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Dhananjay Rai

By Ajay Skaria
2016, Permanent Black, Ranikhet, 2016, pp. xvi 390, Rs. 895.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 10 October 2016

The book under review is a serious explication of Gandhi and satyagraha. It frees Gandhi from mere empirical reading/read-ing Gandhi au naturel. It also breaks/complicates the ambiguous relationship between Gandhi and postcoloniality/subaltern studies. A Gandhi turn for unconditional equality is taking place amidst three concerns or three crises. The concern and crises can be combined. The latter (empirical) has impact on the former (normative claim). Three writ large components to address concern and crises are ‘alternative’, relevant/apposite of ‘meaning’ and unmaking idea of sovereign primarily between human life and animal life. The problematique is idea/actualization of the sovereign. The alternative politics is rediscovering its significance along with the presence of numerous aporias. These aporias are present in the alternative politics and between alternative politics (plural). Ajay Skaria explores the ‘alternative’ in Gandhi’s satyagraha while undoing sovereign or sovereign per se. This alternative cannot be envisioned sans dismantling of the framework of abstract equality or measurable equality which is also known as (political) liberalism. Political liberalism entails envisioning of a polity where liberalism is grounded. The dismantling takes place by envisaging satyagraha as a religion of resistance towards achieving ‘unconditional equality’. How far ‘alternative politics’ is ‘alternative’ has been marred by ‘interpretations’. In Gandhi’s theoretical universe, interchangeability of words, meanings and multilingual usages have surfaced. Gandhian scholarship quadruples while making him/it also an easy prey of critics or catapulting him through simple or vulgar valorization. Concerning the latter, Gandhi is personified without philosophy. Skaria resurrects meaning profusely while maintaining apposite distance from valorization.  In the book, there is a significant tweak of postmodernism/ postcoloniality. This tweaking is related with ‘biopolitics’. In postmodernism (re Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben), political life (bios) and animal life (zoe) are important. Accordingly, in biopolitics, life is reduced to zoe while discarding bios. The claim is to bring the political through bios. Life is central to politics. This is politics which makes the difference between human life and animal life. In Sakaria, the updation (?) is dismantlement of this division and prioritization thus creation of the sovereign ‘bios’ along with the Creator. According to Skaria, ‘… absolute equality … is irreducibly and tumultuously plural because it must include all being (not only humans but also animals and things)’ (p. xiv). Gandhi emerges as the chief anchor. Gandhi’s emergence as the chief anchor is through expanding and resurrecting satyagraha. This satyagraha ...

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