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

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Saffroning the Past-Of Myths, Histories and Right-Wing Agendas

Of Myths, Histories and Right-Wing Agendas Uma Chakravarti Towards the late 1980s the stage was set for a conflation of an ongoing social and political crisis of a high order with the surfacing of middle class insecurities about the state of 'their' nation and of 'their' hegemonic position within it. This was the background to a rightward shift of politics, the rise of a fascist hindutva brigade and a shift of upper caste, middle class allegiance to Hindu majoritarian ideological and political formations. The ideological context for this shift was a crisis of the legitimacy of the state. One way of dealing with the crisis is to 're' construct the nation's 'glorious' past. And this is being done today not through powerful writing but through the power of the visual medium, the cinema and the television, It was a fairly conscious move by the state to telecast religious mega serials, 'Ramayana' and 'Mahabharata', 'Chanakya' took off on the theme of a fragmented nation, carrying the mythological tradition forward in a more coherent way emphasising a joint 'xenophobia' against the enemy within. Although 'Chanakya"s appeal was limited to an upper caste elite, it was part of a larger process in which a brahmanic Hindu view of history and culture was consolidated along with a rightward shift in politics.

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