Vol X, No.2
Bikash Sarma, George Thadathil, Pius V Thomas
The special issue dedicated to Gandhi titled ‘Remembering Mahatma as Gandhi: Gandhi as Political Philosopher and Social Theorist’ intends to address Gandhi’s concept of democracy, its delicate relation with his millennial ideal of non-violence/Ahimsa and the intent and impact of Gandhian thought in the contemporary discourses on socio-cultural-political life and coexistence.
Many influential studies and social theorists have pointed out the legacy of Gandhian thought on contemporary philosophy and social theory as – rigorously reprimanding and controversially concealing – simultaneously. Nonetheless, Gandhi and his philosophy prominently figures in all discussions about democracy, ethics of plurality and political morality. Therefore, we have solemn re-readings and reinterpretations of Gandhi which consummate radical negotiability with the concepts of democracy, nation state, critique of modernity, human rights, civil society, religion and social freedom. We have worthy models of rereading of Gandhi in the theoretic efforts of Partha Chatterjee, Ashish Nandy, Bikhu Parekh, Akeel Bilgrami, Shiv Viswanathan, Ramchandra Guha, Sumit Sarkar, Rudolf C Heredia and Thomas Pantham – to mention a few prominent names from the scores of such efforts from India and abroad.
Ramachandra Guha in one of his timely and interesting write up on Gandhi published in Malayalam1 discusses how three authors, Ivan Meysky, S A Danke and S D Saklathwala wrote comparatively about Gandhi and tall secular leaders of Gandhi’s time – mainly in order to praise leaders such as Lenin, Ata Turk and Sukarno. For the authors, while these secular, progressive and popular leaders spearheaded liberative movements against power and exploitation of the masses, Gandhi in the pretext of his principle of Ahimsa, religious ideas of Dharma and Truth acted like a reactionary who wanted to recreate the past. Guha, nonetheless, completes his write up by underlining a relevant and a timely perspective that inspires us all, that:
As we celebrate the One Fiftieth Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi]…I think that the posthumous fame and reputation of Gandhi among the ordinary masses and intellectuals alike is far above than Lenin. Clearly, above the Russian prophet of arms revolution and class antagonism stands now the Indian Prophet of Ahimsa and brotherhood and fellowship of all religions and even after thousands of years he [Gandhi] would stand as the guide of humanity.
Hence, Gandhi’s thought constantly resurges many major issues such as nature; environment and lifeworld; democracy and development; casteism and caste inequality; the concept of language and democracy; the critique of western modernity and capitalism; women and swaraj and their role in democracy; social freedom; nationalism and patriotism; democracy and non-violence; the critique of modern science and technology and human rights.
- Gandhi and the Development Discourse
Siby K. George 1
- A Conciliatory Gaze: SNG on MK Gandhi and BR Ambedkar
George Thadathil 23
- Gandhi’s Legacy: Vandana Shiva as Gandhi’s Heir
Pius V Thomas and Violina Patowary 51
- Gandhi in the Tropics: Climate, Disease and Medicine
Bikash Sarma 73
- The Violence of Non-violence: Reading Nirad C Chaudhuri Rereading Gandhi
Jaydeep Chakrabarty 85
- Freedom, Authority and Care as Moral Postulates: Reexamining Gandhi’s Proposal for Ethical Reconstruction
Subhra Nag 95
- Decoding Gandhigiri: A genealogy of a ‘popular’ Gandhi
Abhijit Ray 111
II. General Commentaries
- Labour for Love or Love for Labour?
Shruti Sharma 135
- Production of a ‘degenerate’ form
Vasudeva K. Naidu 149
III. Book Reviews
- Irfan Ahmed, Religion as Critique: Islamic Critical Thinking from Mecca to Marketplace
By Shofiul Alom Pathan 157
- Punam Tripathi, The Vulnerable Andaman and Nicobar Islands: A study of Disasters and Response
By Bipul Chhetri 161
- Sreetanwi Chakraborty, The Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up
By Monika Rana 165
Gandhi and the Development Discourse
Siby K. George
The figure of Gandhi as the man who distrusted, deconstructed and stood up to the colonizer’s moral discourse has had abiding significance for the colonized part of the world. The central tenet of the Gandhian counter-narrative is the rejection of developmental modernity and the portrayal of an alternative development model. The human and ecological crises of the twentieth century arose from the problems of modernity for Gandhi. As these problems further amplify, the Gandhian diagnosis becomes increasingly significant. However, a careful reading of the Gandhian critique of developmental modernity shows that he did not reject the moral, political and ontological underpinnings of modernity tout court. The answer to the problems of developmental modernity does not lie in a simple, unproblematic reversal as seen in the debates that Gandhi had with his critics on issues concerning development. The meaning of counter-developmentalism or postdevelopment must, therefore, be the reframing of the ‘modern’ quest for human freedom, fulfillment and equality without sidestepping the culture of wanton consumption.
A Conciliatory Gaze: SNG on MK Gandhi and BR Ambedkar
The paper is a continuation of the research undertaken nearly 20 years ago motivated by the conviction that in the contemporary socio-political scenario of the country, the vision of Narayana Guru has a contribution to make. Though his name finds a place among others like Jyoti Rao Phule, Periyar and Ambedkar on the one side, and RamaKrishna, Aurobindo, Gandhi and Tagore on the other, a mediation is yet to be effected: a mediation between a dominant vision and a subjugated people within the philosophical history of India. In other words, the disillusionment as regards Gandhi’s project for modern India among the Dalits, Adivasis and Women on the one hand, and the circumspection as regards Ambedkar’s version of modern India among the upper castes and strata on the other, pose the need for a new path. There could possibly be in SNGM vision an answer to the search for selfhood of a people to re-script the nation. The paper explores the theme by looking at the following: first, the emergence of SNG movement and thought; second the question of religious conversion within socio-cultural specter of Ambedkar-Gandhi; third the contemporary flow of religious wisdom into politics; fourth the opening to the resurgence of religion for humanity that SNG offers.
Gandhi’s Legacy: Vandana Shiva as Gandhi’s Heir
Pius V Thomas & Violina Patowary
The paper highlights the contemporariness and legacy of Gandhian thought in its influence on the concepts of democracy, ethics of plurality and political morality. The paper, however, routes its discussion about democracy to show how it assumes the status of a radical critique of globalized world, global institutions, the environment and nature. The discussion that is carried out in the paper tries to see how a very radical and intimate interlocutor of our time like Vandana Shiva builds up her ecofeminist theoretical environmentalism and the principles of global coexistence and democracy through a paradigm that can be called Gandhian. The paper further argues to show up that the concept of earth democracy, which Vandana Shiva puts forward to mediate a major environmental ethical and socio-political ideal in addressing what we call broadly the environmental crisis, as it articulates an important ecosophical framework, precipitates the Gandhian ideal of Swaraj. The paper, therefore, tries to draw attention to the delicate conceptual positions that Vandana Shiva establishes in her main arguments in linking the global environmental thought or ecological philosophy with the principles of earth democracy and the unique principle of biospherical equality to make them stand in intimate dialogue with the world of Gandhian ideas.
Gandhi in the Tropics: Climate, Disease and Medicine
The paper draws on a historiography of medicine in India and Gandhi’s engagement with it through a process of qualitative denunciation and qualitative appreciation. To position western medicine in the context of India requires an elaborate historiography underlining a series of knowledge production about the land the colonizer encountered and their constantly changing perception about the landscape, climate, disease and the natives at the contact zone. The paper would attempt to locate the emergence of the discourse on medicine within these changing perceptions of the colonizer and to position Gandhi within this emerging discourse
The Violence of Non-violence: Reading Nirad C Chaudhuri Rereading Gandhi
The paper tries to explore the conceptuality of Gandhi’s nonviolence through its binary opposite violence. The conceptuality of the opposition to their opposites in Gandhi is undertaken in the paper through a reading of Nirad C Chaudhuri’s critique of Gandhi and Gandhism, and taking cue from Jacques Derrida, John Milton and Rabindranath Tagore’s conceptuality of binary opposites. However, this introspection is not at the cost of idiosyncrasy and negation of Gandhi’s core ideology but to make the concept of nonviolence express its meaning through its binary opposite.
Freedom, Authority and Care as Moral Postulates: Reexamining Gandhi’s Proposal for Ethical Reconstruction
This paper aims at addressing the points of emphasis laid down by Gandhi in the dispersed frame of his ethical thoughts. Our venture tries to draw the scattered elements of Gandhi’s moral thought and ideas in a single frame of analysis and attempts to reflect on the intertwined aspects of them for exploring the potential of an alternative moral stance. Our task is two-fold then: developing a discourse on Gandhi’s understanding of ethics, and going beyond the same to examine its significance in a broader context.
Decoding Gandhigiri: A genealogy of a ‘popular’ Gandhi
This article is about ‘Gandhigiri’- a popular neologism coined by the film ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai’. It explores the allegorical meaning of the phenomenon. For that purpose, it focuses on Gandhism, Bollywood movies, the content of the film, and certain aspects of contemporary society and culture. As a critic of modernism, many ideas of Gandhi have become more relevant for the post-modernists in the present times. The movie ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai’ ‘re-engineered’ certain ideas of Gandhi without going to the deeper meaning of Gandhian philosophy. These selective aspects of Gandhi got the populist appeal. However, the popularity of ‘Gandhigiri’ was short-lived and it was soon distorted in the form of memes on the internet. So the article argues that ‘Gandhigiri’ phenomenon is characterised by certain aspects of post-modernism. The article focuses on the different dimensions of ‘Gandhigiri’, but ultimately indicates that the ideas of Gandhi and his persona are still relevant in contemporary times.
Irfan Ahmad, Religion as Critique: Islamic Critical Thinking from Mecca to Marketplace, (New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2018), Rs. 1195, xxv +270, Hbk, (ISBN 0 19 948759 6)
Shofiul Alom Pathan
The larger project that Ahmed has undertaken in this book is to question the dominant Eurocentric discourse that – Islam is a religion with an absence for the space of critique. He argues that in the twentieth century there has been a cold war between Islam and the West, underlined by the discourse of Enlightenment. The idea of Enlightenment, as contented by Ahmed is a manifested “self-appreciation” and did not necessarily mean a break from the earlier Christian tradition; but rather it was the project of putting ‘progressive’ Protestantism forward to immune the Christian world from any sort of critique. Thus, enlightenment becomes for the author an ethnic project of the German and the French.
Punam Tripathi, The Vulnerable Andaman and Nicobar Islands: A study of Disasters and Response (New Delhi: Routledge India, South Asian Edition, 2018), Rs. 1495, Pages 354, Hbk, (ISBN 1138323551).
Andaman and Nicobar Island is one of the Indian territories that is known for its natural scenic beauty in terms of its diverse forests cover, the azure sea, white beaches and rich biodiversity. It is one of the most important tourist destinations today. The presence of colonial architecture further adds advantage to the island which makes it more attractive destination for both domestic and international tourist in the region. It is the island inhabited by six aboriginal tribes who were later brought into contact with the population from the mainland India after Independence.
Sreetanwi Chakraborty, The Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up (Kolkata: Penprints Publications, 2019), Rs. 350, 144, Hbk, (ISBN 978-93-5361-186-6)
Sreetanwi Chakraborty’s thesis on a feminist interpretation of fairy tales came as a surprise and treat to my literary interest. One of my fondest childhood memories is intricately connected with the stories I used to hear as a child. These stories would range from tribal folk tales comprising mermaid to the stories by Grimm Brothers. Back then, I didn’t realize in that small hamlet of Dooars, stories and fables written in Germany would seep into our local households in the form of oral narratives, cartoons and comics. It took me another decade of exposure to various schools of thought to understand the politics of representation in the tales that made our childhood.