Why the Ideas of India must die?

What things initially are determines what they rot into. What rots to produce Dadris and Godses? The Whatsapp-inspired anti-Muslim lynch-mob of NCR’s Dadri didn’t originate from thin air. The Nathurams waited for a not-so-hostile ideological landscape. Their time has come. They share with their so-called critics a concept called the “idea of India”. The difference is in the details. The various factions of the “idea of India” establishment can give up awards or chairmanships, but can’t give up membership of the India International Centre. By evening, they are friends.

They blow up small differences between their ideas of India, thus fixing the limits of legitimate politics (the so-called “mainstream”) and delegitimising all dissent outside the Gandhi-Godse axis. This gives an illusion of choice and sucks in much of the political energy that might have otherwise flowed along other axes of exclusion — caste, language, class, ethnicity and more. The self-styled “radical” proponents of the “idea of India” make up for this alignment with the ideology of dominance by reserving their full-throated ire towards the other pole. They particularly delegitimise those identities that do not let the “idea of India” gangs speak for the peoples from their NCR and Bombay (not Mumbai) perches. No political formation that is controlled largely by upper castes can speak for the Dalit, and the many versions of the “idea of India” are largely upper caste political fantasies. No political formation that stands for Hindi imposition on non-Hindi people by Government of India can align with non-Hindi peoples without being profoundly hypocritical. Caste equality in political leadership, total linguistic equality without selling the myth of “Hindi as national language” are already things that the Delhi-inspired ideas of India cannot hold. They tell us to “rise above” caste, language, ethnicity, thus revealing that unitarian, Delhi-centric caste Hindu ideologies in their cosmo-liberal and Hindutva avatars are but variants of the deep-state’s ideology.

Gandhi stressed unity and sameness and opposed separate electorates for scheduled castes, within the ambit of Ramrajya. We are past the expiry date of the 1947 idea that has tricolour secularism as text and the fantastic idea of unified Hinduism as subtext, with the sly Nehruvian hope that a union of deracinated elite might hold fort indefinitely. The chickens have come home to roost. The subtext wants to claim its rightful place, a sense of right that was explicitly supported by Godse and not explicitly opposed by Gandhi. To solidify their positions, deracinated savarna elite have created a self-serving cottage industry of denunciation of underdog caste-ethnic-language-based politics — in short, all political categories that have links with the stark reality of exclusion. The cutting of the wings of excluded aspirations are necessary. Without this violent exclusion, cosmo-liberal “idea of India” cannot fly. This ideology has created fertile ground for other ideologies of homogenisation by systematically destroying caste-ethnicity-language-based resistances to homogeneity. In this fertile ground, hundreds of Godses bloom.

Those who thought and still think that the transition from Gandhi to Godse wouldn’t be easy misread the silence of those who were too frightened to publicly state such apprehensions under the Gandhian-Nehruvian dispensation. Those who believed it wouldn’t be easy are alienated enough from their immediate surrounds to take Delhi-generated mythologies of history, civics, Bollywood, cricket and culture seriously. All ideas of India facilitate a Gandhi to Godse transition with the vested interests of the various ‘idea of India’ gangs remaining untouched. While they put up shadow fights (which are nothing more than glorified crowd management tactics from above) pitting Gandhi against Godse from their cosmo-liberal perches, we have to protect our homelands from Gandhis and Godses. Ideas of India must die so that the Union of India may live.

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Garga Chatterjee Written by:

Brain scientist. Columnist. Bengali. He received his PhD from Harvard and is a faculty at the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata.

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