The New Order of Things

The book, The Order Things by Michel Foucault became an instant best seller in France as soon as it was published. In this book, Foucault says that thought that developed under modernity had hit a dead end. At the heart of this diagnosis of the development of thought was the figure of man in particular the finitude of man. Foucault points out the man was a recent invention and is nearing its end and will soon disappear like a face drawn in the sand at the edge of the sea. Foucault did not just see himself as a disinterested whistle blower about the fate of man but considered himself as an active participant in the coming death of man. The death of man was consequence of transformation in thinking. It is a result of an impasse in which thinking was trapped.

Something similar did happen to India with the rise of Modi. Suddenly, our thinking hit a dead end. The seeds of this thinking had their beginnings even before the birth of RSS. Yet with the coming of Narendra Modi at the helm of India, the face of an Indian was wiped from the sands of time in our country. In Modi’s India, Indian was dead. We only had Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and other minorities which included the Dalits, tribals, children and women. This is why it is not ironic that with the rise of INDIA alliance, we can trace a spark that indicates the Indian is rising like the Phoenix from the ashes. This development is indeed important. It is moving away from familiar modes of thinking that saw everything through the prism of Hindu faith. This left what we saw as an Indian in an ambiguous position. It brought forth a sense that it is not enough to be an Indian. One has to be Hindu in India to count as Indian. This also meant not any kind of Hindu, but a sanskari one.

Indeed, Hinduism become a point at which everything Indian had to come to rest. This is why we may say that thinking had a Hindu telos. Its teleology and eschatology was Hindu. Everything Indian had ultimate Hindu destination. Like the ego of Rene Descartes, only a Hindu self, came to be thought to be substantive to India. This way of thinking, feeling and being is exclusionary. This way of being thinking, felling, and being keep itself out of the reach of non-Hindu Indians. Therefore, other Indian could to be disposed of as useless waste for the coming Hindu nation. But thankfully there seems to be winds of change on the horizon. People of our country seemed to have taken it upon themselves to resuscitate the dying Indian. There seems to be an attempt to bridge the gap. This election season even as the hate rhetoric continues, it seemed to have every few takers. People seem to be more concern with issues that touch their economic, social and health life. Indian does not seem to want to be alienated from other Indian.

This means Indians have come to define themselves not by the measure of the majoritarian faith but by the constitution of their country. It is this coming to the constitution that has revived the dying Indian. Indians seem to have learnt to pay their debts to the constitution. Until now, Indians were paying their debts to the Hindu faith, especially what came to be known as Hindutva. This event of coming back to the constitution is indeed a founding event of what will come out of this election. Constitution had remained forgotten and unthought under the deluding cloud of Hindutva. Thanks to the hyper Hindutva, bad economics , crass authoritarianism, open anti-democratic stance and open declaration of an intent to change the constitution by the Modi’s friends in the Government, Indians have come back to their constitution. This will certainly bring about a transformation in thinking, feeling and being India. If earlier one had to feel a Hindu in order to be Indian, with coming of the moment of constitution, we have come to realize that we are Indians first and Hindus, Muslims, and others afterwards.

The order of things seems to be changing. It has brought into a new way of thinking, feeling and being Indian. This does not mean that teleologies and eschatologies conditioned by Hindutva have go away. They are and may still be there in the days to come. But with the constitution being held high, we Indians will still feel and be proud Indians and will not feel the need of our faith to define our Indian-ness. Therefore, it is for us to not allow some ill intended forces shut the door that has opened us to be Indian first above everything. We have come to survive the loss of Indian-ness inflicted on Indians by the Hindutva forces after a hard work. Although the emphasis on Hindu faith seemed to disregard the constitution. It does not have to be so. We can indeed affirm both our constitution and the Hindu faith like every other faith in India. This is the order of things in accordance to our constitution.

With our coming back to the constitution, we have come back to the spirit of the founding fathers of our nation. It is for us to continue with the break that these elections for the Lok Sabha appears to be making with past and define each Indian not by faith but by our constitution. Face of an Indian that was blown away by the winds of Hindutva is steadily restored by the power of the constitution. It is in our hands to protect the face of all Indians and well as of India from being disfigured by the forces of Hindutva.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao