The Paradox of Being a Failed Indian

Franz Fanon

There is a construction of the minorities in our country. This construction is saffron. It seems to say if the minorities are really Indian, they have to go beyond the boundaries that are deemed to hold them back for now. This view seems to suppose that a minoritized person can really choose to be ‘ otherwise’. This other way of being Indian is imagined as a form of a social being that is far from the present form that is lived by the minority him or her. Is this possible at all? Is such a demand of the saffron brigade legitimate? Is it even Indian? Does it not violate the constitution that the founders of our country gave us? By that token, is it not anti-national? It is a paradox. The very discourse that the majority defines its other as less Indian appears to be basically anti-national. At least on this ground, I want to be wrong or I want to fail. Ironically what parades as saffron is also a construct. In a very deep sense failure seems to have taken control over us. everyone is failing to be Indian. Minorities are othered and delegitimated as failed sons and daughters of India while the majority community is compelled to become sanskari Hindus. No one, therefore, is Indian enough. Everyone is marked by failure. India is pushed under the engines of failure. To understand this, we may take the notion of ironic failure advocated by Franz Fanon.

Fanon points out that failure is missing of the mark. Everyone in our country is made to feel that one is missing the mark of being Indian. Psychoanalytically, everyone in what may be called the new India is castrated. Literally, every Indian is cast aside and rated as not Indian enough. In this sense everyone is deemed as a failure. It is in this manner we can say that Hindutva is a hauntology. It haunts both the majority and the minority. The majority is compelled to feel more Indian and Hindu by hating the minority. This sense of not measuring up or not living up to a standard is haunting everyone. Everyone, therefore, is a failed Indian. To the very core, every Indian is de-Indianized in new India. But the irony is that the standard by which one is defined as failed or not Indian enough is a construct. Therefore, there is a paradox to this failure. To fail at it is to truly succeed as an Indian. To miss the mark is to demonstrate the validity of rejecting it. Therefore, what has been marked as failed Indian-ness is truly Indian that embraces its diversity. India is diversal. Therefore, we too have the challenge to be diversal. This is why to fail as an Indian by the standards of the saffron brigade is to really succeed as an Indian. The constitution of India is on the side of such failed Indians. This is why we have the challenge and the imperative to fail as Indians against the standards of the saffron brigade.

We can win as Indians only by failing. Karnataka elections showed the way. The people there decided to fail as per the standards of the saffron brigade. But ironically by failing they succeeded. By failing, therefore, we can fail the saffron brigade. By failing, we can truly become Indians. This is why the saffron brigade has told the truth. We are failed true Indians. We truly embody our ‘ failed/ real Indian-ness’. Our constitution validates us and we do not need validation of the saffron brigade. Failure is the basis of saffron political discourse. They love to label everyone with the stamp of failure. To fail them we have to embrace failure. We have the challenge to embrace the condition that they deem as failed. By affirming so-called failed Indians, we can truly become Indians. This is why the majority community can truly become Sanskari Hindu and Indian by embracing the so-called failed minority. To the saffron brigade, even Indian democracy and nationhood is a failed project. They are still longing for the coming of the Hindu Rashtra which seems to be an attempt to give a future to a constructed past that is deemed as golden.

We still take failure in another sense. I still wish to further underline the paradox of failure. I wish that all that I have said so far fails. If everything that I have said is failed, we will truly have what the majority describe as Ram Raj. Ram Raj cannot disown the minorities. Unfortunately, it is wrongly imagined by the saffron brigade. We do not still have the condition of harmony of Ram Raj that we all Indians are longing. Therefore, it appears that we are right. We have not failed in this aspect. If we had the right humanizing conditions, we will be proud to be wrong or fail. But the fact that minorities are constantly marginalized or minoritized and their constitutional status is being questioned and are placed under erasure, there is no humanizing, validating and legitimating condition for the minorities in our society. This means there is no Ram Raj. Therefore, we cannot be wrong on this count. But we have the challenge to resist what seems to be a demand on the minorities to have their brown skins but wear at least saffron masks. The majority community is also not free from this demand. They are also challenged to become sanskari and are, therefore, suffering the dialectics that Fanon described in his book, Black Skins/ White Masks. Everyone in what is described as New Indian has to live with the paradox of Brown Skins with Saffron Masks. Hence, we can see that failure marks the underlying position of being Indian. Nothing succeeds like failure. That is why we may say that a failed Indian is a true Indian.

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