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Radical Views
M C Raj What After Ambedkar? – I 30 May, 2015

Ghar Wapsi is a vehement call by Hindutva forces for a public recognition of their systems and structures of governance. Many academicians and intellectuals have been critical of such an attempt. We must locate it in the context of a dialectic movement that was started way back in 1906. It became clear that the British would leave their system of governance in the hands of Indians.

Though Hinduism had already established its system of caste governance in the social field they now wanted to transfer it also to the realm of political governance. The emergence of systems of governance with a heady mix of the political and the social would be in their best interest. They consciously wanted to mix both to reap a rich harvest of social privileges and economic benefits. Out came the discourse of cultural nationalism. Such a mix has obliterated even the consciousness of the need for dialectics necessary for the progress of political nationalism.
Responses to the discourses that lay hidden under Ghar Wapsi have been more in the realm of rhetoric and critical puking than in the realm of developing antithesis to the Hindutva thesis of cultural nationalism. This reflects a helpless or even a shallow attempt at facing the threats posed by the thesis of Hindutva in the first place and by the systems and structures of cultural nationalism in general. In the absence of any strong dialectics the winner will be Hindutva with a very weak or apparently a lack of antithesis to its thesis of Hindu Rashtra. Other minorities propose a thesis bordering on the same discourse of cultural nationalism thus weakening their own argumentation.

Ambedkar is eulogised often blindly both by his followers and by his apparent admirers for being critical of caste system. Ambedkar worked on a Constitution to govern the country. Both Jinnah and Ambedkar worked on political nationalism as the foundation for independent India. Though it is a very laudable contribution to the emerging nation of India he did weakened his position by converting to Buddhism. This was as it became an antithesis against Hinduism and not yet against the thesis of cultural nationalism of Hindutva.

While Buddhism was born of a highly critical perception of the tenets of Hindu philosophy it did not counter Hinduism in terms of systems and structures. Hindus are happy with Buddhism for this clear omission of a systemic and structural antithesis. An appropriate antithesis would have been to relegate religion to the realm of the private and keep only Constitution to the realm of governance. Perhaps Ambedkar intended this, but his profession of burning the Constitution did not augur well for the strength of an antithesis.

The job of being rhetorically critical generally belongs to those who are part of the system. They want to constantly refurbish their systems and structures so that relevance is attained to their thesis. Being critical of a system endlessly does not strengthen the dialectic movement in any way and to that extent criticism will be only chaff leaving out the grain untouched. The movement beyond dissent and critical analysis will necessarily lead to the development of antithesis at the systemic and structural levels to tackle Hindutva meaningfully.

Countering a system through rhetoric, however strong it may be, is a mismatch. There will be no meeting point of such dissent with the dominant thesis. The agents of dominant structures will only be doubly happy if a lot of noise is made. They are deeply aware that it will be a nuisance at the most but can in no way touch their thesis in the long run. They are usually highly confident of the short sightedness of such dissent that does not rise up to the level of antithesis.

What brings jitters to the proponents of Ghar Vapsi is the systemic and structural antithesis of political nationalists. There is perfect logic in Hindutva’s attack on Islam and Christianity as they are the real stepping-stones for consolidation of their thesis. Hindutva feels terribly frightened and weak when faced with the structural and systemic antithesis of nationalist discourses. Their consistent attack on Christians and Muslims will weaken the development of substantial antithesis in the din of anti-Hindutva rhetoric and protests.

The recent arrest of 30 activists in Delhi who tried to storm into the residence/office of HRD minister, Smriti Irani is a case in focus. The Union Finance Minister for a consultative meeting invited some of them. It was an opportunity to present an antithesis in favour of the Adijans, Adivasis and other poor. Bereft of the trajectory of dialectic movement the group that met the Finance Minister only presented suggestions within the system. The dominant system does not give a handle to ‘outsiders’ to refurbish their system.

The FM went ahead with his budget within the given system. Recent elections gave the legitimacy to them to move ahead with their systems and structures. Being sidelined, the Dalit group raised a hue and cry about their suggestions not getting incorporated in the budget. The point is that they missed the bus in the beginning itself by not placing their demands in the context of an antithesis. They once again reaffirmed the dominant paradigm that Dalits are capable only of making noise.

Something becomes an antithesis only when it is placed against another thesis. On its own it is a thesis. Falling back upon resistance to dominant thesis does not take the oppressed anywhere. This is where the leadership of the discriminated people faces a bottleneck. They have least bothered about developing a thesis of their people even before being confronted with another thesis. They have not cared to look deep inside and identify the existence of a latent thesis.

Absence of such endeavour to go deep into the history and culture of a discriminated people will only end up in reactionary tendencies. Such reactions are not going to take the oppressed people anywhere near the systems and structures of governance.
Reactions lead to counter reactions and ultimately those with more power to react, win. Those who react on behalf of the discriminated people do not even count their strengths as they rely heavily on the power of rhetoric, slogans and street marches. These are often symbolic representation of the shallowness deep inside. There is a definite mismatch between oppressive systems of governance and reactionary protests.

” style=”font-size:x-small”>(The writer is the author of 22 published books including 8 fictions. He writes on philosophy, psychology, spirituality and politics. He is spearheading CERI, the Campaign for Proportional Representation system in India.)
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