Monday, December 24, 2007

What can the Congress learn from Gujarat 2007?

Note: The Hindi translation of this article was published in the Haribhoomi newspaper on 26-27 January, 2008.

I do not begrudge Narendra Modi, the three-time chief minister of Gujarat, his victory: personally, I think it would be foolish to do so. The last time he won in 2002, he taught the Congress party important lessons, without which ‘the cavalcade of history’ might never have been reversed and the UPA wrested power from the NDA in early 2004.

For one thing, the decision taken at the Pachmarhi Conclave was reversed when Congress leaders met at Simla in the aftermath of Mr. Modi’s second comeback. The party’s obstinate refusal to embrace coalitional politics and aim instead to form a government on its own at the Centre, which formed the crux of the Pachmarhi Declaration, was replaced with a resolution authorizing the Congress President ‘to play a leading role in forming a coalition of secular parties with the sole objective of overthrowing the NDA’. In my opinion, that historic decision marked the beginning of the end of the NDA. This time too, I believe that Mr. Modi’s third consecutive victory, though disappointing in the short term, shall teach us important lessons for the long term. What are they?

Nobody else but you
The most obvious lesson of course is the absolute necessity of developing regional leaders within the party, who can stand up to people like Mr. Modi. It is no secret that he presented himself as the embodiment of “Vandé Gujarat”: through a perverse alchemy of hate- for him, there's always somebody to hate (Pervez Musharraf, for instance) and somebody who hates him (Sonia Gandhi?)- and possibly even good administration, Modi became Gujarat, and Gujarat, Modi. Consequently, any attack on Narendra Modi was projected- and also, perceived- as an attack on Gujarati pride. The Congress simply had no one who could match his stature. That will have to change, double-quick. No wonder then that the media, in the absence of a Congress leader who could rival Mr. Modi, portrayed (wrongly) this election as a contest between him and Sonia Gandhi. Mrs. Gandhi’s ‘maut ka saudagar’ remark was misrepresented by him as a direct attack on him- and Gujarat. Indeed, nothing could have suited him more. (Thankfully, there was one community which didn't buy Mr. Modi's rhetoric: the tribals have returned to the Congress. For more, see this video.)

Rising regional aspirations is a fact that no national party can afford to ignore: in all but four states (Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh), there has been a regional party in power at some point or another. Coincidentally, the next round of elections are to take place in these four states. Much more important, the results of these four assembly elections will set the tone for the next General (Lok Sabha) Elections, which are scheduled to be held immediately afterwards. (Given the badgering the Congress- and the UPA- have taken in Gujarat and are likely to take in Himachal, a midterm poll can be safely ruled out, Nuclear Deal or not.)

An Elephant in a China shop

In this context, it becomes pertinent to mention the BSP supremo and Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Mayawati’s “Mahajot” experiment: emboldened with her victory in UP, based as it was on a formidable inter-caste alliance between the Dalits and Brahmins, who constitute 14% of UP’s electorate (D+B), she now hopes to replicate the UP Model in other states as well. In less than four days, the result of the Himachal Pradesh election will be known. In all probability, the incumbent Congress government will not be returned to power. But anti-incumbency would be just one factor accounting for the party’s defeat. The damage done by Mr. Mankhotia, a one-time right-hand man of chief minister Vir Bhadra Singh who recently defected to the BSP, cannot be underestimated.

Similarly Ms. Mayawati’s lieutenants are in talks with Sibhu Soren, the tribal leader of Jharkhand, and Bhajan Lal, the former chief minister of Haryana who enjoys a considerable following among the non-Jat voters of that state. The idea is to strike alliances between the BSP’s core supporters, i.e., the dalits, and another dominant caste leader in other states as well, along the lines of the D+B combination in UP. Needless to say, Congress will be the worst-hit party should Ms. Mayawati’s Mahajot succeed. Lesson No. One, therefore, is the need to accommodate regional- and caste- aspirations within the party fold, lest people seek an alternative elsewhere.(For more on combating Mayawati's Mahajot, see here.)

Tryst with Destiny
In the broader analysis, that would mean returning to Pandit Nehru’s style of governance: despite his towering- almost dictatorial- stature, he saw himself as ‘primus inter pares’, or first among equals; consequently, his administration was based on evolving a consensus between powerful regional satraps, like Govind Vallabh Bhai Pant in UP, Mohan Lal Sukhadia in Rajasthan, B.C. Roy in West Bengal, and K. Kamaraj in Tamil Nadu, each of whom enjoyed relative autonomy in their respective spheres of influence. This changed during the time of his successor, Mrs. Indira Gandhi. The old satraps gave way to leaders who owed their positions solely to her pleasure; consequently, they saw no compelling need to develop followings- mass bases- of their own. This new style of top-down governance was based on the very factual premise that people, irrespective of where they came from, voted for Mrs. Gandhi; not for her candidates per se. That premise can no longer be justified.

In today’s context, two important changes have taken place. One, local issues have gained ascendancy over national ones, the candidate matters as much, if not more, than the party. Two, in light of the growing threat-perception on members of the Family, all of whom are SPG protectees, the physical barrier between the Family and the masses has grown manifold. They are no longer as accessible to the people as they would like to be: it is yet another reason for developing regional leaders, who can act as a direct link between the people and the Family.

This is not to say that the Family’s following has shrunk in any way. If the crowds attending the rallies, road shows and public meetings of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Rahul Gandhi are anything to go by, then it would be safe to say that the Family is the only institution in India that can legitimately claim to represent all of the nation; indeed, it continues to be the sole embodiment of our unity in diversity. Now, while this is no doubt a great asset- perhaps the greatest asset- in helping us win people’s hearts- and elections- it cannot, of its own, guarantee an electoral victory. Gujarat and UP are two recent examples of this. This then brings me to my Lesson No. Two.

All about numbers

It’s one thing to have mammoth crowds come to catch a glimpse of, and listen to, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Rahul Gandhi, but completely another to get them to vote for the Congress. While they do the former on their own, the latter necessarily depends on the party organization. The single biggest reason why the Congress performed so miserably in UP was because there was no party organization to transform the crowds into votes. In my opinion, therefore, the greatest achievement to come out of Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s involvement in the UP election, is that at least now, the Congress has an organization, howsoever rudimentary, in that state: a beginning has been made.

A similar situation, although not quite as dismal, was faced in Gujarat. A frequent complaint among party workers, particularly the youth, was that they are asked to get involved only during elections. Indeed, that is true of the Congress party everywhere. The organization- or whatever little there is of it- seems to exist only between elections; in the interregnum, it does the customary ‘Zindabaad’ whenever a leader comes to town but beyond that, it has very little direct interaction with the electorate. Take the example of Chhattisgarh. Elections are due in less than a year. Final revision of electoral rolls ended two weeks ago. Now ideally the party organization should have been mobilized to ensure that names of party voters don’t get left out, particularly of those voters who’ve come of age. Nothing of the sort happened. On the other hand, the ruling BJP launched a massive statewide Mission 2008 campaign, in which its workers silently went door-to-door registering voters’ names (both real and fictional).

The reason for this isn’t hard to find. Unlike the left and right parties, the Congress doesn’t have a cadre. The traditional argument made in favor of not having a cadre is twofold: one, the Congress isn’t really a party but a movement; and two, given the large number of Congressmen, it is simply not economically sustainable. Unfortunately, neither argument holds water. Yes, Congress was a movement when it led the struggle for India’s freedom. No so anymore, especially when we’ve run out of Big Causes to fight for. To get the Congress to become a movement again, what is required is another Big Cause, along the lines of ‘Quit India’ and ‘Garibi Hatao’. But as pointed out earlier, when local issues have paramountcy over national ones, what we have today are a whole lot of small- but important- causes rather than any one all-unifying Big Cause. As far as the second argument- of financial viability- is concerned, well, if the Communists and the Sangh (BJP included) can do it when they’ve been in power a lot less than we have, then surely there is no reason why we can’t. Countless number of people have gotten very rich principally because of their association with the party- and its high time they gave something back to the party: let’s call it noblesse oblige.

The undeniable fact is that politics isn’t just about elections. It has become a full time occupation. Workers have to be on the field, interacting with the electorate, 24/7. To expect them to do so ex gratia would be, frankly speaking, absurd. Who will, after all, take care of their basic requirements, their bread and butter, if not the party? In any case, nobody is suggesting that each and every Congressman be reimbursed, but just a select few, chosen objectively on the basis of the quality of their work and the amount of time they can devote to the party. Something of the sort already exists for national level party office bearers; all that needs to be done is to extend it below, at least to block-level if not booth-level. Once a cadre is in place, I’m sure party leaders can think of plenty of ways to keep them both busy and productive. (Incidentally, this blogger has already suggested how this could be done.)

Which hill station is best?

A third lesson doesn’t come directly from Gujarat, but from the Congress’ first experience- call it experiment- with coalitional politics: the four years of UPA government. To put it simply, it presents itself in the form of a question: is it possible for the party to compete with its allies regionally while cooperating nationally? If the answer is a pure and simple ‘No’, then we’re back to Pachmarhi. What the UPA experiment has shown, however, is that the dilemma has begun to resolve itself.

The Congress was once the principal opposition to Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD in Bihar, Mr. Karunanidhi’s DMK in Tamil Nadu, and the Communists in West Bengal. Now, with the UPA, we’ve been reduced to playing second fiddle to them, especially since they constitute the Congress’ three main allies in the UPA. In all these three states, the role of the principal opposition has been taken by Mr. Nitish Kumar’s JD (U), Ms. J. Jayalalitha’s AIADMK, and Ms. Mamta Banerjee's Trinamool respectively, all of whom are naturally predisposed towards the NDA. The reason is quite clear: people in these states believe that their interests are better served by supporting players who better represent their regional aspirations; the Congress, on the other hand, is seen as incapable of doing so, dictated as it is by ‘considerations from Delhi’.

Needless to say, Congress party workers in these three states feel, plainly speaking, let down; they feel that compulsions of UPA have encroached upon the Congress’ self-interests in their respective regions. I believe that it was for them that the Congress President, in her address to the AICC Session at Delhi last month, specifically mentioned the need ‘for workers in Bihar, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal’ to revive the party. The idea, it would appear, is to reduce the Congress dependency on its allies.

Strangely enough, this brings the end back to its beginning: the only way to do so is to promote regional leaders within the Congress, who can take on both the Laloos and the Nitishes, the Karunanidhis and the Jayalalithas, the Communists and the Mamtas, not to mention the Modis, and in the process, provide a space of nurturing growing regional aspirations within the party itself.

Simla is all very well, but Pachmarhi still remains the goal towards which the Congress ought to strive. If the past is anything to go by- after all, he did teach us our most valuable lesson the last time he won- then the Congress has more to be thankful for to Mr. Modi than even it can imagine.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Art: Untitled, c. 2007

This is my first oil in almost half a decade: it took ages to conceive and less than three hours to paint. Despite the obvious dissimilarity, this is the closest, I guess, the males of our species shall come to experiencing Birth.

The unchristened work now belongs to my father's political secretary, Mr Shailesh Nitin Trivedi, for whom it was painted: a labor of love.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Video: Ajit Jogi on Gujarat 2007

In less than twenty four hours, the uncertainty about Gujarat- whether the coalition of secular parties has succeeded in ousting Narendra Modi's government?- shall end. My father, who led the Congress party's campaign in the tribal belt, remains hopeful about the party's prospects in that region: he says that there was 'a strong undercurrent' in the Congress' favor; as far as the various 'exit polls' are concerned, all of which seem to predict a mandate for Mr. Modi, he believes that they do not account for the large number of 'silent voters', who for one reason or another, preferred not to speak. In this video clip recorded on 4th December 2007 shortly after he released the Congress Manifesto in Surat, he discusses the Congress party's election strategy.


Today's election result have shown that the tribals of Gujarat, in particular central Gujarat, have returned to the Congress. The real question, then, is this: why not others?

December 23, 2007 Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

Chhattisgarh 2008 (1): मिट्ठलबरा पारटी

हाल ही डाक्टर रमन सिंह ऐलान करे हे ते ओखर सरकार गरीब मनखे तीन रुपया चाउर देहीकाबर ते अवय्या साल चुनई होही अउ ओखर कगरा कोनो दूसर मुद्दा नई बाचे हवे

भाजपा पारटी जेला मे हर मिट्ठलबरा पारटी कथौं, पहिली घलो किसम के लबारी मार के हमला ठगे हवेएखर पहिली चुनई हर कहे रहिस के जब हमर राज आही, हमन सब्बो नौजवान मन कामबूता देबो अउ अगर नई दे सकन उमन घर बैठे पांच सौ रुपया बेरोजगारी भत्ता देबोरमन राज चार साल पूरे हो गिस, भलुक एक घलो नौजवान पांच सौ रुपया दूर, पांच ठन रुपय नई मिले हवे

मिट्ठलबरा पारटी बोले रहिस के भाजपा का कहना साफ, किसान का करजा माफ़सिंचाई अउ बिजली घलो मुफत देके गोठ कहे रहिसचार साल एक ठन किसान के करजा माफ़ नई होईस, भलुक छत्तीसगढ़ के किसान मन जरूर साफ हो गिसएक देरी मिट्ठलबरा पारटी के सेठ मन गरीब के भाटा के चाउर, सकर अउ माटी तेल के कालाबाजारी करेके अउ पोटावत हन, अउ दूसर देरी किसान के लइकामन भूख ले मरत हनबालोद एक आदिवासी दाई, जेखर नाव फोटो बाई हवे, के दू नोनी बाबू मन भूख ले मर गे

आदिवासी मन घलो छले हवे, मिट्ठलबरा पारटीचुनई के पहिली बोले रहिस के जम्मो आदिवासी परिवार एक-एक जरसी गैया देबोफेर कहिस के गैया के जगह सांड देबोफेर कहिस के सांड के जगह बैला देबो गैया मिलिस, सांड मिलिस, बैला मिलिसहमर भोले-भाले आदिवासी मन ओखर गोठ सच मान के गैया बांधे बर गेरवा रस्सी अउ ओखर दूहे बर बालटी पहिली ले ही खरीद लिस

गाढ़ा रमन राज कुछु आदिवासी मन चरण पादुका जरूर मिलिस, जेला हमन छत्तीसगढ़िया मन पनही कथे पनही के साथ का करे के हे, हमन अच्छी तरह जानत हन, अउ टेम आने पे मिट्ठलबरा पारटी के मनखे घलो जान जाही

अमित जोगी
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Sunday, December 02, 2007

THE ADVENT: Goodbye, Undertrial

I. Found in translation
Under Trial, the name of my blog, has, in the wake of my acquittal last May, become something of an anachronism; consequently, readers have repeatedly told me to rechristen it. Quite frankly, to paraphrase Peiter Geyl, the Dutch historian, there are arguments, both for and against.

The ‘Against’ argument is twofold: one, the expression never really applied to me, the author, but to the entire corpus of writings posted on this blog. They have, I believe, cumulatively taken the form of an extended essay. If only to further buttress this premise, I cannot resist the urge to mention Michel de Montaigne. That erudite essayist had famously reminded us that the etymological root of the world essay comes in fact from his native French ‘essai’, which means ‘trial’. Given that he was after all, a Frenchman, his rather vain assertion can hardly be deemed surprising.

Two: for me, the Age of ‘Angst vor etwas’- Freud’s classical definition of anxiety, which when translated from the German, would mean ‘anxious expectations’- hasn’t quite ended. Much as I would like to believe otherwise, my future still hangs in a balance. I am still a prisoner of ‘Der prozess’, Franz Kafka’s title for his novel, which those of us conversant with the English tongue (not to mention its cinematic and Americanish variations) more commonly know of as ‘The Trial’ (with at least one version, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins).

The ‘For’ argument is apparently simpler. Following my acquittal, I am, technically speaking, no longer an Under Trial. Also, if one were to subscribe to what Harold Bloom collectively labels the School of Resentment’s views (for the record, I don’t), the writer and the writing cannot be divorced from each other, and both in turn cannot be divorced from their Socioeconomic Context, which must, under all circumstances, remain paramount: it is a sort of double-marriage made in heaven. Or hell, depending on one’s point of view.

II. From half-empty to half-full
I believe they are both, very strong arguments. To resolve this dilemma, I have sagaciously followed Buddha’s advise- and quite happily, decided on a Middle Path. Henceforth, Under Trial shall be known as 1/2 Freedoms; true to fashion, that is neither here nor there. Another way of looking at it is that the glass in no longer half-empty; it is, for better or worse, half-full. Discerning readers will no doubt see a significant difference: a veritable reincarnation of sorts.

For me, the real reason for this decision is a little less philosophical. It would certainly appeal to the pragmatist in all of us. Blogspot, Google’s website that has hosted Under Trial for over one and a half years, is, for all its merits, rather constraining: for instance, it doesn’t offer the option of podcasting. Hacking its code can only go so far, and the only real option for today’s blogger is to host his own site.

Behold, then, the birth of 1/2 Freedoms.

AJ Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

BLUEPRINT: Building A New Youth Congress

This is a featurette on why- and how- the Indian Youth Congress (IYC), India's largest youth organization, can be made more alive to our times: it is, in some ways, an attempt to translate Rahul Gandhi's vision (as described in his speech to the AICC session at New Delhi recently) into reality. Suggestions and comments, as always, are invited.


Ideas of this presentation have been incorporated into a revised-draft for a new Indian Youth Congress Constitution. Please feel free to go through the text and comment.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007


Note: I had written this essay more than two years ago in the confines of Raipur Central Jail: all I can now remember of that August-monsoon is that the surfaces- walls, ceiling- of my cell leaked profusely, especially after the PWD's efforts to repair them; and ravaging my ration of one (heavily-censored) newspaper per day, and writing about what I had read after lockup, became my only real contact with the world beyond the walls. Not surprisingly, I would sometimes drift into a world inhabited almost exclusively by ideas and imaginings; a world into which I now offer to take the Reader.

In a way, this is also my tribute to the Nation's Founder on his 118th birth anniversary: after all, it was in his peculiar world of ideas and imaginings that India, as we know her now, was born.

From today’s newspaper, it appears that Pandit Shyama Charan Shukla, a three-time former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and the doyen of Chhattisgarh’s lone dynasty, has inadvertedly stepped into a political-quagmire: his utterance that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s ‘western’ upbringing is to be held responsible for India’s many problems is bound to inflame Congresspersons, most of who see India’s first Prime Minister as the nation’s architect-in-chief. Arguably this is not the first time Nehru’s ‘western ideas’ have been criticized : the Mahatma himself was not very pleased when his favorite disciple- along with a certain Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose- labored to incorporate the socialist objective in the ‘Purna Swaraj’ Resolution of the AICC session at Lahore (1929).

For the next two decades, the Congress continued to be influenced by an ongoing conflict between the socialists led by Nehru and the conservatives represented by Sardar Vallabhai Patel. The Mahatma’s conservatism, if anything, became even more reactionary as his anti-imperialist crusade evolved into an all-encompassing ‘critique of the Civil Society’ (Partha Chhatterjee): the railways came to be seen as ‘drain-pipes’, which rob the wealth of self-sufficient villages to enrich cities [it is another matter that the Mahatma first became familiar with the immensity of British India traveling by third class railway coach]; even the corporatisation of khadi under the auspices of ‘Khadi Gram Udyog’ was viewed as subversive to the ideals of the Gandhian ‘Ram Rajya.’

Before proceeding any further, it becomes imperative to make certain observations: first, before and even after Gandhi’s epiphany at Peitermaritzburg, where the young attorney was rather unceremoniously thrown off a first class railway coach, he continued to be ‘a faithful servant of the Empire’ believing in its inherent goodness, and even working on the frontlines as a Red Gross Volunteer during the Boer’s War; like him, both Nehru and Patel had been called to the Bar at the Inner Temple at London. Indeed the Empire at its Victorian Zenith had sown the seeds of its own destruction. To put the blame, as it were, on Westernization is to reverse the argument: the nationalist discourse of the Third World, as Edward Said points out in his monumental ‘Orientalism’, is post and not anti-colonial: Churchill’s ‘half clad naked fakir’ was not too long ago a distinguished gentleman at Madam Blavatsky’s Theosophical soirees. The ‘turning point’- even catharsis- came on a cold wintry day in 1919 with General Dyer’s massacre at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar: henceforth it became obvious that the well being of the Empire was in fundamental contradiction of the interests of the Indian people; for Macaulay’s Anglicized Indians, it was a rude Ending of Illusion.

Secondly, Gandhi & Patel’s embracing of conservatism has to be understood in the context of their anti-imperialistic politics: much of the leadership of the Congress, as the historian Judith Brown explains, was based after all on a rather intricate ‘patron-client’ model. The support base of the Congress was provided chiefly by ‘native’ agrarian and commercial ‘interest groups’: zamindars, petty-traders and even industrialists, all of who felt as unduly bearing the economic burden of Empire. For them Independence- with its promises of cessation of taxation on agricultural income and protectionist fiscal policies, both of which were implicit in Gandhi’s construction of ‘Ram Rajya’- thus became a cherished, much sought-after objective, and Congress under the Mahatma was obviously the best agency to deliver it. It was only natural then that the Congress in the person of Mahatma Gandhi should emerge as the principal ‘patron’, promising his ‘clients’ Independence in return for their support. The ‘falsifiability’ of Prof. Brown’s thesis can be effectively tested at Champaran, where the Father of the would-be Nation launched a satyagraha against the exploitation of British indigo-planters. It would not be far-fetched to assume that peasant cultivators all over India were equally- if not more- exploited and yet no such Satyagraha was initiated against the chief cause of this injustice: the antiquated Zamindari System crystallized under Cornwallis. In retrospect, it becomes clear that Champaran was chosen as the site for Gandhi’s first rural ‘satyagraha’ specifically because here the ‘Zamindars’ were British; there was never any intention to launch a nationwide struggle against the universal practice of Zamindari, simply because it would mean an alienation of a very important ‘client’- something which the Congress could not risk at the time. The entire surmise of this disquisition is not to show an overlooking of the peasant condition by the Congress leadership of the time, but merely to reveal the fact that despite their espousing of different- even vastly divergent- ideas, the founders of modern India remained remarkably pragmatic in their approach to Independence.

Thirdly the ‘catharsis’ of the ongoing conflict between socialism and conservatism- what are now known as the ‘left’ and ‘right’ wings of the ideological spectrum- occurred during the debate on the abolition of Zamindari, land-ceiling and the constitutional status of property rights in general. In the aftermath of Gandhi’s assassination by a Hindu fanatic- who felt that the Mahatma’s policy of minority appeasement led to the Partition, something that he could have prevented- the socialist agenda came to dominate the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly, as discussed by Prof. Granville Austin in his book, ‘Working a Democratic Constitution’: the Constitution adopted by the Republic of India on January 26, 1950 resolved the first two aspects largely in favor of the socialists but left the status of property rights ambiguous, mainly due to President Rajendra Prasad’s (himself a landlord from Bihar) fierce opposition. Ultimately, it may be argued that socialism prevailed- although the words ‘socialist’ and secular’ found their way into the Preamble much later, vide an Amendment in 1973 when the Parliament’s power to amend under Article 368 itself had been severely contained by the Supreme Court- in the formulation of the nationalist discourse and identity, and Congress itself became something of a paradox: a party of mostly right-wingers led by an aggressively socialistic leadership, which under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi would become even more assertive by enforcing the nationalization of banks, abolition of the Privy Purse given to erstwhile princes of Empire, the 42nd Amendment- all of which came together to give birth to a hugely populist creed called ‘Garibi Hatao’. As the discussion below will show, these three precepts- Westernization as intrinsic to nationalism, Pragmatism of the nationalist leadership, and the growing sway of Socialist ideology over the Congress and the country- illuminate an assessment of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s role in the shaping of modern India.

As with most other leaders of the ‘Gandhian phase’ of the nationalist struggle, Nehru’s formative socio-economic-political ideas were shaped in the crucible of Victorian-Edwardian England: infact so caught up was he in the ‘esprit’ of the Age that he wrote his father, the eminent lawyer Motilal Nehru, expressing a wish to join the Irish Republican Army (IRA); not surprisingly, he was asked to return. His initial forays into the legal profession didn’t meet with the success his father might have expected: at his first appearance before the High Court at Allahabad, rather than plead his client’s case, he wept. However under Bapu’s tutelage, it became clear that politics came easily to Nehru. Broadly speaking, his role in the politics of pre-Independent India can be categorized as follows: as a ‘socialist-satyagrahi’; as Gandhi’s de facto ambassador abroad; and as the imprisoned-author of ‘Discovery of India’. Infact, the Nehruvian impact on Independent India is a direct outcome of this three fold categorization: the ‘socialist-satyagrahi’, in a typical response against the Totalitarianism and the Depression of the late 1920s-1930s, became a firm believer in the efficacy of top-down, centralized economic planning; Gandhi’s ambassador to Europe realized the value of non-alignment in the bipolar world of the Cold War; and the author of ‘Discovery of India’ set about the business of forging a nationalist identity for the new nation based on the notion of ‘unity in diversity’.

There is a tendency, widespread among contemporary historians and political commentators, to view each of these three outcomes as a product of Nehru’s ‘utopian idealism’, largely a product of his Anglicized upbringing, which they naturally conclude was anomalistic to Indian realities. In making his controversial observation, S.C. Shukla was subscribing predominantly to this view. Needless to say, such a view has only been reinforced by the subsequent juxtaposing of ‘Nehruvian Idealism’ with the ‘realpolitik’ espoused by his daughter, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (1967-77, 80-84). In the subsequent section, I shall endeavor to test this hypothesis against the background provided above.

In may be argued that there is a dominance of the ‘Hero archetype’- to use Carl Gustav Jung’s term- in the collective unconscious of the Indian civilization: put simply, this means that Indians have time and again exhibited an almost chronic need for heroes, powerful personalities that they can look upto, and worship; more often than not, such heroes- and heroines- become something of living gods. At the same time, the overpowering influence of Upanishadic (or post-Vedic) thought makes them skeptics, given to excessive criticism. For leaders destined to rule India, this means exposure to both an abundance of adulation but also badgering of prolific-criticisms. Nehru, as the last of ‘the Giants’ - people who won India her freedom- naturally became deified: he himself realized this when, writing under a nom de plume, he warned his countrymen against letting ‘Nehru become a dictator’; even his style of working was more consensual than autocratic as shown in the importance he gave to Parliamentary debates and the frequent letters he wrote to Chief Ministers, soliciting their advice on everything including even foreign policy. Although he inevitably tended to side with the Government (Legislature) when it came into conflict with the Party to the extent of admonishing partymen to keep away from the business of governance, the fact that such conflicts were not infrequent meant that Party bosses (like Puroshottam Das Tandon et al) weren’t exactly docile: infact, Tandon ensured that Nehru, even as India’s Sole Leader, failed to have his nominee appointed as President of the District Congress Committee (DCC) at Allahabad, his (Nehru’s) hometown. The ‘turning point’ for ‘Pandit ji’ came in the aftermath of the debacle of Sino-Indian War when suddenly murmurs of criticism became increasingly audible: here too Krishna Menon, his pro-Soviet, anti-American Defense Minister, took most of the flak, and justly so.

It was much later that Nehru came to be criticized, almost retrospectively, for all of India’s problems, most notably:
(a) Partition (Maulana Azad, a contemporary, in a posthumously published autobiography, described Nehru and Patel as ‘old men in a hurry’ to get power even at the cost of accepting the divisive Mountbatten Plan);
(b) Kashmir (again, Nehru’s eagerness to call back Indian troops from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) in 1948, and his subsequent granting of special status to the state are held responsible for the present militancy in the valley);
(c) the Sino-Indian debacle of 1962 (despite portentous border disputes over Sikkim, Arunachal, the MacMohan line and the status of Tibet, he let himself be deluded by Menon & the Panchsheel Pact with China);
(d) the ‘Mixed Economy’ (which as one cynic remarked ‘has neither the merits of socialism nor capitalism while having both their disadvantages’);
(e) Nonalignment (all sound and no substance, which made India something of an international untouchable);
(f) the Famine of 1966-7 (Nehru’s prioritization of heavy industry, which he described as ‘Temples of Modern India’, over agriculture in the first two Five Year Plans);
(g) the growth of ‘Hindutva’/Communalism (his socialism, as reflected in ceiling and the abolition of Zamindari, alienated the traditional ‘client’ support base of the Congress, causing them to shift to the Jan Sangh, the precursor of BJP);
(h) Vietnam (B.K. Nehru, his Ambassador to the U.S., laments in his memoir ‘Nice Guys finish Second’ that when President Kennedy sought his advice on the subject, Nehru simply dozed off); and most recently,
(i) Failure to ‘Go Nuclear’ (despite overtures from America before but especially in the aftermath of China’s nuclearization). Indeed the list is hopelessly long.

One way of responding to these allegations would be to provide a comprehensive rebuttal to each of the charges but that will have the inevitable effect of reducing the entire analysis to a ‘for & against’ polemic, much in the fashion of the Dutch historian Pieter Geyl’s brilliant study of Napoleon, also written when he was in prison. For the moment, I shall resist the temptation. Instead, it is better to focus on what can broadly be called ‘Nehruvianism’: a single point of view that explains all of Nehru’s political & socio-economic thoughts and action. That, as will become apparent subsequently, was surprisingly pragmatic. In outlining the course the new nation would take, India’s first Prime Minister categorically laid out what he termed as ‘the Four Non-negotiables’: anti- imperialism; democracy; socialism (‘equal opportunity for all’); secularism (sarva dharma sambhava or equal respect for all religions). ‘Everything else,’ he said, ‘is negotiable’.

For an incredibly diverse country like India, this left a lot of room for ‘maneuver’- in terms of policies it could pursue, institution it could build and its relationship with the world- but equally significantly it identified precisely the Four Pillars on which a common unifying national identity could be built. In retrospect none of this seems particularly innovative: the fact that Indians, or atleast a vast majority of them, have come to accept their ‘Indianness’ as a fiat accompli, even as ‘Non-negotiable’, overlooks the equally pertinent fact of History that prior to Queen Victoria’s Proclamation as ‘Kaiser-é-Hind’ & Mallika-é-Hindostan’ in 1861, India, as we now know it, had never really existed as a single, consolidated politico-administrative entity; prior to this, India was an idea but even after the British left, the possibilities of about five hundred principalities choosing autonomy over accession were pregnant in the Mountbatten Plan for Transfer of Power. Infact the tide of history had actually been on the side of further Balkanization following Partition with ancient differences of caste, creed and community threatening once again to erupt: now that the British had gone, what, if anything, could keep the infantile nation from falling apart; from collapsing under the surmounting weight of its intrinsic disparities?

Under the circumstances, Nehru’s role wasn’t so much as discovering an India but something infinitely more arduous and audacious than even he could have imagined: ‘the Invention of India’. It is in this context that Nehru should rightfully be assessed: the point is not whether he is to be held responsible for India’s banes but whether there could have been an India without him? It is fashionable now to exclusively credit Sardar Vallabhai Patel as the moving force in securing the instruments of accession: ‘Nehru’s Kashmir’ is compared with ‘Patel’s Hyderabad’. This depiction of the Sardar as ‘India’s Iron Man’ is done to show Nehru as something of a ‘sissy’, a man of words, not actions: no doubt, the not-so-invisible hand of the RSS- which, as India’s most persistent right-wing outfit, has paradoxically ‘hijacked’ both the Sardar and the Mahatma as its role-models- can be seen behind this lop-sided portrayal. (It is another matter altogether that it was the RSS that masterminded the cold-blooded assassination of a defenseless Mahatma and that it was Patel who banned the outfit even though later Nehru, as a true democrat in the fashion of Rousseau, lifted that ban.) While Sardar Patel’s single-minded determination in the consolidation of Princely India cannot be underestimated, it is also true that Pandit Nehru’s conciliatory policy created the conditions which enabled the peaceful accession of an overwhelming majority of principalities littered all across the subcontinent thereby making, in these cases, the confrontationist stance of the Sardar unnecessary: that force or threat to use force was a last and not first resort is proof of the commonality of interests- identified by Nehru- which cumulatively brought disparate, often conflicting, entities into the emerging-nation’s fold.

In this, Westernization was not a detriment; infact it may even have been the sine qua non. Writing in a wholly different context- his own rather grim version of Discovery of India- the Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul makes an observation, which might be said to apply to Nehru as well: as a species, persons born- or brought up- outside of their home lands look upon themselves as belonging first and foremost to those ancestral lands from where they originated and not in terms of affiliations to any particular region, caste, creed or language. To put it differently, their primary identity is national and all other identities are relegated; become secondary. Thus it was that the Kashmiri Pandit came to see himself firstly as an Indian; and not surprisingly, he went about the business of casting India ‘in his image’, to paraphrase the author of Genesis.

From the above, it is clear that the ‘Indian national identity’ (INI hereafter) is a composite construction: those who think of it as ethereal- something that was always there since times immemorial, unchanging and immutable- abrogate history. Indeed in our own times, less than four decades after Nehru, that identity- of course, he would have preferred the word ‘concept’- has- and is- undergoing cataclysmic transformations: older loyalties and affiliations that had sought to have been relegated have become almost suddenly, resurgent. Is this Nehru’s failure- or the failure of the ‘concept’? The answer is: neither.

The problem lies elsewhere, in the very nature of contemporary- ‘post-modern’- Knowledge, or what Prof. C.P. Snow called ‘The Two Cultures’: the fundamental dichotomies between Science and non-Science (philosophy). It is a long and complex debate, and I shall refer to it here only in context of Nehruvianism. The inventor/creator of the modern Indian National Identity (INI) had very clearly expressed the hope that its continued longevity would depend, more than anything else, on Cosmopolitanism: the techno-sociological growth of urbanization. Cities, he felt, would automatically mutate affiliations to caste, region, language and religion into a composite amalgam of ‘class’ identified exclusively in terms of economic function and bound together by the Four precepts of the INI. It is therefore in the prescriptive (normative) rather than the analytical (positivist) aspects that Nehru is revealed most obviously as a ‘neo-Marxist’. Here, he seems to have grossly underestimated the socio-cultural inertia of an ancient civilization. Nehru’s ‘Temples of Modern India’- heavy industrial townships and mammoth dams like Bhakra Nangal- simply couldn’t- can’t- replace the immense multiplicity of temples and beliefs, based as they are in a space-less, timeless warp of antiquity. However the fault for this does not lie with Nehru but in the very nature of knowledge, where philosophy or wisdom has failed miserably to keep pace with the meteoric advancements in science & technology: the ‘cosmopolitanism’ that he had prophesied has done very little to engulf casteism, communalism, regionalism et al.

Perhaps it’s too early to judge Nehru: awakened, the ‘Elephant’ is marching but slowly; civilizational metamorphoses, more often than not, is spread out over several decades, if not centuries. A better appraisal of the functionality of the INI concept in contemporary India comes from employing Prof. Arnold Toynbee’s “challenge-response” model for historical evolution: every civilization, wrote the great historian, is confronted with challenges and it is the manner in which it responds to these that determines its fate; the process is vicious, unending for each response produces in its wake yet another challenge. Likewise concepts, like civilizations, are constantly challenged by the ever changing ‘force of circumstance’ (to use Somerset Maugham’s phrase): they are adapted and transformed, at times even distorted ad corrupted. This should account for the failure of totalitarian and dogmatic concepts- more commonly known as ‘ideologies’- to become universal. As discussed earlier, taken holistically as an amalgam of the necessary non-negotiables and the mutable negotiables, Nehruvianism, despite the suffix of ‘ism’, is neither totalitarian nor dogmatic: its ‘Gospel’- the Constitution of the Republic of India- is a surprisingly practical Document, which as Prof. Austin has shown can ‘work’ in extremely different ways, determined principally by the machinations & the mood of the times in which it is evoked. To put it differently, there are no fixed answers and no fixed questions. It remains as workable in the liberalized/reformist era as it did during the protectionist regime, and under the Centre Leftists as also the rightists. What the ‘Four Non-negotiables’- inbuilt into the spirit of that majestic, almost magical, Document do- is restrain India’s rulers and her citizens from overstepping the line which once crossed would surely result in the disintegration of the nation while also safeguarding the interests of one against the other. In its sheer workability- admirers call it ‘pragmatic’ while cynics refer to it as ‘ambiguous’- the Constitution- and by implication Nehruvianism- are incomparable.

Ultimately the success or failure of Nehru becomes irrelevant; the only relevant fact- or if one has to be epistemological, ‘truth’- is how leaders choose to interpret him and his ‘concept’ to meet the exigencies of the time when they are called upon to serve the people of India. For better or worse, it is the one mirror that allows Indians- and India- to see themselves as a unified whole; there is no other.

In this final section, I undertake to examine the workability of Nehruvianism in India, and the various transformations it has undergone. To begin with, I look at the evolution of the mind in whose interstices the identity was incubated; a mind that prefaced the million mutinies. It would not be wrong to say that at a very generic level the Nationalist Mind, during the zenith of the freedom struggle, came to view the world in black & white: Imperialism was evil; Independence good. Despite the numerous differences and divergences prevalent among leaders- disparities that resulted in Partition, for instance- there existed a broad unanimity on this bipolar schemata. With the passage of time however things weren’t- couldn’t be- that simple: a lot of it has become Grey, cloudy. The Rationalism that germinated Nehruvianism too was a creature of this simplicity: it subscribed to a view that linked economic development, social equality and democracy with the notion of ‘Progress’. For most part, that view still prevails. Neither the means prescribed nor the end desired are questioned: the ‘linkage’, as it were, is intact. It is simply that the meaning of these ‘means’- economic development, social equality, democracy- isn’t so clear anymore; and the notion of ‘Progress,’ as understood by Nehru, seems rather ambiguous. What has happened ?

Put simply, the rationalist idea of progress is no longer held to be valid: to be progressive no longer implies a movement against the dependencies of nature or the opposition- even if it is in the form of evolution- to the currents of history; neither does it signify a revolt against the intuitive grain of passion. The efficacy of equating economic development with state- planning, construction of Temples of Modern India, and a protectionist self-sufficiency- is unsustainable in the light of radicalized environmentalism and globalization; social equality does not mean a syncretic class-based cosmopolitanism but an increasingly assertive role for traditionally peripheralized castes and communities; the idea of democracy itself has become confused with majoritarianism that is closer to the classical (Platonic) definitions of ‘mobocracy’, which prioritizes, as Sunil Khilnani observes, the pageantry of elections over institution building. Everywhere passions hitherto repressed have returned, with a terrifying vengeance.

What concerns me here is whether Nehruvianism contributed to this repression; or did it simply, like Victorian London at its zenith, sow the seeds of its own revision? The answer is: both. To be sure, Nehruvianism- as a child of obsessive Rationalism- sought to supplant the bedlam of history and tradition in the sense that it envisaged ‘taking India forward’, away from not merely the imperialist experience but also the deeper asymmetries of Dumont’s “homo hierarchicus” society, but in seeking to do so, it brought forth a whole new awareness that made the acceptance of its prescriptions difficult: the primordial instinct for self-survival having been aroused, castes refused to disintegrate and reorganize themselves around the alien concept of class; and the infusion of caste and communal politics metamorphosed democracy into something of a battleground. Not surprisingly, the Prophet has foreseen this: long years ago, Nehru had warned of the dangers of majority-communalism masquerading as democracy; to him, there could be no greater threat than this. Almost six decades before, this threat had resulted in the three fold ‘amputation’ of the Indian subcontinent (the phrase is Salman Rushdie’s); it has never quite left.

The ‘cataclysms’ described above point to a very veritable Insurrection; just as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre had announced the End of the Age of Illusion (see section 1) for Gandhian nationalists, one now witnesses an Ending of the Age of Reason as embodied in Nehruvianism; but it is difficult to put a precise date- or even a phenomenon- to it. In many ways, the politics of Nehru’s daughter and eventual successor Prime Minister Indira Gandhi reflects this ending: with the possible exception of the Mahatma, modern India is yet to see a leader more attuned to the primordial sensibilities and ethos underlying this ancient civilization, as reflected in her studied as well as intuitive grasp of its several and severed sensibilities, myths, idioms & legends. Yet unlike her father, she didn’t endeavor to transplant them with a new Rationalism; instead they became a source of unbridled strength, enabling her to establish direct and personal communication with each individual member of a vast and marginalized majority: women, dalits and tribals. The crucial point however is that she did not deviate from the fundamentals of Nehruvianism, its non-negotiables; au contraire, they were radicalized and strengthened by her. More than anything else, this signifies the remarkably enduring adaptability of Nehruvianism: its phenomenal capacity to imbibe the insurrection of passions, and channelize their energies to bring forth a further consolidation of the INI.

What Nehru gave India was an ‘ideal’ that would preserve the independence & integrity of India by identifying a universal commonality built around the lowest common denominator of the four non-negotiables; for better and worse, that ‘ideal’ is the product of an Anglicized (Westernized) mind and Rationalist thought; to subtract from the ‘ideal’ necessarily implies the disintegration of India; thus as long as India is to remain, so must the ideal. The ideal gave rise to an awakening and has and continues to survive the resultant Insurrection of Passion; constantly adapting to it. Any failure, with due apologies to S.C. Shukla, lies not with Nehruvianism but with those entrusted with its legacy- which must necessarily include men such as himself.

Amit Aishwarya Jogi
August 3-6, 2005
Raipur Central Jail
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Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Body in Raigarh

Various television news channels are carrying reports on "the discovery of a body in Mr. Ajit Jogi's house at Raigarh." To set the record straight, I would like to submit the following:
  1. The house has been on rent ever since it was built some two years ago.
  2. The body was not found inside the house. In fact, it was lying in a ditch fifty feet outside the building.
  3. The present tenant of the house is one Mr. Ashok Tota, who is the proprietor of Ansh hotel. The General Manager of the said hotel, who is also the present occupant of the house, informed the police about the discovery of the body.
  4. According to the local TI, the body probably belongs to a vagrant. Postmortem is scheduled to be conducted tomorrow morning.
  5. The Jogi family has nothing to do with this unfortunate incident and any attempt to link our name to it is regrettable.
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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Happy Vijay Dashmi (in Chhattisgarhi): तीन मूढ़ी के रावण

विजय दशमी के पावन तिहार मोर कोति ले गाड़ा-गाड़ा भर सुभकामनाआज के दिन अब्बड़ खुसी के दिन हवेआज के दिन भगवान राम दस मूढ़ी के रावन के नास करे रहिस

आज के जुग रावन काला हे? सिरतोन गोठ ये हे, के आज के जुग के रावण के तीन मूढ़ हवेओखर पहिली मूढ़ बेरोजगारी हे; दूसर मूढ़ नशा हे; अउ तीसर मूढ़, हमर मन जेन नफरत होते, वो हेये तीन मूढ़ी के रावन हमन नौजवान मन बरबाद करत हे

ओखर भस्काये बर, हमन एक होना परहीजेन उत्साह के संग हमन नवरात्री माता के पूजा करथे, उहू उत्साह के संग अपन सरकार हमला कामबूता देबर मजबूर करे बर परही, जेकर हमन सम्मान के संग अपन जिनगी गुज़ारा कर सकननशा नास करे बर हमला प्रतिज्ञा करे परही के आज ले हमन चेपटी के चपेट नई आवनअउ जब हमन अपन-अपन मोहल्ले अब्बड़ बड़े ले रावण मारथे, उहू टाइम हमन अपन भीतर के नफरत खत्म करबो, ऐसन हमला संकल्प लेवन हवे

तभे जेन सपना हमर पुरखा मन हमर छत्तीसगढ़ राज बर देखे रहिस, ओला हमन साकार कर सकन

अमित जोगी
रायपुर, २०.१०.२००७
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Wednesday, October 03, 2007


ख़बरों में रहकर भी

खुद से बेख़बर क्यों हूँ मैं?

अमित जोगी
देवभोग, .१०.२००७
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Monday, October 01, 2007

गांधी जयंती पर

कामुकता पे काबू
दो अक्टूबर को हम गांधी जयंती के रूप में मनाते हैं। ये मात्र एक औपचारिकता बन चुकी है। हाँ, पिछले साल लगे रहो मुन्ना भाई फिल्म ने गांधीगिरी को कुछ दिनों के लिए ही सही, लोकप्रिय तो कर दिया था। युवा वर्ग इससे खासा प्रभावित होता नज़र आया। यहाँ छत्तीसगढ़ में भी गान्धीगिरी की चंद वारदातें हुईं। छात्र नेताओं ने खुद की गन्दी नालियाँ साफ करते हुये फोटो अखबारों में छपवाई। भ्रष्ट कर्मचारियों को फूलों के गुच्छे भेंट किये गए। लेकिन फिल्मों का असर आखिर कितने दिन रहता? धीरे धीरे हम सब भूल गए।

गलती हमारी नहीं है। गांधी जी को उनके जीवनकाल में ही देवता बना दिया गया था। वे एक इन्सान भी हैं, इस बात को भुला दिया गया। उनकी सभी बातें, उनके सिद्धांत, सब अव्यवहारिक लगने लगें। अल्बेर्ट आइंस्टाइन का वो कथन कि आने वाली पीढियां कम ही विश्वास कर पाएंगी कि हाड़ और मांस का ऐसा आदमी पृथ्वी पर कभी चला था, सच सिद्ध हुआ। आज अगर सरकार को राम सेतु की तर्ज़ पर गांधी के ऐतिहासिक अस्तित्व को प्रमाणित करना पड़े, तो शायद ऐसा कर पाना मुश्किल होगा। जो लोग मोहनदास करमचंद गांधी की मानवता से परिचित हैं, वे उसे बयां करने से इसलिये कतरातें हैं कि कहीं उन पर देशद्रोह का आरोप न लग जाये?

ये सोच गलत है। अगर गांधी जी को आज के युग के लिए प्रासंगिक बनाना है, तो उनकी मानवता को एक पौराणिक कथा बनने से बचाना होगा। युवाओं को उनके जीवन के ऐसे पहलुयों से वाकिफ करना पड़ेगा जो इस बात का एहसास दिलाएं कि बापू पहले उनके जैसे ही एक इन्सान थे; महात्मा बाद में बनें। इस बात का सबसे पुख्ता प्रमाण उनकी गुजराती में लिखी जीवनी
सत्व नू प्रयोग अथवा आत्मकथा में मिलता है। ये दीगर बात है कि इसका अंग्रेज़ी अनुवाद करते समय उनके लंबे अर्से तक निजी सचिव रहे, महादेव देसाई, ने काफी सारी बातों को संशोधित कर दिया, शायद ये सोचकर कि उनका गलत निष्कर्ष निकाला जाये। इन बातों का वर्णन आधुनिक मनोवैज्ञानिक सुधीर कक्कर के भारतीय लिंग-भेद (इंडियन सेक्शुअलिती) पर लिखे शोध में विस्तार से पढ़ने को मिलता है।

कक्कर का यह मनाना है की गांधीवाद के तीन आधारस्तंभ हैं: अहिंसा, सत्याग्रह और ब्रह्मचर्य। इनमें से ब्रह्मचर्य गांधी जी के लिए सबसे महत्वपूर्ण था। इसका कारण उनकी जवानी की एक घटना में मिलता है। जब उनके पिता मरणावस्था में थे, तो गांधी जी ने दिन-रात उनके पास रहकर उनकी सेवा की। शायद इसके परिणाम स्वरूप उनकी तबियत में कुछ सुधार होने लगा। अपने पिता की हालत बेहतर होते देख, एक रात वे अपनी कामुकता को तृप्त करने अपनी पत्नी के साथ सहवास करने अपने कमरे में चल दिए। इसी बीच उनके पिता का देहांत हो गया। इस बात का अपराध-बोध उन्हें जिन्दगी भर रहा, और वे पूरी तरह इस घटना से अंत तक नहीं उभर पाए।

अपनी कामुकता पर काबू पाने के लिए उन्होनें नानाप्रकार के प्रयोग किये, जिसके उल्लेख उनकी आत्मकथा के गुजराती संस्करण में है। अगर उनके पत्राचार का अवलोकन करें, तो उनकी अनुयायी, मीरा बेन, को अचानक पूणे भेज देने का कारण भी स्पष्ट हो जाता है : गांधी जी लिखते हैं कि जब भी मीरा बेन उनको चाय का प्याला पकड़ाती थीं, उनके शरीर में वासना का संचार होने लगता था; इसको नियंत्रित करने के लिए बेन का दूर रहना आवश्यक हो गया।

ऐसा ही उदाहरण उनकी पत्नी, कस्तूरबा, द्वारा अमरीकी पत्रकार, मार्गरेट वालकर, को यरवदा जेल में दिए गए एक साक्षात्कार में मिलता है। जब उनसे पूछा गया कि बापू क्या अब भी उनके प्रति कामुकता रखते हैं, तो उन्होनें इस बात से इनकार नहीं किया; किन्तु ये ज़रूर स्पष्ट कर दिया कि आख़िरी बार सम्भोग उन्होनें चालीस वर्ष पहले किया था।

हाल ही में प्रकाशित, श्रीमती सोनिया गांधी द्वारा संशोधित पुस्तक,
दो संग दो अलग, में भी गांधी जी की वासना पर काबू पाने के प्रयास- जिसने ब्रह्मचर्य के सामूहिक सिद्धांत का रूप ले लिया- की एक अनूठी झलक मिलती है। नैनी जेल से लिखे पत्र के मध्यम से नेहरू जी अपनी बेटी, इंदिरा, को फिरोज़ गांधी से प्रेम विवाह रचाने की इजाजत इस शर्त पर देते हैं कि दोनो होने वाले दम्पत्ती बापू से पहले मिलकर अनुमति ले आयें। दादा बनने की चेष्टा रखने वाले नेहरू जी ये नहीं चाहते थे कि उनकी बेटी और दामाद का हाल उनके मित्र, जय प्रकाश नारायण, और उनकी पत्नी, प्रभा, जैसा हो : जब जे.पी. अपनी नव-विवाहित पत्नी को बापू से मिलाने ले गए, तो बापू ने एकाएक दोनो को ब्रह्मचर्य की प्रतिज्ञा दिला दी, ये हिदायत देते हुये कि अब से तुम दोनो भाई-बहन की तरह रहो।

उक्त व्याख्यानों से साफ ज़ाहिर होता है कि गांधी जी उन्हीं सब भावों से पीड़ित थे, जिनसे युवा पीढ़ी आज भी जूझ रही है। उनका उपाय कुछ अव्यवहारिक सा लगता ज़रूर है, पर उनके हाड़ और मांस के बने मनुष्य होने पर रौशनी अवश्य डालता है। यही बात उनकी राजनीति पर भी लागू होती है। त्रिपुरी अधिवेशन में उनके प्रत्याशी, डाक्टर पिट्टाभी सीतारमय्या, की हार के बाद जिस प्रकार से उन्होनें नेताजी सुभाष चंद्र बोस को कांग्रेस अध्यक्ष का पद छोड़ने के लिए विवश कर दिया, वो चाणक्य की कूटनीति से ज़्यादा प्रेरित लगता है, न कि शत्रु-प्रेम के आदर्श से।

एक तरह से देखा जाये, तो गांधी जी का सम्पूर्ण राजनैतिक जीवन उनकी भारतीय पहचान की अदभुत समझ से उत्पन्न एक विशेष किस्म की व्यवहारिकता का अभिप्राय ही तो है। इस तथ्य को अनदेखा करना उनकी स्वतंत्रता संग्राम में अदा की गयी अहम भूमिका को नकारना होगा। बापू का पहला आन्दोलन चम्पारण में हुआ। आखिर ज़मींदारी प्रथा से पीड़ित किसान तो पूरे भारतवर्ष में थे, फिर चम्पारण ही क्यों? इसका एकमात्र कारण यह है कि केवल चम्पारण ही एक ऐसी जगह थी जहाँ का ज़मींदार अंग्रेज़ था, और किसान हिन्दुस्तानी। भारतीय पहचान की अदभुत समझ रखने वाले गांधी को इस रंग-भेद पर आधारित लाक्षणिक अर्थ का महत्व अच्छी तरह मालूम था, और इसीलिये उन्होनें चम्पारण का चयन किया।

इसी से जुड़ा दूसरा सवाल ये है कि चम्पारण का सत्याग्रह और जगह लागू क्यों नहीं किया गया? इसका जवाब जूडिथ ब्राउन के शोध,
सविनय अवज्ञा : भारतीय राजनीति में महात्मा, में मिलता है। उनके हिसाब से स्वतंत्रता संग्राम में गांधी जी का नेतृत्व एक विशेष प्रकार के समझौते पर आधारित था, जिसे उन्होनें संरक्षक-ग्राहक संबंध की परिभाषा दी है। सीधे शब्दों में कहें, तो गांधी जी संरक्षक थे; और उनके ग्राहक, भरत का आवाम, जिसमें विशेषकर ज़मींदार और उद्योगपति भी शामिल थे।

प्रारम्भ से ही गांधी जी ने स्पष्ट कर दिया था कि स्वतंत्र भारत में कृषि पर कर (लगान) नहीं लगाया जायेगा। यह कह के उन्होनें बड़ी समझदारी के साथ भारत के ज़मींदारों को आजादी की जंग में हितबद्ध कर लिया। इसी प्रकार से स्वदेशी का मूलमंत्र देकर वे उद्योगपतियों को भी अपने- और अपनी लड़ाई के- पक्ष में ले आये। आखिर अंग्रेजी मिलों के कपड़ों का बहिर्गमन करने का सीधा-सीधा लाभ भारतीय मिलों- और मिल मालिकों- को ही तो मिला। जब कांग्रेस के लाहौर अधिवेशन में पंडित नेहरू ने समाजवाद की बात छेड़ी- जिस से दोनों ज़मींदारों और उद्योगपतियों को नुकसान होता- तो गांधी जी ने इसका यह कह के विरोध किया कि ये आजादी से जुड़ा मुद्दा नही है, और वैसे भी समाजवाद एक विदेशी विचार है।

स्वाभाविक रूप से अब ये सवाल उठता है कि क्या ऐसा कर के गांधी जी ने भारत की आम जनता के साथ विश्वासघात किया? इसका सीधा जवाब है: बिल्कुल नहीं। अगर ये दोनों पक्ष उनका साथ नही देते, तो अंग्रेजी हुकूमत को हटाना मुश्किल ही नही, नामुमकिन भी होता। इनको अपने साथ करके गांधी जी ने ब्रिटिश राज के तीन में से दो आधारस्तंभ ध्वस्त कर दिए। (तीसरा स्तम्भ यहाँ के राजाओं का था, जिन्हे आज़ाद भारत में सम्मिलित करने का काम उनके अनुयायी, सरदार वल्लभ भाई पटेल, ने बखूबी किया।) वैसे भी, गांधी जी ने जो कुछ भी छुआ-छूत को ख़त्म करने और हिंदु-मुस्लिम एकता के लिए किया, वह अपने आप में उनके दरिद्र-नारायण (गरीब से गरीब) के प्रति निस्वार्थ प्रेम का सुबूत है।

गांधी जी की व्यवहारिक सोच मात्र उनकी अंग्रेजों के खिलाफ राजनैतिक व्यूह-रचना बनाने तक सीमित नहीं थी; इसकी छाप उनके राजनीति करने के तरीकों में भी हमें देखने को मिलती है। राष्ट्रवादी इतिहासकार बिपिन चंद्र ने अपनी पुस्तक,
भारत का आजादी के लिए संघर्ष, में संघर्ष-समय-संघर्ष (Struggle-Time-Struggle) सिद्धांत की परिभाषा दी है। जब एकाएक बापू ने चौरी-चौरा में हुई घटना- जिस में उद्वेलित भीड़ ने २३ पुलीस वालों को थाने में बंद करके जिंदा जला दिया था- के उपरांत राष्ट्रव्यापी असहयोग आन्दोलन को वापस ले लिया, तो अहिंसा के रास्ते से भटकना ही एकमात्र कारण नहीं था। वे भली भांती ये समझते थे कि किसी भी जनांदोलन को अनिश्चित काल के लिए नही चलाया जा सकता; धीरे धीरे वो अपने-आप तितिर-बितिर होने लगता है, और इसके पहले कि ऐसा हो, उन्होनें आन्दोलन को खुद ही वापस ले लिया।

अगला आन्दोलन उन्होनें लगभग १० साल बाद, दांडी यात्रा से शुरू किया। इसको भी लॉर्ड इरविन के राउंड टेबल कोन्फ्रेंस में सम्मिलित होने के न्यौते के बाद स्तगित कर दिया गया। फिर १० वर्ष के अंतराल के पश्चात् उन्होनें भारत छोड़ो का आह्वान किया। साफ दिखता है कि एक व्यवहारिक राजनेता की तरह, गांधी जी ने संघर्ष की अपेक्षा, समझौते को महत्व दिया; लेकिन इसका ये मतलब कदापि नहीं लगाया जा सकता कि वे संघर्ष करने से कभी भी डरे।

गांधी जी के संघर्ष करने के तरीके- मसलन सत्याग्रह- के भी दो पहलु हैं। इसका सैद्धांतिक पहलु इस मान्यता पर आधारित है कि हर व्यक्ति, चाहे वो कितना ही बुरा क्यों न हो, मूलतः एक अच्छा इन्सान है; इसलिये उसे अहिंसा और सत्याग्रह के रास्ते पर चलके अपनी गलती का एहसास कराया जा सकता है। ये सोच विख्यात राजनैतिक दार्शनिक थॉमस होब्बस से ठीक उलटी है। अपने शोध
लेविआथन में होब्बस लिखतें हैं कि आदमी का जीवन "मलिन, पशुवत् और अल्पकालीन" है; इसे काबू करने के लिए एक शक्तिशाली राजतंत्र की आवश्यकता है। निआल्ल फेर्गुसन अपनी पुस्तक एम्पायर में दोनों दृष्टिकोणों का विश्लेषण करते हुये कहते हैं कि गांधीवाद अंग्रेजी हुकूमत के खिलाफ इस लिये असरदार साबित हुआ क्यों कि अंग्रेजी हुकूमत वास्तव में अच्छाई और बुराई में फर्क समझती थी; अगर हिटलर की हुकूमत रहती तो धरशाला के नमक कारखाने में प्रदर्शन कर रहे सत्याग्रहियों को औष्वित्ज़ जैसे कौन्शंत्रेशन कैंप में मरने के लिए भेज दिया जाता। शायद गांधी जी इस बात से सहमत होते।

सत्याग्रह का दूसरा पहलु व्यवहारिक है। इतिहासकार आर. एस. शर्मा (Sharma) अपने निबंध,
भौतिक संस्कृति और सामाजिक परिवर्तन, में मानते हैं कि सम्राट अशोक के कलिंग युद्ध जीतने के बाद भारतीय सोच में एक अहम बदलाव आया : शक्ति के बल पर विजय की नीति की जगह उनके धम्मविजय (धर्म के माध्यम से जीत) के सिद्धांत ने ले ली। सीधे शब्दों में कहें, तो हम अहिंसावादी बन गए। शायद इसलिये १८५७ का प्रथम स्वतंत्रता संग्राम, और बीसवीं शताब्दी के शुरुआती दौर के विप्लववाद/उग्रवाद विफल साबित हुये। गांधी जी की महानता इस में है कि उन्होनें हमारी अहिंसावादी प्रवृति को हमारा सबसे शक्तिशाली शस्त्र बना दिया। जनमानस से अगर पार्लियामेंट के सेंट्रल हॉल में बम फेकने को कहें, तो शायद ही कुछ लोग शहीद भगत सिंह की तरह सामने आये। हाँ, अगर उनसे हड़ताल में हिस्सा लेने को कहें- मसलन काम पे न जाके घर बैठे छुट्टी मनाए- तो शायद ही कोई होगा जो मना करे। और अगर ऐसा करके, वो आजादी की लड़ाई में भागीदार बन जाते हैं, तो सोने पे सुहागा।

ठीक ऐसा ही हुआ। गांधी जी के एक आह्वान पर पूरा देश मानो थम सा जाता था; अचानक बुद्धिजीवियों और चंद क्रांतिकारियों की मुहिम ने एक राष्ट्रव्यापी जनांदोलन का रूप ले लिया, और अंग्रेजों को अंततः भारत छोड़ना ही पड़ा।

मेरे हिसाब से हमको गांधी जी से बेहतर समझने वाला नेता आज तक उत्पन्न नहीं हुआ है; और न ही होते नज़र आ रहा है। लेकिन विडम्बना की बात तो ये है कि वे हमको जितना अच्छे से समझते थे, हम उनको- उनकी मानवता को, उनकी सैद्धान्तिक राजनीति में निहित व्यवहारिकता को- बिल्कुल भी समझ नहीं पाएं हैं। इसका सबसे बड़ा कारण शायद यह है कि हम विश्वास ही नहीं कर पाते कि कोई हमारे जैसा ही कामुकता से जूझता मनुष्य महात्मा बन सकता है। मोहनदास करमचंद गांधी महात्मा पैदा नहीं हुए थे; और न ही वो किसी देवता के अवतार थे। उन्होनें अपनी मानवीय कमियों पे काबू पाकर, अपने
जीवनकाल में खुद के भीतर एक महात्मा को जन्म दिया; और हमें पृथ्वी पर दिव्यता का एहसास कराया।

आज वो हमारे लिए चौक पर खड़ी एक मूरत बन गए हैं, जिसको साल में दो दिन साफ-सुथरा कर, फूल माला से सजा दिया जाता है। फिर भी कहीं ना कहीं गांधीवाद अब भी जिंदा है। गांधी जी की बात मानने वालों की संख्या पिछले दशक में बढ़ी ही है, घटी नहीं है। ऐसे लोगों की जो मात्र गांधी जी के चित्र का दर्शन कर बिना कुछ सोचे समझे, बिना किसी चीज़ की परवाह किये, सब काम कर देते हैं। बशर्ते : बापू के दर्शन कड़कते हुये ५०० रुपये के नोटों पर हो। और अगर १००० के गुलाबी नोट हों, तो फिर वाह भई वाह, क्या कहना!

महात्मा गांधी अमर रहें।

अमित ऐश्वर्य जोगी


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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hindi: भारत को राहुल गांधी की जरूरत अभी क्यों है?

पिछली बार जब मैंने हिंदी में ब्लोग्गिंग करने का प्रयास किया था, तो पूरी तरह से सफल नहीं हो पाया। तब ऐपल के कम्प्यूटर में ये सुविधा उपलब्ध नहीं थी। अब फिर से कोशिश कर रहा हूँ। ये मेरे अंग्रेजी लेख "Why India Needs Rahul Gandhi Now?" ( भारत को राहुल गांधी की जरूरत अभी क्यों है?) का हिंदी अनुवाद है। इसे "हरिभूमि" अखबार ने हाल ही में दो भागों में प्रकाशित किया है (२८-२९.०९.२००७)।

मैं श्री शैलेश नितिन त्रिवेदी, जिन्होंने अनुवाद करने में मेरी मदद करी, और श्री सचिन अवस्थी, जिन्होंने अनुवादित पन्नों को .jpg फॉर्मेट में बदला, का शुक्रगुज़ार हूँ।

पाठकगण को लेख पढ़ने के लिए चित्रों पर क्लिक करना पड़ेगा।

अमित ऐश्वर्य जोगी

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Note: The Hindi translation of this post appears here.
There is something peculiarly symbolic about today: at the ICC World Cup 20Twenty finals at Johannesburg, India beat Pakistan by five runs with only three balls to go; some hours earlier, the executive body of India’s largest political party, AICC, announced a major organizational revamp at its headquarters at New Delhi. Both these apparently unrelated incidents, however, were united by one common feature: in ICC as well as in the AICC, the Ancien Régime is finally- and decisively- making way for a ‘Brave New World’ (to use Aldous Huxley’s phrase), in which teams comprising the Youth will determine Destiny’s trajectory.

These new teams are captained by persons who couldn’t have been more different: Mahinder Singh Dhoni, the Captain of ‘Team India’, comes from a middle-class family living in the predominantly tribal state of Jharkhand; Rahul Gandhi, the newly appointed AICC General Secretary in-charge of its two youth bodies, the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) and the National Students’ Union Of India (NSUI), is the Harvard-educated heir-apparent of India’s principal political dynasty (his father, grandmother and great—grandfather have all been Prime Ministers). Mr. Dhoni’s elevation to the captaincy, therefore, marks a fundamental break with the past: the focus of national cricket has shifted from the ‘metros’ (which formerly supplied most of India’s top cricketers) to the hinterland.

In contrast, Mr. Gandhi’s appointment is at best, indicative of an ambiguous continuity with a definitive past eagerly poised to leap into- and seize- an as-yet-uncertain future, and at worst, something of an anachronism, especially when viewed from the point of view of the ‘liberal mindset’, impregnated as it is by the twin-ideas of democracy and industrialization (to adapt Professor Eric Von Hobsbawm’s analysis), which universally criticizes- if not outrightly condemns- dynastic politics of any kind as a fallback to a feudal past.In his memoirs, ‘The White House Years’, Dr. Henry Kissinger (who incidentally taught at Harvard before famously serving in the Nixon Administration) squarely blames this ‘liberal mindset’ as the single most important stumbling block in the scion of America’s richest dynasty, Nelson Rockefeller’s successive failed attempts to secure his party’s nomination for the U.S. Presidency in 1960, 1964, and 1968, thereby implying that Mr. Rockefeller was perhaps ‘the best President America never had’. [Like Rudolph Giuliani, another successful Republican from New York, Mr. Rockefeller, despite being a Republican, was perhaps a tad too liberal for his own good.]

Indeed, the persistence of dynastic politics especially in the democratic context presents a paradox that cannot be easily explained. In post-colonial, ‘underdeveloped’ societies, it is sought to be justified by taking recourse to such obfuscated concepts as the neo-psychoanalyst, Carl Gustav Jung’s postulation of the ‘hero-worship complex’ embedded deeply in the ‘collective unconscious’. Political dynasties, however, are not limited to the so-called ‘Third World’. Quite naturally then, more pragmatic reasons are put forward in the context of ‘developed’ societies. For instance, a recent biographer of ‘the Bush Dynasty’, Peter Schweizer, accounts for the prevalence of dynastic politics in the United States of America by exploring the systematic domination of family-based ‘patron-client networks’ over established party structures: apparently, Barbara Bush’s meticulously compiled Rotadex of tens of thousands of color-coded cards beats the entire Republican Party’s electoral apparatus when it comes to the two things that matter in winning elections: ‘fund raising’ and ‘campaign management’. In India, which, as a ‘developing’ nation, might well be placed somewhere between these two worlds, it is hard to deny that both the ‘hero-worship complex’ and the ‘patron-client network’ factors are at work to a certain extent. But the real reason for the continuing popularity of the young Mr. Gandhi’s family lies elsewhere.

At the risk of digressing, it becomes pertinent here to refer to Sunil Khilnani’s seminal work, ‘An Idea of India’. In this treatise, the Princeton-based Professor Khilnani makes a radical observation: a fully formed national identity did not precede Independence; indeed, that was left principally to India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, to ‘discover’ (not surprisingly, his most celebrated work is entitled “The Discovery of India”, a must-read for every Indian). This he did by putting forth the notion of “Unity in Diversity”, which forms the bedrock of India’s Constitution. For Pandit Nehru, the Constitution itself was to act as the chief instrument against the only-too-real centrifugal forces of ‘casteism’, ‘communalism’, ‘regionalism’ and ‘linguistic-divide’, which though temporarily suppressed- first by the forceful politico-administrative apparatus of the British Raj and then by the subsequent euphoria of the Freedom Struggle- would surely begin to resurface, fuelled by considerations of what C.B. Macpherson labels ‘votebank politics’. As Rajni Kothari points out, he couldn’t have been more perceptive: the balance between the ‘national’ and these other centrifugal forces began to reverse after the rupture of India’s ‘monolithic polity’ (read: the rise and growth of non-Congress parties).

More recent history has borne witness to the fact that the single greatest threat to India’s national identity (or atleast the one conceived by Mr. Nehru and the Constitution) has come from ‘majority communalism’ masquerading as ‘democracy’. Unlike other centrifugal forces that merely seek to use identity as a tool for capturing greater power within the preexisting Constitutional framework, communalism, particularly majority communalism, specifically seeks to exclude other Indians (read: the minorities) from the process of governance altogether. Majority communalism, self-styled as ‘Hindutva’, is, however, based on one faulty- and ultimately self-defeating- assumption: the Unity of the Hindu Samaj (in the words of Madhavrao Golwalkar, the RSS supremo at the time of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination: “Hindu samaj mein sangathan nahi, Samaj ka sangathan hai”). As the recent election of Mayawati in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh (UP), has revealed (much to the chagrin of the Hindutva bandwagon), almost every ‘Hindu’- or to use a more apt phrase from Louis Dumont, ‘Homo Hierarchichus’- sees himself or herself not in terms of their religion per se, but in respect of a far more primary identity: Caste. To situate Professor Dumont’s argument in the Khilnani Hypothesis, ‘casteism’ and ‘majority communalism’ (a.k.a. Hindutva) are, in essence, self-contradictory species of the ‘national identity’ genus. In any event, neither of these forces seem to be on their way out.

This brief background, in my opinion, is critical to understanding the role of Mr. Gandhi’s family within the broader framework of India’s national identity. Prior to his appointment as AICC General Secretary, Mr. Gandhi’s political experience comprised chiefly of being his party’s main campaigner in the UP Assembly election. The campaign line adopted by Mr. Gandhi, no different from his forbearers, attacked both caste- and religion-centric politics as divisive; in short, he spoke about “Unity in Diversity”, and his family’s role in preserving that ideal; he also appealed to the electorate to rise above these ‘other’ considerations and vote for the ‘national’ one. As it turned out, the outcome of that election revealed, above all else, his great-grandfather’s prescience: despite huge turnouts at his public meetings, Mr. Gandhi’s party finished a very distant fourth, after two caste-based parties, the BSP and SP, which were in turn followed by the Hindutva-centric BJP; this in a state that only two decades ago, constituted the principal base of the Congress.

What, then, went wrong? Or to put it differently: what went right for Ms. Mayawati’s BSP, which formed a majority government in UP after almost 18 turbulent years of minority governments? The reason is quite simple, really: the successful reinvention of the BSP as ‘the New Congress’. Ms. Mayawati’s advisors decided to extend her mentor, the late Mr. Kashiram’s ‘arithmetic logic’ (or what is more commonly called ‘the number game’) from within the confines of the Vidhan Sabha (what we know as 'horse-trading'), and applied it directly to the electorate. They realized that on its own, the BSP’s relatively committed ‘Dalit’ votebank couldn’t form a government; what was needed, therefore, was to supplement it with other votebanks, most notably, the Brahmins (who constitute 14% of UP’s electorate) and the minorities (who rightly saw Mulayam Singh Yadav’s SP as playing into the hands of the BJP). Together this tripartite votebank alliance of Dalits, Brahmins and Muslims paved the way for an unprecedented BSP victory in UP (D+B+M= BSP). [Her main rival, Mr. Yadav’s SP, on the other hand, could barely retain its Yadav votebank; the Thakurs were almost uniformly split between the SP and Mr. Rajnath Singh’s BJP. Coincidentally, this same ‘DBM’ combination constituted the Congress’ votebank in the days when it ruled UP; hence the term ‘the New Congress’ for the BSP.]

Most significantly, this election showed the BSP that the same formula- although not necessarily comprising the same castes/communities- can be applied to other states as well. For example, the BSP is talking to Bhajan Lal in Haryana to form an alliance between the Dalit and the non-Jat votebanks; in Jharkhand, they are talking to Sibhu Soren of the JMM to form an alliance between the Dalit and the tribal votebanks. Thus are being laid the foundations of Ms. Mayawati’s grandest ‘experiment’: the Mahajyot. To situate Mahajyot in the Khilnani Hypothesis, Ms. Mayawati hopes to once again reverse the balance of forces: her ultimate aim is not so much to reincarnate the pre-1967 Monolithic polity (in other words, become the Congress of old) but instead to endeavor systematically- bit by bit, state by state- to construct a Megalithic polity around the ‘superstructure’ of her Dalit votebank. The use of Marxist terminology here seems only too apt: for doesn’t Karl Marx postulate an alliance between the proletariat (read: Dalit) and the bourgeoisie (read: other non-communal identities) to topple the Ancien Regime? [Note that this proposed alliance didn’t quite materialize as Professor Marx had predicted; the failure of continental revolts of 1848 proved him tragically wrong.]

In my opinion, such an arithmetic approach cannot be good for the country; not in the long run, anyway. At best, it can be a necessary instrument for propelling issue-based politics. To truly progress as a democracy, we need to rise above identity-based considerations- infact, there ought only to be one identity, i.e., the national identity- and instead focus on issues that really matter; concrete things that would make a very real- tangible- difference in the lives of India’s poor, like employment, health care, education, electricity, water-supply, roads. We ought not to vote for someone just because we share the same identity- which is to say that that someone belongs to our caste or community- but because we know for certain that he or she cares for us and knows how to solve our problems, that our interests will be given primacy over his or her own; that he or she has, above all, a vision for our future, the several yet joined futures of our unborn children’s children. Indeed, it doesn’t matter how that person has come into power: what matters- and what history will ultimately judge- is what that person did to better the condition of his fellow human beings once he came to be there.

As the discussion above reveals, Mr. Gandhi has come into a Mephistophelean world: as I see it, it is a world full of promises but it is also a world bent on dismantling the very ‘national identity’ his ancestors not only helped painstakingly built, telling us, teaching us, to celebrate the Unity in our Diversity, our Oneness, but also laid down their lives fighting to protect it. If that world is to survive, as indeed it must, then India’s best hope lies in the Family. For they belong to no one caste, community, religion or region; and yet they belong to each and everyone of us irrespective of who we are, what we speak and where we come from, for the simple reason that, not unlike India’s Constitution, they are the best and only embodiment of our cherished ‘national identity’ by virtue of the unique 'burden and glory' history has charged them with. No other Family can claim to represent the whole of India. If we are to survive and prosper as a Nation, then none other than the Family can lead us: they remain our surest Defense against the forces that are tearing us apart; they are our best Hope to take India to the forefront of the family of nations. But that alone cannot- should not- suffice.

Sixty years ago, when his great-grandfather made ‘a tryst with destiny’, he identified four ‘non-negotiable’ principles that he hoped would keep India united: Sovereignty, Democracy, Secularism and Socialism. These Four Pillars have, more or less, withstood the test of time; even in the worst of times (the demolition of the Baburi Masjid and the Gujarat Genocide, to name only two), they have exhibited a remarkable resilience. Striding atop these Four Pillars, his mother went to the people and almost single handedly reversed ‘the cavalcade of history’ (to use Mr. Arjun Singh’s phrase) to achieve the unthinkable: the forces of majority communalism are today everywhere in retreat. Mr. Gandhi will have to prove himself to be a Guardian worthy of protecting the sanctity of these Four Pillars from ever-deadlier enemies, just as his forbearers have been. But even more than that, he will have to identify new issues- and strategies- that will reinforce the foundation of these Four Pillars, and upon which he- we- can together Build still Greater Monuments that will translate our Dreams into Reality.

Jai Hind!

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Monday, September 24, 2007

My Book Shelf on Shelfari

Very recently, some friends invited me to Shelfari. This website offers bibliophiles from across the globe an opportunity to come together to talk about what they love most: BOOKS. I recommend it immensely.

Embedded below is a (virtual) Shelf of some of the books that I have loved. I have also put it permanently on the left sidebar (under the THIS BLOG RECOMMENDS section- since removed because certain readers like "The Inhuman Humanist" strongly felt that it gave it a cluttered look, which distracted from the main page. The list continues to be available on the Shelfari link above- AJ: 10.10.2007). Readers will need to download Adobe Flash player to scroll through it. Needless to say, I intend to keep expanding this list.

AJ Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Showcase: Dr. Sushovan Roy

This brief clip showcases the musical talent of Sushovan Roy. Dr. Roy is the one person I truly envy: a brilliant AIIMS-educated psychiatrist with a blooming practice in Thatcherite-London, he left everything to become a teacher in Pokhra under the icy-slopes of the Annapoorna in faraway Nepal. About a decade ago, he returned to the Motherland after being suspected by the Royalist Government of being pro-Maoist (as a matter of fact, several of his former 'students' now occupy high positions in the present Nepalese administration). In this straight-from-the-heart rendition of the Gulzar-RD Burman number, Tujsé Naraz Nahi Zindagi (I am not angry with you, Life), notice how he infuses fresh angst into each word he sings.

Personally, I find both the choice of song as well as its rendition by Dr. Roy particularly apt in light of yesterday's development (for those who haven't already heard, our longtime bête noire Mr. Vidya Charan Shukla finally marched back to the Congress ahead of an imminent midterm poll).

Also seen in this clip are Dr. Krishna Reddy and Dr. Saibel Farishta.

AJ Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

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CONTACT ME. मुझसे संपर्क करें

Amit Aishwarya Jogi
Anugrah, Civil Lines
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Chhattisgarh, INDIA
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