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Narratives of the Underbelly of Democracy

Five years after the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat, the victims want to talk about their continued sufferings. No one prevents them from doing so. Only, there are no listeners. For the Gujarat government they simply do not exist, for the media their story is not immediate and urgent, and for the majority their harping on grievances is proof of an unwillingness to bury the past. In post-democracy Gujarat, policies take precedence over the political and victims of pogroms or genocides are merely obstacles to economic progress.


Narratives of the Underbelly of Democracy some follow-up research on a project on Indian media under transnationalisation1, it had been the lingering indifference to what had actually happened and the absence of coverage on Gujarat in the mass
media that provoked our decision to travel
Britta Ohm to Ahmedabad. I just wanted to see what a

Five years after the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat, the victims want to talk about their continued sufferings. No one prevents them from doing so. Only, there are no listeners. For the Gujarat government they simply do not exist, for the media their story is not immediate and urgent, and for the majority their harping on grievances is proof of an unwillingness to bury the past. In post-democracy Gujarat, policies take precedence over the political and victims of pogroms or genocides are merely obstacles to economic progress.

Britta Ohm (, social anthropologist, teaches at Europa-University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder, Germany.

he Gujarat pogrom of 2002 has by now trickled into the larger global debate as the signifier of a turning point in Hindu-Muslim relations, state action and India’s position in the “war on terror”. Despite the obvious absence of evidence, though, the internationally accepted narrative, in which freedom and democracy are being defended against Islamist terrorism, is till today ready to explain it as a reaction to the burning of the train in Godhra by “a Muslim mob”. The disinterest in researchable facts that concern democratic law and order, which is revealed in the readiness to accept this narrative, thus extends far beyond Gujarat and India.

In India itself, this disinterest may have been one of the reasons why, after the Gujarat pogrom had been the focus of unprecedented media attention in 2002, post-violence Gujarat had so consistently vanished from the headlines.

The vanishing was accidentally helped by the swelling amount of commercialised and democratised 24×7 news channels and the expanding number of newspapers, magazines and e-media, which increasingly individualise the recipient and user, swinging their attention ever faster from disaster to murder to investigation to natural catastrophe to disaster and thus painting layer after layer over the turning point with regard to India’s democracy that the Gujarat pogrom signified. Gujarat’s increasing invisibility in an ocean of imagery beyond everyday politics and symbolised fragments such as the Best Bakery case did not merely leave the impression that the pogrom has been a mere speck with no severe implications. It also suggested that Gujarat was only vaguely related to the rest of India, which added not merely to the pronunciation of Gujarati nationalism but also to the invisibility of the Muslim plight.

When I had returned to India in the company of a friend earlier this year for few reports told me was anything but “back to normal”. The very fact that there was no difficulty in accessing sites, people or organisations in the Muslim community, already underlined that their recognition was a matter of choice rather than of possibility.

In this sense, Prashant Jha’s suggestion that Gujarat is a “fascist realm”2 is slightly misleading, as it conjures up ideas of authoritarian regimes, like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union under Stalin, that would do anything to hide their crimes, suppress their critics and silence their victims, making an investigation an existential endeavour. The Gujarat victims’ readiness to talk should still not be mistaken for an actual freedom to do so. Insofar as open suppression has, at least on the surface, been replaced largely by denial and the insistence on “normalcy”, however, Jha is right if one understands “fascist realm” as a manifestation of “everyday fascism”, i e, as the Austrian writer Elisabeth Reichart has defined it, “as an authoritarian and hierarchical mode of thought and behaviour based on discrimination and lack of equality, [that] renders attempts at selfdefinition futile and interpersonal relations hence potentially exploitative and explosive”3 and that is not directly opposed to democracy.

The atmosphere was probably most comparable to Germany after the war, when Germans, already mesmerised by the emerging economic boom, went about the rubble and debris in their cities, unable and unwilling to realise the degree of destruction beyond their own property and the dimensions of cruelty and suffering they had tolerated and supported.

In today’s Gujarat, though, things appear indeed far more “normal”, able to convey to the non-specified first-time visitor, who does not venture into Muslim areas, an image of the non-interrupted every day. A tourist couple from Italy who had just returned from Ahmedabad, where they went mainly to look at the fabulous

december 8, 2007 Economic & Political Weekly


textile museum, had heard about the “riots” but described the situation in the city as “normal. People told us there had always been violence between Muslims and Hindus, but now you can see in the old city, there is one Muslim shop and one Hindu shop next to each other and no trouble.” This is the other commonly acceptable narrative, the cultural version of “natural” Hindu-Muslim antagonism since time immemorial that “breaks free” at times and is independent from changing political conditions and technologies. Yet the non-normal lies in Ahmedabad so immediately under the surface, and actually so obviously supplants it, that its perception is not a matter of physical possibility.

We tried to avoid linking up with an non-governmental organisation (NGO) or local organisation in order to get an entry into the “normality” first. Our first exploration began with the walled city (or old city). To the more experienced eye it became obvious that Hindu and Muslim areas were strictly segregated along an almost invisible pattern, while the displayed goods were mainly household utensils in plastic or metal and an extremely limited choice of nylon saris and salwars. The breathtaking, Jumma Masjid was hardly frequented and the exceptional ‘jalis’ (lattice work) in Sidi Sayiad’s mosque were badly kept. An “audio-synchronised walking tour through the historic walled city” that the ethno-styled house of MG offered with colourfully designed leaflets4

– which featured state-of-the-art portraits of Muslim and Hindu faces in different folkloristic attire and pertinent signs of both religions – seemed like a forlorn bright ray of light in a darkened landscape, indicating the stark contrast between what was and what could be.

Beyond the Border

It was Naroda Patia that was first on our list, the outskirts north-east of the city centre that had seen the most ruthless violence in 2002 and that Sudhir Chandra, in the same year, had described as a place of “inhumanity to which these dark silhouettes of burned houses bore mute witness”. 5 And it was also Naroda Patia that first demonstrated to us what would become the pattern to be met with in the other places of post-violence Muslim

Economic & Political Weekly december 8, 2007

habitation: the power of the majority to create “facts” and the muted and futile struggle of the minority to produce proofs. Waiting close to Ellis Bridge, below a huge billboard that showed, like so many others in the city, Narendra Modi’s smiling face – in this case advertising that Gujarat was the only Indian state where villages were as glittering as the cities and 24-hour electricity supply was provided – we were asked by a food vendor if we knew that this was Narendra Modi, the “saviour” of Gujarat, who was engaging in “so many good things” for the state.

Our rickshaw driver, by contrast, immediately spoke of “the border” and offered to take us first to the one and then to the other side, but said he himself would not enter the first. Innumerable tiled Hindu shrines have nearly everywhere in the city replaced and outnumbered the dargahs which used to be common at junctions. Upon entering the Naroda Patia main market our driver, who had introduced himself as Mura Bey, suggested he would wait while we took a walk round what he described as the Hindu area. I was surprised to find at the entrance of the bazaar, a statue of the eldest son of a significant Sindhi saint, and it became obvious that what immediately worked itself out here as well, below the surface of mere Hindu-Muslim antagonism, was the endless story of Partition. Many in the area are descendents of Sindhis who had been expelled from Pakistan.

In the residential neighbourhood behind the small bazaar nothing remained of the “rows and rows of burnt houses, with burnt and bent bicycles, scooters and three-wheelers outside” that Sudhir Chandra had described five years before. The area was thoroughly cleared, with some reasonably affluent residences next to poorer houses, which opened after a while into a large empty space, the erased Muslim part, in which now cows sought shade under a single tree and a small Hanuman shrine was the only building. Along the adjacent wall was written in large red letters: “Jai Ambe! Aum! Jai Mahakali! Jai Shri Krishna! Nobody should urinate in this particular place. A strict warning!” One could hardly think of a more grotesque prohibition in a place where many had been butchered and at the same time of a more macabre indication of the resolve to keep it “clean” at any cost.

Naroda Patia

In contrast to the confident selfrepresentation in the bazaar it was indeed as if someone had turned the volume off when we passed Nurani Masjid and entered the area in which the remaining Muslims of Naroda Patia are now segregated. Low houses, some of them not bigger than huts, huddled along narrow sandy paths. Mura Bey stopped a few young boys, who politely showed us the way to the local branch of the Islami Relief Committee, which was housed in the small school – with young children, just coming out in a surprisingly orderly fashion. The man at the desk waved us in eagerly and introduced himself as Nazir Khan Pathan, teacher and social worker. We learned that the Muslims in Naroda Patia had suffered during the pogrom because they had been (more than elsewhere in the city) exposed to their Hindu neighbours and organised groups of the Sangh parivar. In contrast to places like the old city or Juhapura, where Muslims have since long been in the majority, they had only started to settle in Naroda Patia after the 1970s and numbered around 10,000.

As we were still talking, about the complete absence of rehabilitation through the government, the isolated efforts of Muslim organisations and NGOs and the difficulties to get the school running again – which is one of the reasons why Muslim families stay in the vicinity – Nazir Khan seemed not to trust in our attentiveness, even though I was taking notes. He started writing a meticulous description of how the pogrom had started and unfolded. The two page-long report ends with the number of those who Khan felt were under his responsibility and he could not save: “35 young or youth, 45 young ladies, 20 innocent children, 20 senior citizens”. He handed me the paper, which clearly had the character of a testimony, and urged us to also take a worn 2004 issue of Communalism Combat, which has a short report on his life-risking success to save the Hindu children in his tuition class, whom he feared would be mistaken for Muslim children and killed.6


However, the forlorn and isolated existence in Naroda Patia, which, in a sense, accounted for the “Hindu area” as well, represented only a part of the picture. Through Mura Bey we met Ahmed Shaikh, secretary of the local headquarters of the Deobandi Jamiat Ulma-i-Hind off Relief Road in the old city. Shaikh, a fragile elderly man suffering from a severe eye-related ailment that forces him to wear fluorescent sunglasses most of the time, became our guide into a world in which hope and hopelessness have merged to become inseparable. When I asked him about recent written material on the state of the Muslim population he first insisted we meet Gagan Sethi from the Centre for Social Justice (Janvikas), which has its office in the western part of the city and outside Juhapura, not far from the new shopping malls and the sparkling International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKcON) temple in the area that is so aptly called Satellite.

Dependence on NGOs

The link, as Shaikh Bey’s insistence demonstrated, with the “regular”, “secular” NGOs is vital for the religious Muslim organisations active in relief work, as legal matters and access to state institutions are essential, and the secular NGOs, however odious to the government, can still be less easily stigmatised and sidelined than the Muslim organisations (which includes secular Muslims, as the systematic forcing of the Vikas Adhyayan Kendra in Ahmedabad, headed by activist Sophia Khan, from “Hindu” Narayanpura to “Muslim” Juhapura underlines).7 This hierarchical order, in which the Muslims are dependent on the (Hindu) secular NGOs and which shows up the traditional, rather benevolent attitude of secularists towards Muslims was evident in our meeting with Sethi, into which Shaikh Bey clearly entered as a petitioner rather than as an equal partner. The contrast between the hidden-away, dilapidated, basically empty headquarters of the Ulmai-Hind and the well-equipped, bright office of Janvikas could hardly have been bigger, and it was obvious that the two men would under other circumstances never have had much to do with each other.

It is not merely the well-established standing of Janvikas that guarantees, in contrast to other active organisations, some non-ignorable yet strenuous agency for justice. It is perhaps also this not always easy cooperation on the basis of a nevertheless common cause, of a shared interpretation of justice and the necessity of participation and inclusion that is devoid of larger metaphysical visions and “bhaibhai” romanticism and that has apart from Janvikas and the Ulma-i-Hind roped in more than 20 very different organisations, which meet on a regular basis once a month to coordinate their activities, that allows for a glimpse on a viable and realistic model of future interaction in (Gujarati) society. This potentially includes swamis and sadhus of the influential and ubiquitous Swaminarayan sect, patronised by the Modi government, whom the Ulma-i-Hind had already invited to their first post- violence conference, and, as Shaikh Bey pointed out proudly, “they came”!

The attempts at reaching out to the Hindu community, despite the horrors suffered, indicates the degree of existential need to prove that Muslims are doing “nothing wrong”. Along with active relief work – that includes the earthquake region of Kutch8 and the reorganisation of the Muslim community through housing, schooling, etc – this is the domain of organisations such as the Ulma-i-Hind and the Jamaat-i-Islami. Janvikas, whilst supporting these efforts, operates more on the legal front. Questioned about the ongoing harassment through the Sangh parivar and the government and the likeliness of future violence, Sethi said that all that was still there on a day to day level and there was no reliable safety at all, but their focus was more the problem of systematised and denied internal displacement,9 random detainments of Muslims under POTA, of which there were still nearly 300 cases (the Modi government has opposed the repeal of POTA in 2004), as well as over 2,000 pending cases of violence.

Since the pogrom, around 200 Muslims in the city have dedicated themselves fully to relief work and legal assistance, and more than a thousand can be activated when needed. The absence of a landline phone number on Shaikh Bey’s visiting card is significant: “We only use mobile phones now, nothing else, our phones are never switched off because during the violence nobody could be reached in time, and the violence spread so fast because it was organised over mobile phones”.

Madni Nagar Camp

After leaving the main road and wobbling for a while along a dirt-road through fields and barren land we reached Madni Nagar, a colony erected by the Ulma-i-Hind that houses nearly 250 families in long rows of identical concrete blocks on groundlevel, with 12 square metres per family, including a dark, windowless room, a

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december 8, 2007 Economic & Political Weekly


tiny kitchen and toilet and a small backyard. Madni Nagar is one of today’s 69 socalled “semi-permanent camps” in Gujarat and six around Ahmedabad. After the government proclaimed “normalcy” and closed the refugee camps that had been set up in 2002, they are maintained by NGOs. Altogether they shelter around 25,000 Muslims. Here, the basic struggle is not even to prove that Muslims at large were neither guilty of instigating violence nor of lacking loyalty towards the Indian nation but to prove that they exist at all. The “semi” symbolises the faint hope of being restored at least citizens rights while the “permanent” indicates the more likely possibility of having to come to terms with a deprived life outside “mainstream society”.


The problem, as Shaikh Bey pointed out, “is not so much the money. We [the Ulmai-Hind, BO] have over one million members worldwide, and they donate only one rupee a month, so we could build shelters like this colony.” The problem is that “we are not registered by the government”. As Janvikas has documented, in many of the camps including Madni Nagar, self-organisaton has resumed in form of the Antarik Visthapit Heeth Rakshak Samitees, the first demand of which is not any more rehabilitation but to be officially counted. This, most critically, is the precondition for the reissuing of ration cards and voter-IDs, many of which have been burned or lost during the pogrom and never been replaced.

The feeling of being systematically reduced to official non-existence became obvious during a meeting with women that took place in a large hall. The hall, Shaikh Bey explained, has been erected recently after it had become clear that the roads back into society were more consistently blocked than after earlier violence. It serves as a community centre where courses in basic skills are held. In another sad irony, the hall itself is thus somewhat a symbol of uneasily accepting the unavoidability of permanence. Apart from the institutionalised non-reachability of the city’s market areas due to the remoteness of the Muslim camps, many jobs that have been traditional Muslim domains, like the sale of fruit and vegetables, have become impossible as vendors cannot push their

Economic & Political Weekly december 8, 2007

carts any more into now “cleansed” Hindu neighbourhoods where once their own houses stood. The same context applies for the primary school which was planned on a then still empty ground opposite the hall: the nearest school is too far away, and those who have taken upon them the trouble to go anyway have turned out to be marginalised, discriminated or even attacked by pupils and teachers alike.

We found a large group of women sitting on the concrete floor in obvious expectancy and one middle-aged woman, who introduced herself as Sameeha Begum and apparently nominated as speaker told her story, complemented by bits and pieces thrown in by others that ended with an appeal. Her family had lost four members, their house and source of livelihood, a rickshaw. After the pogrom, they could not afford to buy or even rent a new one, and her husband, who had survived with injuries, was too scared and traumatised to even try and get back into the business. Even after five years, the burden of her story was the utter disbelief of what had happened to her and her family, how this could possibly have happened for “no reason” in the land of her father and forefathers and, how it was possible that nobody cared.

Madni Nagar brought to consciousness the Sisyphus-character of Janvikas’ work, its race against time, as the camp represented in the most pointed manner the uncompromising politics of exclusion that aims not merely at “undoing” Muslim participation in public resources and, crucially, elections. Especially in view of the small children – many of them obviously already born in Madni Nagar – playing about in the dusty lanes between the concrete blocks, it also bears another and, as it seems, almost inevitable scenario of future Gujarati society, namely, the raising of a whole Muslim generation that is cut off from its history and that is systematically forced to unlearn all skills of interacting with other communities.

The Juhapura Camp

The whole dimension of today’s paradoxes of Muslim life in Ahmedabad, and their continuous reproduction, however, showed itself in Juhapura, the large district south-west of the city, whose number of inhabitants has swelled to 3.5 lakhs – and if one includes the whole stretch down to Sarkej Roza to nearly seven lakhs – since the pogrom. In fact, Juhapura is probably the largest refugee camp of Gujarat, where Muslims gathered, when a return to their homes was by their neighbours “allowed” only “if they withdrew legal cases, stopped using loudspeakers for the azaan, quietly moved out of certain businesses, and basically learned to live with downcast eyes”.10

We met Iqbal Mirza, head of the local branch of the Jamaat-i-Islami that also maintains a number of camps like Madni Nagar. In contrast, however, to the limited number of their inhabitants – the Ulma-i-Hind, for instance, was able to erect a water tower in Madni Nagar that is now irregularly supplied with water bought from private sources – the vast Juhapura is virtually left to oblivion. “Even if we [the Jamaat-i-Islami, BO] built a water tower here, the demand would be so big we could not satisfy everybody, and competition and fights would break out. We just can’t help them all.”

Choice of Camps

The choice is thus to live in one of the organised camps cut off from all regular society and be provided with basic facilities or to maintain some illusion of a nonorganised settlement and face slow but sure deterioration. And even that is not quite a choice as the camps are basically for those who have lost their homes during the pogrom and have no other place to go to. The same catch-22 applies for education. Mirza, who holds a degree, pointed out that his own children “will not have the option of higher education. We have some primary schools and madrasas here, but all institutions of higher education are outside Juhapura, and they don’t take Muslims. We will have to build our own schools, but then we don’t have enough teachers.”

We met a young man, whose story is symptomatic of the continuous and wilful reproduction of Muslim silence and invisibility. A graduate in English literature, he has been jobless for years. To our question on self-organisation in Juhapura he exclaimed cynically, “How? They are asking for moderate Muslim leaders, they are asking for Muslim representatives they can refer to, but the moment somebody raises his voice he is detained. This is not


POTA; this is for all sorts of petty accusations. It’s enough if three people meet at a street corner, the police snatch them away on some feeble account. The prisons are full with people who do not even know their case and who never get to see a lawyer. And when they come out – if they come out – they will obviously try and avoid even more to stick their neck out.”

There are no publicly accessible numbers on detainments in Gujarat other than POTA cases. Whereas random arrests of Muslims were reported repeatedly in the aftermath of the pogrom11 and are highlighted after violent incidences – for instance, after the demolition of a big dargah in Vadodara in 2006 through the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC)12

– detention as an institutionalised practice has so far hardly been investigated.

Reproducing Exclusion

Apart from two exceptions, which were the main border roads, there was not a single paved street in Juhupura. Demarcated by police outposts, the lanes are all sandy and dusty. The immense contrast to the expensive designer wear shops and sparkling, marble-floored shopping malls along CG Road and Ashram Road (some of them maintained by the Vaishnava Hare Krishna ISKCON society, next to the Swaminarayan sect the second big Hindu religious organisation operating in Gujarat)13 and the quickly growing amount of department stores in Satellite, where expensive cars have difficulty finding parking spaces and ATM machines encourage consumers to shop, underscored the merciless priority – and its unquestioned acceptance as “deserved by merit” – to keep the obtained resources for a limited Hindu strata of the population that a neoliberal economy in its easy cooperation with resourceful religious organisations enables.

Juhapura does not have a single ATM machine or a bank or even a post office. Beyond barren land, which is partly used as a garbage dump, one can just about see the nice and proper apartment blocks of the adjacent Hindu area. Along one stretch, where Juhapura borders more directly a poorer Hindu neighbourhood, a long wall marks the demarcation that brought to mind the Berlin before 1989. In another section the wall was a bit lower, and we could see – with the Cricket World Cup in full swing at the time – boys playing cricket on both sides of the border. When the ball of the Muslim boys accidentally landed behind the wall, it was not thrown back.

Muslim life – or rather existence – in today’s Ahmedabad, but potentially in all Gujarat, is characterised by this trap of getting no reply and of being forced to produce the conditions that in turn provoke even further marginalisation. Even though it has become obvious how uneasy and desperate Muslims are at their exclusion and how strong the urge is to take part while regaining a minimum of dignity – the focus on education, citizens rights and legal justice was most striking in all three places of Muslim habitation we went to,

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december 8, 2007 Economic & Political Weekly


the skilful maintenance of a vicious circle appears unbreakable: the denial of acceptance through the majority and the government, exemplified in the disinterest in proof, creates the increasing necessity of setting up parallel, “own” structures of survival, which inevitably serve, in the manner of self-fulfilling prophecies, as a pretext for the solidification of prejudice – “Muslims don’t integrate”, “Muslims build their own schools to infiltrate children’s minds with jihad”, “Muslim’s loyalty is with Pakistan” – and the increase of exclusion.

Speaking Different Languages

Gujarat today shows that the main difference between the minority and the majority is not in terms of religion or even economic resources which are mere indexes of a deeper and indeed new difference of thought and terminology. In this sense the problem derives from the fact that they have come to speak “different languages” and to operate in different reference systems that refer to democracy but do not translate into each other.

The “tolerable narratives” of the majority, on the other hand, are framed in terms of what thinkers like Jacques Rancière and Colin Crouch have called, with regard to a global context, post-democracy, which signifies the non-abolishment of nominal democracy and its reinterpretation along “negative rights” that “protect the individual against others, especially against the state: rights to sue, rights to property.”14

One of the prominent features of postdemocracy is de-politicisation in the sense of a devaluation of the political vis-à-vis a strengthening of policies, the reversal, so to speak, of the anecdote that Rancière mentions with regard to the hierarchical relation between the patricians and the plebeians in ancient Rome that has a particular significance for the situation in Gujarat. For the patricians, who were used to exclude the “nameless” plebeians from their policymaking – or rather: whose policymaking was intrinsically dependent on the plebeians’ exclusion – there came a time when their practice was challenged not by the plebeians’ martial revolt but by their proving of having precisely the capacity that the patricians had claimed only for themselves: the capacity of logos, of speaking and of being counted. “In

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short, they act as creatures that have names”.15 “There is politics, because those who do not have the right to be counted as speaking creatures count themselves as partakers and establish a community by collectivising injustice”.16

Legitimising Exclusion

Gujarat today can be understood as a place where the reversal of this process, the decollectivising of injustice and denying the disadvantaged the right of being counted as speaking members, is in a global context most pointed and literally enacted. While post-democracy describes basically a policy of the status quo that rejects all critique as anti-democratic and potentially terrorist, whose administrative characteristic is, according to Rancière, the uncontrolled agency of the police (as a self-proclaimed protector and executor of policies) and which appears to be a post-disciplinarian society by transferring discipline from an authority into the individual (resulting, for instance, in commonly accepted “tolerable narratives”), in Gujarat these features are complemented not merely by clearly undemocratic measures within a still democratic framework.

The most symbolic aspect here is probably that it is not any more elections that are abolished or manipulated but unwanted – political – voters that are with a fine range of policies and strategies made “undone” in order to naturalise a culturally majoritarian electorate.

The main problem with the abovementioned reversal from the political to policymaking is that it is, in the same way as was the process towards politics in ancient Rome, perceived as a progress that classifies demands for political rights and justice not merely as “exaggerated” or undemocratic, but also as somewhat outdated. This attitude reaches well beyond different political parties and makes the Congress, as has become palpable over the past years, less and less a realistic political alternative. While it can employ a differing political rhetoric, it cannot – and probably does not want to – in effect alienate a majority that perceives itself as progressive by defending its liberation from the ideological (political) aspects of democracy and that represents itself as “just living it”. Post-democracy, in interaction with a liberalised economy, is thus able to legitimise exclusion more effectively than a mere authoritarian regime, as much as post-democracy and pogroms and genocide do not necessarily exclude each other if it can be agreed (rather than proven) that the victims were enemies of democracy or “terrorists” (subtext: that they were a hindrance to economic progress).

Given, however, the basic questioning of teleological progress that the contemporary “post” in front of modernity’s classic terms signifies and the fact that those who defend injustice today do it eventually as much at the cost of their own progress (and sanity) as did the patricians 2000 years ago, the chance is to considerably shorten the time span of change. To understand the “reversal of the reversal” as progress is the only possibility for democracy.17


1 Forthcoming, The Televised Community: Culture, Politics and the Market of Visual Representation in India, Routledge, New Delhi/London/New York. Making of a Tragedy, Penguin, New Delhi, pp 45-74.

2 Prashant Jha, ‘Gujarat as Another Country: The Making and Reality of a Fascist Realm, in ibid, 2006.

3 Introduction to Elisabeth Reichart’s work at: http:// html.

4 The tour is also advertised on the House of MG-web site at:

5 Sudhir Chandra (2002), ‘A Lament for a Decade’ in K N Panikkar and Sukumar Muralidharan (eds), 2003, Communalism, Civil Society and the State. Ayodhya 1992 – Gujarat 2002: Reflections on a Decade of Turbulence, Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT), New Delhi, p 12.

6 ‘Good News from Gujarat: A Tribute to the Extraordinary Deeds of “Ordinary” People at the Height of the Genocide – Gujarat 2002’, Communalism Combat, June 2004, Year 10, No 98, p 12.

7 See Jha 2006. 8 See Islami Relief Committee, Gujarat (Jamaat-i-Islami),

Horror of Earthquake and Genocide: A Journey of Pain and Relief, Report up to 2004 (B-4, Karishma Complex, Sarni Society, Juhapura, Ahmedabad 380 055); Report on Jamiat Children Village, Rehabilitation and Educational Project of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, published by the headquarters in 1, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi 110 002.

9 Centre for Social Justice, The Uprooted. Caught between Existence and Denial: A Document on the State of the Internally Displaced in Gujarat (Centre for Social Justice, C-105, Royal Chinmay, Bodakdev, Vastrapur, Ahmedabad 380 054), The Uprooted, p 6.

10 Centre for Social Justice, The Uprooted, p 6. 11 See, for instance, the Human Rights Watch Report, 2002, Impunity in the Aftermath at: reports/2002/india/India0402-06.htm. 12 See People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Report, 2007, Vadodara Violence on Gujarat’s “Gaurav” Day, Promilla and Co Publishers/Bibliophile South Asia, New Delhi/Chicago.

13 See

14 Colin Crouch, 2004, Post-Democracy, Polity Press, Cambridge, p 13. 15 Jacques Rancière, 2002, Das Unvernehmen. Politik und Philosophie, Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, p 36

(translation mine).

16 Ibid, p 38. 17 I thank Reshma Jain for her strong support and her fast help with translations.

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