ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Anirudh DeshpandeSubscribe to Anirudh Deshpande

Sonia Gandhi's Nationality

A constructive political criticism of Sonia Gandhi and her style of politics can only be predicated upon whether Congress, under her leadership, can emerge as the pivot of a liberal consensus in opposition to BJP's conservative consensus, not an xenophobia.

UP Politics through Marxist Lens

Anirudh Deshpande Quest for Power: Oppositional Movements and Post-Congress Politics in Uttar Pradesh by Zoya Hasan; OUP, Delhi, 1998; pp 280, Rs 445 (hardback edition).

Democracy and Communal Violence

Democracy and Communal Violence Anirudh Deshpande Community Conflicts and the State in India edited by Amrita Basu and Atul Kohli; OUP, Delhi, 1998; pp 287, Rs 525 (hardback).

Jayaprakash Narayan A Story of Failed Idealism

Failed Idealism Anirudh Deshpande J P: His Biography by Allan and Wendy Scarfe (revised edition); Orient Longman, New Delhi, 1998; pp 274 (21 Chapters, 14 Plates, References and Index), Rs 300 (hardback).

Communalism, Incomplete Histories and a Congress of Secularism

The opponents of the BJP would do well to recognise that a centrist government led by the Congress can at best be a weak buffer against the social threat posed by the communal mentality. Their attitude to the emerging centre-left coalition must therefore be cautious and conditional AS the year 1998 draws to an end it should be evident even to the votaries of the BJP that the forces of hindutva, having set new standards of misgovernance in many parts of the country, could well face decline and isolation by the year 2000 AD, In the last few months centre-left alignments forged along well-known lines have begun to emerge. There is a possibility that a Congress government led by Sonia Gandhi and supported by the official left, the religious minorities and some caste- based parties might, after all, lead New Delhi into the new century. Once again, like in 1980, people are beginning to say that despite its obvious limitations only the Congress is capable of governing India with a semblance of order and control But these perceptions overlook the fact that neither the Congress nor the other 'secular' parties have utilised the BJP's predicament to their full advantage. The Congress is not as strong as some celebrities in the capital's cocktail circuit think. The erstwhile social justice parties are in disarray as recent events in Karnataka suggest and Laloo Prasad Yadav is facing the prospect of going to jail as a tall out of the fodder scam. The likely future of the communal-secular confrontation can be examined with reference to these facts, The defeat of the BJP in Delhi was a foregone conclusion given the conditions inherited by it in 1993 and created in the capital during the last five years. The RSS- BJP were voted to power because people wanted discipline but what they got was unprecedented administrative paralysis. There is no doubt that the Congress is also the co-architect of the ugly edifice called Delhi but the BJP has displayed exemplary mismanagement in dealing with the capital's problems. An appeal, based on newspaper and magazine reports issued by the Delhi Citizens' Forum just before the assembly polls in Delhi contains some interesting information. The supporters of hindutva can pay attention to these.

Hawks, Doves and the Nuclear Question

Anirudh Deshpande THE radioactive dust has settled over Pokhran and Chagai, and the international storm raised. to begin with, by the BJP's nuclear trump is beginning to abate. The time has perhaps come to place the newly acquired subcontinental nuclear weapons in the context of contemporary military historyThe way in which Indian commentators 'hawks' and 'doves' both and their counterparts in Pakistan have treated the subject during the previous month raises important questions related to the highly politicised myth of, and polemicised debate on, the nuclearisation of the Indian and Pakistani weapons development programmes. This brief intervention is predicated upon the rather well-documented argument that weapons of mass destruction, both nuclear and conventional. end up complicating the moral and socio-economic problems caused by nationalism and indeed, the modern industrial civilisation. If we believe, like Telford Taylor did. that war is essentially a crime against peace, and that "there are some universal standards of human behaviour that transcend the duty of obedience to national laws". it is our moral obligation to place nuclear weapons, alongside most modern wars, in their appropriate obsolete context. The notion of national war, as a corollary of the bourgeois or statist- bureaucratic nation-state, is based on the character of bourgeois or elitist society in general in which, in the relevant words of John Galsworthy, the "shibboleths of the past are ever more real than the actualities of the present". To this may be added a cavalier disregard for the future evinced by a so-called free, educated and conscious public opinion supportive of nuclear energy and weapons.

Communalism and Secularism-Goals and Visions

Goals and Visions Anirudh Deshpande THE fact that the BJP, the bete noir of Indian secularists, has won a significant battle in its struggle for political hegemony over Indian society should make an incorrigible secularist and humanitarian Marxist write an open- ended article. Nothing underlines the need to raise the fundamental questions of secularism in a new context more than the recent BJP victory at the centre and the hidden agenda pursued by the Sangh parivar and the BJP's opportunist allies like the AIADMK in New Delhi. This BJP-led coalition will certainly last more than a fortnight and could significantly influence the nature of governance in India given the recently announced long-term strategy of the RSS and the openly stated ambition of 'hindutva' to change the Indian Constitution. The longer this government lasts, possibly buoyed up by favourable economic circumstances and middle class opinion flowing from them, the greater will be the damage inflicted upon the secular forces in Indian society. However, this does not necessarily mean that an alliance of casteist parties and a Congress-in-decline should somehow topple the Vajpayee government only to replace it with another undignified United Front. Instead, the BJP victory, temporary as it seems, must be viewed as an opportunity to set Indian secularism in an appropriate and contemporary context. For the moment the BJP seems to have won a tactical victory in the overall communal manoeuvre and it is for the more resolute among its enemies to see that this tactical advantage is not translated into a long-term strategic victory. In this context, the federal- regional allies of the BJP would do well to study the history of the RSS, Jana Sangh and BJP, It is in the interest of their survival to examine how first the Jana Sangh, and later its 'avatar', the BJP, expanded its base and political reach at the expense of leaders and parties willing to forge alliances with it mainly against the unitarist Congress. The socialist experience of the 1960s, the short-lived Janata alternative of 1977-79 and the National Front politics of V P Singh and company against the Rajiv-led Congress during 1989-90 highlight this fact. Since the 1960s, the RSS- Jana Sangh combine, with clear and publicly stated objectives, has followed an effective strategy of forging tactical alliances against the Congress with other centrist parties. The results of this became apparent in the phenomenal growth of hindutva in the 1980s and 1990s and the concomitant com- munalisation of the political atmosphere in India. In the absence of a Congress alternative this raised the question of secular visions, objectives, strategies and democratic decentralisation in India much before the demolition of the Babri masjid. It is a different matter that the secularists proved unequal to the tasks outlined before them by a political agenda dictated by the growing popularity of hindutva.

Probity, Stability and Responsibility-Ironies and Hypocrisy of BJP

communications from or on behalf of individuals subject to its jurisdiction who claim to be victims of a violation by a State Party of the provisions of the Convention. No communication shall be received by the Committee if it concerns a State Party which has not made such a declaration.

UTTAR PRADESH-Casteism, Communalism and Politics

UTTAR PRADESH Casteism, Communalism and Politics Anirudh Deshpande The dalit revolt against caste Hindu society is, for the moment, consolidated in the BSP. But neither hindutva nor Ambedkarism, which have come together in an opportunistic alliance in UP, can hope to become the dominant paradigm of Indian politics for obvious demographic and ideological reasons.

Nationalism and Nation-State as Discourse in India

The current heated exchanges between the votaries of anti-terrorist state action in Punjab and the upholders of human rights often boil down to a veritable redefinition of nationalism and nation-state in India. However, the interpretation of Mughal and British India has proven earlier and will continue to do so in future that firstly, defining Indian nationalism is problematic and secondly, an imbalanced definition of patriotism carries with it the dangers of the over-centralising discourse unsuited to our federal times.

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