The Politics of Ache din Trapped between Explosive Past and the Receding Future

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The promised ache din has failed to arrive. They seem to be delayed and are running behind time. What has come punctually is the moment of danger.  There is an outbreak of hate, violence, rape and bloodshed in our country. As a result, nationalism promoted aggressively with a thumb stained with blood has been a dispiriting experience. There is a drag that we all feel. It seems to be conveying to us that we are all being dragged into a deep dark pit.   The aggressive nationalism that works as a cover for the power elite to pursue their economic interest with great vigour and vitality appears to be the main culprit of these affairs. Our farmers are committing suicide, youth are jobless, women and children are not safe, prices are skyrocketing, Dalits are brutalised by violence and hate, and minorities are relegated to the margins. All ache din that we had been dead. We have almost arrived before time on to the tragic posthumous moment of loss. But our loss has become the gain of the power elite.  The report card of the national government is looking pathetic yet paradoxically it has not led to any humbling of its much-bloated arrogance. Our Government has almost lost its narrative and a new counter-narrative with several narrative centres is steadily emerging.  This opening of new flanks and alternate dreams and hopes is indeed an optimistic event in the otherwise largely gloomy and dark tapestry of more than four years in the office of the Modi Government. 

While we realise that all is still not lost, it is important that we have steadily come to realise that ache din was nothing but an advertising slogan churned to run a political propaganda machine. This realisation that ache din was a smokescreen is not a loss but again.  This has led us to understand another important home truth that tells us that market has entered politics vigorously and is influencing the way political parties run themselves.  This insight opens us to understand how a socio-symbolic code that was being imposed on us impoverishes us as Indians. The dress code, the food code, other codes of religious and cultural practices that are being forced on Indians are taking away several of our liberties and freedoms. Humans always live in some codes or the other. But when these codes are divested and new codes are forcefully inflicted on the people, people feel like fish out of water and begin to look for life-giving oxygen. This experience has led humans to view the codes imposed on them as oppressive, (un)human and in our case (un)Indian.  Moreover, we have become aware of the discursive construction of the anti-national. This makes us cognizant about how the concept of the anti-national operates a mode of reference that constructs and recognizes its victims as demons or dangerous to the nation.      

The point de capiton of nationalism promoted by the present rulers is clearly an invention of the anti-national within the nation in contrast to nationalism that informed our freedom movement which placed its enemy outside the nation. Besides, there is a kind of discursive orgasm in the sense of purging that some among us may derive by merely separating some of our citizens as anti-national. Citizens then become passive occupant of the seat in the bus of nationalism that is being driven by the ruling forces.  Pushed by the force fields produced by the right-wing forces, our society exhibits a high degree of intolerance. Some scholars think that our present problems have their roots in our past. The trauma of colonization and partition is still being re-enacted. We are still marking the boundary of the two nations even today.  The only change is the partition is the sort to be drawn between the Hindus and the Muslims (other minorities) in our society.  The wounds of the past appear to be very deep and stubborn. We may not be able to heal ourselves without destroying most of us. We seem to have lost the power to resist the field forces that form us.  We have opted for a self-destructive mode of being Indians. Unfortunately, it has acquired a noble status of cultural nationalism. It has the two nation’s coordinates along with the alphabets of patriarchy and brahminhood written all over it.  Monstrosity is no longer marginal but has become the mainstream. This is why it is still in search of partition. The promised nation is yet to come. It seems that we can enter the ever-receding Promised Land by only walking on dead bodies. 

We need illuminative ways to respond to our precarious condition.  The cultural nationalism that is producing force fields is beginning to look unreasonable. The mask on the face of its champions is steadily falling down.  We are slowly coming to understand the political use of nationalism which is directed to gain votes and notes by a political elite that rules us today.  Moreover, we are grudgingly becoming aware of how we have squandered away peace and harmony embedded in the ethos of our civilization.  The fact that ache din has not shown up for everyone except the power elite has made it crystal clear the politics of nationalism was/is a means employed to deflect real issues while the elite gained control over our national resources.  This realisation is only a first step. We still have to deal with the trauma of colonization and partition of India.  We need to heal our social memories. Post-independence riots as well as communal politics have not helped us to heal our wounds.  We need new optics to look at our wounded past, handle our present vulnerabilities and foster future aspirations. The new optics have to redeem our past, emancipate our present and free our future. Our realisation of being bound to our past that stifles our present and kills our future is a powerful starting point.   One thing is becoming clear as water.  We have no future if we walk the path that we are pushed by the force fields of the right-wing. We need to find alternate paths and new optics to see ourselves and our others within the embrace of our nation. 


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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao