The new Body Politic and India-cide

India is sacred to us all. We share the land of India as well as its diverse cultures and the traditions that we built from time immemorial. All Indians form one body of our nation. We invoke India as a mother. This invocation among other things is a body politic. It makes our country a human macrocosm. The fact that we have also divinized Mother India, shows that we have transformed India into a divine body. The sacred body appeals to us all. This is why the speech of Rahul Gandhi in the parliament after the restoration of his membership is of great significance. It has turned the body politics of Sang Parivar and the ruling BJP on its head. Rahul speech can be substantially linked with the famous Egyptian fable of the trail of the belly and the head (1250BC) attributed to Aesop (6 BC) and is said to be retold by William Shakespeare (Coriolanus, Act 1, Scene 1 (1607-1608) also similar thinking can be traced in Malinus Astronomica as well as the letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians 12: 1-26. similar arguments can be found in John of Salisbury’s Policraticus ( 1159 AD) and in Christine de Pizan’s book, the Book of Body Politic.

India has its own body politic. It is in the hymn in the Rig Veda that is known as Purusha Sukta. It takes us to a body politic that is hierarchical and informs our caste politics. Perhaps, this hierarchical discrimination is multiplying in different ways in our society. Present enthno-religious nationalism also embodies this hierarchical body politic. This discriminatory body politic is continually reproducing itself in our society. Hence, the new body politic flowing from the speech of Rahul Gandhi is contesting the reigning body politic.

The speech takes up an integral notion of mother India demonstrating how BJP-VHP and RSS combine to entertain a mutilated version of the same and therefore, is an India-cide. It imperializes the notion of mother India by excluding a sizeable number of her sons and daughters. There is no doubt that politics with this truncated notion is shrinking the India-sphere. All cannot belong to India equally. Our belonging to India is hierarchized. The right wing uses this narrow notion as an apparatus of capture to catch votes and notes. We have seen that violence is very much part of this apparatus. We as Indians are forced to be survival machines almost ideologically programmed to hate each other. This produces a violent sem(b)iontic relationship between Indians. Sem (b)iosis stands for semiotic and symbiosis. The term sem(b)iosis expresses a body politic that has violence written into its DNA. This is why Rahul Gandhi rightly said that Mother India was murdered in the violence of Manipur.

Although all Indians share a common place of birth, the body politic introduced by the term mother India orphans the minorities, Dalits, tribals and women. In recent days, we can see how the term mother India/ Bharat Mata has been weaponized to exclude, humiliate, and dishonour a significant size of bona fide Indian citizens. Such body politics unfortunately appears, normal, natural and even moral. This is why the new body politic introduced by the speech of Rahul Gandhi as well as the acronym INDIA is a well-come development. The description of religio-ethnic violence in Manipur as a murder of mother India clearly demonstrates how the narrowly construed term mother India manipulates us especially the majority community into thinking that its other is a cancer on the body of mother India and hence has to be removed from its roots. This is why any form of violence on thus demonized others of the majority community is sanctioned for the good of the nation. Riots and killing of innocent Indians therefore, are accepted without any moral qualms. Thus, the habitability emerging from the body politics produced by the narrow vision of mother India is questionable as it keeps some Indians under erasure.

The new body politic introduced by Rahul Gandhi opens a new relation of power and subverts the body politics of narrowly construed mother India. It opens the space constricted by the body politics of the BJP and it’s affiliates. The new body politics is validating and affirming all Indians rather than the stigmatizing, ousidering, pathologizing culture oozing out of the narrow ethnocentric one of the BJP and its affiliates. Thus, it becomes a good antidote to the reigning narrow one. Indeed, for the first time, BJP is facing an ideological interrogation. The acronym INDIA, Bharat Jodo Yatra and the expansive and all-embracing notion of mother India has unleashed a new body politics exposing the narrow, hate-ridden and chauvinistic one the BJP. It is for us to support this all-embracing and emancipating body politics growing in our society. Let’s save India from the India-cide of the BJP

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao