“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx


Death Wish as Nationalism

THE mad major portrayed in Stanley Kubrick's Dr Strangelove - a psychopathic American nationalist driven by an urge to bring the world to a sudden end with a nuclear war - has many cousins.  

Ayatollah Khomeini was reviled as a warmonger, but he jailed the Hojjatiah Shia extremists who supported him. He found that they were plotting to chuck an incendiary bomb into the Soviet Union to start a global war. The pious clerics would go to heaven and the rest of the world would rot in hell, the Hojjatiah believed.

An elderly Christian lady in Delhi came cheerfully to her daughter's home one day. She wanted a last family breakfast because Korea's Reverend Moon had prophesied that the world in accordance with a biblical projection was coming to an end by noon - Indian standard time. Her joy at the imminent end of the world was subsequently shared by ardent Christian advisers of George W. Bush when they placed all their bets on the Iraq invasion.  

In an interview a few years ago, K. Sudarshan, the erstwhile head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, spoke of a nuclear war with Pakistan as a possible way to "end the sway of evil in the world". The latest issue of the RSS magazine has called for an all-out war with Pakistan.  

Before lynch mobs and TV channels turned into clearinghouses of Indian nationalism, India was a more self-assured nation. In easier democratic days, nationalism never had a single definition.  

Gandhi was celebrated as a first among nationalists. So was his killer on the other side. Indian nationalism was as mixed as that. Men owing allegiance to Nathuram Godse's brand of nationalism killed Gauri Lankesh and her fellow 'Hindu apostates'. Hardly surprising, since Godse's comrades had distributed sweets and celebrated the assassination of Gandhi with revelry. An overwhelming majority of today's warmongers belong to this stable of Indian nationalists, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi commands support from the group.

Two episodes from history make the Congress look significantly more agreeable than the Hindu right. For all the propaganda about the Indian military's aloofness from politics today, it was Jayprakash Narayan (or JP), his movement shored up by the Hindu right, who had exhorted the Indian armed forces to disobey the orders of then prime minister Indira Gandhi.  

People may not remember the episode, but it was a factor in the imposition of the emergency. One doubts whether the Congress would ever have the gall to make such a call. Earlier, according to declassified CIA files, it was the right-wing Hindu nationalists that tried to assassinate India's first army chief in an ethnically divisive plot. Fortunately, it failed.  

On the other shore of politics, there was a tradition of an open-minded nationalism that luckily remains assertive in vast spheres of politics. Mamata Banerjee (Brahmin), Mayawati (Dalit), and Lalu Yadav (who belongs to the lowest rung in the caste order), are all leaders with cross-cultural followings. What unites them is their staunch faith in India's agreeable constitution, which currently translates into a sharp critique, even wariness, of Modi's brand of nationalism.  

It is hardly a surprise that all three have questioned the expediency of taking India to the brink of a full-blown war with a nuclear-armed neighbour. They are expected to lead the fight to defeat right-wing nationalism in the coming elections.  

There were no lynch mobs when justice Anand Narain Mulla of the Allahabad High Court wrote Urdu poetry. He got into trouble with Lohia's socialists when they objected to a verse that described a drop of ink from the artist's quill as a shade worthier than a martyr's blood: Khoon-i-shaheed se bhi hai qeemat mein kuchh siwa/ Fankaar ke qalam ki siyahi ki ek boond.  

It's an old story from the 1960s, and as far as one can remember, Mulla rebuffed all demands for an apology. On the contrary, he was applauded by a large section of Indians when he noted in a judgement that the country's police force was the most organised gang of criminals.

Mulla's intellectual clone and a fellow Kashmiri Pandit, who is among India's more combative public intellectuals, is justice Markandey Katju. He retired from the Supreme Court some years ago, and, like Mulla, loves Urdu poetry - particularly Ghalib and Faiz and Josh. Katju is an outspoken critic of India's hard-line policies in Kashmir and slams militarist politics over the past decades that he says have alienated 99 per cent of Kashmiris from India.

In an interview available on YouTube, he has described what he calls a guerilla war in Kashmir with resemblance to the Vietcong whose cadre derived sustenance from a sea of alienated people. Unlike Katju or Mulla, Rahul Gandhi underscores his Brahminical lineage, something he didn't need to do at all. A Hindu priest was recently requisitioned to announce him as a thread-wearing Kashmiri Pandit of the Kaul family.  

The difference here is that Mulla and Katju relate to Nehruvian rationalism, whereas the young Congress leader, a great grandson of Nehru, has painted himself - or been pushed - into a corner packed with bovine politics and competitive nationalism, in contrast to the party's more progressive past. His confusion revealed itself on two key occasions. He told US ambassador Timothy Roemer, according to WikiLeaks files published in 2010, that India faced a bigger threat from Hindu extremists than from Indian Muslims. But he spoiled the wisdom of the moment by boasting at a whistle-stop meeting during a state election in Uttar Pradesh - which he lost - that his grandmother broke Pakistan into two.

Rahul evidently doesn't see how Pakistan-bashing quickly becomes a communal expedition. A slogan out of Ayodhya, after the Babri mosque was razed in December 1992, yelled that the next halt would be Lahore. That was decades before a suicide bomber killed 42 paramilitary men in Pulwama, and India responded by crossing Pakistan's airspace to poke the nuclear-armed neighbour in the eye.


  • River in a 'Court of Law' - Legal issues pertaining to its personality
  • Syria: A Testament To International Moral Bankruptcy
  • When the State Sought to Muzzle Privacy, U-Turn Now Only to Accommodate SC Verdict
  • The Bull in A China Shop Wrecks Indian Economy
  • When Buddha Looks The Other Way: The Plight Of The Rohingya
  • A Fatal Blow to The Judiciary
  • The Dramatic Rise in Wealth Inequality
  • Wild And Baseless Speculations of Crisis in the CPI(M)
  • Budget 2018: Fantabulous Schemes With Not A Paisa Earmarked
  • Kasganj: Sankalp Foundation and the Politics of Hate
  • PM Modi Sounds the Election Bugle: Congress and Hindutva the Agenda for 2019 Polls
  • The US Game Plan in Syria
  • Both Nehru and Patel Were the Need of the Hour in 1947-48
  • The Battle of the Two Begums of Bangladesh
  • Why Bangladesh Matters
  • Kejriwal's Apology is Not What the Media Claims
  • Arrest of a '5-minute Dalits' Proves Why SC/ST Act Dilution Will Grossly Impact Real Dalits
  • The Dalits and the Law
  • Winners May Be Losers In Karnataka's Catch 22 Endgame
  • Jinnah and the BJP
  • Jawaharlal Nehru (Nov 14 1889- May 27, 1964): We Still Live In A House That Nehru Built
  • Implications of Trump-Kim Summit: Nuclear Pays!
  • Thomas Reuters Foundation Survey: Measuring Safety, Generating Outrage
  • What Are People Voting for?
  • Foreign Policy: A Double Whammy Awaits India
  • Changing Discourse
  • Assam: The Mythology of "Immigrants"
  • Imran Time is Here
  • 71 Years on, Forsty Relations Countinue
  • To Stop Climate Change, We Need to Open Bordera
  • Make Use of Bid to Postpone Provincial Elections
  • Cringing and Fuddled at 71
  • Ensuring Strident Voice Will Not Become Majority Voice
  • Nehru, Vajpayee and Modi
  • Religious Bias Okayed
  • The Oslo Accords: A Bloody Legacy of Betrayal
  • Crushing the Campus
  • Three Stories And Task of The Office Of Missing Person
  • Drama Over Indo-Pak Meeting
  • An ill Wind
  • Symbolic Actions Alone Are Insufficient For Long Term Change To Occur
  • If Democracy Subverts Itself
  • Returning Land to Civilians is a Promise That Needs Follow Up
  • Democracy In Crisis: What we Know and What we Don't
  • Reparations Office Can Bind The Nations Together
  • Implementation Challenges Facing The Ayushman Bharat Program
  • Subverting the Central Bank
  • Under the Yoke of New-Imperialism: A Fake War of Patriotism and Treason
  • India Joins the Club
  • The Third Phase
  • President is Best Situated to Resolve Political Crisis
  • No Country for Adventure: Challenges Extreme Sports Athletes Face in India
  • Setting A Perilous Political Precedent
  • What Rahul and Modi can do in the Next Four Months
  • Finding a Win-Win Solution to Break the Deadlock
  • Temple in the Age of Colliders
  • Four Parameters of a Political Solution at This Time
  • Resolve National Question With President's Support
  • Decapitating the Leadership
  • Four Takeaways From the 2018 Election
  • Science of Words
  • The Ace up Modi's Sleeve
  • The Government Must Not Deny The TNA
  • The Prolonged Wait For Justice And For Political Leadership
  • Endgame in Afghanistan
  • Pluralist Ethos is More Relevant to National Identity
  • A Concerned Citizen's Points For Inclusion in The Manifesto of Political Parties
  • In My Own Voice: Circle of Unreason
  • RBI To The Rescue of Modi Government - It's Election Time!
  • Say No to War
  • A terrifying Fallout
  • The Type of Leadership The Country Needs
  • Death Wish as Nationalism
  • Politics on Kashmir Need Not be About Optics Alone
  • Why an Urban Job Guarantee Scheme is Not a Bad Idea
  • National Security: The New in 'New Normal'
  • Re-Promulgating an Ordinance is a Fraud on the Constitution
  • Elections 2019: India at a Crossroads
  • Peace and Inclusive Development
  • NYAY Providing Basic Income Fulfills the Vision of Mahatma Gandhi and Changed Election Narrative Based on Basic Issues
  • Advani Should Blame Himself For Promoting Modi
  • Kashmir: Tracing the Degeneration of Mainstream Politics
  • Elections and the Issue of Civil Liberties
  • Jumlanomics:Chronicles of a Post-Truth Bharat
  • BJP: Hiding Failures, Targeting Nehru
  • A Mayawati Moment
  • Godse is a Synonym of Hindu Nationalism, Agenda of the RSS Combine!
  • Development Beyond Numbers
  • A Rational Approach to Countering Extremist Violence is Needed
  • In My Own Voice: Is This the Sprit of Democracy?
  • Prevention is The Best Migration Cure
  • The Rise of Hate
  • The Right Mantras for India's Change
  • Coming Home - Where Family Overpowers All
  • Easter Sunday Bombing Used to Create a Major Rift in Sri Lankan Society
  • Hacking Humanity
  • Environmental Rule of Law in India
  • Peace is a Word That West Has Taken From Afghans
  • Trump's War Games
  • Modi & States
  • Who is an 'Outsider' in West Bengal?
  • China on Maps
  • 19th Amendment Will Correct Itself at End of President's Current Term
  • Authoritarianism and the Crisis of Public Ethics in India
  • Presidential Candidate The People Want
  • Has India's Kashmir Cape Given Pakistan Reason for War?
  • Icons and Ideology of Religious Nationalism
  • Why NRC in Assam May Create Another Kashmir
  • Campaign to Abolish the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka is a Red Herring
  • As US Tries to Isolate Iran, China Steps In
  • Of Hindi and Hierarchy
  • Why Sri Lankan Elections May Bring Far Reaching Change
  • What US Policy Tells Us About India's Growing 'Friendship' With It
  • Gandhian Philosophy is a Critique of Modernity and Power
  • Inner Party Democracy is Just as Important as Funding
  • India's Foreign Policy Has Dug Itself a Deep Hole
  • 'Broken Promises' and Politics of Hate': Is Political Autonomy The Way Forward For J&K?
  • The Ninth Betrayal: America Has Let Down Khurd, Yet Again
  • Who Benefits From The WhatsApp Hacking Case?: Pertinent Question Left Unanswered
  • State Elections Results Expose "Limits" of BJP's Nationalist Agenda
  • "Religious Belief" vs. "Rule of Law": Did SC's Ayodhya Verdict Legalise Building of a Theocratic State?
  • What Does Trump's "New Refugee Ban" Mean for America's Immigrants?
  • India Must Change Course as Rajapaksas Return on Sinhala Buddhist Wave
  • The Supreme Court's First Judgment Without an Author
  • Geopolitics in South Asia Renders Millions Stateless
  • "Shakespeare's Vision of the Improbale" Unfolds: Is Modi Today's Macbeth?
  • Sri Lanka Under Rajapaksa: Finding Areas of Mutual Agreement
  • "The Game of Religion is Played by Men": Women Speak From the Margins of Ayodhya Dispute
  • Telangana Ecounter- Failure of Local Police Poses Grave Danger to Democracy
  • The Changing Nature of War and Diplomacy
  • Sri Lanka: Government's Cooperation A "Temporary Phenomenon"?
  • The Role of Corruption in This Season of Revolts
  • New Citizenship Law to a "Brazenly Divisive Agenda"
  • Youth Agitation Against CAA Brings a Historic Generational Shift
  • "Digital Authoritarianism": With Internet Shutdowns Normalised, the Digital Space is Democracy's New Battleground
  • Sri Lanka: The Challenge of Development Amidst Devolution of Power
  • The Political Divides that Split India
  • 'Never Again': Echoes of Nazi Crimes Remain Alive 75 Years After Auschwitz
  • "Legacy of Mutual Suspicion" Plagues Opponents of the Modi Regime
  • "Toxic" India Sliding into an Environmental Abyss
  • Manufacturing Hate: From Anurag Thakur's 'Shoot the Traitors' to Pistol-Bearing Youth's 'Yeh lo Azaadi!'
  • Kejriwal Isn't Communal, But His Desire Not to be Seen Anti-Hindu May Prove Self-Defeating
  • Religion States Won't Oppose US-Taliban Deal
  • Lessons From Pathogens: Coronavirus, A wake Up Call?
  • The Geopolitics of the Covid 19 Pandemic
  • Cold War Begins As Nations Fued Over Coronavirus
  • India Fights Coronavirus...With Scriptures, Morals and Police
  • The Burden of COVID 19
  • Do Israeli Settelemnts in Occupies West Bank Constitute a War Crime ?
  • The Global Debate on COVID-19 Lockdown: Listen to Divergent Scientific Voices or Risk Manipulation by Big Businesses?
  • Sri Lanka's Easter Bombings And The Demand For Justice
  • How India Can Solve the "Catch-22 Situation" of Allowing Migrant Workers to Return Home
  • The Time for Universal Basic Income Has Arrived
  • COVID-19 Crisis Exposes Fatal Weaknesses of 'Strong' Leaders
  • The Pandemic Has Taught Us the Importance of Maintaining an Ecological Balance, Will we Remember IT?
  • The Muslim Elite Has Let Down the Muslim Poor
  • "There is Nothing Nationalist or Non-Nationalist in Reporting"
  • Why WHO Took 3 Months to Declare a Global Pandemic
  • A Political Lockdown That Silences Voices
  • The 'Relief Package' of Online Education May End up "Institutionalising Drop Outs"
  • Can Democracy Survive the Coronavirus?
  • As China Ups the Ante, This is What India Must do...
  • Tackling Racism With Compassionate Reporting-CNN Leads The Way
  • Sri Lanka: Pluralism In Governance Required In The Absence of Parliament
  • Idia's Tactical Non-Solutions To China's Incursions in Ladakh
  • "At The Brink of A New Cold War": Sino-US Ties at a Crossroads
  • In Light of Rising Conservatism, Can The Personal be Political Again?
  • India-China: The Complete Breakdown of Trust, How and Why
  • Rethinking Development After Covid-19
  • The Pandemic Must Transform Our Agriculture
  • Treacherous Road to Make Manu History
  • The 'American Way of War' Is Built On A Foundation of Racism
  • Covid -19 And The Crisis of Education-An Insight
  • Governments That Preach Non-Violence Must Lead By Example
  • New Status of Hagia Sophia Signals The Death Of Secularism
  • Covid 19 and Furthering of Sectarian Agenda in Education
  • Biden's "Conventional" Approach vs Trump's "Whimsical" Handling of Foreign Policy
  • Why Arguments Against Reservation are Flawed
  • Curfew Welcomes One Year of Abrogations in Kashmir
  • Ayodha: What is BJP's Motive For Holding Ram Temple Ceremony Amid Pandemic?
  • New Education Policies of India And Pakistan Will Further Divide, Within and Without
  • Does India's Handling of China Make Sense?
  • Return of the Rajapaksas in Sri Lanka
  • An Independent Supreme Court Is a Must for Democracy
  • Does Rule of Law Trump Tide of Public Opinion?
  • UAE-Israel Deal Accelerating Fragmentation of West Asian Politics
  • Congress And Its "Unprecedented Political Challenge""
  • Does The 20th Amendment Threaten Pluralism in Sri Lanka?
  • Digital Hate, Now A Profitable Commodity
  • Rising Cases, Unemployment: Is India Ignoring Fears Stoked by the Pandemic?
  • Surging Pandemic, Slumping Economy - And the Crisis of Democracy