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

Articles By Tanika Sarkar

Reassessing Secularism and Secularisation in South Asia

Secularisation, once a key concept in debates about modernisation and modernity, has received very little academic attention over the last half century. In fact, it is often seen as a subset of or engulfed within secularism, which has been central to academic and political debates about democracy, nationalism and contemporary politics. In this special issue, we focus on both in their mutual interaction. It provides a mix of theoretically informed pieces with detailed, contextualised research adding granularity to the discussions by asking: Can secularisation happen without secularism? Or vice versa? What kinds of secularisation have specific versions of secularism promoted? Have there been reversals in secularisation, or has it been a largely linear process in south Asia?

Rabindranath's Gora and the Intractable Problem of Indian Patriotism

For various reasons, in modern India, patriotism has found it very hard to establish a convincing locus for itself. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Indian patriotism was projected as Hindu nationalism. Rabindranath Tagore's Gora, published in 1909 in the immediate aftermath of the anti-partition Swadeshi movement of 1903-08, overcomes the ethnocentricities that led to such a distortion, but, in it, the particular comes too close to the universal - patriotism dissolves into love for all the helpless peoples of the world, offering a radically new way of being an Indian patriot.

Notes on a Dying People

The political movement that came up from among the people of Lalgarh in November 2008 cried out for help and support from the civil and democratic society - for basic human rights, for a right to all decisions about what belongs to them alone: their water, land and forest. The movement negotiated with the intransigent Left Front administration of West Bengal for months, without much success. Their peaceful movement now lies in tatters, because of the violent intervention by the Maoists who have done incalculable harm to both the objectives as also to the people of Lalgarh and by the armed retaliation from the centre and state governments.

Birth of a Goddess

In the current controversy about the national song, the general assumption seems to be that the song 'Vande Mataram' reflect nothing more than an uncomplicated love for the motherland, and that it is unreasonable of Muslims, if not actually unpatriotic, to object to it. The present essay looks at some of the older debates about the song and also about the novel Anandamath which frames the song. In the light of its novelistic context, the article argues, the song acquires different and darker meanings. Moreover, the verses that are not usually sung compose a vision of a militaristic patriotism that gradually replaces the more nurturing resonances of the earlier parts. The gradual movements of the song are replicated in the design of the novel. The article explores these shifts in the song and in the novel, while it simultaneously assesses the different readings of both - political and literary. It concludes with an attempt to seek out hidden subtexts in the novel which sometime disturb and deconstruct its dominant and obvious meanings.