning: Which end and which beginning are being contested, though. It may be the end of the unipolar politics of Congress versus the others, but then only to be replaced by Hindu Nationalists versus the other politics. It may be the decline of India's most prominent political family, the Gandhis, which is drawing most attention: The family scion, Rahul Gandhi, has been comprehensively rejected by the Indian voters. This may also be the end of the Indian Republic as conceived by its founding fathers, and what comes next can be reasonably called the Second Republic.
That may mark a new beginning. Indian Second Republic may not have any of the indecisiveness of the French. Duke of Wellington mused during the Second Republic "France needs a Napoleon and I can't yet see him", but India has its Bonaparte now. This election marks a firm choice about what kind of India one wants, and by handing the victory to RSS, a body which sponsored the assassination of Gandhi on 30th January 1948 because they disapproved the kind of India he helped bring about, that choice represents a decisive break from the idea of India originally conceived. In many ways, this may be the start of a new nation building - an equivalent of Cultural Revolution - and an attempt to build an India with a more unified culture, if not around the majority religion, may be made. The original cosmopolitan conception of India may now be decisively discarded, and a new beginning can be made modeled after the European 'pure' nations of the Nineteenth century.
In this breaking point of a nation, one ending seems rather unremarkable, one that is marked by a whimper and not necessarily succeeded by a new beginning: That of the Democratic Left. This election reduced the once mighty Communist Parties of India (of various hues) to a rump. Once the kingmakers during the multi-polar world of India's politics of the Nineties, they are now decisively overcome by various regional interests and chieftains. And, this is not just a temporal reversal of fortune, submerged by a tidal wave of public fancy, but a continuous and seemingly irreversible decline, the onset of senility that must affect in the absence of any conscious efforts of regeneration or engagement. The leaders of the Democratic Left no longer offer any ideas about what kind of India they may want, and instead offer opportunistic rhetoric borrowed from the antiquated world of the pre-globalisation politics. This end is a perfect demise, even a peaceful one perhaps, a slow obsolescence that invariably follow lack of debate and dissent.
This is surprising: The globalised India, on its long road from Manmohan to Modi, created a vast social class of the dispossessed, disaffected, disadvantaged and disenchanted. Strangely, the rhetoric of hatred and reaction, as offered by the Hindu Nationalists, have won over the same people who it would eventually dispossess further. The left, their supposed champions, could neither leverage their fear nor inspire any hope. They could not counter the empty rhetoric of 'good times' because their ideas were equally empty and out-of-touch. They had nothing to offer: their demise is, therefore, unmourned.
This ending, however, is not without consequence. Does this not clear the space for revolutionary left, who were all but forgotten, primarily because they were pushed out of the margins by the appeal of the democratic left? India's dispossessed are already organised, are already in a battle and are outside the 'good times' parties being organised all over India by the Middle Classes. If anything, they are preparing themselves for an even more brutal assault of the government forces and the rapacious industrialists: The helicopter gunships must be coming. The absence of Democratic Left will surely shift the primary responsibility of opposition to the Revolutionary Left.
But the revolutionary possibilities are not just to be found in the jungles and battle fatigues of the dispossessed, but increasingly among those disquieted by the nature of globalised rigging of the rules: This is the 99%, self-organising, temporal but outraged, that has proved to be effective. Call it anarchism, but they offer an alternative at the time when state itself has become a degenerative mechanism. The democratic socialism has tied itself to the State and degenerated when the state degenerated into an apparatus of privileged accumulation; the revolutionary left remained outside the margins, too preoccupied by the struggles of existence to alter the course of politics, in the waiting for an 'objective condition' to arrive. The anarchic mechanics of the self-organising left, however, drew its lifeblood from the technologies of self-organisation and conversation, and were without the trappings of the state. They, therefore, offer an alternative after the decline of democratic left, to be the voice of the dispossessed, against the rule of the few, against the repressive state.
This may be the most interesting beginning wrapped around in the tidings of the Indian election. The work of resistance must necessarily begin.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
In our age, the only way to be politically correct is to be democratic. This is a post-70s affair - those days, still, some people had alternative ideologies in mind. Those alternate ideas are dead and gone, long discredited, and it seems that we have only one system which can make people happy, free and live longer. So, we have this huge export industry of democracy, and democracy's warriors, which the American security establishment has lately become. The democracy's businessmen, the bond traders, the media barons and the Hollywood types, are feted everywhere. The consensus is deafening and dumbing. It is indeed awkward to ask now - whether democracy is the right system for every society. It indeed should be. Collective wisdom is better than individual autocracy. In societies where democratic elections have been few and far between, the popular vote has demonstrated the extra-ordinary political savvy of the usually disinterested masses. Democracy has proved to be an excell
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.