Browncast Ep 46: the Professor Devji Podcast

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Dr. MJ & I speak to Professor Devji.

I loved the podcast and even MJ felt it was the best one we had done so far. Professor Devji touches upon:

(1.) how the BJP mobilises votes (the modernist party)

(2.) the Muslim question and the coded language concerning it (“appeasement politics” / vote banks)

(3.) the fact that a lot of Hindutva’s aims are to remove governmental control of Hinduism (in a way it can’t control minority religions) as opposed to “Hinduism controlling the government.”

(4.) Caste politics and how Hindutva frames the discourse

(5.) whether the “Overton Window” in India has shifted.

I’m hoping to get him to speak at Cambridge Majlis next term since he’s such a knowledgeable speaker.

As always please leave reviews, feedbacks and comments!

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40 Replies to “Browncast Ep 46: the Professor Devji Podcast”

  1. “the fact that a lot of Hindutva’s aims are to remove governmental control of Hinduism”

    I think this is mostly a elite urban hindu concern (Freeing of temples, RTE, even Hindu code bills laws) . They throw a fit for 5 years , and then get around voting for the BJP (much like free marketers economic reforms walas) . There is a reason why the BJP doesn’t move for either “freeing of temples” or “removing MNREGA” (a pet peeve of Economics reformers) . Because they know it will hit out their biggest vote bank. Poor Hindu dalits/OBCs who form the larger voter base.

    All this freeing this and dismantling the state are rhetorical points scoring against the Congress.

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    1. Yes the only reason why I’m suggesting this is that Prof Devji is very knowledgeable and it’s a shame to have conversations/comments without at least hearing what he has to say. Otherwise the thread will derail; sorry if I seemed harsh!

      🙂

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      1. Overall, a decent, if at places slightly-lacking interview.

        1/ Devji danced around Zack’s pointed question why “Hindu” and not “Indian”? Words come from the same root and essentially mean the same thing. This is not a trivial or marginal Q when discussing Hindutva, although it is rarely asked.

        He initially said “Indian” may not include the ancestral Indian limitation and could include British (or something) but Hindu does- pretty weak. Don’t think around 1947 or even now anyone would include the imperial British in the word “Indian”. OTOH, it is entirely reasonable to include someone like Tom Alter and his son in Indian. He then acknowledged Savarkarite Hindutva explicitly excludes (or treats as 2nd class) Muslims, Christians, Parsis, etc, and then some BS qualification about its emphasis on inclusion. He also acknowledged how this parallels and was borrowed from tropes about Jews in Europe (hint, hint).

        2/ RK (?) asked a totally weird Q to the effect that because a lot of Gandhi’s language, sources and inspiration was Hindu, some people think he would have supported Hindutva in today’s climate, despite the whole awkwardness about Godse.
        I marveled at how this question must be like the pinnacle of RSS revisionism in India! “For others to learn and profit by” (inside joke). It is as if Gandhi, the living, breathing individual with thoughts and writings of his own on the subject has now become just an international brand to be coopted. Slightly disappointing the ridiculousness of the question got no pushback from Devji or Zack. (I am on the whole slightly disappointed by this RK guy, both in this podcast and his piece here, despite Zack’s pumping of him, and the Oxbridge credentialing. Thankfully this time he did include BJP in the “appeasement” equation, unlike in his piece).

        To be continued.

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        1. 3/ Devji made some excellent points.
          – a/ He echoed what I have been saying on and on here that selective “Muslim appeasement” is more fictitious than Harry Potter. That it is Hindu caste pandering that is way more common (but this is just how democracies function in the subcontinent).
          Extremely significant, because it is the “Muslim appeasement” canard and its corollary, Hindu victimhood, that has been BJP’s primary electoral messaging. Surprised me to discover even non-Indian folks who run this board have bought into it, just because it is so popular on internet bubbles.

          -b/ He also made the point that Muslims now symbolize not just themselves but all outsiders and outcastes in the Hindutva imagination. They have become the punching bags and proxy for Dalits (and other minorities), as Dalits have become politically err..untouchable. I used very similar phrasing, that Muslims are now the outcastes+ mlecchas for Hindutva.

          -c/ He also articulated well how Muslim-badness in the RSS Hindutva imagination has shifted dramatically from predominantly bad-imperial-Mughals around 1947 to predominantly bad-backward-poor-Muslims now. But nobody brought in the obvious question- could the fundamental problem lie in the Hindutva beholder and not the beholden?

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          1. Best part was how it was only Zack who had to bring in and discuss the elephants in the room. The two (presumably) Indians often side-stepped it, and he had to pointedly ask it.

            Excellent job, and this points to a larger meta-process happening in the discourse. The vocal middle and upper middle classes have so bought in to the primary assumptions of Savarkarism that even scholars who may know better find the need to self-censor.

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          1. Dang. Sometimes in my mind, I slot Bong surnames to my first interface with the culture, RK (Ramakrishna) Mission. #ImplicitBias

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        2. The point about Muslims and Christians being treated with suspicion because their holy lands are not in India is very telling. Why should Muslims identify as “culturally Hindu” in order to be accepted? They are citizens of India and should have all the same rights as other Indians. This is why the idea of territorial nationalism is far superior to any racial/ethnic/religious nationalism. It’s like how non-Muslim Pakistanis are often not considered “true” Pakistanis because they don’t share the religion of the majority (and of the State). As Professor Devji hinted at in his comment about the Jews of Europe, this type of “othering” can potentially have devestating consequences.

          I also thought the question about Gandhi supporting Hindutva was bizarre. He was killed because a Hindu nationalist thought he was too nice to Muslims. It’s very hard to whitewash that fact. Of course it is true that Gandhi’s discourse of “Ram Rajya” was one of the reasons that Qauid-e-Azam argued that Congress was basically a Hindu party. However, I doubt that Gandhi’s “Ram Rajya” has any resemble to the ethnonationalist Hindutva of today.

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  2. The critical point is that the BJP has forced caste out of the political equation. Nearly half of all Dalits in UP voting for the BJP is not a trivial matter.

    Till now, the opponents of Hindutva were able to keep Dalits and lower OBCs away from voting as Hindus, by putting forward instrumental arguments revolving around reservations and state patronage. That argument now seems to have reached its logical conclusion, the sheer number of competing castes makes it impossible to satisfactorily distribute spoils of electoral victory.

    OTOH, I dont think the vote against caste is for a Hindu rashtra. The BJP is seen as more sincere, especially at the top level. But the voter still does not want them to become the state, remember BJP did lose the Rajasthan and MP state elections despite the shambolic state of the Congress.

    Building political parties, especially on the scale of the INC and BJP is not easy. The damage done by Indira Gandhi is now finally dragging the Congress into the mud. Elevating her to PM was a fatal mistake, both in terms of symbolism (dynasty) and her own autocratic nature.

    I think in the future, electoral victories against the BJP will accrue to highly localized ‘governance first’ parties like the AAP. The BJP has figured out rural India. Its Hindutva + socialism engine will run out of steam, and an anti incumbent vote will form, but I am not sure if a coherent opposition party will be at the scene to challenge it.

    I think the environment will emerge as a key issue. The BJP is not as bad as the Republicans on this issue, but it does get a lot of money from interests that put money above ecology. Whatever party opposes the BJP, will need to make this a key plank. Hindu sentiment will actually work against the BJP then. The urban upper caste votebank of the BJP will also come under stress.

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    1. I am not sure if Hindutva + socialism will run out of steam, at least till Modi is there. He wont make the same mistake to be outflanked by the Congress from the left. For the first time the BJP is seen as “pro-poor” as the Congress/Left , pretty sure they will not give up on it.

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      1. Regarding the BJP not getting outflanked, the advantage they have here is that unlike US conservatives, socialism is not an anathema in India, and in any case, the depth and scale of poverty in India completely rules out overt neo-liberal economic policies.

        American conservatives, however, for various cultural and theological reasons remain inflexible on issues like abortion and gun rights, provide Republicans a solid 20-25% of the vote and substantial monetary and manpower resources to start with. Such a rigid social vote bank is unlikely to emerge in India.

        Muslim other can only go so far and this was clear in the way Rajasthan, MP and Gujarat (almost) voted against the BJP in the state elections.

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        1. India does have that republican social base, which are the upper caste. Sure they agitate for different things, but that is the base which BJP gets total support from.

          Regarding the state elections, i feel you are reading too much into it. On the national perspective Hindutva+ Socialism is working, and no amount of “Governance first” model can displace it. Governance is a very subjective issue (In India) . For example Mayawati reign in UP is remembered as good/bad depending on the person’s caste you are asking this question to.

          The only anti dote to Hindutva+ Socialism is sub nationalism + Socialism AKA Dravidian party model. At least that’ what looks for now , till BJP comes up with some counter to that.

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          1. Upper castes are 15% of the total population, heavily urbanized and limited in political influence. They joined on the BJP bandwagon because of a proclivity to authoritarian leadership (‘koi strict hona chahiye’) and promises of rapid growth. There is no way they are going to form the committed voter base that the Evangelicals for example provide to the Republicans.

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          2. Well 15 percent is a lot considering India follows FPTP system rather than American styled 50 percent vote share system. What constitutes a base in USA need not be that big in India.

            Second this is myth that U-Caste vote for “rapid development” and all that. They too are driven with the same caste consideration that other castes have . Perhaps not that much , but still more than we think , specially in rural areas.
            There would not be even a BJP without the committed vote bank of upper castes.

            Also again look at the cast breakup of people elected in Parliament/State elections . U-Caste still make around 30-40 percent of parliamentarians which is far higher than their percentage. So no, they aren’t “limited” in political influence. Yes they do not posses the overwhelming power of 50s and 60s but still more power than their pops percentages.

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          3. For example Mayawati reign in UP is remembered as good/bad depending on the person’s caste you are asking this question to.

            True. Within a votebank, reality gets warped by the particular group’s gravitational pull. Mayawati is an excellent case study. There is no objectivity here, neither on pro- nor on con- side (as with Modi).

            But there is an alternative.
            Modi-Shah are doing to BJP what Indira did to Congress 70s to early 80s. The effects show a decade or two later. If the Congress lets go of Rahul and a true meritocracy emerges, then it will have the minorities, and some among UC-OBC-SC-ST, and will be a strong national contender. It would have learnt several lessons, and at least the low-hanging ones will be addressed. The trans-caste voting now accruing to BJP is the same hold the Congress had in 80s and earlier.

            There is of course a non-zero chance INC will completely disappear, but personally I think that is slim. A country like India will always have a significant center-left party, esp. if the caste parties are on their way down.

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    2. INC will probably not be able to create a centralized national anti-BJP Party, but BJP will eventually lose to an unwieldy coalition, INC-led or otherwise.

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  3. Excellent podcast, Dr. Devji is looking at these issues on a high level and going beyond the usual bromides.

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    1. Amit Shah is a beast, a backroom boy and political strategist par excellence. Let’s hope he can do some good as Home Minister.

      I do agree he should not be a future PM though. The BJP needs to fully shake off the old “Brahmin-Baniya Party” moniker, and another OBC would be more useful to that end.

      Still, éminence grise of a major world power is a pretty good consolation prize. 🙂

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      1. Can people stop repeating the ignorant and malicious trope of Amit Shah being a Jain and not a Hindu. He is a Hindu Vaishnav Vania who in Gujarat share the Shah surname with Jain Vanias and in some cases belong to the same subcaste and intermarry ( though mostly not). Amit Shah has no know Jain connection.
        This rumor is at once intneded to delegitmize Shah as a leader of the Hindus while also othering Jains.

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        1. Lol I don’t know how this thing started. Which genius came up with this idea of portraying Amit shah as jain would somehow delegitime him or something. I think perhaps he felt the separation of hindu-jain is of Same degree of hindu-Sikh

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  4. Did Hinduism required Hereditary principle, looking at many prominent scriptures & epigraphical sources there is a change from Non-hereditary to Hereditary claims as one moves from Ancient to modern.
    For e.g. –
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apastamba_Dharmasutra
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vajrasuchi_Upanishad

    https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/the-temple-was-not-a-vedic-institution-manu-v-devadevan/article26149218.ece

    Hereditary claims were even forged in ancient times so it was both a ‘social’ controlling force on one hand as well as a force that kept transforming with social needs.

    Society evoked Hereditary identities as & when needed to make claims to resources when foreign rulers came to these regions. For e.g. Note the court cases during colonial times evoking Holy texts as a source of authority for the rights of community & note the distinct change of ‘textual authority’ from prescriptive texts to essential law.

    Point is – Heredity has been evoked by society during certain periods & contexts esp. political ones but was not the core of religion, rather we can say it forms the core of ‘regional religion’ i.e. the religious practices confined to a certain region.

    So contrasting Heredity with Dynasty may seem interesting but are completely different due to different periods they have been evoked & for different purposes they have been evoked.

    Heredity claims had more to do with ‘Claim to Rights’ whereas Dynasty has more to do with political ‘Mai-baap culture’ in modern India.

    —————————————————————

    Hinduism gives rise to fragment-ism – I would like to contest it.

    This is the wrong way to put it because Hinduism does not try to change people rather changes it’s ‘core’ from region to region. Thus it tries to bring together diverse communities under one umbrella but with all their existing differences. All the Sampradayas or Maths etc. are an example of this phenomenon. Also this leads to formation of Caste not because of religion but religion’s appropriation of ‘differences’ of communities.

    The same phenomenon can be observed among Buddhists as well in various forms of Buddhism {regional variations} & Various Nikayas etc.

    He is also overlooking the source of ‘Categorization’ i.e. the frameworks like the term Caste itself is the result of unequal interaction of ‘Mythical East’ with ‘Civilized West’. Lastly categorization alone does not provide the proof with regards to human behavior even though it may provide hints to some social behaviors.

    So the tension of same identity but with different regional practices has created more problems for Monotheistic religion because of their focus on words for truth but the same was not the case with Indic traditions because to them these differences were natural {esp. in ancient Vedic or Sramana traditions}. This system got destroyed first when it encountered Islamic identity & later when modern nation states got formed with ‘top-down’ legal systems.

    ———-

    Now to address the question of Hindutva in modern India –

    So Hindutva = Cultural & Hence greatly tolerant than Hinduism because it transcends caste, religion & all other differences in favor of ‘Culture’.

    In terms of defining India’s history all the above categories fall because tolerance, Hinduism & culture all can be questioned in myriad of ways & presented in various manners.

    The main point here that is missed is that Hindutva was assertion of Hinduism because Islam already has claimed the ‘Otherness’ by making claims for division of region along religious lines. This focus on ‘religious identity’ for such claim was a new phenomenon in India & this forced Hindus to address the questions regarding their religion, their answers were again regional & bounded in the time period they were formed.

    1. Neo Hinduism, Bengal Renaissance, Arya Samaj etc. – They were answering the questions which were formed from Western Monotheistic perspective & hence in trying to answer them they themselves started the ‘Abrahamization’ of native culture as well as religion.
    2. Then comes conservative elements who were elites & since ‘Texts’ became the most prominent source of claims regards resources, rights etc. they tried to use Hindu texts to expand upon their rights. These leaders were either religious conservative, religiously neutral or anglophiles, all of them in Congress. Some extremely conservative elites broke away & supported the third faction.
    3. This faction was not completely elite neither had any political power but formed as a response to how modern modalities were taking shape – Nation-state, Geo-religious politics etc. so they used all the tactics for rights & resource claims {be it from left or right} from all over the world {Hence Nazi association in Right-wing Hindu thought}. This Cultural, religious political faction of Hindus got termed as ‘Hindutva’.

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      1. Yes i heard the podcast carefully & noted how he takes one sides beliefs and practices as defined in existing literature i.e. Nehruvian Modern India & contrasts Hidutva definitions with it as well as with Hinduism.

        He seems to be interpreting ideas from both sides & since these are his interpretations i would like to contend them as i have my own interpretations & reading of the history of that period.

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  5. Hinduism does not provide unity but Hindutva does – I disagree with the reasons Mr. Faisal Devji has provided.

    Take for e.g. the question of citizenship.

    He says Savarkar turned Hinduism to Hinduness to gave it Indian cultural outlook as Hindu itself was a foreign term but when it comes to Gandhi he has difficulty describing it because Gandhi himself never required it & has never defined it clearly but he defined it via term ‘diversity’.

    southasia.pre.ss.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/2016/07/gandhi-citizenship.pdf

    Here he also mentions that Savarkar would have considered ‘diversity’ inappropriate, so how can he argue both arguments ?

    Religio-political identity –
    Hindu = Less diverse & less accommodating
    Hindutva = More diverse & more accommodating

    Citizenship –
    Hindutva = Less diverse & less accommodating
    Gandhian = Diversity {even though he never defines ‘citizenship’ directly & always addressed citizens in terms of rights}

    Important question regarding Gandhian diversity – Was he picturing diversity in terms of identities or was he picturing communities as groups competing for rights within one larger set of laws {Lets call it Hindu diversity, i.e. using the same umbrella of identity for diverse communities} ?

    So the question of Indian citizenship identity shifts to debate between Hinduness Vs Indianess –
    Here Devji contrasts Savarkar’s ideas of nationhood similar to the European ideas & then transports to the differentiation of citizenship along religious lines withing RSS thought contrasting it with Caste hierarchy.

    The problem with it is that all of this was a product of a tumultuous period when Indians had just started to grapple with modern political thought & did not have any idea about ‘Citizenship’ so all groups who grappled with religious questions during modernization also engaged with these modern political ideas.

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    1. * for first time.

      Forgot to complete the sentence as i was in a hurry to go.

      ——————————————-

      When Gandhi equates himself with the ancient thought i believe he was simply trying to tell that he has taken his ideas from Indic idealism but since it happened in a period when every claim by colonized had to be contested & every claim by colonizer was accepted.

      If one delves into ancient Indic thought it is the fuzziness & less clearly defined notions of right-wrong, identities etc. which is another way to interpret what Gandhi could have meant when he mentioned himself to be an ancient kind of person.

      ‘Search for truth’ – If one reads Indic scriptures there are 2 strands one questioning everything i.e. Search for truth {for philosophical, Scientifically inclined} while other is ‘declaring certain God’ lord of all {for most of the people}. Now read how Gandhi describes ‘Hinduism’.
      https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/138933-if-i-were-asked-to-define-the-hindu-creed-i

      He provides example of words like Swaraj as a category already existing but then to distinguish Gandhi as a modern reformer provides the example of word ‘Satyagrah’. On dividing it we find that essentially is a request to the person in power to tell truth i.e. Satya + Aagrah.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyagraha

      Gandhi himself explains how he had taken thoughts & ideas from Indic civility & how he mix them to formulate the political resistance in his period. So to call them a completely new discovery is wrong but yes he did innovate with them to produce a strong political force.

      After all this he mentions Non-violence & links it to Saramana traditions & delinks Hinduism completely from the idea of Non-violence {even though these are modern religious categories that did not existed historically when ideas like Non-violence were accepted in these beliefs}.

      Then he himself provides why he is explaining Gandhi in this way because he sees him as 20th century reformer & so it becomes imperative for Mr. Devji to see the Gandhi in the way he is seeing but for Hindus they could have identified with many of his beliefs easily but this ‘Elite’ interpretation has essentially divided Hindus who understand Gandhi but from these elite interpretations & those who hate Gandhi {as there is Hindutva strand that sees Gandhi, Buddha & other similar leaders as encouraging passivity & reason for loss of Hindus in wars against foreign invaders}.

      Why i am explaining all this ? –
      Because this is exactly what i oppose to in academia where Gandhian values need to put beyond religious values because he tried many things which a ‘dogmatic Hindu’ would never have done. Obviously no believer of any ideology or belief ever changes without being challenged, cornered or contestation {only possible when both sides are equally qualified & have same frame of scope with regards to debate}.

      In academia’s zeal to separate religion & prove India’s secularism they removed all links of Hinduism from it’s greatest proponents, from nation etc. & that allowed Hindutva people to appropriate Hinduism and with that Hindu believers.

      https://scroll.in/article/925096/did-the-secular-sanitisation-of-pre-colonial-indian-history-allow-hindu-nationalism-to-weaponise-it

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    2. Let me expand upon this point –

      Religio-political identity –
      Hindu = Less diverse & less accommodating
      Hindutva = More diverse & more accommodating

      Why i challenge this preposition –
      Think it like this ‘Hindus’ as bunch of multiple groups with indifference towards each other but after Islamic empire they start the process of ‘reconciliation’.

      Book – Unifying Hinduism Book by Andrew J. Nicholson

      Best summarized in these words –
      The encounter between “the strictest and most extreme form of monotheism” and “the richest and most varied polytheism”, Octavio Paz wrote in his luminous study of India, left a “deep wound” on the psyche of its people.
      From – In Light of India by Octavio Paz

      2nd problem –
      Even though we know about the term “Maleccha” but it never was a coherent concept but rather was an expression of inherent ‘insecurity’ that every individual & community exhibits hence it differed greatly throughout history in it’s usage how it worked in reality.

      We know about famous Chinese travel accounts who have to win local trust to overcome maleccha identity, we also know how India sheltered various communities from persecution historically.

      So on one hand ‘Malechha’ only represents a bigoted term that meant to create otherness for the present ‘majority’ of the region but what we see is that it represents insecurities & behavior for negotiation among different communities which can be termed as “bigoted”. It’s major negotiation can be summarized as – to let the community be {thus indifference & non-interaction}.

      Hence i don’t accept the notion that one identity is more accepting than other because it is described as such instead better way to understand identity problems is to note how & when people raise identity & for what purpose & so on… i.e. Note the identity in action rather than seeing it as a coherent one.

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  6. Others & Otherizing –

    I would like to applaud Devji for mentioning that otherizing is already existing instead of only blaming BJP for using it politically.

    He raises the point of threat to diversity but the diversity but that’s not a valid point as Indian society’s diversity is already dying. As more & more progress will happen more & more Westernization will happen & India’s diversity will die. Even Indian state’s work to modernize the nation will eventually kill diversity.

    He says that killing diversity is impossible in India while it may be true for 5-10 more decades but after that Indian diversity will certainly reduce to a large extent but not because someone will kill it by changing constitution but by the modernization process itself.

    Infact the feature that should have supported preservation of India’s diversity are exploited politically to destroy it’s diversity.
    E.g. –
    https://www.firstpost.com/india/if-tamil-needs-saving-it-isnt-from-hindi-but-from-dravidian-parties-who-claim-to-be-protecting-the-language-6761331.html

    ———————–

    Muslims as others representing all minorities –

    Devji here contends that Muslims are representatives of all minorities & first reason is that they are the largest minority so they represent the rest and to further entrench muslim minority position he contends that they shield the other minorities by being so many in numbers that people neglect the other minorities. Here he tries Muslims to link with all by using Backwardness, heredity etc. He also links image of Muslims as being of criminals from movies & TV’s etc.

    This is a wrong position because othering has few specific things that essentially can be noted in right-wing messaging –
    1. They mention how media targets ‘Majority’ esp. ‘Upper Caste’ while crimes are reported in to hide the weaker sections aka OBC’s, SC’s, ST’s & Minorities when they are involved in crimes.
    2. They use local cases, exaggerate claims of incidents etc. all this used to remain present locally but confined to local regions but it now gets shared as soon as any incident happens & thus ‘narrative’ & ‘counter-narratives’ which results in polarization of votes.
    3. Religious Conversions – Is a big issue but there has never been a debate regarding Religious conversions. Also before debating this there is also a need to revise Indian history to formulate a non-sanitized Indian history & need to challenge Western Orientalism & Blind spots regarding Indology.
    4. They mention Govt. control of Hindu religion while almost complete freedom to all minority religions.
    5. Different Civil laws for different communities but most freedom for Muslims via AIMPLB with polygamy & Triple Talaq.

    So it is wrong to characterize all minorities with one minority leaving out very specific ways right wing employs of otherizing esp. Muslims & Christians {Christians for conversions} & it is succedding because of the different & unequal ways state has interacted with religions in modern India esp. neglecting any need for changing minority laws.

    Even a neutral demand of ‘Uniform civil code’ by majority has been painted as bigatory of Hindu majority to project itself on minority rights.

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  7. Appeasement Politics –

    First he links the term to IInd world war {Of course we need to start by remembering Fascism}.

    Any privilege by state to any community is termed ‘appeasement’ but he forgot to mention when & how it first came to be used ? Why many Indians even {Upper caste as well as from reserved categories} say reservations should be for poor & then same people say appeasement for none ?

    Some examples of why Muslims remain as ‘Others’ & how Devji’s ways of linking Muslims with other minorities is very lacking.

    https://www.dailypioneer.com/2018/columnists/the-politics-of-appeasement.html – Right wing perspective
    https://www.fairobserver.com/politics/indian-politics-dangerous-game-appeasement/ – Left wing Perspective

    Looking from outside the similar features may make Muslims representative of all other communities with some similarities but to do this one has to negate all the other nuances which essentially means we are simply producing the argument to favor the position we want instead of trying to present a true picture of ground.

    For e.g.
    Parsis are mostly urbanized & mostly well off than average Indian, Christians have better Income than most Hindus & Catholic Church have most land holding in India among minorities etc.

    https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/personal-finance/guess-who-indias-largest-landowners-are-1129773.html

    So his ways of linking Muslim otherness by using specific features separately to argue that Muslims represent all other’s is a very interesting academic way of subverting the ground realities in India.

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  8. Caste –

    Here the question which was about intersectionality of backwardness & about effectiveness of reservations turns into discussion about how Indian constitution’s temporary features became permanent.

    For Mr Devji it is a fascinating existential quandary whereas for many Indians there is nothing fascinating because all human lives at all times are transitional {but what fascinates Devji are the boundaries of temporary law & enforced identity changes to the lives of people}.

    He frames the conundrum as Constitutional Caste Identity Vs. Transitional identity I guess answer is clear Constitutional Caste Identity trumps Transitional identity.

    He mentions that ‘caste is always changing’ then isn’t that a proof that it is hence a wrong category to judge backwardness, rather backwardness should be described in terms of discriminatory practices, regions of prevalence, financial condition & so on…..

    Here he differentiates between Caste to social but the problem here is he does not clearly describes what does he mean when he says – Mobility across all caste, does not destroy caste but did the mobility til independence to now has destroyed caste or social hierarchy so why does he expect different result under BJP or Hindutva ?

    Mobility alone is the power that can transcend caste but he does not seem to want to acknowledge that directly & hence alluding to the aspirations of voters and terming it freedom of Indian politics from social. Maybe people are now understanding that mobility is the only solution {afterall all markers of backwardness of community are rooted in material & not otherwise} & voting for it even if Indian politics fails to deliver it.

    Then later proposes the changes as Inclusion along Sanskritized forms or politics removed from social hierarchy as in developed nations.

    Then he goes on to equate Hinduism replaced by caste Hinduism, Hindu Marriage reforms VS conservative Minority civil laws {here he frames the argument in a comparative fashion neglecting all the people of majority who support ‘Uniform civil laws’}, Govt. not only control temple boards but also various activities like schools funded by temples & so on but all other religions are free to do so etc.

    Basically he tries to mention all right wing points but positions them in ways where flaws of his arguments gets completely subsided in favor of problematizing of right wing points, i.e. he acknowledges them but as claims coming out of bigtory, jealousy etc. of majority rather than a demand of equal laws which should apply equally to all.

    The podcast was interesting indeed & maybe i am too harsh in terms of questioning Devji’s theorization but as he says it was an exercise in questioning existing ways of analytical tools academia for examining social & political realities in India & that’s what i am trying to do.

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