“…there is a question of existential solidarity at this hour”

On 22nd Feb 2017, Delhi University Professor of English, Prasanta Chakravarty (and a RAIOT author) was brutally attacked by Hindu fascist student group ABVP. This was the statement he made when he was out of the hospital.

In the past two days, circumstances have overtaken my life. But just like any event, the social value of newsworthiness will subside. And that is a good thing. What ought not to subside is awareness of the constant climate of intimidation in many parts of our country now.

there is also a question of existential solidarity at this hour.

Indeed, in many places of the world now, since it is a perfect fascist moment we are passing through. I feel a bit perplexed, and inadequate about narrating personal stuff. I am simply not good at that. I shall be most happy to go back to classes and to reading groups and to my poetry. I only wanted to make two points, and then let us move on.

One, that I have got enormous and genuine support and faith from my students. And as I tried to say yesterday on television, I believe that it is they and their compatriots all around the nation who can bring about a change in real terms across campuses and then connect campus issues with the larger political and social contexts. It is for them to diagnose and act upon the time that they are passing through. Indeed, seize time and fortune and not be detached from their times. It goes far beyond empathizing with me or with other newsworthy events that shall continue to happen.

The second point is about difference and solidarities: there has and must remain ideological and positional differences among the best of friends. And we must keep on highlighting them, for thinking people who are passionate about life must build up poetics and politics on subtlety and positional nuance.

There must be a broad coalition now, silently building up.

But there is also a question of existential solidarity at this hour. If we are able to come together now, not by sublimating our differences, but by bringing forth those and yet building up broad fronts of togetherness and planning and hard strategy that these times demand, only then can we take on these regressive, narrow and debilitating brand of populism that haunts our nation and the world right now.

There must be a broad coalition now, silently building up. And years of work lie ahead. A painstaking job. The Right is in ascendancy today because they have done and are doing this painstaking job of hate-mongering effectively, at the grassroots level, for decades. We have to take on that kind of a might. I have no clue how. But we must rise above our silos and egos and come together–students, teachers and everybody else who wish to see a different climate from the one we find ourselves in today.

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Prasanta Chakravarty teaches English in Delhi University and edits Humanities Underground

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