Monday, November 30, 2009

This is a response to all the hype surround "26/11"

As a friend (and being a phirang, his vision was less clouded than our media people who devoted 5 pages on two consecutive days to 26/11) pointed out, this whole 26/11 (another ridiculous and forced link with 9/11) is being used exactly as 9/11 had been in the USA: to whip up non-existent patriotic fervour and justify the printing of police adverts that ask the citizens to report any "suspicious" person. And at the same time the Indian government, police and army are hunting out the "terrorists" in chhatisgarh, manipur, lalgarh, kashmir.

I know this might and probably will be interpreted as a refusal to mourn for the dead, on my part. But what has mourning the dead got to do with the Indian national flag may i know? Does the flag fly half mast for those killed in the 1984 pogrom against the Sikhs? For those raped, murdered and burnt alive in 2002? For those (the official figure is: 14 and that's the biggest joke) killed in Nandigram? For the unknown and unknowable numbers of young men and women who were imprisoned, tortured and killed during emergency? For Asiya and Neelofar who were raped and murdered by the security forces in Shopian?

I am very suspicious of nationalism and nationalist sentiments. 'Unity in diversity' seems ironical in face of the tendency of the Indian state to fragment and dissolve: the opening up of the cracks on Salim Sinai's body. And I see nothing but an oppressor's repressive baton in these attempts to forcibly retain sovereign power over a people using extreme kinds of violence. Those who are complicit in this show of patriotism are those who have gained something from the state; that is, those with empowered class, economic, caste and linguistic positions within the structure. I hardly think a landless labourer in Singur will have the luxury to celebrate state holidays on the 15th of August or 26th of January. Therefore, I'd like to argue, articulation of such patriotic displays, on the one hand, becomes articulations of your superior standings in terms of class, religion, caste, etc. On the other hand, it becomes a narrow and parochial alignment with the rightwing ideas of nation and nationality.

11 comments:

precisely said...

Those who are complicit in this show of patriotism are those who have gained something from the state; that is, those with empowered class, economic, caste and linguistic positions within the structure. I hardly think a landless labourer in Singur will have the luxury to celebrate state holidays on the 15th of August or 26th of January. Therefore, I'd like to argue, articulation of such patriotic displays, on the one hand, becomes articulations of your superior standings in terms of class, religion, caste, etc. On the other hand, it becomes a narrow and parochial alignment with the rightwing ideas of nation and nationality.

If this is what you have to say about me after everything we did in Singur, I have nothing more to say. Also, let me remind you, I have nothing against minorities. Because, in case you didnt know, I belong to a minority myself.

precisely said...

introduce quotation marks before and after the quote.

hack said...

i am not sure if nation and nationality are necessarily rightwing ideas. tahole toh any form of organisation is bad. i think it is about checks and balances. without a strong opposition, the ruling power becomes tyrannical and starts imposing its will on the people. we need voices which will always point out instances of the state's brutality and thereby make it aware that it cannot do anything it likes and expect to remain in power. keep it on its toes, like.

KittyCat said...

well, have you ever heard of left wing manifestos(since the left parties in India have become as right leaning as its possible to without calling themselves the conservative party or summat, they are excluded) taking about nation and nationality as the primary form of affiliation?

KittyCat said...

Pc's response (from email)

i agree with you--specially the India Gate concert was such a hearkening back to the 70's Doordarshan brand of celebrating the nation--it is such a joke in the 21st century--we have known state repression like never before as well as State abdication of responsibility like never before too (in the context of development--shrinking state outlay in public sectors etc.)--in this repressive yet 'un-responsible' regime, what is the nation but a 3 decade old notion that we are better off without?

hack said...

okay, what is the alternative to nation as a form of organisation?

Aniruddha Dutta said...

Hmmm, well I'd say it's a poverty of imagination if one can't think of forms of organisation beyond the nation! Ei bhabei rashtro amader chitna-jogot ke kobjay rakhe - it creates the strategic illusion that any serious opposition to the state = descent into chaos and disorder.

It's also very sad if the only way we can think of mourning the dead is in the name of the same nation and nationalism that fosters and/or plays into circuits of violence.

mojo said...

i agree with almost everything you said, especially the hype around 26/11. i think the bombay attacks struck a vulnerable chord : most of the people who died were foreign nationals or upper middle class/upper class people. having said that, i would say that doesnt make it a less horrific massacre. also, since nationhood and patriotism are notions which belong to a now dead and gone era, there is an acute need to redefine these notions, especially in a country like ours.
BUT, tell me what the alternative to a nation state is? all these people who want independent governments (i do believe they are justified in doing so) will just keep disintegrating into smaller and smaller fragments. i for one, have benefited immensely from the nation state and so have you. i have studied in a government subsidized school, i have received a spectacular university education for 75 rupees a month, i travel on government buses, buy clothes and spices from state subsidized stores,i aim someday to go abroad on a state scholarship and come back to teach at a government university. while i do not ignore the thousands who have been victims of state oppression, amar jaygae daariye shudhumaatro state er baapaanto koraa ta amar pokkhe chorom hypocrisy aar ingratitude er lokkhon. i do believe the indian state has failed to live up to its visions, maybe in another few decades it will cease to exist. but day in day out amra jaara state er shomosto shubidhey bhog kori, taader hoyto ekbaar ontoto eituku acknowledge koraa uchit. otherwise its like you live in your parents' house, on your parents' money, and abuse them no end because they are often rude to you, and have slapped you for no reason once or twice. slapping ta onyay nishchoi, kintu tahole baba maa-r poyshaye aar kheyona, alternative dyakho.

Tom said...

Re: 'justify the printing of police adverts that ask the citizens to report any "suspicious" person'.
http://tinyurl.com/yf35dtw

KittyCat said...

@Tom: Thanks! I was looking for the mostly harmless link though.

Tom said...

Page 15 on http://www.mostly-useless.co.uk/MH9.pdf