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Critical Reflections

Namita Jainer

By Mukul Dube
Alter Notes Press, New Delhi, 2015, pp. xii 198, Rs. 380.00


India Since 2002 is a collection of critical reflections by Mukul Dube on the socio-political happenings in India in the aftermath of the Gujarat genocide of 2002, previously published in the weekly Mainstream between 2002 and 2015. Dube’s principal focus in this anthology is the depredations of the Sangh Parivar, the torch bearer of the ‘Vedic Taliban’ and Hindu fundamentalism. Articles like ‘Maun Mustanda: The Strong Silent Man’ are accounts of the gelid attitude of the leaders during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rule towards the Gujarat pogrom. The use of religion by the Sangh Parivar by meddling with history and mythology, Dube argues, is very dangerous for the secular traditions upheld by the Constitution of India. Dube warns, in ‘Tolerant and Secular’, that every religion thrives on the unquestioning acceptance of its followers, leaving no place for reason. The communal tactics of the ‘Parivar’ are closely analysed by Dube in articles like ‘The Path of Parivar’ and ‘Having One’s Mahaprasad and Eating it too’, by which they are able to deracinate constitutional supremacy and rationality by perpetuating mythological falsehoods. Dube discusses the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) in ‘Justice is not Revenge’ and states that ‘The true name of this fine piece of legislation is the Persecution of Terrorised Act … Licence to kill, some call it’ (p. 59). He states repeatedly in this book through various examples that legislations like POTA have continually been misused against the Muslim minority. India Since 2002 analyses the growing culture of intolerance promoted by the ‘family’, the Sangh Parivar, especially its systematically executed agenda of ‘saffronisation’. In articles such as ‘A Fair Unfair to Books’, ‘On the Ramayanas Affair’, and ‘The Uses of the Past’, Dube scrutinizes the various strategies of the ‘saffron brigade’ and writes that literally,‘silencing opponents is one use to which political power has been put. The other side of the coin is the spreading of one’s own vicious ideas, their imposition on the nation, most particularly its children’ (p. 28). In the article ‘A Dangerous Illusion’ he points out that the practice of beginning state sponsored functions with rituals like lighting lamps and singing saraswati vandana are examples of saffronization via religious practices associated only with Hinduism. Hindu fundamentalists wish to silence opponents by censoring everything from books to free speech to personal choices to even the most mundane actions like holding hands. We are reaching unprecedented limits of interference in the ...

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