Friday, February 18, 2011

Lokavidya Jan Andolan and/or Gyan Mukti?

The question for me is whether the idea of a Lokavidya Jan Andolan is broad-based enough and whether at this moment the idea of lokavidya can form the direct basis of building an organization, platform, or a movement? Doubts arise on this for following reasons:

First, the idea of lokavidya is not easy to grasp except in a superficial way for people who are interested in radical politics. Secondly, Any kind of local andolan or movement has not been built on this basis, so there is a lack of a kind of grass-root base (for example, proposed ‘break the walls of the university’ movement in Varanasi has not taken off). Thirdly, while one may be able to see how lokavidya jan andolan may be an instrument for the emancipation of lokavidyadhar samaj, it is difficult to visualize how it has the power to transform the whole society, and the world.

Would taking up the idea of Gyan Mukti Andolan or Abhiyan and trying to build an independent political entity based in many places and locations and pursuing a set of organizational activity/campaigns/movements in order to eventually build a strong political organization, be a more feasible course of action for a new kind of political intervention? Needless to say, the idea of Gyan Mukti is informed by the idea of Lokavidya itself.

Gyan mukti (emancipation of knowledge) seeks to address itself to the whole of vidyadhar samaj, and not only the lokavidyadhar samaj. It points directly to the global dynamics which subjugates all knowledge and knowledge holders. Such an andolan may perhaps be able to attract a whole lot of people who are open to be inspired to participate in politically and socially meaningful activities, but are not attracted to existing avenues – of the movement type or the social work type – for a variety of reasons. Idea of Gyan Mukti is multi-dimensional. Students in the university (or those out of it), street vendors, farmers, scientists, artisans can all possibly engage in an agitation under the name of gyan mukti andolan. A possible danger here is the marginalization of lokavidya and lokavidyadhar samaj yet again.

There is a third possibility – that of forming a lokavidya sangathan which seeks to launch a gyan mukti andolan. Our basic task now is to form a realistic assessment of what are the prospects of building a political organization (which is the basic goal I assume) based on these ideas.

People’s movements (jan andolan) have been strong on the local ground but they have not been able to build a broader political presence – they have lacked a sound political philosophy. Perhaps the idea of a lokavidya andolan is search for a sound political philosophy which is able to stir the imagination of all those who find contemporary versions of ‘The way of Tradition’ and ‘the way of Modernity’ not very attractive or life-enhancing.

If the aim is to build a political organization with a political vision, then it may be better to avoid the idiom of ‘jan andolan’ altogether. In any case, we are not starting from a concrete jan andolan and the existing jan andolans would look askance at such a nomenclature. So it is better to imagine an organization at another plane and then seek to negotiate with the plane of jan andolan in various ways. We would also seek to distance it from the plane of ‘campaigns’ which seems too single issue oriented. Are we then back at the idea of a non-parliamentary political party? I think that would not do. I think what we may want is closer to a political ‘sangathan’ with a spiritual or religious tinge. Maybe what we want is something like RSS. Something with an uncompromising political vision with a very long-term agenda, prepared to take risky positions (eg. Break the walls of the university) and if possible risky actions. I think the idea of ‘gyan mukti’ strongly informed by lokavidya may just have the potential.

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