“#Notinmyname”: A ‘guilt’ in the conscience

 

 Dharmaraj Kumar

dharma raj kumar‘Not in my name’, says A.

‘In whose name then?’, asks B.

‘You mean, not in your name this time, right?’ asks C.

‘Of course, it lies not in your name. It is only in ‘their’ name. You just don’t worry.’, D replies curtly.

‘I just say “not in my name”, rest I don’t know’, repeats A and leaves. 

The slogan of ‘Not in my name’ evokes unpredictable responses. Whether or not the response stands out to be politically charged, it certainly does not produce the notion of ambivalence against the hatred perpetrated following the name.

Actually,’ #Notinmyname’ sounds empty. Even if the people gathered at Jantar Mantar to display their resentment against the ‘Lynching of muslims’, ‘Lynching of the nation’ or ‘Lynchistan’ presumably overflowing in numbers, the core point of the slogan is pointless, like “Covfefe, Covfefe”.

It is not that this title is not subject to criticism or it has not been criticized. But it requires to be looked into, as it is important to critique this hashtag even if it is over. 

Actually, such a hashtag brings the failure of Left-liberals into the open. How have they failed to orient the grim concern towards their causes? 

We have entered a time where every political step has to be rationalized to yield some meaningful and larger unity while breaking the edifice on which extreme right-wingers are successfully riding. To explain this more: social media is flooded with messages and that is somewhere killing our sensitivity. And all such mindless messages through cartoons, pictures, posters and jokes are clearly spread, enjoyed and shared widely by the same people who claim to be considered as protectors of the democratic ethos. 

Recently, a picture was shared widely on Facebook, featuring a cow standing on heaps of dead bodies of people smeared in blood, and a trident. Let us think once again, does it really offer any critique against fundamentalist Hindutva ideology? Can a cow be taken to be as culprit? How such insensitive messages offering a pointless and meaningless critique, are formed and propagated, is not thought out. We have never thought about it.

As a reminder, once PM Modi said that if you want to shoot, shoot me not Dalits. This statement was also relished by many in myriad ways. But not even a single campaign was launched against the atrocities unleashed on Dalits in general. Thus, the atrocities on Dalits continued from Rohith to Una of Gujarat to Saharanpur of UP leaving Dalit communities alone.  

It is not that the atrocities on Dalits have started just now but then it was never brought into mainstream discussion. Mirchpur incident lays bare the truth about liberals. How is it that till now justice has not been given to Dalits of Mirchpur?

PM Modi once said, that traders are braver than soldiers, and then the opposition tried to valorise the soldier over traders by trying to declare Modi as the traitor, for siding against soldiers. They forgot how they themselves became the agents of militarizing the biggest democratic country of the world while singing laurels of the bravery of soldiers instead of criticizing the effort of incitement of the situation. They turn out to be implicit players of hatred in the name of countering terrorism of Pakistan, by praising the government for exhibiting firm military gestures.1  

After the Dadri incident, the campaign of  ‘award wapsi’ was launched but none of them really refused to take award when they were finally asked to keep those awards with them by Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari, the chairman of Sahitya Akademy awards.2 When they were heaped with praises upon their declaration of returning their awards, all of them got published on the front page: a feat which had not happened even while receiving those prizes. And finally, when they kept the awards with them, they also did not tell people that I actually never returned any award rather insensitively and dishonestly used the name of Akhlaq, a Muslim man killed in Dadri in the name of keeping the beef in the fridge at home.3

It is another matter that award wapsi also unveiled the fact that no writers or poets except those from upper castes were conferred with such prestigious awards, which was avenged by the decision of the central government by conferring Padma Shree award upon Shri Haldhar Nag.4 All criticisms against the government got swept away after this tokenist announcement. Interestingly, previous governments could not do this even in the name of tokenism. It is clear that just returning the so-called award cannot be a mode of sufficient protest. In fact, it creates a division of winners and losers of awards. The returning of an award has to be rationalized in a sharper manner. Instead of generating a sensible criticism, it created a division among scholars of all classes and castes and made a ridiculous political statement. It was subsequently countered by the easiest method of patronizing the intellectuals in more organized and planned ways. It was an irreconcilable defeat. 

Every time a group of liberal scholars or intellectuals try to build a joint struggle and amass solidarity, it falls in the gorge of criticism rather than offering a critique of anti-people policies of the central governments. 

Unfortunately, the fresh memory of the events of the recent past constructs the same notion to see the hashtag “#NOTINMYNAME” in the same canon.

Now, it is time to give reasons for such a slogan becoming a big failure in terms of gathering the opposition against this evil government and happens to be the slogan of distancing and defeat. Well, I would always be in support of any kind of mass gathering, even unintentional ones, just to take sips of tea together in the time when technology and social media have taken people far apart from each other. But when the clarion call is given as a part of political assertion, its impact must be evaluated.

This hashtag “#NOTINMYNAME” is empty or secretive like Trump’s ‘covfefe’. It was called, as by artificial effort, to stand in opposition against the lynching of Muslims or “beef lynchings”. One, whoever coined the hashtag, forgot that when the lynchings are happening according to names belonging to a certain community, why one would shy away from taking the name? It also leaves the impression that the ‘secularists’ are struggling to escape from such events by calling their names off such memories. There are many such criticisms but I want to ask, why was it difficult to actually give a name to it? At least, those people, who cherish the caste system sanctioned by Hindutva or Hinduism, could have directly stood or grabbed the opportunity from the extreme practitioners of Hindutva. They could have at least said ‘#NOTINTHENAMEOFHINDUTVA’ or ‘#NOTINHENAMEOFHINDUISM’. It could have been given another direction by directly attacking such rising tendencies by giving the hashtag as ‘#NOTINTHENAMEOFMUSLIM’ or ‘#NOTINTHENAMEOFMINORITY’ or ‘#NOTINTHENAMEOFCOW’. There could have been immense possibilities but all of them got ignored. It concedes that it was done deliberately. Because, even the liberals, somewhere in the corner of their heart, know that opposing Hindutva or Hinduism would declare them eternal enemy however honest they may be in their life. The life of Ambedkarites bears such witness. Left-liberals cannot afford to stand against their own oppressive history. They do not want to consistently oppose it in truer sense, as it would deprive such people of the privileges bestowed upon them following their historical status.

All measures taken by left-liberals are falling as miserable failures because they are motivated not with the purpose to oppose, but to satisfy the ‘guilt’ conscience hidden in the grave of their heart. 

Otherwise, if we sincerely follow the historical past of post-independent India, we would find that Ambedkar was the only man who knew what would happen if the ideology of Hindutva or ‘law’ of Hinduism, as Ambedkar calls Hinduism as set of laws, and says that Hinduism fails as religion after minutely observing its principles, would ever get stronger. Such moments have been occurring in history. Ambedkar’s historical writing of Bhima Koregaon had already envisioned the future occurring today. This instance of history can be taken to understand the present situation.

Since our language is severely infested with ‘secularism’, the idea which seems to be less pragmatic to counter the present regime as per the philosophical understanding of religion of Saitya Brata Das, a professor of JNU. Not surprisingly, ‘secularism’ has been branded as synonymous with appeasement of Muslims. The word ‘secular’ has lost its relevance of being understood as democratic. 

In this light, when the protest against the lynching of Muslims under any circumstances is organized, it must be borne in mind that slogan of protest must have the strength to travel far across the boundaries of time and space with a message to everlasting historical memory.

From this Ambedkarite perspective, the hashtag of the protest fails to construct even a narrative of opposition. The hashtag ‘#NOTINMYNAME#’ is a defeated narrative as it shows the fear or shared memory of unleashing the same atrocities when the liberals got the opportunity in the past. This memory forces me to believe that this hashtag was nothing more than an event to shed their ‘guilt’ of the past, like the deeds of Macbeth.

 Whence is that knocking?
How is 't with me when every noise appals me?
What hands are here? Ha! They pluck out mine eyes.
Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.
- (Macbeth, Act-II, Scene – II, W.Shakespeare)

~

Notes

1. After Modi made the remark about traders lauding them for their risky attitudes for business and used the term 'soldier' as metaphorical expression for bravery, the opposition went hell-bent to prove that how had PM Modi insulted the soldiers. Such kind of frenzy to prove Modi wrong is utterly unjustifiable as it is bereft of creative critique. One must have disagreements with the person and ideology but not all the time this madness would embolden the critique of the opposition. And, in my opinion, as RSS led BJP is far more interested in such kind of branding or half reading while ignoring the nuanced approach. Due to the attitude of suspending the nuanced approach, JNUITES or IIT-Madras Periyar Study Circle activists are also branded anti-national and traitors etc.

Following the statement of Modi, opposition fell to the same trap in evaluating his statements while suspension of nuanced approach when they implicitly attempted to steal the moment in the name of becoming the soldier-saviour. It is the sole task of RSS-BJP as openly to get declared as the 'soldier-saviour' or 'protector of the army'. If the opposition falls in the trap of degenerate narrative, the real opposition cannot ever be built. In short,we should not forget that Modi appeals to the people because his metaphorical language which is extremely common in nature and match with the everyday lifestyle of people crossing the limitation of state boundaries.

 2. Actually, there is no trend in which the award winners generally get published on the front page. Ironically, when they return it on such occasions pretending to lodge their resentments, it hogs headlines in all newspapers on the front page itself. So, following this way, first they gather praise for receiving the awards and get published, then they pretend to return the awards which are actually never returned. More interestingly, I have never heard as anybody returning the award with the cheque received. In a way, 'the award wapsi' for upper castes, as upper castes have only got all these so-called prestigious awards, is an easy way to deal with their boredom and earn fame for standing on the behalf of the people. That is hardly done.

 3. The name of Akhlaque was used to amass the sympathy in public more for the writers and poets than the real victim of bigotry and hatred. It was possibly assumed to be symbolic.

 4. I use the word "avenge" to show as to how the symbolism of ruling governments can always outperform the symbolic critique of wrong-doings of the governments. When the 'award wapsi' issue was raised, under the belly of the debate it was also questioned as 'who can return the awards, if returning the awards become the mode of protest against governments?' 'Can Dalits be the part of such modes of protest ?' The answer was categorically, No, as Dalits or Bahujans in larger unity are not traced to be historically considered to have been conferred with such awards so they can also return them and partake in the symbolic protest. So, the award wapsi protest was the most 'exclusionary' method to protest. Even if, Bahujans would think of associating with the larger movement of the mainstream, they can't do it.

While the Modi government took a hidden note of it and while distributing the Padma Shree awards made sure that some real deserving people should be given the awards to endorse their fair distribution with the intention of questioning the distribution under Congress regime. They did it while giving Padma Shree Award to a Dalit poet ShriHaldhar Nag staying in a remote village of Orissa. It was a good decision for sure, but not beyond mere a ploy of their own playing of politics. Thus, the emphatic mention and publicity of Shri Haldhar Nag through mainstream media, in my opinion, was a step to 'avenge' or settle BJP's own score with the Congress. Finally, the real case of Bahujans' accomplishments gets subdued in multiple ways.

~~~

 

Dharmaraj Kumar is pursuing Ph.D at the Centre of Indian Languages, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He may be contacted at: email:-  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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