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

Tanika SarkarSubscribe to Tanika Sarkar

Ineligible for History

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has mandated that an exam, i e, the National Eligibility Test (NET), be passed as a requirement for the teaching of history at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, except in the case where the candidate has a PhD. Those who score higher in the NET are...

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.

Reading Nandigram Wrongly

We read with growing dismay the statement signed by Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn and others advising those opposing the CPI(M)’s policies in West Bengal not to “split the Left” in the face of American imperialism. We believe that for some of the signatories, their distance from events in India has...

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.

Semiotics of Terror

What is new about Gujarat, it is argued here, is best exemplified by what happened to Muslim women and children on the days of the long knives. Not just their killing, not just the sadism, but the larger symbolic purpose behind the killing and the sadism that sums up the nature of ethnic cleansing, the shape of Hindu Rashtra.

Pragmatics of the Hindu Right

The Rashtrasevika Samiti, the women's wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, was in expansive mood during the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. Now, it has reduced to a small, bounded, non-expansive affair like the good, modest, non-competitive Hindu woman. What is the significance of this new accent? The significance lies in the Samiti's women being the custodians of essential values and ideology of the RSS, which the other front of the latter have diluted and imperilled in their electoral preoccupations. And if at all the electoral battle is won, the Samiti women, being exemplars of purity and domesticity, will share along with their male counterparts of the RSS the bright future of Hindu rashtra as defenders of tradition against the west and partners in internal colonisation of Muslims and Christians.

UCC and Women s Movement

Amrita Chhachhi, Farida Khan, Gautam Navlakha, Kumkum Sangari, Neeraj Malik, Ritu Menon, Tanika Sarkar, Uma Chakravarti, Urvashi Butalia, Zoya Hasan THE Anveshi article (Anveshi Law Committee, is Gender Justice Only a Legal Issue? Political Stakes in the UCC Debate', 8, 1997) criticises tendencies within the 'Indian women's movement' that, in its opinion, have focused very narrowly and exclusively upon legal reform. The main thrust of such reforms, moreover, is described as a monolithicising intention that would like to erase all plurality of caste and community, custom and practice in the name of abstract, universal gender justice, thus denying women as well as a range of marginalised communities the right to autonomy. The universalising tendency of this version of gender justice betrays a biological essentialism that fails to take on board other aspects of women's social existence. Such tendencies are most evident among feminists who, according to Anveshi, are termed as 'upper caste, Hindu and urban' in other words, they share some social characteristics of the hindutva politics that they otherwise criticise. However, presumably because of shared social space, they 'unwittingly' lapse into some of the language and agendas of their political adversaries: the demand for a uniform or gender just civil code would be one such instance, the campaign against obscenity would be another. As examples of such immature and politically naive feminist thinking, Anveshi has singled out Forum against Oppression of Women from Bombay and Working Group on Women's Rights from Delhi.

Imagining a Hindu Nation-Hindu and Muslim in Bankimchandra s Later Writings

The author explores the location of the Muslim and the Hindu nation in Bankimchandra's works as an interlinked formation that has to be situated simultaneously within his novelistic and his discursive prose. The two set up an internal dialogue and self interrogation that moved across his earlier, relatively open-ended and often radical phase and later more dogmatic and recognizably revivalist work. The paper is centrally concerned with the profound breaks in thinking and expression as well as with the fundamental continuities that were preserved through certain narrative tropes and devices by which Bankim continued to destabilise his seemingly unambiguous agenda of a triumphalist Hindu people.

Rhetoric against Age of Consent-Resisting Colonial Reason and Death of a Child-Wife

Rhetoric against Age of Consent Resisting Colonial Reason and Death of a Child-Wife Tanika Sarkar The historian cannot afford to view the colonial past as an unproblematic retrospect where all power was on one side and all protest on the other. Partisanship has to take into account a multi-faceted nationalism, alt aspects of which were complicit with power and domination even when they critiqued western knowledge and challenged colonial power This article contends that colonial structures of power compromised with

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