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

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Voices and Choices of Muslim Women

Scholars of Faith: South Asian Muslim Women and the Embodiment of Religious Knowledge by Usha Sanyal, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2020; pp xvi + 394, `1,496 (hardcover).

CAA–NRC and the Struggles to Save India’s Secular Polity

This Land Is Mine, I Am Not of This Land: CAA–NRC and the Manufacture of Statelessness edited by Harsh Mander and Navsharan Singh, New Delhi: Speaking Tiger, 2021; pp 421, `499.

Bulldozing the Idea of Democracy

The state apparatus’ inaction in dealing with communal violence will have dire consequences.

 

Language, Purity, and the Logic of Democracy

It is argued here that the 1648 “Peace of Westphalia,” inaugurating the “secular state,” substituted language for religion as the basis for the state’s project of affectively unifying the nation. Working to build a truly neutral state, equally available to all its citizens, involves ensuring the freedom of critical discourse to question the proto-hegemonic narrative associated with every primordial (religious or linguistic) affi liation. The Westphalian-style sanctifi cation of these affi liations becomes pathological in a society that worships purity and hierarchy. Peggy Mohan, it is argued, provides a cogent characterisation of language on the basis of which one can overcome such pathologies and work towards a chauvinism-free model of democracy.

Sonal Shukla (1941–2021)

The contributions of Sonal Shukla to the social and feminist movements in India are detailed upon. Her literary stints interwoven with an indefatigable, courageous spirit serve as an inspiration for all the socially conscious citizens of the country.

 

Vernacular Communism

Satyabhakta’s engagements with communist politics, the Hindi print public sphere, and workers’ movements in the Gangetic heartland often intermeshed caste, gender, and nationalism, with an indigenous communism. Signifying a strand of the Hindi literary project, he represents some of the suppressed traditions of left dissent, and takes us back to debates between internationalism and nationalism, materialism and spiritualism, class and caste. Even if his ideas were, at times, amateur, they provide us with the everyday lived realities of communist lives, and utopian dreams of equality, which need to be taken into account and historicised seriously.

 

Electoral Alliances and Majority versus Minority Communalism

The discourse and politics of equidistance from majority communalism and minority communalism is flawed because it equates two unequal concepts. The Indian nationalist perspective on this equidistant stance focuses more on attacking minority communalism because it is perceived as a potential secessionist threat to India’s territorial integrity, while majority communalism—although it could develop into fascism—does not threaten India’s territorial integrity. The secular fundamentalist perspective, through its theoretical rejection of religious groups, ends up, in practice, reinforcing the existing power of the majority communal group. The perspective of institutionalised Hindu communalism rejects the equivalence approach on the grounds that majoritarian communalism pervades multiple institutions in India and increases the vulnerability of India’s religious minorities. It can only be defeated from an egalitarian perspective by recognising the social, cultural and political power of religion.

God as a Litigant: Examining the Contradictions and Biases of the Ayodhya Verdict

The Supreme Court of India’s judgment on the Ayodhya dispute enables the triumph of a majoritarian claim—backed by a long, venomous communal campaign—over minority rights. The fact that the majority Hindu community managed to successfully claim a minority religion's sacred place purely based on faith and belief comes out luridly in the judgment. While the god or deity as a juridical person may have legal validity, filing a suit in god’s name and projecting god as a litigant has the potential to bring in biases and conflicts.

Secular, Secularism and Non-translations

This paper traces the conceptual-linguistic journey of the term “secular” in India and shows how its entry into any discussion was accompanied by questions of ambivalence about equivalence. An anxiety around its foreignness; or its inefficacy by being both excessive and inadequate as a word can be traced through multiple sites. It proliferates, meaning many things and nothing at all. What makes it so unsettled, so polyphonic, and therefore ready to be seized? Does that have to do with being neither fully embraced nor ignored, on the threshold of language, as it were?

Secularism, the State and Muslim Personal Law

Governing Islam: Law, Empire, and Secularism in Modern South Asia by Julia Stephens, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (South Asian Edition), 2019; pp xiv + 220, price not indicated.

Divorcing Traditions: Islamic Marriage Law and the Making of Indian Secularism by Katherine Lemons, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2019; pp x + 232, price not indicated.

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