Othering Difference and Identity Politics

It appears that the forced conversion bogey is raised to benifit electorally by the rulling dispensation. These kind of controversies raises the otherness of the othered other and keeps the pot of identity politics boiling. The issue of building temples destroyed by Portuguese as well as threats to enact anti-conversion law appears to be craftily engineered to mark the otherness of majority community from Christians in Goa. The colonizers constructed colonial difference and drew legitimacy to their rule. It produces coloniality of power which is power divident for the colonizer to rule with an iron hand. The term coloniality of power was coined by Anibal Quijano to name structures of control, power and hegemony that were born during colonial days and are extending in our days. With the end of colonization, coloniality of power did end but multiplied it’s self in different modes of hegemony making it difficult to be discerned and identified.

Coloniality of power required production of colonial differrence which generated hierarchies that marginalized the colonized people and opened modes of hegemony to the colonizers to run the project of colonization. Coloniality of power is invisible in our days but it’s matrix of operation can be decoded in the construction of difference in our society. Identity politics requires to mark its other as inferior and live on the oxygen of us and them binary. This is why we have to be attentive to the production of difference which then is milked to legitmate ones sway and hegemony in our society. The rebuilding of the dilapidated ancient temples as well as the discourse on anti-conversion law is producing coloniality of power by marking the difference between the majority and minority community in Goa. The difference that is marked hierarchizes and imperializes the majority and marginalizes the minority. This is why we need to understand that identity politics requires us to continuously produce differrence that otherizes others and generate thr politics of us and them.

Colonial difference produced coloniality of power for the colonizer. Today what we may call othering difference is producing coloniality of power for the politics of BJP. This is why we can see that we as a society are entangled in othering and demonizing the Other almost on daily basis. More recently, we saw the Hijab row , Temple under a Masjid, kaki Cheddis and nickers, hate speech insulting the Prophet etc, has made headlines. In Goa, we too have seen what looked like Temple/Church and Hindu Christian divide through Anti-conversion law is producing the othering difference and fuelling the identity politics. Therefore, it appears that there is nothing truly religious about the issues that are being raised. They seem to be simply electral. The construction of othering difference is necessitated by the monotony of sameness of identity politics. Marking the other all the time is required to guarantee the belonging of thier votaries.

Understanding the dynamics of othering difference is important to respond to reigning politics of identity. We can see how the opposition fails to stage a right response. This is so because any opposition to the othering difference only further introduces fissures into the us and them politics of identity. It seems that most of our Indian Hindus have changed. Hindutva does not seem to be primarily about religion. It is about Hinduness which is about identity.. Therefore mere playing opposition is counter-productive. Maybe this is why opposition in our country appears a spent force running out of fresh ideas. Even economic blunders of the Government do not seem to prevent the majority community from voting to the ruling Party. We Indians today are trapped into the matrix of identity politics that makes us identity polarized subjects or citizens and seem to enjoy the illusive world. Hence, it appears that it is only we who can free us maya we seem refuse to leave. Perhaps, we need a leap of consciousness to understand how othering difference as malevolent has brought us where we are. Perhaps, a fitting response to this politics of othering difference is working to let difference be difference.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao