Our Echo Chamber and Voices our Dissent

Image Source: Newslaundry

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)  has set India on fire.  Indians of all walks of life seem to have sensed the sinister designs of the ruling BJP. The secularists can notice its communal bias while the liberals can view its caste-ladeness as it exhibits a desire to expel an excess that is deemed as impure. What it can do when coupled with NRC has stirred fear and anger among ordinary people. The situation is precarious, because, the rightwing forces construct Muslims as an impure excess along with other minorities and deem them excessively corrosive to our society and desire to expel them in the power of the law. While the said law does not directly affect our Muslim communities in our country, it certainly succeeds in delegitimizing and marking them as pariahs and thrives in placing the supposed coming of NRC as the sword of Damocles hanging on their heads. This perhaps might feed into the libido of some Indians, particularly sympathetic to the rightwing and they may not be troubled by clear unjust excesses of the law on citizenship and the fear of NRC nor be moved by the determined opposition to it in several parts of our country as they might think that it is flushing dirty water from our society and thus remain blind to the fact that the new law is guilty of throwing the baby along with the dirty water. The identity politics that is reigning in our country aligns ‘ ones coming to be’ with ‘the passing of’’ ones demonized other. Thus, in the instant case under our reflection, we can see a clever merger of the law and an exclusionary ideology that seems to misguide the majority community that is led to believe that its benefit lies in the harming of a minority community. This means its ‘coming to be’ is thought to consist in ‘the passing of’ the otherized’ Muslim community. Who stands to benefits from this vicious divisive politics is a plain truth that several among us refuse to understand.

This harm is not necessarily physical for now. It only predisposes us to greater physical harm which we have displayed several times. We need a new thought to understand how the dynamic relation of coming to be / presence and passing way/ absence play out simultaneously. In fact, we have to give up a present-centric thinking that is named as logocentrism by Jacques Derrida. We have to think together present and absence. This binary of presence and absence does not oppose its other but co-constitutes each other. We may take a lesson from philosopher, Martin Heidegger in this regard. Heidegger teaches that the emptiness of the jug makes the jug in a deep way. This hallowed emptiness is what makes the jug as a holding vessel. This means the thingness of the vessel does not just contain in the material of vessel but in the emptiness or void that enables it to hold. The void of the jug is saturated with given-ness that enables the jug to pour out. This thought process might remind us of sunyavada of Nagarjuna of the Buddhist tradition where emptiness is simultaneously fullness. While emptiness and fullness can be thought in positive ways and can bring positive impacts on our society, the void constructed by the new law on citizenship does not promise any positive benefits but only multiplies our capacity to pour our hate and harm. But this pouring out of hate and harm enabled by the void is presented as a good of our nation and of the majority community. This is why several people among us might view void that is irrupting into our society as good to the nation. This may be the reason why there are also those who have come in public to support the new law. But with the defeat of the BJP in Ranchi, one can notice a tone down in BJP’s rhetoric over NRC.


The thinking of the void that we have undertaken here has brought us closer to the thought of Jean-Luc Marion who thinks of Being without being. Paradoxically, Being without being is saturated or beingful. Thus, the void that is erupting into our society is simmering with capacities and possibilities to harm and it misguides us to think that our nation will progress in the harm of its demonized others. The void that afflicts our society is profoundly intimate and involves each of us very deeply. But it seeks to heal not by filling of it and overcoming its emptiness but paradoxically, it seeks to inflict a void on its other. Maybe we can use Jacques Lacan’s term, extimate to understand the exteriority of its intimacy. It is threatening to become an excess that might take us on a suicidal path of self-mutilation. We have to get out of the prison-house of our thought that thinks absence and presence in opposition terms. This means we have to give up habituated positivist, essentialist metaphysical thinking. Maybe this thinking habit is at the root of all evils that are afflicting our society for now. It forms the rigid, ‘either/ or’ structure of our thought.

 Although, our civilization is blessed with several shades of inclusive thinking such as adavaita, sayadvada ,  praticcasumpadda (dependent origination) etc., we have become enslaved to the binary logic of ‘ either/ or thinking’. It is time to seek an integral thought that joins all poles/ coordinates of our thought and being. We are challenged both by the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam of our civilization and inclusive spirit the constitution to seek therapeutically inclusive and integral ways of thinking. To embrace and usher this holistic integral thinking and being Indians, we have to shun aside thinking and acting from a thought that is tainted by caste hierarchy. For now, we have to deal with what is called ‘ das ding’/ the place of an absent object that is present and is haunting our society. The new law is a product of this hauntology and is poised to create several hauntologies in our society that will afflict our people for the times to come. Hence, we have a long term task cut out for us. This task consists in seeking inclusive ways of thinking and being Indians. This will include contestation of the power apparatus/ dispositif that legitimates the infliction of thousand cuts on mother India by wounding its diverse children. The new law of citizenship has not just killed the inclusive soul of India but has also divided Indians on the basis of religions. The imprimatur of the parliament for a divisive vote bank agenda of the ruling benches cannot be allowed to wound our society. Opposition to the anti-India law has to continue and the battle for an inclusive India will certainly be long and hard. Our civilization and Indic religions/ philosophies have the capacity to pour out love, care, and wellbeing to all. We cannot let the precious values of civilization be drained away in our quest for purity inspired by caste hierarchies that are animating the rightwing. For now, Hind Swaraj is dying into Hindutva and our silence becomes an embracing of untruth. The bhakts may think that Government is echoing their hate, and exclusionary position. Several others may think that it is religious echo and may justify it on the basis of imagined or real sufferings under colonizers or the Muslim rulers. What are the costs of executing what may be nothing more an insane revenge upon innocent Indians today who have little or no link with the tragic past? Because past was dark can we bring darkness in the present?  This is why we cannot stay trapped into the comfort of our echo chamber but have to voice our dissent and save India, our constitution, democracy and inclusive ethos of our civilization. 


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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao