Monday, August 29

Ugly Face of Punjab Police


The so-called arrest of Indian Express' special correspondent Gautam Dheer by the Punjab Police officer Sumedh Singh Saini once again shows the ugly face of this force. And all this when our own elected chief minister went a big way out to get S S Virk posted as the DGP Punjab. Saini and a host of other such officers are men close to Virk. When our own elected leaders put the lives of common man in the hands of people like Virk and Saini only God can save us.
It is Gautam Dheer this time, who has a backing of a special kind of people. But then who will save the common man from the clutches such officials. Think of the people who have lodged complaints against Sumedh Singh Saini, the common people on street.
Can any one forget the atrocities that this group of Punjab Police officials unleashed on the aam admi of Punjab in the name of eradicating terrorism from the state.
It is time to sit up and think what kind of punishment should be earmarked for those like Sumedh Singh Saini.

Saturday, August 27

Write to President

Dear Friends,

On the eve of our nation's 59th Independence Day, President Kalam urged for a quick completion of the Interlinking Rivers (ILR) Project.
We urge you to write him a letter at the earliest expressing your alarm. Important points to include in your letter are:
1. The process of review is flawed - to date only two feasibility reports have been published despite the SC ordering the Centre to make all completed feasibility reports publicly available.
2. There will be mass displacement, especially of scheduled caste and scheduled tribes. Within the Ken-Betwa link, 6 dams are planned!
There are a total of 30 links planned, each with multiple dams and reservoirs. Displacement also occurs due to the canals, and environmental mitigation strategies such as compensatory afforestation or the creation of sanctuaries. Downstream communities also experience negative impacts in terms of livelihoods.
3. There are many known adverse environmental impacts such as waterlogging and salination of soils, submergence of forests and loss of riverine ecosystems.
4. The costs of such a project are enormous, estimated to be Rs. 560,000 crores. This will be an underestimate, as almost all projects in India have suffered cost overruns.
5. There are cheaper, more sustainable alternatives such as rainwater harvesting, micro-irrigation or alternative farming methods such as SRI for rice.
Please get as many signatories to your letter as possible and circulate. We will do the same.

The President's Address is:

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Rashtrapati Bhawan,
New Delhi, 110004

Fax: +91 11 3017290, 3014570
Emailto:presidentofindia(at), presidentofindia(at)


Medha Patkar
Narmada Bachao Andolan
National Alliance of Peoples' Movements

Wednesday, August 24

Cancer and Pesticides

Jatinder Preet

Cancer is widespread in the villages of Punjab, broadly called cotton belt. The villagers there don't need a study by an NGO, government departments or media reports to tell that. It's a sad fact of life in these villages notwithstanding the polemics on the issue that we are witnessing these days. While nobody is any wiser after going through the claims and counterclaims in the media, what is sadder is that efforts are underway to obfuscate the whole issue.
To help clear some of these it would be informative to look into who are the main players in this.
In 2003 'Greenpeace India' conducted a study titled 'Arrested Development.' As the name suggests the study concentrated on pesticides impact on children's mental health and development. The nine-month study conducted in six states showed that "the problem of pesticides affecting the health of our children was not limited to accidents. Pesticides are affecting the health of children everyday in every part of the country. In agricultural communities seemingly normal children were victims of chronic exposure to pesticides.. it reflected the reality of the mental development of Indian children being compromised silently and without remorse."
How did cancer in Punjab come into picture? For an answer to that question we will have to delve deeper. It so happened that 'Kheti Virasat', an organisation working in Punjab, partnered for the state part of the study. Bangi Nihal Singh, Jajjal and Mahi Nangal villages in Talwandi Sabo block of Bhatinda district were chosen for the Punjab part of the study. This is the area where an abnormal large number of cancer incidences are being reported, though, no definitive figures are available.
When the phenomenon was noticed first it made the local populace thinking. What could be the causes? How is this area different from rest of the Punjab with a socio-cultural affinity marked by same food habits and other 'way of life' practices? It must be food and water, the common wisdom suggested. Sure enough, the water did not taste the same as it did more than a decade ago. Pesticides are used intensively on cotton, the main crop of the area. There certainly seems to be a correlation.
It is this "common wisdom" that drove the claims linking cancer with heavy pesticides use. It was in the realm of apprehensions so far. But that did not stop the organization going to town. With help of friendly correspondents of English media, a campaign was launched. The campaign took on strength with preliminary investigations conducted by Punjab Health Services and Punjab Pollution Control Board.
While the health department concluded that the underground water cannot be the cause of cancer in the two villages (Giana and Jajjal). It did not deny the high number of cancer though explaining that it could be due to "better awareness about the disease and availing of better diagnostic facilities." PPCB that analysed the groundwater and canal water samples of these two villages declared, "Concentration of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) is abnormally high in ground water but well within permissible limits for canal water. No pesticide and insecticide have been detected in the under ground water. However DDT and BHC have been detected in canal water based supply."
The preliminary observations warranted extensive study. So it was ordered. The Community Medicine Department of PGIMER, Chandigarh was entrusted with the study. It found that prevalence of confirmed cancer cases was 103 per lakh at Talwandi Sabo, a high figure by any standards. A comparison of the characteristics of randomly selected individuals, from the villages where a cancer case existed or death due to cancer had occurred in last 2 years, revealed the "involvement in cultivation, pesticide use, alcohol and smoking" in Talwandi Sabo block. So what exactly did the study find out? While it is almost impossible to pinpoint the cause of number of deaths, the study deduced "the cancer cases and deaths are higher in Talwandi Sabo probably due to more use of pesticides and alcohol." Holding 'multiple factors' responsible for cancer cases in Talwandi Sabo, the study was careful to use the word "probably".
Now we are back to the question how did the categorical link between cancer and pesticides come about in media reports? It would be revealing to see a common link in all those news reports. It is that of the organization that 'Greenpeace' took help of for their Punjab part of the study. Almost all the news reports that appeared had a quote from the man who is now operating with a new name 'Kheti Virasat Mission'. Most of these reports mentioned a study by 'Greenpeace' that added credence to the reports.
'Greenpeace' did not have anything to do with these reports linking cancer to pesticides.
Thangamma Monnappa of 'Greenpeace' was, in fact, surprised when asked about this. While we have already discussed what the study was about it is available on net for everyone to see.
This could be dismissed as efforts by an activist organisation to be noticed but the real racket has begun now when the chemical industry woke up to it. The lobbying machinery is getting oiled. It has already started with half-baked stories.
A report appeared citing Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) authorities, with no specific names. They have "suggested to the state government to undertake in-depth study of the causes of cancer deaths in some villages of Punjab and not to jump to the conclusion that these were caused due to the indiscriminate use of pesticides" the news report said.
"Pesticides not cause of cancer deaths", Dr. S.S. Johl, vice chairman, Planning Board, was quoted as saying in another report.
A campaign got underway to discredit the earlier report by PPCB. The result linking the occurrence of cancer to the use of pesticides is based on a small number of persons, it was declared, in a meeting of an experts' group set up by the Punjab Government, co-chaired by Dr. Johl. The experts' group decided that a joint study would be undertaken by the Oswal Institute of Cancer and PAU to "review studies related to the incidence of cancer and its relation, if any, to the use of pesticides."
What Dr. Johl and PAU have to say about the cancer-pesticide link has come to be known already, the irony is completed with the information that the Oswal family having chemicals and fertilizers as a business concern, has a direct association with Cancer Research Institute.
Having said that what are we left with. No we are not sure if pesticides are the real reason for cancer in the cotton belt. Pesticides may be one of the causes, it says. No, there is no other established study that talks of pesticides-cancer link or lack of it. In fact, as someone pointed out in anything as complicated as pesticide exposures or even cigarette smoke, science can never prove beyond every possible doubt that X causes Y. There is always room for a researcher directly or indirectly patronized by the pesticide lobby to say, "Couldn't this disease be partly caused by some factor that you haven't taken into consideration?" Honestly, there's a slim chance that it could be. Where chemicals and humans and ecosystems are concerned, the complexity is enormous, the tools of science are crude, and what is not known is always much larger than what is known.
It's an admitted fact that science cannot provide definitive answers to some of the most important questions faced by individuals and human society. Still, we need the answers.
Who?s going to provide that? While it remains to be answered, one thing is for sure that those who seek answers with pre-conceived notions and ideas will always have their answers doubted upon.
As the debate continues we must not forget that that there is abnormally large number of cancer cases in a specific area in Bathinda district. Another fact remains that despite their use in its limited meaning, pesticides are toxic and hazardous. Now, whether there is any link between cancer and pesticides or not, it should not deviate from the fact that the two are real problems.

Tuesday, August 23

Post-Modernism - A Marxist Comment

A Marxist academic from Delhi University, Prof. Randhir Singh writes a critique on Post Modernism from a Marxist Viewpoint

The Soviet collapse has caused, however temporarily, a retreat from Marxism. Another consequence has been a resurgence of old and new alternative theories. All sorts of essentially Rightwing ideologies have come to flourish. Old orthodoxies have been resurrected and ancient prejudices and superstitions argued for in modern and supposedly scientific way. 'Culture' and 'civilisation' and their so-called 'clashes', are invoked to explain history rather than be explained by it and in an exercise of racial pseudo-science, not only is the reality of imperialism obscured but its crimes are justified as the product of cultural 'incompatibility'. 'Identity politics' and 'communitarianism' are the new catchwords and obscuring the reality of iniquitous class structures within and around the identities or communities and the 'mud of the times' invariably carried by them-for example, 'the coercions and inequities', in Amartya Sen's words, 'that many traditional communities standardly impose on less privileged members (such as women, or female children, or those belonging to the lower tiers of the collectivity)'- they are so theorised as to persuade the victims of capitalism and imperialism to accept and stay happy with their 'difference' in place of equality and liberation that Marxist theory and practice seek. And so on. Of these supposed alternatives, there is one that I would like to take a quick notice of-the rather 'infashion' post-modernism which is particularly influential in the Left intellectual circles in the west and has acquired adherents worldwide. Loud in proclaiming the 'end' or 'obsolescence' of Marxism, it has even claimed to be a replacement of and advance over Marxism, (or 'traditional Marxism' as its ex-Marxist adherents would have it), and thus, to be the most advanced radical social theory of these, our post-modernist times. Critics from the other end have seen post-modernism as, in some ways, the most dangerous of the forces currently threatening the survival of the socialist project inasmuch as it threatens the project from within, given its origins, the nature of its criticism, and the significant ex-Marxist presence in it. Post-modernism's rhetoric of rupture and discontinuity renders wrong everything you thought you ever knew and the accompanying fragmentation of time, space and historical experience is supposed to liberate us from the mistaken modernist notions of reason, knowledge, history, morals or progress, and above all, the dead hand of 'meta-narratives'. The best or rather the worst, typical, representative of this mistaken 'modernity', they say, is Marxism and its socialist project. As it is traditionally trained, conditioned or persuaded, to under-reach themselves, in class-divided societies, people always had a had time seeing beyond their most immediately visible oppressors; post-modernist thinking, with its distrust of so-called 'grand narratives', simply reinforces such myopia. That is how, for post-modernism, capitalism is and socialism can never be?.

A point of interest here is that quite a few of the original or leading post-modernists, who have thus argued against Marxism or socialism, were once themselves Marxists or near-Marxists and believed in what they were willing to call socialism. This draws our attention to a certain psychological aspect to this post-modernist episode in the intellectual biography of the Western Left intelligentsia. Post-modernism has certainly a great deal to do with capitalism; scholars like Jameson and Harvey have seen it as a cultural expression of late capitalism and Hawkes-old fashioned enough to be still a believer in concepts like 'false consciousness'-has even defined and dismissed post-modernism as 'nothing more than the ideology of consumer capitalism'. But surely there is more than a grain of truth in the view, which taking cognisance of its noticeably significant French origins, has seen post-modernism as a passing, or somewhat more lasting, fad of French intellectuals, (typically the survivors of the 'sixties generation' and their students), who having lost their revolutionary faith, have taken refuge in a nihilistic scepticism rather than come to amicable terms with the bourgeois world in which they live and whose benefits they enjoy. Or perhaps, they have found it psychologically the most comforting way of coming to terms with this world and succumbing to it. But fad or whatever else originally, post-modernism is a significant mode of thought today. Much of ex-Marxism, often via post-Marxism, has found its way into post-modernism, and similarly disillusioned or otherwise complacent intellectuals everywhere, in the West as much as in the Third World, have flocked to it as the very latest in social theory. For the time being at least, post-modernism has spread so fast and far is a matter for social historians to explore. But the power of fashion apart, surely it has something to do with its animus against Marxism (however ambiguous it may be at time) and even more its unambiguous surrender to what is, that is, capitalism and its current triumphalism-a surrender made all the more attractive or comforting by the seemingly avant-garde sophistication of post-modernism. It only needs to be added that the success, such as it is, of the post-modernist theory is largely parasitical 'because it rests on its proponents' claims concerning the obsolescence of Marxism, and it is this which enables the post-modernists to position themselves as the most advanced radical social theorists?


THE language is abstruse and esoteric, almost incomprehensible, the 'discourse' inaccessible except to the initiates. Rhetoric of 'discontinuity' notwithstanding, there is continuity of assumption with the jargonised modernist thought that to be readable or comprehensible is to be superficial, to be not theoretical, certainly not theoretically profound. It is supposed to be a theory but there is no agreement among the proponents, let alone the critics, what precisely 'post-modernism' is. Its practitioners are in fact inclined to be rather disdainful of any such systemising or self-consistency seeking enterprise. Our difficulty in comprehending and assessing post-modernism critically is compounded by the fact that it has emerged generally, and as an influence on the Left, in almost inseparable association with a variety of other intellectual and political trends, including 'post-Marxism' and 'post-structuralism'. But the basic thrust of post-modernism is sufficiently clear for us to take a quick look at it before we take another quick look at the themes secreted in its interstices, which themes, even as we reject post-modernism, must be the concern of any serious socialist today.

As the name itself suggests, the basic thrust of post-modernism is a 'rupture' or 'discontinuity' with the project of modernity which is seen to have its origins in the Enlightenment, though it came to fruition in the nineteenth century. 'The so-called rationalism, techno centrism, the standardisation of knowledge and production, a belief in linear progress and universal, absolute truths.' Post-modernism is supposed to be a reaction to, and the rejection of the project of modernity, its science or knowledge, its rationalism, universalism and humanism, and so on. The post-modernist interpretation of Enlightenment or so-called 'project of modernity' is not my concern here. There is undoubtedly a lot to be criticised in Enlightenment theories of history and progress, its view of science or technology, knowledge or truth, or reason itself whose excesses indeed spawned 'some petrified and tyrannical versions' as Feyeraband has described them. Its optimism or general hopefulness, however justified then or even now, could be charged with a certain lack of sensitivity to the complexity or dialectics of human situation and processes of social change. And so on. But more to the point is the fact that not only is all this only a small part of the story but that it soon came to be criticised from within, long before the arrival of post-modernism. Marx himself, for example, was profoundly aware of the limits or deficiencies of the theoretical baggage carried from Enlightenment. In other words, Enlightenment or 'modernity' so-called had within them a strong critical tradition which, over the year, questioned almost all the 'evils' now being ascribed to them by post-modernism. Aberrations, even serious aberrations, were there; but on the whole and at it a scientific scepticism if I may so call it, that helped improve our modes of getting things chosen and done. Post-modernism is, in its own way, rooted in this sceptical tradition within 'modernism', but what has now happened is that in its 'new turn' (as one of its leading lights, Laclau, has called it), scepticism has been pursued, dogmatically, to its ultimate nihilistic conclusions. Marxism seeks to find a perspective and purpose for human life by an inquiry into the foundations of human thought and action. Post-modernism, reminiscent of a philosophical aberration or two earlier, makes no such inquiry and says it cannot be made in a manner that at the end of it all the post-modernist view of life looks very much like what Shakespeare put in the mouth of Macbeth: 'a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing'.


POST-MODERNISM sees the world or social reality, when it is at all willing to see it, as essentially fragmented and indeterminate, a realm of the contingent, the ephemeral and the discontinuous where the only thing possible is delight in the chaos of life as if it were some kind of game. The social is not to be conceived either in terms of possessing unproblematically 'real' empirical characteristics, or in terms of constituting a structured totality. The very notion of structure or structural connections is denied. There is no such thing as a social whole or structured processes accessible to human knowledge and therefore to purposive human action, only a bricolage of difference, identity and social multiplicities, so diverse and flexible that it can be rearranged as you like by discursive construction. A dominant theme has been the denial of capitalism as a 'structured' and 'totalising' whole with its own systemic unity and 'laws of motion'. The constitutive relations of capitalism are at best only one personal 'identity' among many others, no longer in any way 'privileged' by their historic centrality. Capitalism, therefore, is simply unamenable to any 'causal analysis'. Structures and causes are all replaced by fragments and contingencies. There is an uncritical eclecticism that celebrates particularity and multiplicity for its own sake. What exists are only disconnected, anarchic and inexplicable differences or particularities. There are only so many different kinds of power, oppression, identity, etc. and of course, as many or more 'discourses' about them.

Causality, and therefore, the very possibility of causal analysis, is rejected. There can be no social science as it has been traditionally conceived-and in extreme cases perhaps, no science at all. What is deemed possible and advocated is a 'deconstructed', restless, indeterminacy of analysis. There is historicity of knowledge, but no historical knowledge or any objective truth. Marxism is ruled out and so is any other attempt at systematic explanation of social or historical conditions. Not only have we to give up any idea of intelligible historical processes or causality but along with it, evidently, any idea of 'making history'. One distinctive feature of the post-modernist 'new turn' is its rather loud rejection of 'totalising' thought in all its forms, the so-called 'meta-narratives'. And significantly enough, privileged for attack here are the universalistic, emancipatory 'meta-narratives', the projects for a general 'human emancipation', which are typically represented by Marxism and its project of socialism. It is argued that any broad movements for social change, general emancipatory struggles for equality and liberation, inevitably lead to new forms of repression and oppression. What is possible and permissible are only particular struggles, on particular issues or against particular oppressions, only a fragmented politics of 'difference', and 'identity'.

The post-modernist 'deconstructed' indeterminacy of analysis is carried into the realm of morals with similar nihilistic or near nihilistic consequences. We cannot be sure of any rational values. We simply cannot or do not have any general moral principles, let alone ones that should be universally defended as between human beings, communities and traditions. There is an unequivocal denial of the possibility or the desirability of universal values, ambitions or aspiration. The irreducible historicity of values (as of knowledge), interpreted in terms of a theoretically most flawed relativism, is so emphasised by post-modernists that, their protests notwithstanding, the end result is, and on their argument can only be, an undeniable moral nihilism, where there is only multiplicity of values (as of truths) and no rational way of choosing or deciding between them.

POST-MODERNISM may be disdainful of confronting fundamental issues or evasive about its philosophical premises, but it has come to sport what can only be described as idealism, its own specifically new form of philosophical idealism, the idealism of 'discourse', and at one more remove, of 'language' that 'discourse' cannot do without and is therefore reducible to. An idealism of the subjective kind, it has an obvious flavour of solipsism about it.

As the argument proceeds, social reality, seen as fragmented and indeterminate, is soon dissolved into 'discourse'. Since there are no historical conditions or connections, limits or possibilities, only arbitrary juxtapositions, conjunctures and contingencies, only discrete and isolated fragments or differences, if anything holds it all together, gives it meaning or coherence, it is only the logic of 'discourse'. What is involved here is not merely a detaching of thought or ideology from any social basis, its autonomisation, but its self-sufficient independences, and as a consequence, social reality itself, is now constituted by thought or 'discourse'. Reality is only a field of discursivity, nothing objective, only a discursively constructed idea about it. Indeed, language is all.

A long time back, in The German ideology, Marx and Engels had written:

Language is the immediate actuality of thought. Just as philosophers have given thought an independent existence, so they were bound to make language into an independent realm.

Philosophers have been at it, or preparing the ground for it, before, during and after Marx's own time. Plato's 'theory of ideas', as an exercise in 'reification of concepts' was a significant beginning, and Hegel's massive act of reification was thus noticed by Marx:

To Hegel, the life-process of the human brain, i.e., the process of thinking, which, under the name of "the idea", he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurges of the real world, and the real world is only the external phenomenal form of "the idea".

Of the more recent 'Age of Analysis', Barrows Dunham has written:

Whereas philosophers had once speculated boldly about the universe as a whole, they now preferred the safer latitudes of language. They began as sears, and they dwindled into grammarians.

Further cutting itself free from the material world, philosophy had its devotees who so focussed on language as to question the validity of social concepts and treat social problems as if these, too, were a matter of language and syntax, purely verbal, as if struggle against fascism. For example, involved no more than a definition of terms. It has been a long journey for such idealism in Western philosophy. But it can be said that the destination or denouement has been now reached with post-modernism-a slide down the road from reality to discourse, to language. The language is not merely an independent realm but an all-pervasive force, so omnipresent and dominant as to overwhelm and exhaust all that was supposed to be an objectively existing social reality. Language is all we can know about the world and we have access to no other reality, none whatsoever except language or discourse. Once again matter has disappeared, this time giving way to the immateriality of communication, were everything is discourse and discourse is everything. Our very being, our identities or 'subjectivities' are constituted through discourse or language. Our 'language' or 'discourse', or 'text'-the jargon varies but not the message-defines and the limits what we are, what we see or know, what we can imagine or do. It is all a matter of the way in which we are positioned by words in relation to other words. Oppression and exploitation, things like rape or deaths in police lock-up and fake encounters are really a matter of the way in which they are defined, rather 'constituted', linguistically-this is the only reality they have, or can even hope to have. So goes this new idealism?. That this idealism serves the established order or the powers - that be, is obvious. But it is equally a self-serving philosophy for the intellectual whom it privileges against fellow human beings. He is the one who discourses, or can discourse in the best deconstructionist-solipsistic manner.


POST-MODERNISM is very much a la mode of the moment, the fashion in the academy and elite intellectual circles elsewhere. And the power of fashion is great. But to say this is not to be dismissive about it. For fashion, in philosophy or social theory at least, is never something merely frivolous or fortuitous. It is always a true and revealing thing. And post-modernism is truly revelatory of the disillusionment caused by the collapse of the socialist project in our time, the seeming failure of the long term promise of Enlightenment, and the consequent succumbing of the intellectual to the established order. But equally, indeed even more, it is a response to something real, the real situation as it has come to be in contemporary capitalism. For Jameson, for instance, as already noticed, post-modernity corresponds to 'late capitalism' or a new multinational 'informational' and 'consumerist' phase of capitalism. Others too have argued along same or similar lines. But this argument is not what I would like to pursue here. Important for my immediate purpose is the fact that post-modernism has, in its own way, raised questions that we need to consider and incorporate into any analysis of what is wrong with the world today, if we would find really adequate or effective answers to its problems. In other words, secreted in the interstices of the basic thrust of post-modernism are themes which, reflecting as they do the real conditions under contemporary capitalism, are therefore also the themes with which people on the socialist Left must come to terms. Here I can do no better than turn to Ellen Meiksins Wood. This is how she lists the more important of these themes especially as they have found expression on the 'post-modern' Left:

A focus on language, culture and "discourse"? to the exclusion of the Left's traditional "economistic" concerns and the old pre-occupations of political economy; a rejection of "totalising" knowledge and of "universalistic" values (including Western conceptions of "rationality", general ideas of equality, whether liberal or socialist, and the Marxist conception of general human emancipation), in favour of an emphasis on "difference", on varied particular identities such as gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, on various particular and separate oppressions and struggles; an insistence on the fluid and fragmented nature of human self (the decentred subject), which makes our identities so variable, uncertain, and fragile that it is hard to see how we can develop the kind of consciousness that might form the basis of solidarity and collective action founded on a common social "identity"(such as class), a common experience, and common interests-a celebration of the "marginal"; and a repudiation of "grand narratives", such as Western ideas of progress, including Marxist theories of history.

Post-modernists have tended to lump these themes together in a dismissal of Marxism, rather what they allege Marxism to be. But as Wood has insisted, Marxists do not need to deny the importance of at least quite a few of these themes:

For instance, the history of the twentieth century could hardly inspire confidence in traditional notions of progress, and those of us who profess to believe in some kind of "progressive" politics have to come to terms with all that has happened to undermine Enlightenment optimism. And who would want to deny the importance of "identities" other than class, of struggles against sexual and racial oppression, or the complexities of human experience in such a mobile and changeable world, with such fragile and shifting solidarities? At the same time, who can be oblivious to the resurgence of "identities" like nationalism as powerful, and often destructive, historical forces? Don't we have to come to terms with the restructuring of capitalism, now more global and more "segmented" than ever before? For that matter, who is unaware of the structural changes that have transformed socialism, has ever been unconscious of the racial or sexual divisions within the working class? Who would want to subscribe to the kind of ideological and cultural imperialism that suppresses the multiplicity of human values and cultures? And how can we possibly deny the importance of language and cultural politics in a world so dominated by symbols, images, and "mass communication", not to mention the "information superhighway"? Who would deny these things in a world of global capitalism so dependent on the manipulation of symbols and images in a culture of advertisement, where the "media" mediate our own most personal experiences, sometimes to the point where what we wee on television seems more real than our own lives, and where the terms of political debate are set-and narrowly constricted-by the dictates of capital in the most direct way, as knowledge and communication are increasingly in the hands of corporate giants?

But, most importantly, Wood immediately adds:

'we don't have to accept post-modernist assumptions in order to see all these things. On the contrary, these developments cry out for a materialist explanation. For that matter, there have been few cultural phenomena in human history whose material foundations are more glaringly obvious than those of post-modernism itself. There is, in fact, no better confirmation of historical materialism than the connection between post-modernist culture and a segmented, consumerist, and mobile global capitalism. Nor does a materialist approach mean that we have to devalue or denigrate the cultural dimensions of human experience. A materialist understanding is, instead, an essential step in liberating culture from the stranglehold of commodification.

If post-modernism does tell us something, in a distorted way, about the conditions of contemporary capitalism, the real trick is to figure out exactly what those conditions are, why they are, and where we go from here. The trick, in other words, is to suggest historical explanations for those conditions instead of just submitting to them and indulging in ideological adaptations. The trick is to identify the real problems to which the current intellectual fashions offer false-or no-solutions, and in so doing to challenge the limits they impose on action and resistance. The trick, therefore, is to respond to the conditions of the world today not as cheerful (or even miserable) robots but as critics.

And no theory provides better weapons for the needed critique and better solutions to the real problems involved than Marxism.


POST-MODERNISM, with its denial of objectivity and causality and overall explanatory agnosticism, its embrace of an indeterministic concept of complexity and ultra-relativism in matters of culture, truth and morals, its overriding historical cynicism and fear-laden contempt for modernist 'meta narratives', all of which really adds up to a rejection of everything that purports to offer anything resembling answers, can obviously provide no answers to the problems that the modern, or shall we say post-modern, world confronts. It claim to be a radical rupture with the past only betrays its lack of historical sensitivity which makes it sublimely oblivious of everything that has been said so many times in the past and condemns it to conscious or unconscious repetition of old themes. Even the epistemological scepticism, the assault on universal truths and values, which is so crucial a part of this current intellectual fashion, has a history as old as philosophy-post-modernism has only so pursued it as to reach altogether nihilistic conclusions. That science or morals are a social or historical product is turned into an argument that all theories or moral principles, thus conditioned, are equally invalid, and the categories involved valid only as objects of discourse. Concepts indispensable to any worthwhile social theory, 'universalism', 'essentialism', 'functionalism' and what they misdescribe as 'reductionism'-of course, like all such concepts needing to be used with care and sophistication-are attacked and rejected as 'the four methodological sins' of modernism, and Marxism is the worst culprit. The uniqueness of things is used to deny the possibility of general theories about anything. Particularity is celebrated without realising that it is self-defeating because any account at the level of the given particular can be undercut by some more particularistic analysis. We can never actually know when any particular is particular enough, and in any case the smallest significant particulars you can think of-groups, selves, experiences, thoughts, words, events, actions-are themselves inevitable abstractions from countless further particulars. In fact, without a more general, universal theory it is impossible to tell when to stop or make sense of particularities. And these 'universalising' theories, all the time moving from the particular to the general, have embodied immense imagination and scientific capacities and helped us reach ever closer to the nature or truth of things. 'Essentialism' is considered a major methodological sin when it is simply indispensable to any realist thinking about complex entities and processes. Without some coherent notion of what is central, that is, essential to a thing which makes it, as a specific unity of parts and particulars, the thing and no other, and without which it would be literally unrecognisable as that type of thing it would be impossible even to speak of any particular thing (for example, an 'identity' that post-modernists are otherwise so loud about), or postulate anything explanatory about its being, behaviour or functioning. 'Functionalism' is questioned when, posting a certain kind of 'why' questions of its subject matter, 'making sense' of how things came to be what they are, explaining the emergence, persistence or rationale of the more concrete practices, institutional arrangements or ideological phenomena in terms of for example, the way in which they comply with the needs or logic of interests of classes in society, functional explanation has its intellectual validity and value and remains, not an all-purpose affair but a legitimate part of any adequate, reasonably comprehensive causal explanation of things. As 'reductionism' what is rejected is the act integral to any explanation where some things are picked out as important and given prominence over others in terms of their effects or influence-otherwise there is no explanation, only 'disparate fragments' or 'aggregates' and their descriptive statement. What is entailed here, as I have already argued earlier, is a failure to distinguish between explanation that is reductionist and explanation. These vital concepts are so interpreted or misinterpreted by post-modernists as to cover and reject not just simplistic or lazy explanations but any kind of serious causal analysis or general explanatory enterprise.


THAT this epistemological scepticism stops short of nihilism in practice only means that, at this level at least, it is impossible to wish away social reality and some knowledge to cope with it, however fragmented a view one takes of both; the fragments are yet the sites when human beings live and act. Thus the 'fragmented knowledge' of post-modernism has thus produced some keen insights well suited for narrowly defined specific types of tasks, even when any 'big picture' or 'meta narrative' is ruled out. This is welcome and to be acknowledged, but there is an interesting aspect to it which also cries out to be noticed. Its 'rhetoric of ruptures' notwithstanding, post-modernism here is too much like the modernist (mainstream or bourgeois) social science, governed as it has been by quantitative empiricism and mindless specialisation, where its narrow focus and piecemeal approach, and a distruct of generalised explanatory theory, have led it to study only relatively unrelated, particular parts, areas or problems of contemporary social and political life, and thus helped it avoid 'big issues' concerning the basic character of society as a whole and the general direction of its movement, and thereby also evade the issue of large scale social change. Neither modernist social scientists, nor post-modernists, however, would be willing to accept that in turning away from 'grant theory' in one case and 'meta-narrative' in the other they have both come to deal with 'small potatoes' only, and avoid the 'big issues'. The former assume away the big issues do not exist or that they are impossible to understand. If modernist social science adjusts itself to existing social reality, that is, the established bourgeois social order in one way, post-modernism does it in another, its own post-modernist way.

This adjustment has been facilitated in both cases by their respective stances on the question of values. Bourgeois social science's treatment of values as somehow beyond rational inquiry or validation (and the accompanying fetishisation of 'value freedom' or 'ethical neutrality') is paralleled by post-modernism's ultra-relativism in matters moral or cultural. It should not be difficult to see that in both cases, notwithstanding their occasional expression of dissatisfaction, or disillusionment, with the current state of affairs, this in effect amounts to an endorsement of and submission to the currently dominant moral and cultural values of bourgeois society. The two, incidentally, also share in obscuring this adjustment and submission to bourgeois social order by their linguistic practices. Critical of unnecessary obscurity and jargon of modernist discourse, post-modernism has created a paralled obscurity of hermeneutics, deconstruction and textual nihilism. Once again triviality of content is often in sharp contrast to complexity of form, obscurity of presentation a substitute or compensation for the lack of substance. A critic has even spoken of 'the more obscure, relativistic cant put out by post-modernism', and as a recent example referred us to Jacques Derrida's Spectres of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International.

Truth and Reconciliation Beyond Bickering

Jatinder Preet

Punjab has suffered a lot due to politics. The suffering during the militancy days is too recent to ensure some fair judgment on that period. That does not stop the politicians from delivering their judgments though. But unfortunately in their zeal to score some political goals politicians are letting down the people of Punjab again.
This began with Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh talking of setting up of a Commission to probe causes behind terrorism in the state, which, according to his by now established obsession, was Akalis led by Badal. Singh said he was ready to set up a one-man commission to probe into the killings during the militancy. The inquiry would fix responsibility on those who perpetrated the militancy, he said. Caught in his own web of impetuous utterances he later climbed down from his assertion. He modified it to dare Shiromani Akali Dal supremo and former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to take part in an "open debate" in the Assembly on the decade-long militancy in the state.
The next day Badal came out with a statement accepting the "challenge" with the pre-condition that the Nanavati Commission's report should also be included in the debate.
"I have no objection for a debate with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on the cause of decade-long militancy in the State with the pre-condition that it should also include the Nanavati Commission's report on 1984 anti-Sikh riots," said Badal.
In all this competitive point scoring, both the leaders showed again the remarkable apathy and insensitivity to the real issues of Punjab which had cumulatively led to that situation in the first place. Exploiting religious sentiments is a charge that both political parties cannot shy away from. But to one blame another party and to assert that one party was cleaner than the other would be running away from the facts.
If any party or individuals encouraged or perpetrated militancy, one should not forget that there had been a fertile ground for that militancy in the state. There were many who came in to reap the harvest later. What was that, that made Punjab a fertile ground for militancy? This is one question that begs an objective answer. But political leaders obsessed with each other, are not in a position to be objective about anything.
Amarinder who sees Badal?s hand in everything that is wrong and the shrewd politician that Badal is comes up every time with a rejoinder. Both have shown their ineptness to take on the real challenges.
It would be useful to study the role of competitive politics between Congress and Akalis at the beginning of the period when militancy took roots in Punjab. Alarmingly, the situation is akin to that now. It makes it all the more imperative to go beyond the bickering and address the real issues, most of which are relevant even today.
May be its time for something on the lines of Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It helped South Africans come to terms with their past with the apartheid. It may help Punjabis reconcile with the past while embracing the future. But remember the Commission worked in South Africa with doing away the real problem that was apartheid. Hope it?s not expecting too much from the current political class to come up with their answers to the real problems

Saturday, August 13

Victory To The Mob

The Nanavati report is utter garbage and all the killers are roaming freely, writes Khushwant Singh.

I have only two words for Justice G.T. Nanavati's inquiry report on the butchery of Sikhs 21 years ago: utter garbage. I have the report in hand, all 349 pages, plus the Action Taken Report presented by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government in Parliament on August 8. I thought it would take a whole day or two to go through it. It took only a couple of hours because it is largely based on what transpired in zones of different police stations and long lists of names which meant nothing to me. There are broad hints about the involvement of Congress leaders like H.K.L. Bhagat, Jagdish Tytler, Dharam Dass Shastri and Sajjan Kumar. He gives them the benefit of the doubt and suggests yet another inquiry commission to look into the charges against them. Yet another commission? For God's sake, is he serious? To say the least, I was deeply disappointed with the whole thing. But the game of shirking responsibility was to attain higher levels!
First, the government took its own sweet time to put the report on the table of the House, waiting till the last day allotted to it for doing so. Union home minister Shivraj Patil had assured the House when the report had been submitted to him six months ago that the government had nothing to hide. However, he hid it till he could hide it no more. That shows the government's mala fide intent in the whole business. Even the Action Taken Report makes sorry reading. Most of it is aimed at the policemen now retired from service and hence no longer liable for disciplinary action. Any wonder why, despite monetary compensation, the sense of outrage among families of victims has not diminished by the passage of years.
About 21 years ago, northern India down to Karnataka witnessed a bloodbath the likes of which the country had not experienced since Independence nor after. In Delhi, over 3,000 Sikhs were murdered, their wives and daughters gangraped, their properties looted, 72 gurudwaras burnt down. The all-India total of casualties was close to 10,000, the loss of property over thousands of crores. What triggered off the holocaust was the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. On the morning of October 31, 1984, she was assassinated by two of her Sikh security guards. As the news of her death spread, rampaging mobs of Hindus shouting khoon ka badla khoon se lenge (we will avenge blood with blood), armed with cans of petrol, matchboxes and lathis set upon Sikhs they met on the roads?easily identifiable because of their distinct appearance?and set them on fire. Sikh-owned shops and homes were attacked and looted. Most of this mayhem and murder took place in Congress-ruled states. Word had gone round, "Teach the Sikhs a lesson"; the police was instructed not to intervene. It was then people realised how much ill-will Sikhs had earned because of the hate-filled utterances of Bhindranwale against Hindus and the years of killings carried out by his hoodlums in Punjab. No Sikh leader, neither Congress nor Akali, had raised his voice in protest. Consequently, when Mrs Gandhi ordered the army to enter the Golden Temple to get Bhindranwale dead or alive, no Hindu condemned the action as unwarranted. Sikhs were deeply hurt by Operation Blue Star and ultimately two of them decided to murder Mrs Gandhi. What followed was largely condoned by Hindus and the Hindu-owned media. Girilal Jain, editor of the Times of India, wrote that Sikhs should have been aware of what lay in store for them. N.C. Menon, editor of the Hindustan Times, wrote that they had "clawed their way to prosperity" and deserved what they got. There were few people left to share their pain. It must be acknowledged that some leaders of the Sangh parivar and the RSS, including A.B.Vajpayee, went out of their way to help the Sikhs.So did men like Ram Jethmalani, Soli Sorabjee and a few others.
It was evident that the central government had abdicated its authority. President Giani Zail Singh, who returned from a foreign tour, called at the AIIMS and after paying homage to Mrs Gandhi's body returned to Rashtrapati Bhavan. His car was stoned on its way. Thereafter, he refused to entertain phone calls. When I rang him up for help as a mob was reported to be on its way to my flat, his secretary Tarlochan Singh (now an MP and chairman of the Minorities Commission) told me that Gianiji was of the opinion that I should move into the house of a Hindu friend. No more. And when a group led by I.K. Gujral and General J.S. Arora and Patwant Singh muscled their way into Rashtrapati Bhavan, he assured them he was doing everything he could. He had done the same kind of thing earlier: Operation Blue Star took place without his knowing anything about it till he learnt about it from the media. Then he made noises in strict privacy but did not resign. Nor did he when fellow Sikhs were being butchered. He brought the prestige of the President of the Republic to an all-time low.
Rajiv Gandhi, who flew in from Calcutta with his cousin and confidant Arun Nehru, was quickly sworn in as prime minister by Zail Singh without consulting other ministers or chief ministers of states. Rajiv was busy receiving foreign dignitaries coming to attend his mother's funeral. Days later, in his first public speech, he exonerated the murderers: "When a big tree falls, the earth beneath it is bound to shake." He meant to take no action in the matter and retained men named as leaders of mobs in his cabinet. Home minister Narasimha Rao did not stir out of his house. When a few eminent Sikhs approached him, he listened to them in studied silence. He remained, as he always was, the paradigm of masterly inactivity. With the three men at the top refusing to do their duty, little could be expected from the Lt Governor of Delhi or the police commissioner. Section 144 of the ipc, forbidding gatherings of more than five people, was not promulgated or enforced; no curfew was imposed, no shoot-at-sight order given. A unit of the army was brought in from Meerut but when it was discovered that they were Sikhs, it was ordered to stay in the cantonment and not meddle with the civic unrest. The only word I could think of using for the way the authorities carried out its duties? Downright disgusting. It was like spitting in the face of all democratic institutions.
However, there were citizens' organisations which refused to allow a crime of this magnitude to go uninvestigated and unpunished. Leading them were Dr Rajni Kothari and Justice (retd) V.M. Tarkunde. Kothari's report, Who Are the Guilty, named men like H.K.L. Bhagat, Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar, Dharam Dass Shastri?all MPs and leaders of the Delhi municipality amongst leaders of goonda gangs. None of those named took these men or organisations to court for criminal libel. When Jagdish Tytler claimed that none of the commissions of inquiry implicated him in the anti-Sikh violence, he was lying. You can see it in the smirk on his satanic face. Only sarkari commissions let him off the hook.
More important than Kothari and Tarkunde's findings were those of the non-official commission of inquiry set up under retired chief justice of the Supreme Court, S.M. Sikri. Comprising retired ambassadors, governors and senior civil servants (none of them a Sikh), the commission castigated the government in no uncertain terms.The government could not ignore its verdict.Ultimately, Rajiv Gandhi took the Sikh problem in his own hands. He appointed Arjun Singh governor of Punjab to make contacts with Akali leaders in jails.They were released in small batches to create a favourable atmosphere.Secret negotiations with Sant Harchand Singh Longowal were started. Zail Singh, Buta Singh and others were kept in the dark. On July 24, 1985, the Rajiv-Longowal Accord was signed. Amongst other items, it provided for an inquiry commission into the incidents of violence of November 1984. Justice Ranganath Mishra of the Supreme Court was appointed as a one-man commission. 'Operation Whitewash' had begun. Before Mishra was half-way through, the panel of lawyers representing victims of the holocaust led by Soli Sorabjee expressed its lack of confidence in the learned judge's impartiality and withdrew from the commission. Mishra went ahead and submitted his findings to the government. As expected, he held the Lt Governor and the police commissioner of Delhi guilty of dereliction of duty. It must have occurred to him that neither of the two could have acted the way they did without the instructions of higher-ups, including the prime minister or someone acting on his behalf or the home minister. I doubt if Mishra can look at his own face in a mirror.
I don't think Rajiv Gandhi was himself a party to the anti-Sikh pogrom. If he was guilty of anything, it was allowing it to go on for two days and nights till his mother's funeral was over. Behind it all was his eminence grise who sent out the message: "Teach the Sikhs a lesson". No commission of inquiry, official or non-official, has looked into the role of this sinister character, although he is still very much alive and around in Delhi's political circuit. Nor, unfortunately, can I look into it at this stage.
After the Mishra Commission, nine others were instituted by the government. Their terms of reference were restricted. Nothing much came out of their findings as most of them focused on the shortcomings of the Delhi police in handling the crisis. Resentment against the government continued to simmer. Ultimately, in May 2000, the government set up yet another commission of inquiry under Justice G.T. Nanavati. He was to submit his report in six months. At the leisurely pace he heard evidence tendered, it took him five years to do so. I did not expect very much from him. But H.S. Phoolka, who had taken charge of presenting victims' grievances, persuaded me to file an affidavit and appear before him. I did so, but the way the inquiry commission functioned didn't inspire much confidence. It was less like a court dealing with criminal charges and more like a tea party with lawyers on both sides exchanging pleasantries. I told the commission what I had seen with my own eyes taking place around where I live: burning of Sikh-owned taxi cabs and the desecration of a gurudwara behind my flat, looting of Sikh-owned shops in Khan Market?all in full view of dozens of policemen armed with lathis lined along the road but doing nothing. I also told him of my futile attempts to get President Zail Singh on the phone.
There is no doubt about it: the November 1984 anti-Sikh violence will remain a blot on the face of our country for times to come. No one will take the findings of these sarkari commissions of inquiry seriously. It will be left to historians to chronicle events that led to this tragedy and the miscarriage of justice that followed.
A few salutary lessons that the experience has taught us should be kept in mind by our leaders.The most important is to understand that crimes unpunished breed criminals.Another equally important thing to bear in mind is that the State must never abdicate its monopoly of punishing criminals, if it overlooks its duty or delays dispensing justice beyond limits of endurance, it encourages aggrieved parties to take the law in their own hands and settle scores with those who wronged them.If we do not learn these lessons now, we will have more holocausts in the years to come.

Friday, August 12

'A great national shame'

Full Text of speech by Dr. Manmohan Singh in Rajya Sabha about the Nanavati Commission Report on the 1984 Sikh massacres

Mr. Chairman, Sir, I must confess to you, at the very outset, that speaking on this occasion has meant a great emotional strain for me. We are discussing the issues which have grave implications not only on the future of a brave community but also on the future of our nation. Four thousand people were killed in this great national tragedy that took place in 1984. This should be an occasion for introspection, how working together as a united nation, we can find new pathways to ensure that such ghastly tragedies never again take place in our country.
I respectfully submit that this is not achieved by pursuing partisan goals, apportioning blame. And I, as the Prime Minister of this country, have no hesitation in saying that what happened - the death of a great Prime Minister who had served our country with the greatest distinction in peace and war, who brought victory to this country in the eventful days of the Bangladesh War; her death at the hands of her own bodyguards ? was a great national tragedy.
What happened subsequently was equally shameful. I know for certain, having worked with Indiraji, she would have never approved of any harm coming to a single individual on account of anything that was done to her. We all know the events of 1984, the tragic events in the Golden Temple. There was top-level demands on the Prime Minister to change her Sikh bodyguards and she said, "I would not be worthy of being the daughter of Indian revolution if I were to start suspecting people on the basis of their religion or community."
Sir, I have no hesitation in saying that what took place after Indiraji?s death was a great national shame, a great national tragedy. I have seen public statements of the honorable leaders of the opposition saying that I should ask the forgiveness of the country. I accompanied the Congress President to Harmandir Sahib some five or six years ago, when we together prayed, "God give us the strength, show us the way that such things never again take place in our country."
I have no hesitation in apologising not only to the Sikh community but the whole Indian nation because what took place in 1984 is the negation of the concept of nationhood and what enshrined in our Constitution. So, I am not standing on any false prestige. On behalf of our Government, on behalf of the entire people of this country, I bow my head in shame that such thing took place.
But, Sir, there are ebbs, there are tides in the affairs of nations. The past is with us. We cannot rewrite the past. But as human beings, we have the willpower and we have the ability to write better future for all of us. This debate serves to focus attention on the quest for that better future, that all our citizens to whichever community they may belong, that they should feel honourable members of our nation, that they have every right and ability to lead a life of dignity and self-respect as equal citizens of this ancient land of ours with glorious traditions of over 5000 years.
If the debate had turned on these events it would have served its purpose. But reading out extracts sometimes out of context, sometimes in context does not lead us to those pathways. I started by saying, Sir, that we are discussing the future, the conduct, the aspirations, emotions, fears of a brave community which has played a glowing role in India?s history. Ahluwaliaji quoted Guru Nanak but I also know what significant, social economic and societal changes came to this blessed land of Punjab after the advent of our Gurus.
Our Gurus gave us a message of an inclusive society, secularism in practice and also subsequently, the Sikh history saw difficult periods and we saw examples of great valour. Guru Gobind Singh after he lost all his four sons, his mother and his father did not lose heart. This is our legacy. This, Mr, Chairman, Sir, this is the legacy of this brave community. After a great deal of struggle for the first time, it came to Maharaja Ranjit Singh to expand our frontiers and to prove to us and to show to us that our frontiers do not lie in traditional manners where we define that India?s defence lies as far as what happened in Afghanistan.
This is the proud history of this community. During the British times, it was the brave Sikh community which developed the canal colonies of the erstwhile united Punjab which made Punjab the granary of India. With Partition the Sikhs suffered the grievous loss. Our community was divided into two parts. All of them were forced to migrate to this part of the Punjab; and I know hundreds of cases where people came to India with their clothes. They had nothing else to fall back upon.
But, they converted that adversity into an opportunity to reconstruct, to rebuilt their lives and rebuilt the life of our nation. And, we all know how a very deficit, poor, East-Punjab state, once again emerged on the screen of India as number one state in terms of per-capita income, as the state known for the start of the Green Revolution in our country.
I think, attempts have been made by the hon. Opposition Members and I don?t want to quarrel with any one of them on this occasion to separate the Sikh community from the great traditions of the Congress Party.
I respectfully say to our Opposition Members that post-Partition Punjab would not have been a prosperous state as it is today but for the visionary leadership and support that the people of Punjab received from Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.
There are no Akali Members sitting here and I do not want to score any point. But, it is also the fact that when that glorious chapter in the history of Punjab was being written, the Akali Dal was busy in dividing the people of Punjab on communal lines. I am not scoring any point. History is there. The first Akali Government came to power in Punjab in 1967 and what result it produced, I am not going to talk about that.
Therefore, we are discussing events. We must view them in a proper perspective. Then, came the events of late 70s. There was a nefarious design developed outside our country, as a part of the theory of inflicting on our country a thousand cuts. And, out of that, came the sad period in Punjab?s history which lasted until the mid-1990s. The events of 1984 are all part of that great tragedy.
It took the nation great effort to get Punjab out of that sad chapter. The Sikh community had the vision to fight back the nefarious designs of the enemies of our country to create a situation where there would be a permanent strength between the Sikh community and the national mainstream. It took the Sikh community a lot of time to regain its self-confidence after the tragic events of 1984. I have interacted with hundreds and hundreds of Sikh young men who doubted, at that time, whether they had a place in building a prosperous united Indian nation. I went abroad and several young Sikh people ? students and teachers ? used to come to me with the same questions. And, I think, that would have been a great national tragedy had we allowed the enemies of our nation to bring about a permanent rift between the Sikh community and the national mainstream.
I think, it is a tribute to our national leadership of all shades -I am not finding fault with anyone - that defeated the nefarious designs of forces inimical to our country. The Sikh community has regained its self-confidence. I think, today terrorist elements do not sway the minds of our people, the way it was feared in the 1980s. But someone said, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." And, I appeal to all the segments of this House, let us not create a situation; let us not use a language which will, once again, give handle to those forces who are inimical to our country's unity and integrity and who play upon the sentiments of innocent Sikh youths. It is no service to the Sikh community. It is no service to our nation. I say so with great respect that some of the things which have been said, they do not promote that objective.
I started by saying that we cannot undo the past, but we have an option, today, to build a better future. Let us help the Sikh community to get out of that trauma of 1984. Valiant efforts have been made by all our national leadership to achieve that task, and we have succeeded. Let us not do anything which will reverse that process.
You may not like the Congress Party, but who can deny India's history? I mention the role of Jawaharlal Nehru. After the tragic events of 1984, the uppermost thing that was in the mind of Rajiv Gandhiji, when he became the Prime Minister, was how to bring back the Punjab into the national mainstream. I recall the first thing that he said to me, when he appointed me the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. He said, "This is my top priority." And, he worked assiduously to end that sad chapter.
I know he was asked in a meeting, where I was also present, that, in the process, he had harmed the Congress Party; he had handed over the Government of Punjab to the Akali Dal. And, I still recall what Rajivji said on that occasion. He said, "It is immaterial whether the Congress Party wins or loses. What is really of substance is that India should prosper and India should develop." That?s the legacy.
There were lapses in 1984. Several commissions have gone into this matter. We all know that we still do not know the truth, and the search must go on. This present commission is no exception to that. I said in the other House, and I think Nilotpalji also pointed out, that this Commission was not appointed by us.
The records of this august House would show how this Commission came to be appointed. A question was put to the then hon. Home Minister about the 1984 riots. A supplementary was, then, asked about setting up of a commission. And, there was some discussion. I was sitting on the other side, at that time, on the Chair where Shri Jaswant Singhji is seated. And, I thought that the Question Hour was not an occasion to discuss such serious issues. So, I did not rise from my seat. After the Question Hour, I walked out.
And, what did the then hon. Home Minister of State say when he went out? He said, "I was to appoint a Commission of Inquiry to go into the 1984 events, but Dr. Manmohan Singh prevented me from doing that." I protested that because that was not true. I speak from my memory, and I hope I am correct. Shri L.K. Advaniji then had to apologise to this House that what he had stated outside was not correct. The Commission was born in circumstances over which we had no control, we had no choice about its terms of reference and we had no choice about who will be heading this Commission. The Report is before us, and one thing it conclusively states is that there is no evidence, whatsoever, against the top leadership of the Congress Party. That lie, which has over the last 21 years been used to poison the minds of the Sikh youth, stands nailed conclusively.
There are, of course, individuals mentioned. The Commission has not come forward with conclusive conclusions. These are in the realm of probabilities. And, I stated yesterday, in the other House, that there is such a thing as perception, there is such a thing as the sentiment of both the Houses of Parliament, and respecting that sentiment, whosoever figures in the Nanavati Report ? and the Commission has in its wisdom found it necessary to draw an adverse inference about their conduct or behaviour ? we will reopen those cases. So, that commitment I have given.
One of my colleagues, a valued colleague, has tendered his resignation. That resignation has been accepted. Questions have been raised about the rehabilitation of the affected families. I recognise that there may have been shortcomings. I have committed our Government to do all that we can to ensure that these widows, children and other relatives who did suffer in the wake of the 1984 riots, whether in Delhi or outside ? we have a solemn obligation to help them to forget that sad chapter ? lead, once again, a life of dignity and self-respect.
There are some police officers against whom the ATR has made a mention. There is a normal rule that you can take action against Government officers four years after retirement. Many of them retired many, many years ago. But within the ambit of law, whatever action we can take, we will reopen those cases also if the law of the land permits that. So, Sir, you have my assurance that our Government stands committed to do all that we can humanly do to go to the root of the problem, that all those individuals about whom the Commission has drawn adverse inferences, suggestions, and recommendations, we will have another look at them, and that we will provide effective assistance to all the widows, children and the affected families so that they can lead a life of dignity and self-respect. Those police officers, whose conduct the Commission has adversely commented, we will see what can be done, we will have a relook at those cases within the ambit of law.
In conclusion, Sir, I would, once again, say what I started by saying at the beginning, we are dealing with the past, the present and the future of a very brave community which has bold traditions, which has been a part of our national mainstream, which has contributed far above its proportionate share in our population, in the national freedom struggle, which has contributed, admirably, to the processes of social and economic development in our country, which have, as a result, made Punjab one of the most prosperous States of our country. Let us do nothing to weaken its spirit of self-confidence and its legacy throughout its history to be the sword arm of Punjab.
I was pained yesterday when one hon. Member in the other House brought up instances where Sikh personnel of the Armed Forces suffered in 1984. Shri Rajnath Singh brought up that sad chapter again. I respectfully submit to you, that was the most painful chapter in the history of our country. By reliving that, by reminding us again and again you do not promote the cause of national integration, of strengthening our nation of sense of security. Please do not play politics with the sentiments of a brave community like the Sikhs.
Sir, with these words, I once again, appeal to this House that these events of 1984 should be viewed from a wider perspective, that the past cannot be brought back, cannot be undone, but let us, as a united nation, find new pathways to ensure that our nation will never again go through such traumas, whether they are in Delhi or in Gujarat or in any other part of the country.
Our minorities, religious, cultural and social, have an honoured place in our Constitution. The founding fathers of our Republic gave us a Constitution of which we can be legitimately proud. And as I said, participating in the debate on my visit to the United States some days ago, wherever I go, people marvel about the polity that India is a country of 100 crores, seeking its destiny, seeking its salvation, in the framework of an open society, an open economy and deep and abiding commitment to the dignity of individuals and respect for all fundamental human freedoms.
There have been aberrations. To err is human. I can only conclude by saying that all of us should ask forgiveness of those who have suffered in this tragedy. Yesterday, in the other House, I quoted a sentence from Gurbani, and my friend, Sardar Balwant Singh, who was the Finance Minister of the Akali Government, a friend of 35 years? standing, who studied with me in college, narrated to me how that period of sadness, of turmoil, ended when Rajiv Gandhi signed the Accord with Sant Harchand Singh Longowal. Santji was of two minds. And, then Sardar Balwant Singh told me that Santji said, "Let me seek guidance from Guru Granth Sahib." And, both of them went to the upper storey of Sardar Balwant Singh's house and they opened up the page from the Guru Granth Sahib, and the first stanza that was on that page was like this: "Hoye ikkattar, milo mere bhai/duvidha chhad, karam liv layee." It means, "Come and gather together, O my brothers/Dispel your dilemma, and give yourself to the task at hand!"
I conclude my speech by appealing to this august House, let the spirit of working steadfastly for national reconciliation, for wiping out tears from the eyes of each and every one of citizens be our guiding principle. It was the firm belief of the Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, to wipe every tear from every eye as mortals, human beings. That goal may be not attainable, but that is the inspiration which should inspire us in what we discuss and what we do in this august House.
I thank you, Sir.

Thursday, August 11

The Canary In The Coal Mine

I.J. Singh, a Professor of Anatomy at New York University, shares some thoughts on the Nanavati Commission Report

Miners carry canaries to warn them of dangerous air in the coalmines, the Catskills have their songbirds to measure air pollution. And now India has the Nanavati Commission.

It has been a full 21 years since the Indian government inspired carnage of Sikhs erupted, not just in the capital city of New Delhi, but also simultaneously in several cities across India. Within hours of the assassination of the Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, armed mobs in trucks carrying lists of Sikh owned houses and businesses appeared in cities of India, including New Delhi. What followed was a systematic carnage of thousands of Sikh men, women and children. The army was not deployed to maintain order. The police stood by to watch. Credible witnesses labeled it attempted genocide by a government of its own people.
Why did the charge stick is not surprising if you know the socioeconomic realities of India. Arms - guns and all kinds of ammunition - are strictly controlled. Licenses to carry weapons are neither freely available, nor are they easily accessible, because they are so expensive and require the filing of a zillion papers with multitude of bureaucrats. Kerosene that was used to burn down houses, businesses and victims is rationed; it is not freely available in the marketplace. Trucks are hard to come by. Lists of property owners cannot be downloaded in an instant; such service does not exist in India. Then how is it that a poor country, not previously known for its organizational efficiency could muster, hordes of people within hours of Indira Gandhi?s death and start them on a rampage? This speaks of awesome efficiency that is still not visible in much of Indian society.
Two days later the carnage stopped as suddenly as it had begun, as if the job had been completed to the extent that it had been desired and directed. Canny observers suspected the hand of the Indian government in the killing of Sikhs across India. After much stonewalling the Indian government admitted that in Delhi alone about 2300 Sikhs were killed in the 48 hour period, but labeled the killings random acts of violence spurred by the death of Indira Gandhi at the hands of her two Sikh bodyguards.
Rajiv Gandhi, who succeeded his mother Indira as the Prime Minister, continued to deny that there were any human rights violations in India, while reputable organizations like Amnesty International documented horrendous violations in Punjab and all over India. Six months later, under national and international pressure, Rajiv Gandhi signed a memorandum of understanding with Sikhs that agreed to an inquiry into the killing of Sikhs in 1984. Justice might happen, we thought.
I have lost count of the Inquiry Commissions that were appointed by the government. There was the Mishra Commission, the Jain Commission, the Bannerjee Commission, and perhaps others that I do not even remember. Each started hopefully, with its report to be buried. For some reason none of the reports was released to the public. None could identify any major or minor characters that might have committed any crimes against Sikhs. Finally last year five individuals were indicted - for killing over 2000 people within 48 hours in the capital city of the country! This bespeaks unparalleled levels of incompetence or dishonesty by the judiciary and the government or, alternatively, of a an efficient killing machine, the likes of which has never been seen in this world.
In the meantime evidence has been mounting against the continuing denial of justice and against some of the prominent leaders of the pogrom against the Sikhs. A comprehensive report ?Reduced to Ashes? was published two years ago by a team headed by a non-Sikh human rights activist, Ram Narayan Kumar. One of his colleagues on the report, Jaskaran Kaur Grewal, a Harvard trained lawyer released an update ?Twenty Years of Neglect? last year.
The latest commission headed by Justice Nanavati was fortunate to come into being as times were changing. The report was ready a year ago, but to a government headed by the political party that masterminded the killings, its release was awkward. I have to commend the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, that he finally mustered the courage to release it.
The problem is that the Nanavati Report now finds credible evidence of criminality against two and perhaps three stalwarts of the ruling party - Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and Dharam Das Shastri. In fact Jagdish Tytler is a minister in the current government, in charge of building bridges with non-resident Indians. The irony is that survivors of 1984 have never wavered in their affidavits and evidence that these men were the ringleaders in directing the carnage. In the past this evidence statements was dismissed. I suppose this was a war of attrition with the hope of the Indian government that soon enough evidence will become lost or tainted and the perpetrators will be home free.
The security forces of the Indian government killed thousands of Sikhs in Punjab, some in fake encounters, during the troubled 1980s and 1990s, all without trials and in the name of national security. Many Sikhs remain incarcerated without trials even today. It cannot be that the Delhi Police could not find any killers of Sikhs in over 20 years. Don?t the police forces of Delhi and Punjab operate by the same laws and by the same training manuals?
Just as the canary speaks of the health of the mine and thus the safety of the miners, the Nanavati Commission report at this time speaks of the health of the Indian nation and the safety of its citizens. Actions must follow words. And that is the onus on the government.
I know that indictment in a report does not equal conviction in a court of law. The canary has spoken. Is there a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel?

Characterisation of 'Woman' in Punjabi Literature

Nadir Ali

Characterisation of 'woman' in Punjabi literature is unique in more than one ways. For instance, she is portrayed as the lover rather than the beloved -- the ma'shooq of Persian ghazal; she is described as a member of the female collective -- trinjan or aatan; she is shown in the dialectics of mother-daughter relationship and finally the poet entirely or frequently assumes the voice of a woman. Shah Hussain sings entirely in a woman's voice; Bulleh Shah, Sachal Sarmast and Khwaja Farid frequently do this; Guru Nanak, Sultan Bahu and countless others resort to it occasionally.
Punjabi poetry shares this characteristic with Hindi and Sindhi poetry. I am told by my friends versed in Bengali, Tamil etc that all languages in South India have this feature. Its origins may lie in the distant past when South Asia was largely matriarchal. But in no other language, it is used by major classical poets as widely and significantly as in Punjabi. According to Najam Hussain Syed, this characteristic has class connotations. That dervishes or malangs call each other Sahaily -- a girl's girlfriend -- indicates that there exists a political/philosophical tradition to support Najam's view.
Late Professor Asif Khan viewed it in terms of linguistics -- a manifestation of mother as the keeper of mother tongue. This is borne out by the fact that the generation of women in Punjab now in their 80s are all veritable treasure houses of idioms and proverbs, tellers of tales and singers of songs.
But something more is needed than these hypotheses to study all the nuances of this feminine voice in Punjabi poetry. Shah Hussain, being the most significant poet in this regard, may help understand the phenomenon in its entirety. The story of Heer, the quintessential Punjabi female, is used by all Punjabi classical poets but the range of contexts Shah Hussain puts it in is as extensive as comprehensive. His verses like Nee ma'ay mainoon Kherian di gal na aakkh (Mother, do not talk to me of Kheras), Buray aan, buray aan way asseen buray aan way loka (we are bad, bad, bad, oh people, we are bad) and Chuhree haan darbar di (I am the despised cleaning woman of the court) express themes of class, as well as of culture and history, explained through the feminine experience. A comparison of his poetry with that of Mian Mohammed Bakhsh, the last of the Punjabi poetic giants, clearly shows why Punjabi poetic tradition is different from other literary traditions like the Persian one as far as this feminine voice is concerned.
Contrary to Shah Hussain's poetry, in Mian Mohammed Bakhsh's poetry it is the male Mahinwal who is brought to the court of Sohni, the potterwoman. He writes: Paer nahin turya raway, pohnchaan ja darbar (I do not have the feet that could take me to Sohni's court). Mian Mohammed Bakhsh, though very well versed in the Punjabi poetic tradition, was also very impressed by the Persian tradition with the latter being almost diagonally opposed to the former.
Though Punjabi has borrowed some words, some genres like mathnavi, some meters and some mythology from Persian, may be because of it being the language of the court and the medium of instruction, the entire pantheon of Punjabi poets from Baba Farid to those writing in the 20th century live in a different world. Both the traditions are as different as male and female. Until we understand this gender difference, we cannot understand the essence of Punjabi poetry and its meanings.
Ivan Illich once remarked that women have a sense of history while men, by dint of their nature, don't. This role can be reversed. There are men who behave like women in this regard and women who act like men. But in a race for competitive possession of property, most men and women cast themselves in a mould, which determines success or superiority on the basis of economic position. Classical Punjabi poets fought against this worldview.
You cannot understand or interpret Punjabi poetry until you look at it from this humanistic and Marxist point of view. In fact, we tend to forget that all major religions and revolutionary movements professed this ideology.
The fact that Ludden, the bourgeois boatman in Waris Shah's Heer, had changed much since Damodar wrote about him three hundred years ago, shows that Punjabi poetry is deeply rooted in history. A century later in Sachal Sarmast's poetry, Heer's story becomes even more comprehensive in its scope and philosophy.
Waris Shah created a Heer entirely different from what others have written about. She is an arrogant feudal in the opening passage of the book but one look at Ranjha and she is transformed. Ranjhay uth kay aakhya wah sajjan, Heer huss kay tay meherban hoee(Ranjha woke up and exclaimed my dear! Heer laughed and bestowed all her kindness). Thereafter Heer is the goddess of love and compassion, guiding Ranjha at each step.
Ranjha, when he met Heer, was already a transformed person, having renounced property and the feudal way of life in his native Takht Hazara. Waris Shah, however, puts him in situations where the regressive side of his personality becomes most vividly manifest. He is, after all, a man. He starts sermonising when Heer is betrothed to Khera asking her to obey what in his view is the word of Quran. This shows that there is hardly any difference between the male of 18th century Punjab and the one coming from the present generation. Both are Ranjha in regression -- the authoritarian male who thinks his superiority has religious and moral sanction. Waris Shah seems to be well aware of the poetic tradition of Ramayan, which describes Sita endlessly cursing Ram for his male chauvinism.
Many people think Ranjha ought to have behaved like Mirza Jat or Maula Jat but when the poor fellow tries to be like them, Waris Shah starts laughing at him.
That true creativity lies in love is shown by the female and not the male. Not the kings, the warriors and the complaisant priests can lead us back to the Eden of human love and fellowship. It is woman -- the creator, the nurturer and the oppressed -- who has been the keeper of essential human heritage. She embodies language, love, history, song and story and this is what the essence of Punjabi poetry is.
Punjabi poets use the feminine gender because the song started with the feminine yearning for fulfillment. Woman sings not of the manliness of man and all his aggressive and warlike postures, but of humanity and love juxtaposed against property, possessiveness and aggression. Freud has written that love is the only hope for human beings but it is not possible as long as there exists the institution of property. In a society characterised by property and possession, woman also becomes a piece of property and an object of pleasure. Her song is about changing this dispensation.
(Nadir Ali is a Pakistan based poet and writer)

Hitler, Hindutava And Its Allies


The world is burning. The violent dance of death is being played all around us. India is part of this whole scenery. The death tolls in places as far as J&K to Gujarat add inglorious colours to this grotesque picture.
In different places this violence presents itself in different garbs. At some places its form is imperialist while it grows in the name of Islamic jihad elsewhere.
It's clothed in saffron these days in India. This Hindutva terrorism in saffron robes which Gujarat has suffered and which is being sought to be spread in rest of India, is borne out of the same psycho-space where Jihadi terrorism takes roots. The political and historical reasons being proffered are nothing but auxiliary reasons. Basically both are the same. In the center of both is shallow egotism. On psychological plane both are in the same class. Both in their own ways give an organised and ideological form to separatism, fear, violence and animosity, which are all characteristics of the narrow egotism.
But then this is a just a pseudo-veil in which the torchbearers of these ideologies hide their peculiar psycho types. Actually this whole process of hiding takes place at sub conscious level. Most of the time even people are not aware about this. Normally their recognition is based on their surfacial activities. This is what leads to BJP and the organisations allied to it being called 'Hindu organisations'. As Dr Bipan Chander, the renowned historian says,
"Communalism is not a set of specific policies such as the building of a temple at Ayodhya or the enactment of a uniform civil code. Communalism is basically an ideology, a belief system, a way of looking at society and polity." (Dr. Bipan Chandra: The BJP's Ideology)Hitler termed this, 'Weltanschauung.'
Unfortunately this theory, though a profound one, is incomplete. An ideology in itself is a conscious system in which is incorporated super ego. But if we try to understand the saffron terrorism or its prototypes through this, then the elements of subconscious mind are left aside. According to Dr Bipan Chandra, "communalism is also not to be confused with communal violence, which is an indirect product of the spread of communal belief system away from people."
No one can deny that the communal violence is a by-product of communalism but the fact is that communalism can't enter forth into human consciousness if violent energy, fear and animosity are not already there. What is meant is that communal violence in all its forms is just an ideologisation of our egos. This shallow ego only encourages the spirit of bigotry, which gives birth to fear, which in turn is the progenitor of violence. The use of this fear in Gujarat by Narender Modi is an apt example of this.
Narender Modi is not the only one in this matter, nor is he the first one. His class is spread from Osama Bin Laden and Hitler to the mythological characters. From the beginning the people of this class have been exploiting this psychological fear and the resultant feeling of insecurity. While 'Miyan Musharaf' comes in handy for Modi, American ambitions are a fertile ground for Laden to grow. At the origin of all this is our narrow ego and its illusory fantasies.
All the religions of the world came into being to break free from this imagined imprisonment of ego. The sages of yore, who gave us the message of 'the whole world is a family,' have termed it as Moksha. But the aim of BJP, VHP, RSS and their affiliates is not only different from this, it is diametrically opposite. Their whole programme is based on glorification of separateness of ego. The roots of this process of glorification, which they call 'nationalism' is not in Vedas, Upanishads or Shrimadbhagwat Geeta but in the racial theories of Hitler.
Nearly seven decades earlier, the then Sarsanghchalak of RSS, M S Golwalkar, had declared 'Weltanschauung' of Hitler as his source of inspiration. His utterances in this regard are as relevant today:
"To keep the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked up the world by her purging the country, of Semitic races - the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well -nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to root to be assimilated to one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by." (MS Golwalkar: 'We or Our Nation Defined' P.35/43)
Sixty years later, Hitler's 'Mien Kempf' continues to be the source of inspiration of followers of Golwalkar.
Few excerpts from the autobiography of the Nazi would illustrate the parallels being played out by them: "First condition that has to be fulfilled in every kind of propaganda, namely, a systemically, a one sided attitude towards every problem that has to be dealt with? propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively, in so far as it is favourable to its side???? as soon as our own propaganda made the slightest suggestion that the enemy had a certain amount of justice on his side, then we laid down the basic on which the justice of our own cause could be questioned." (Mein Kempf P.158/159)
The propaganda of Sangh Parivar, since it inception revolves around these guiding points. That's why Advani began his Rath Yatra from Somnath. Modi's assembly elections campaign in Gujrat is the most glaring and recent example of this. The unfortunate and dangerous aspect of all this is that they seek to bring down the level of education also to mere propaganda. Whether it is history or science, they use all to glorify their ego, which they try to project as glorification of Hindu culture and race. This is not all. To force others to do so is an incontrovertible evidence of their Hitlerian philosophy. "? the foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e. of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge into the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing??.not even citizen's rights." (MS Golwalkar -ibid- P.47-48, 55-56)
Very clearly this ideology represents not the Indian philosophy but Fascist mindset. Not even the shadow of the cosmic consciousness of Buddha, Nanak and Upanishads has touched this. But these 'gloriful' words do not hold attraction for those who attach their identities with the word 'Hindu' in its narrow meaning. They are swayed by the rhetoric and are not able to fathom the hate, the violence and sectarianism behind all these. They are also driven by the split psycho-energy and their address is also to the same scattered psycho-space. The whole programme of these forces is to impose this internal battle on to the outer reality consciously and in an organised way. It is this that can be termed as ideologisation of the ego.
Here the problem does not remain political or ideological but becomes psychological. So it becomes clear that the solution to this problem is not in some political consciousness but in mutation of human consciousness. Before proceeding further it would be relevant to discuss some other general aspects related to this. As discussed earlier, this ideology is wholly antagonistic to all the saints like Buddha and Nanak.
In such a situation it might seem incongruous that some organisations deriving sustenance from the name of Gurus are hand in gloves with them. The situation becomes all the more unsavoury when these organisations claim to be the guides of the way. This self-claimed honorific of the 'guide' is not only untenable but also misleading.
The Akalis may do well to read what Golwalkar had to say about what he called 'Minorities Problem':
"The non-Hindu people in Hindusthan.., so long, however, as they maintain their racial, religious and cultural differences, they can not but be only foreigners......... there are only two courses open to the foreign elements, either to merge themselves in the national race, or to live at its mercy so long as the national race may allow them to do so and to quit the country at the sweet will of the national race. That is the only logical and correct solution." (We or Our Nationhood Defined : P433-44)
This holds true, literally, for the Akali Dal led by Badal. Though their friendship with Sangh Parivar is decades old but their silence on the issue of inhuman incidents in Gujarat is a betrayal of Sikh values and the panth of Nanak. Just as the ancient sages can't be blamed for the ideology of the Sangh Parivar, the actions of these so-called leaders cannot be traced to the Sikh values. Their betrayal of the values of 'nirbhai' and 'nirvair'are akin to the crime of Judas.
Other regional parties can take refuge in the fact that they are with the NDA, not the BJP, but this is untenable for the Akalis. Anyway it is more than apparent now that the NDA government is nothing but a pseudo mask for the Sangh Parivar. The assertion of Dr Bipan Chander that the allies of the BJP have not been able to see the real character of BJP, has been proved baseless. To think that the issues of common civil code , Ram Mandir and Section 370 have been left in cold storage is like living in the fool's paradise. They are the victims of Adlerian complex. The inner void of inferiority complex can only be filled by power.
The relation of Akalis with BJP is qualitatively different from other allies. When other parties seem to be questioning their secular politics, the complicity of Akali Dalbecomes all the more blatantly sever. The question arises in natural course is whether the same Akali Dal which burnt the copies of sec 25 has come around to accept itself as the 'sword arm' of the Sangh Parivar. Do they still consider themselves as the representatives of minorities ?
The policy of the Sangh Parivar is clear in this respect. The militarisation of the Hindu society and its mindset is their declared aim. They assert that Sikh community is part of the Hindu nation According to them half the task of militarisation of Hindu society has been accomplished with formation of Khalsa panth. Afflicted with war neurosis, their 'love' for the 'Sikh community' is not for their own sake but "for the sake and the advantage of the army and the state" (Alfred Adler : 'The Practice and theory of Individual Psychology').
The so called anti Muslim history of Sikh panth is also a source of their inspiration which lends a qualitative difference to their relation with Akalis. It is a moot question that how far is the Akali Dal's claim of being representative of Sikh community true. But their traditional distance from secularism is another attraction for the Sangh Parivar. Another question arises as to what could be the reasons for the Akalis to have these ties. On surface level there are many. The history of anti Congressism is one reason. But this does not address the issue of minority mindset. Perhaps Akalis think that only Christians and Muslims have to bear the brunt of Hindutva. It is possible that they are not conversant with the character of fire and the negative psycho energy. Or may be their minds are in the grip of pigeon complex. The aim of the torchbearers of Hindutva is very clear, which poses a very complex question before them. "In this country Hindus alone are the nation and the Muslims and others, if not actually anti-national are at least outside the body of nation." (quoted from Bipan Chandra, ibid)
Now the poser is where does one find common ground between these and the Anandpur Sahib resolution. Or one may conclude that for the Akalis, this does not hold the same charm. They have entered into a new era, which they like to call 'Hindu-Sikh unity.' (One should not forget that this is a big achievement in the direction of Hindu nation or Hindu race for the Sangh Parivar)
Here is a psychological question before us that does love and creativityhave any place in the mindsets of the organisations based on the ego. In other words whether they are capable of doing anything creative for the interests of the community they profess to be serving? or if there is any place for doing anything creative in the interest of any community in a sectarian and destructive mindsets .
If the answer to any of these questions could be in affirmative then 'a-mani,' the beyond mind state of Kabeer, Shivoham Chetna (blissful consciousness) of Shankracharya and Guru Nanak's 'akal chetna' (a-temporal consciousness) would all be meaningless and irrelevant. These are requisites for creativity, which is not possible in mind's fragmented state and dualistic consciousness. If this were possible then Bulleshah would not have sung "mai beqaid, mai beqaid" .
From psychological point of view, the love of these forces for their people is merely a reaction. This doesn't exist on its own but is only a side effect of hate for their self-created enemies. Their love and hate are two sides of the same coin, which are interchangeable, and this change is mechanical. The quality of this love can be understood better by the example of a man who lovingly caresses his child after killing dozens of children. What would his touch feel like? It is possible that he might have forgotten his own violent state of mind but does that violent energy spends itself fully or is it present in the moment of love too, surreptitiously, and is polluting it. Whether our psycho state and their outward _expression are two separate entities? According to Carl Gustav Jung: "We would probably do best to regard the psychic process simply as a life process??.to life energy which includes psychic energy as specific parts." ('On the Nature of Psyche' P.19)
This is also clear that all real and possible movements in our psycho energy are inter connected. Jung goes so far as to say that it is possible to measure these. "As different forms of psychic work and psychic potentiality they can be transferred into one another. These energies posses quality and mass just like physical energy." (ibid, P.9)
All this discussion leads to but one conclusion that the issue of terrorism whether it is saffron based or of some other colour is not merely political but psychological one. If the Man wants to safe guard his existence he would have to undergo a psychological mutation. While not belittling the scope of political struggle against these destructive forces, it is imperative to delineate its limits here. The simple truth is that these organisations can manipulate us only as long as we are all embroiled in the web of our fragmented psycho energies. In the battle field of mind, to live consciously is not only improbable but also unbelievable. That is why every body is indulged in migrating from that unconsciously. A dream, personal or collective, is a way to this migration only. This era is no longer ideal for socialistic dreams and is being replaced by this so-called nationalistic and cultural renaissance.
But like always, these dreams are merely migratory and carry within them destructive energies. People lost in saffron dreams will have to wake up to this fact sooner or later that they are spinning a web, which is going to be their own nemesis. History has repeated often. What is to be seen is whether this dream ends before bursting.
'Haume dirag rog hai daru bhi is mahi,' said Nanak. The medication to this illness is in itself but it requires this dream to end before that. Without this realisation neither followers of Nanak will able to muster courage to compare their self-appointed leaders to Judas nor the Hindus would comprehend that what is being destroyed by this saffron Hindutva is the anhad bani of Vedas and Upanishads.