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

Articles By Nirmalangshu Mukherji

Gandhi’s Moral Agents

A conception of moral agency is needed to anchor the moral concepts invoked by M K Gandhi. Akeel Bilgrami’s work on Gandhi introduces two notions of moral agency: the moral exemplar and the unalienated individual. These concepts do not satisfy Gandhi’s idea of moral agency. First, the idea of moral exemplar relates insufficiently to Gandhi’s notion of moral truth that guides the moral exemplar. Second, the idea of an unalienated individual is underspecified as a Gandhian response to the problem of alienation. In contrast, Gandhi’s detached moral agent is guided by moral truth to both act as an exemplar and overcome alienation.


Gandhi and Saintliness

An integrated reading of Gandhi’s ideas, images, personal life, and political activities, at times inflicts considerable damage to the understanding of his thoughts. George Orwell’s (1949–2000) view of Gandhi as a moral saint and his ideas as “anti-humanistic” is a striking example. Adopting Orwell’s image, the philosopher Susan Wolf (1982), in an influential paper, questioned the very idea of moral saints. His saintly image is an important reason why there is little mention of Gandhi in academic moral philosophy. By showing that the image does not apply to his thoughts, we rescue Gandhi’s moral concepts from the perceived image of a saint.

Is the Ghost of Fascism Haunting Political Thought?

The spectre of fascism has continued to haunt political thinking even though original fascism was decisively defeated within a decade. Given the very specific historical conditions in which fascism arose in Europe, whether the term “fascism” significantly applies to more recent forms of authoritarian rule is questionable. Facile reference to the handy historical precedence of European fascism inhibits a genuine understanding of the material conditions that cause authoritarian regimes in the neo-liberal era. More disturbingly, the impressionistic mention of fascism might divert attention from the real issues of resistance to neo-liberalism.

Education for the Species

Respectable scientific opinion holds that the human species is on the verge of untimely extinction. According to Noam Chomsky, the so-called "least advanced" people are the ones taking the lead in trying to protect all of us from extinction. Informed by their ancient knowledge systems, indigenous populations across the world are resisting the plunder of the planet. However, indigenous knowledge systems are in radical conflict not only with global capitalism but with modern education itself, thus raising the issue of radical choice. The issue goes much beyond the classical domain of the pedagogy of the oppressed.

Arms Over the People: What Have the Maoists Achieved in Dandakaranya?

It has hitherto been impossible to assess the approach and activities of the Maoists in the Dandakaranya region in central India. We now have four documents - two authored by senior leaders of the Maoists and two sympathetic accounts - which allow us to evaluate in a limited fashion the work of the Maoists over the past quarter century of operations. The story that comes across is a dismal one. The State earlier did nothing for the adivasis but, considering the time the Maoists have spent in the region, they themselves have achieved little by way of adivasi welfare, be it in wages, education, health or agriculture. This is because the Maoists' politics of waging guerrilla warfare on the road to seizure of state power has meant that they must focus on using the adivasis for their war.

Attack on Parliament

The attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001 was a major event in contemporary India. As the judicial procedure into this case nears its end, with Mohammed Afzal to be hanged on October 20, our effort to get at the truth as to what really happened is about to be scuttled. Who attacked Parliament and what was the conspiracy? On what basis did the NDA government take the country close to a nuclear war? What was the role of the State Task Force (J and K) on surrendered militants? What was the role of the Special Cell of Delhi Police in conducting the case?