As 2022 begins, don’t be fooled that an epistemic shift is underway


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This rather charged moment in contemporary Indian history elicits two differentiated observations on the part of informed commentators.

One point of view always holds with the faith that “it can’t happen here.”

The other warns that “it is indeed happening here”.

Some of us think that the recent ruthless resurgence of right-wing aggression is just an epiphenomenon, directed towards the short-term goal of securing electoral victories in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

And there are those who read macro-historical text in this resurgence.

The first view argues that as long as the constitution alone validates political power in India, we can view the contemporary moment only as an exacerbated sheer that has no systemic consequences.

The darker reading, however, suggests that it is precisely a shift away from the constitutional legitimization of state power that is being attempted.

After all, they ask themselves, how can we understand that demands for freedom (azadi) misery, castes, sectarianism, gender oppression, corruption, compromised operations, prosecution and justice which violate the principle of “equality before the law” et al. by young idealistic intellectuals could have been interpreted as a “sedition”, especially since no call to arms accompanied such assertions, while a simple call to arms to perpetrate genocide and the overthrow of the The secular state (as happened during the recent Dharma Sansad in Haridwar) should only have drawn an indictment under Article 153 of the IPC.

This argument acquires piquancy from the fact that so far those who claim to rule in the name of the constitutional scheme have made no comment on the claims made at the aforesaid Dharma Sansad (and indeed, being made quite continuously since then here, there and somewhere else ).

We can therefore consider a third point of view, that which maintains that electoral majoritarianism pressing for victory in legislative elections is a phenomenon closely linked to the wider systemic coup.

Namely that the systemic transformation of the character of the Indian state is for the moment not based on a direct and violent overthrow, but by the tactic of acquiring popular legitimation for this transformation through electoral victories in the scale of India.

If the ruling party wins the elections in a large number of regions mainly on anti-Muslim and anti-Christian controversies, even if only 40% of the citizens supported this platform, these victories could be interpreted as a mandate of all the world. India to advance a constitutional change that distinguishes Hindus as the main contenders for nationality.

Such a course would have the advantage of brushing aside the shame that the right in India had followed an authoritarian coup, familiar to many in other parts of the world.

Thus, the establishment of a sectarian state could still only be seen and projected as a consequence of democratic politics itself.

This could then explain why the ruling BJP invests every ounce of popular and government energy and state infrastructure to win any electoral contest, and why a captive media is able to propagate only the 60% of citizens who remain hostile these attempts may not, at bottom, be as opposed to change as the Nehruvians and various liberals think.

If the desired reduction in constitutional democracy resulted from the democratic process itself, populist approval would have been obtained for the transformation, and the nomenclature of fascist overthrow would have been carefully avoided.

Such an eventuality would avoid an eventual downgrading of the nation by the democracies of the world, many of which are anyway opposed to the “threat” of an “Islamic takeover”.

Indeed, India might come to be seen as having achieved a consequence that others have not been able to achieve.

Think, for example, of the white supremacists in the United States who hold that America is first and foremost a Christian country and that the American constitution should designate it that way.

What all of this clearly implies is that the political forces – and the people in general – whose allegiance to India’s secular-democratic constitution remains a matter not of convenience but of principle may have more to think about. than a Pyrrhic victory in one state or another.

A second struggle for freedom can indeed be called – a struggle that views right-wing dislodgement of republican democracy and all of its constitutional attributes with the same disfavour as it views the armed plans of the left to overthrow the State.

Badri Raina taught at the University of Delhi.

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