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

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Do Normative Values Need an Address?

Certain questions that arguably involve the denial of access both by the state and socially hostile society to basic human needs and natural rights, such as freedom, warrant both articulation and amelioration. If spiritual goods such as freedom, which are essential for human flourishing, and material goods, which are necessary for bare human existence, are suppressed, then it becomes natural for any sentient/socially sensitive being to speak about such an estrangement. Should this being have a particular territorial address and certain social or gender location in order to publicly talk about such suppression of basic needs? In the context of the current farmers’ protest in India, this question has acquired moral significance. It has been suggested by some self-styled nationalists, who have arrogated to themselves the right to decide that it is only those with Indian addresses, both in the territorial as well as domicile sense, who may speak about the question. Even for those with Indian addresses, it has not been easy to speak about such estrangement of rights. This is similar to the situation that existed before independence; those foreign observers who tried to detect the social problems that existed in India were accused of parochial intentions in helping the imperialist forces deny Indians the advantage of self-rule. These nationalists also suggested to the thinkers, particularly from the oppressed groups, that the latter should refrain from internationalising grotesque social reality and show some degree of willingness to solve the problem internally. Arguably, M K Gandhi was one such thinker who held this view. However, in the seasons of wholesale trolling on social media, even the minimum sense of tolerance to internal critique has become difficult to come by.

These nationalists chose certain notions of sovereignty as the grounds in order to mount the objection to the efforts that are made by some to publicly talk of certain empirically enduring experiences of social oppression. The proponents of certain kinds of nationalism are making a particular kind of sovereignty viral so as to mobilise support in order to serve their partisan political ends. The efforts to downsize sovereignty to its bare power of sentimentalism give it a political charge that could be used to browbeat the opponent.

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Updated On : 20th Feb, 2021

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