Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dialogue with Government, Political Opposition and/or Movements ?

I wish to say that Modi's victory is not the most important feature of these elections. The most important feature is the empty space that has resulted due to strictly fractured opposition. It seems to us that the cause of both, Modi/BJP emerging victorious and a fractured opposition, lies mainly in the disturbance created in Indian politics by the Anti-Corruption Movement and the rise of Aam Admi Party (AAP). It seems that a new stage has been inaugurated at the Center and what occupies the empty space referred to above is most likely to determine the future course of Indian politics and whether and to what extent it is going to attend to the needs of people's world, the world of lokavidya samaj. It is understanding of some of these things that will help shape LJA strategies in times to come.

We can start with the assumption that Indian polity, specifically the one shaping in and from Delhi, is not going to be uni-polar. Processes that target to fill the empty space at the Center presently created, shall become the other pole(s). There are three possibilities that present themselves : (i) Congress recovers to reasonable strength,  (ii) Regional or state level parties develop effective coordination among themselves and (iii) AAP charts a course to become much bigger and effective than it is presently. Long arguments can be constructed in favour of one or the other in terms of both the possibility and desirability, but these two may often be at odds with each other. Although in the case of Congress many of us may find it both not possible and not desirable, but in the second case many of us may think that it is desirable but may not see how it can happen in light of what has been happening on that front for long now, these elections included. The case of AAP is interesting. Talking to many in this period of about three weeks since election results have come, the considered views on both the possibility and desirability of AAP gaining strength are highly divided. There are those who think that the political disturbance will continue, AAP or no AAP, and that is what is important for lokavidya samaj to continue its search of new bases of a people oriented political imagination. And there are those, who see that the rise of AAP signals strengthening of Delhi based politics which would have serious negative impact on regional politics, where actually politics ought to reside. Then there are those who think that AAP is a long term proposition and it is not necessary that AAP remain an outfit with command based in Delhi, it can also grow into a federal formation and perhaps there are some indications of this in election results and what has been happening since then. The LJA concern chiefly ought to be how to engage on its terms with the processes that shape to fill the gap created in opposition. And let us not forget that LJA is a Knowledge Movement, not a political movement. I am afraid that if it harbors dreams of becoming political then we may not be able to build the Knowledge Movement of the people that we have set out to do with LJA. न माया मिलेगी न राम।

I have chosen not to argue issue by issue with Kaul's propositions. It is not a question of liking or not liking Modi. The policies have started unfolding - 100% FDI in defense production, internal security on high priority, almost unconditional environment clearances for large projects, 100 cities of world level facilities, bullet trains, etc. Is not lokavidya samaj going to pay the price of all this? We have always held the view that seeing BJP as a communal party was and is the interest of certain classes in this society, whereas in our understanding it has over the period become the party of big business in India, partly competing with and  displacing Congress from that coveted position. 'Communalism' and 'Secularism' seem to represent the two tactics of Indian Big Business, either way they are at the helms of affairs. One can engage in detailed debates on what Congress, BJP/Jansangh, Communists, Socialists and the regional politics before and after Mandal have done to the people of this Nation. It is important but one cannot talk about all history all the time. If anything is strictly different about this election then it is this that Modi and the organizations that backed him actually mopped up the possible advantage resulting by the unsettlment of polity created by AAP. AAP raised issues that were bigger than it could handle and so those who had the organization to do it, did it. The entire election scene was permeated by the issues, methods and discourses unleashed by the Anti-Corruption Movement and the AAP, the victories and the defeats all owe it to that.
This is a sign of new times. The Indian phenomenon may be understood better if we take the context of what has been happening in countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Thailand, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, from 2008 to the writing of this post. We should also be able to see what is common in all these and not get bogged down in the specifics of each case however important they may be for immediate political development in these places. For last two decades new classes are shaping and are rising to prominence globally through appropriation of the economic and social command. They are asserting their way for their share in political command of society, so these disturbances and huge uncertainties.

I would tend to agree with Krishnarajulu in that we need to take the ideas of the Multai Declaration to the public realm.
In brief it is :
  • To live by lokavidya is the birth-right of every human being. So stop all displacement.
  • Hierarchy in the world of knowledge is totally unjust. Those who live by lokavidya must get as much return as the modern educated do. 
  • Everybody must have an equal share in national resources - electricity, water, finance, health and education. 
  • Local society must control local systems-governance, market, resources, all. 
  • There should be a media school in every village. This is a nav-nirman effort to enable the village youth in the representation, communication and articulation of the standpoint of the village, the lokavidya standpoint. 
These ideas constitute our terms for dialogue with politics. For Multai Declaration see blogpost dated 21st January 2014 ( Link : http://lokavidyajanandolan.blogspot.in/search?updated-max=2014-01-26T01:07:00%2B05:30&max-results=2&start=2&by-date=false ). Also see the small Hindi booklet published on the occasion of the Multai Conference . Link:http://vidyaashram.org/papers/Jansangharsh_Unity_%20Multai_Conf.pdf 

The process of this dialogue has been started from the Varanasi Meeting on 7-8 June. We should be able to report it on this blog by tomorrow.  The meeting in Nagpur on 28-29 June provides occasion for many of us to meet and discuss at length the new challenge.

Sunil Sahasrabudhey
Vidya Ashram, Varanasi

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