Between ways of Being Human and Human ways of Being

Indians are seeking to become ontological. To our society, it seems to have become essence first. We have already set aside what that essence it. It is expressed by the word Hinduness. It is thought to be the absolute being of India. It will set the soul of our country free. The desire to shed away the bondage of the contaminated body is visible in the hate politics that wish to cast aside all minorities. An ontological society is a closed society. It has found its destination. All that is required is to actualize it. But it cannot outgrow itself. Its text and texture are closed. This way of being human stands in the human way of being in the world. the way of being human reaches a dead end while the human way of being puts existence first and remains open to unlimited ways of being human.

The human way of being usually divinizes being human using religious nationalism or ethnocentrism. Hence, it requires constantly defending its compatibility of being human by producing an enemy that is constructed as diametrically opposite of itself. Thus, in the context of our society Hindu nationalism becomes rationalized as the ‘theodicy’ that presents a life of a Hindu nationalist as complete and the most perfect way of being Indian. Therefore, the life of a Hindu nationalist is viewed as a description ( of what is) and prescription (of what ought to be) of being and value of Indian-ness while its incompleteness or contamination is viewed as a failure to be Indian and is thought to be lived by the minoritized other (non-sanskari Hindu, Muslims, Christians, tribals, Dalits and women).

The distance marked between the already fuller Indian-ness of the Hindu nationalist and the minoritized other produces a dynamic that lays a demand on those that are marginalized as lesser Indians to mimic the life prescribed by Hindu nationalism. This means the marginalized other has the challenge to put on a frozen outside and suppress the living dynamic inside. Thus, the lived experience of the marginal other becomes one of contradiction between the deeper inside and the forced outside. Thus, the life of the marginal other in our country becomes exactly what Franz Fanon described in his book, Black Skin, White Masks. Thus, one is able to see one as a living thing while one has to show as living another thing but one cannot speak of it because one would be in danger of not being seen as Indian. Indian society, therefore, is in danger of living as a masked society (living a fake reality ) which in turn would risk increasing our mental illnesses.

The marginal other seems to have to live in the zone of non-being. He/ she is named as not Indian enough by the standards of Hindu nationalism is relegated to the status of not being Indian. He/ she, therefore, becomes seen as an illicit Indian or illegitimate child of mother India. The minoritized other is, thus, orphaned and rendered nameless by being named less Indian. Hindu nationalism is, therefore, not national enough as it denies fuller national status to the marginalized other and, then, is given the status of Jean-Paul Satre’s hell. The way, then, the marginal other is treated, truly he/ she is forced to descent into hell when one is deemed as not following the grammar of normative life prescribed by Hindu nationalism. This is why one has to show a kind of congruence with the prescribed grammar in order to be seen as Indian. This dialectics of recognition forces a double life on the marginal other that distances the inner and the outer. Dialectics of recognition hides the failure of Hindu nationalism and it being masked by the marginal other exposes its hypocrisy.

Mimicry can be resistance. It is a hybridized resistance when one plays by the rule of the aggressor and manifests the hollowness of the forced life that one lives. Mimesis brings about what we may call co(n)-fusion which works to bring confusion. Thus if the minoritized other consciously and freely employs mimesis, he/she may be able to denude Hindu nationalism and manifest its shallowness. Feminists have actively employed mimesis as a strategy of resistance. Mimesis, therefore, as contestation is available to the marginalized other to actively resist forced frozen life by the reigning discourse of Hindu nationalists. Speaking and living the language of the master may be an effective way of breaking the chains of enslavement forced on the minoritized other. Mimesis is a strategy that can rattle hegemony, it cannot be final. What one needs to bear in mind is that one has the challenge to put existence first. Thus, one has the ultimate challenge to choose between a way of being human ( that is closed to an ontology) or a human way of being ( that puts existence first and opens unlimited ways of being human). We can ultimately defeat ontologies that chain our ways of being human by choosing human and humanizing ways of being in the world.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao