Press Statements

Public meeting on Right Wing Challenges in Delhi next week

New Socialist Initiative (NSI) announces a public meeting on 'Right Wing Challenges to Democracy in Our Times' on 29th November in Delhi to be preceded by release of two books on Saffron terror in India

Last twenty years have witnessed an unmistakable right wing upsurge in politics, economy and the society at large. Ever since the term emerged from Estates General of 1789 France, right wing politics has stood fundamentally opposed to struggles for an inclusive democracy based on principles of equality and freedom. In India, political parties based on sectarian religious, nationalist, ethnic and regional agendas have flourished. They have successively used hatred, violence, chauvinism and fear to terrorise their opponents and minorities.

The state has abandoned welfare of the poor both in words and deeds, while it shamelessly hands out tax breaks and natural resources to the super rich. Right wing politics and economic policies are a manifestation of the interests of upper classes and castes.

Their easy success is based on wide acceptance of right wing ideas among people. The explosion of an intolerant public, religiosity, violence against women and lower castes, silent nod to state violence against marginalized poor, adivasis and nationalities, and aggressive display of nationalism from cricket fields to popular mobilisations, are parts of every day life of a ‘mainstream’ Indian.

A number of critical issues emerge from the success of right wing offensive. How have the institutions of a formally liberal democracy, viz. political parties, legislature, judiciary, police, and media failed against and, in fact have abetted this offensive? How far can these be relied upon to defend and promote democracy? Why has an expanding market capitalism not dissolved ‘feudal’ walls of casteism, patriarchy and non-rational belief systems? The popular acceptance of right wing ideas has deep roots in everyday life.

Why has the project of building a modern, secular, and rational public sphere, enshrined even in the constitution, floundered? Is it doomed because of the ‘specificity’ of India, and false claims of modernity? Or, it is failing because it does not fit into the interests of upper class and caste rule in India.

It is not that people suffering right wing depredations are silent. They have organized and agitated, and continue to struggle. They are fighting for their basic human rights in Manipur, Kashmir, and Gujarat. They have fought and are fighting for their land and forests in Narmada, Singur, Jagatsinghpur, Kalinanagar, Chhatisgarh, and even in Noida on the outskirts of national capital, and struck and occupied a factory of the largest automobile maker in the country.  However, why has the Left, defined broadly and including all pro-people organizations and mobilisations, failed to bring about an effective counter-offensive against the right?

Nivedita Menon (Professor, Centre for Comparative Politics & Political Theory, JNU)
Jawed Naqvi (Senior journalist, The Dawn)
Amit Sengupta (Senior journalist, Hard News)

To be preceded by  Book releases of Subhash Gatade’s :  Godse’s Children: Hindutva terror in IndiaSaffron Condition: Politics of Repression and Exclusion in Neoliberal India

Venue: Gandhi Peace Foundation, Deendayal Upadhyaya Marg ITO, Delhi, 5.15 pm onwards, 29th November, 2011

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