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

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An Attack on India’s Democracy


In more ways than one, 6 December 1992 marked a shift in the journey of contemporary India and its democracy. Twenty-five years have passed since the vandalism at Ayodhya resulted in the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Just as the entire site was previously “locked” under court orders since 1948, the deeper significance of the events of 1992 has been locked out of the collective memory of the nation. This time, the locking out has happened not through a court order, but wilful amnesia and a slow redefinition of national identity.
Of course, protests (and celebrations) marking 6 December 1992 are bound to happen. But, the protests are much too formal, weak and lacking in focus. Discussions of 6 December 1992 often focuses on the need to go beyond that incident, while debates over Babri focus on the “site,” dragging them into history and/or legality and, thus, lose sight of the larger damage that 6 December did.

Societies do experience tumultuous controversies over identities and founding principles. In that sense, what we experienced in December 1992 is not exactly exceptional, less so given the complex history of India and the audacious challenge that we undertook on the eve of independence. Therefore, 6 December should be remembered for the threat it posed before the project of democracy. But, the challenge—and therefore the problem—is often posed in terms of secularism. It is a testimony to our collective intellectual laziness that we have been unable even to find the right kind of vocabulary for the issues we face. No wonder, the counter-narrative bloats itself with the arguments of pseudo-secularism, name-calling (such as “sickular”) and claims that secularism is “a lie.”

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Updated On : 8th Dec, 2017
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