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

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The Persuasions of Intolerance

As violations of freedom of expression pile up, how productive is it to defend freedom on the ground of tolerance for dissent? Marking out an opinion as dissent paradoxically enables the consolidation of the mainstream consensus. There is a clear shift in the arguments deployed to curtail free expression of ideas from hurt sentiments to truth. Such a shift is taking place in a public culture which requires individuals to have opinions, but is incapable of sustaining critical dialogue.

Public University in a Democracy

The modern public university in a democracy faces the challenging task of producing and disseminating knowledge. Though the public character and universality of knowledge seem to be threatened today by both the state as well as the market forces, the university cannot afford to remain an apolitical institution in a democracy. There are lessons to be learnt in the debates surrounding the development of German universities and the idea of a university as the idealist philosophers have conceptualised.

Dreaming in English

With the resurgence of nationalism in this age of aggressive globalisation, the call to dream in English is often a demand for conformity with what are declared to be national mainstreams. The demand for unilingualism and conformity is complicated by the idea of dreaming in English as articulated by colonised and subordinated groups in other contexts. What should give us pause, however, is any easy equation of the English language, or Western democracy, with fixed notions of science, rationality, progress and modernity. How might we think through these conundrums and challenges?

University and the Nation

If nationalist sentiments are the only and final prerogative to belong to an academic community, then it must also be reiterated, a university has no business to share these sentiments. The founding figures of JNU knew it and it is upon the entire community of students, teachers and concerned citizens to safeguard the university against such jingoistic versions of nationalism.

The Idea of India: 'Derivative, Desi and Beyond'

The dalit discourse in India presents a sharp contrast to the "derivative" and the "desi" discourses governing nationalist thought and the "idea of India". The dalit discourse goes "beyond" the two in offering an imagination that is based on a "negative" language which however transcends into a normative form of thinking. The dalit goes beyond both the derivative and desi inasmuch as it foregrounds itself in the local configuration of power, which is constitutive of the hegemonic orders of capitalism and brahminism.

Passages from Nature to Nationalism: Sunderlal Bahuguna and Tehri Dam Opposition in Garhwal

This paper focuses on the shifting contours of the anti-Tehri dam movement in the past three decades. It examines the changing declarations of environmentalists, especially Sunderlal Bahuguna and other leaders of the movement on the one hand, and the involvement of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in the anti-dam politics on the other. Exploring the evocations of nature, religion and nation in different phases by these two groups of actors, it argues that through a regular use of certain mythical beliefs and simplified dichotomies, there was an inadvertent collaboration between green and saffron. The Tehri dam became a means of combining sacredness with impulse, gravity of high politics with solemnity of daily worship, and nature with nationalism.

Japan, the United States and Yasukuni Nationalism

This paper considers the Yasukuni Shrine, Japanese war memory and representation in relationship to contemporary nationalism and its implications for the future of the Asia-Pacific. It emphasises three aspects about the "Yasukuni Problem" and contemporary nationalism that are absent in much of the discussion in Japan, the Asia-Pacific and internationally. The first is the need to transcend an exclusively Japanese perspective by locating the issues within the framework of the Japan-US relationship. The second locates war nationalism in general, and Yasukuni in particular, within the broader purview of competing nationalism in the Asia-Pacific. The third recognises deep fissures among the Japanese people with respect to Yasukuni, nationalism and the emperor in whose name Japan fought, and memories of colonialism and war.

Explaining the Japanese Enigma

Japan by Yamaguchi Hiroichi; National Book Trust, W New Delhi, 2006; pp 198, Rs 50.

'Docile' Bodies, 'Good' Citizens or 'Agential' Subjects?

Pedagogy has a crucial role in constructions of the self and the "good" or the "ideal" citizen. Civic education in schools seeks to build up notions of the good citizen, by outlining "ideal" norms of behaviour, for instance, towards parents, elders, the government, as also the nation. But the human subject is not always a passive recipient of pedagogic formulations. Rather as this article that bases itself on student responses in a test school in Delhi, establishes, students negotiate established pedagogy and received wisdom in a variety of ways. Their understanding of issues of citizenship is arrived at not merely through textbook instruction, but their reception to the very manner of this instruction that is exam-oriented, in their interactions with friends, peers and family as well as information received and interpreted through a variety of other sources. The article argues that to move beyond mere subjecthood and towards ensuring an individual's "agency" in the creation of "good" citizenship, pedagogy has to engage and debate widely with these varied sites of interaction.

Interrogating the Nation

What is a 'nation'? What does the word 'nation state' connote? Beginning from early debates on nationalism and the nation state, the word 'nation' has shifted, coming to acquire at one and the same time, an expanding meaning and an ambivalence. Literature and the different social sciences, on the other hand, have exposed the nature of evil, depicting the nation as a genre of violence. A study of European and African works shows how the creation of nation has been fraught with a marginalisation of other groups and voices, with pain and suffering. Literature and language, this article suggests, must once again become tools to plumb the banality of evil that is inherent in the nation state. New 'thought experiments' must seek to challenge the politics of the nation, leading to a reinvention and a new beginning.

The Locations of Hindi

Hindi Nationalism by Alok Rai , Tracts for the Times 13, Orient Longman, Delhi, 2000; pp 138, Rs 150.

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