On intellectual arrogance and egoism

 

Kshirod Nag

kshirod nagTo engage with the 'three responses' by Nivedita Menon, Partha Chatterjee and Sudipto Kaviraj to Perry Anderson's Indian Ideology (Verso, 2013) is quite an interesting exercise. Not exactly for any rich content or explanations by these 'acclaimed' intellectuals of our times, but more for the kind of approaches they have adopted to 'attack' Anderson's writing. Their approaches would certainly make a typical Indian very happy, one who can't tolerate if the 'idea of India' is to be called a recent phenomena, if Gandhi is referred to as a misleading figure and a 'religious-politician' (my expression), and if the Nehruvian era is considered to be the founding principle for perpetuating the 'draconian democracy' in India. Even the typical Indian can't be silent, if allegations are made against its intelligentsia for foregrounding the same spirit of Gandhi and Nehru, for producing hegemonic literatures. 

The 'three responses' have accused Anderson for not being ethical in his intellectual pursuits, for not citing 'expected' references in his book and for claiming himself to be original in his propositions, or a 'plagiarist' (Menon's implicit expression). As per the 'responses', a large part of Anderson's arguments had already been made by the Indian intellectuals prior to his analysis on the subcontinent. In this regard, the 'three responses' have specifically celebrated the contributions of- a) Sub-altern studies, b) Dalit and Bahujan literatures and c) Marxist literature. Then, how can Anderson be original? Further, it is said, Anderson has made some statements out of ignorance on the issues of communalism and AFSPA. So many adjectives are added to Anderson's credit, such as, 'ignorant', 'childish', 'unethical', ethnocentric, patroniser' and even a saviour/apologist of colonialism (British imperialism).

On the question of originality

 The conceptual categories used by the Indian intellectuals like Ranjit Guha, Gyanendra Pandey, Dipesh Chakravarthy, Partha Chatterjee and others (Subaltern studies group) to study Indian society, are European inventions. Hence, those concepts are derivative in nature. The term 'subaltern' itself is a product of a European, Antonio Gramsci. The concepts like 'bourgeoisie', 'dominance' and 'hegemony', which are so popularly used by this group, were born in Europe and were tactfully utilised by these people with little modification in India. The subaltern scholars like Ranjit Guha and his associates, almost all of them settled in the USA (a capitalist nation), are huge critics of European union in general and Britain in particular and the reason behind that has political underpinnings (the academia is political). The projects they undertake are sponsored and financed by the government of USA and one of the projects they are curiously involved with is 'Subaltern Studies' to thrash 'European version of Imperialism', notwithstanding the local South Asian problems (caste, culture and religion). Even when they do talk about the local problems, they end up blaiming colonialism as the main culprit. 

 On the question of Patronisation on Ambedkar

Nivedita Menon, (a self-proclaimed Marxist Feminist) in her allegations against Anderson, has mentioned that Anderson has patronised Ambedkar by praising his intellectual upbringing in British Columbia and London School of Economics. Menon's allegation reminds me of Indian intellectuals and politicians patronising Ambedkar, which is, in fact, a very recent phenomena. The political and academic articulations of Dalits and Backward Classes have put moral pressure on 'others' to talk on the local issues (till the 1990s, 'others' were reluctant to talk about caste). Even today, the so-called Marxists and liberals accuse the Dalit movement inspired by Phule-Ambedkar as an identity based divisionary politics. Nevertheless, it is good to now see both intellectuals like Menon and political parties like BJP cherishing Ambedkar and his legacy in contemporary times. However, this needs to be understood as the politics of patronisation and appropriation.

~~~

 

 Kshirod Bihari Bharat Nag is pursuing PhD in Sociology from JNU, New Delhi. He is working on Dalits, politics and Public Sphere in contemporary India. He also takes interest in other pertinent issues like gender, religion, culture, etc. He is basically from Odisha.

Other Related Articles

The Rise of the Bheem Army
Saturday, 13 May 2017
  Vinay Shende Exclusive details on the recent caste incidents in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, and the role of the Bheem Army. This report is based on a member speaking to Round Table India on the... Read More...
बुद्ध पूर्णिमा पर बुद्ध के दुश्मनों को पहचानिए
Tuesday, 09 May 2017
  संजय जोठे (Sanjay Jothe) बुद्ध पूर्णिमा के अवसर पर बुद्ध के सबसे पुराने और सबसे... Read More...
मैं परस्पर सम्मान या जन सम्मान की राजनीति के पक्ष में हूँ: अशोक भारती
Saturday, 06 May 2017
  संजय जोठे (Sanjay Jothe) अशोक भारती, संक्षिप्त परिचय: अशोक भारती नेशनल कन्फेडरेशन... Read More...
वे अपनी आंखों में समानता स्वतंत्रता का नीला सपना लिए चले थे
Friday, 05 May 2017
  अनिता भारती (Anita Bharti) ओम प्रकाश वाल्मीकि जी को याद करते हुए हमने अपनी समूची... Read More...
Teri Zameen Tera Aasman - World Premiere of Documentary Film on Women
Thursday, 27 April 2017
  Round Table India  World Premiere Film Screening of TERI ZAMEEN TERA AASMAAN: Bhartiya Nari! Tu Aazaad Kahaan?(Your Earth Your Sky: O Indian Woman! Where thou art free?) ~   This... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

Presenting Angela Davis, the Savarna Style
Wednesday, 21 December 2016
  Sukanya Shantha On Friday, a friend and I walked into a movie hall to watch an American romantic musical, La La Land. Enticed by the cinematic beauty and the dreamy two hours spent in the... Read More...
The Death of a Historian in Centre for Historical Studies, JNU
Sunday, 19 March 2017
  Jitendra Suna Speech made at the protest by BAPSA on 16th March, 2017 against the Institutional Murder of Muthukrishnan (Rajini Krish) I am Jitendra Suna, and I am from a remote village named... Read More...
I Will Not Exit Your House Without Letting You Know That I am a Dalit
Thursday, 02 March 2017
  Riya Singh Yes, I am assertive. Assertive of my caste identity. It is not a 'fashion statement' trust me, it takes a lot of courage and training of your own self to be this assertive. You... Read More...
Interview with Prof Vivek Kumar on the Bahujan Movement
Monday, 13 March 2017
  Round Table India In this episode of the Ambedkar Age series, Round Table India talks to Prof Vivek Kumar, Professor, Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences,... Read More...
Brahmin Feminism sans Brahmin Patriarch
Monday, 06 February 2017
  Kanika S It has almost become common sense that feminism has been shaped exclusively by a class of women that came from Brahmin-Savarna castes in India, to the extent that even trashy... Read More...

Recent Articles in Hindi

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

  संजय जोठे  इस देश में भेदभाव और शोषण से भरी परम्पराओं का विरोध करने वाले अनेक विचारक और क्रांतिकारी हुए हैं जिनके बारे में हमें बार-बार पढ़ना और समझना चाहिए. दुर्भाग्य से इस देश के शोषक वर्गों के षड्यंत्र के कारण इन क्रांतिकारियों का जीवन परिचय और समग्र कर्तृत्व छुपाकर रखा जाता है. हमारी अनेकों पीढियां इसी षड्यंत्र में जीती आयीं हैं. किसी देश के उद्भट विचारकों और क्रान्तिकारियों को इस...

Read more

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

(कृष्ण की लोक लुभावन छवि का पुनर्पाठ!)मानुषी आखिर ये मिथकीय कहानियां किस तरह की परवरिश और शिक्षा देती हैं, जहां पुरुषों को सारे अधिकार हैं, चाहे वह स्त्री को अपमानित करे या दंडित, उसे स्त्री पलट कर कुछ नहीं कहती। फिर आज हम रोना रोते हैं कि हमारे बच्चे इतने हिंसक और कुंठित क्यों हो रहे हैं। सारा दोष हम इंटरनेट और टेलीविजन को देकर मुक्त होना चाहते हैं। जबकि स्त्री...

Read more

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

संजय जोठे धर्म जो काम शास्त्र लिखकर करता है वही काम राष्ट्र अब फ़िल्में और विडिओ गेम्स बनाकर बनाकर करते हैं. इसी के साथ सुविधाभोगी पीढ़ी को मौत से बचाने के लिए टेक्नालाजी पर भयानक खर्च भी करना पड़ता है ताकि दूर बैठकर ही देशों का सफाया किया जा सके, और यही असल में उस तथाकथित “स्पेस रिसर्च” और “अक्षय ऊर्जा की खोज” की मूल प्रेरणा है, यूं तो सबको...

Read more