ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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India's 'Revanchist' Cities

The "revanchist city" expresses a race/class/religious/gender hostility felt by sections of citizens against their neighbours. In almost all the major capitals and metropolises - cutting across developing and developed nations - there is an increasing onslaught on immigrants, marginalised slum-dwellers, religious minorities and women. In India as well, there is an increasing tendency to demonise the religious and ethnic minorities living in its metropolises, and showing an intolerance of different cultural lifestyles.

Two separate events in two different cities symptomise the fast moving decline from a cosmopolitan spirit of coexistence of various migrant and minority communities as well as dissidents within a liberal framework to the sectarian assertion of chauvinism and xenophobia by the majority in our metropolises.

The ugly spectacle of Bal Thackeray’s funeral in Mumbai in an atmosphere of fear, with the Shiv Sena holding the public at ransom, and the provocative act of expansion of a Hindu temple encroaching over the precincts of the historic Char Minar in Hyderabad that led to violence in the old city, present a scenario of a sharpened bipolarity of the city in which the majoritarian religious, linguistic, ethnic or caste-based communities claim domination over civil society and reinforce their respective set of social norms. During the last few years, we have witnessed the Hindu moral police launching campaigns against Valentine Day, vandalising exhibitions of Hussain’s paintings in metropolises, attacking pubs in Bengaluru; a hockey stick wielding senior police officer raiding bars and beating up customers in Mumbai; indigenous ethnic extremist groups driving out migrants from Imphal and other cities in the north-east; and north-eastern students and employees being driven out from Bengaluru, and their girls raped in the streets of Delhi.

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