The Rhetoric of Hindu India: Language and Urban Nationalism 1107149878, 9781107149878

This book examines the late twentieth-century rise of the urban, right-wing Hindu nationalist ideology known as metropol

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Table of contents :
Dedication
Contents
Preface
1. Introductory Matters: The Strange Case of Secular India
2. Time’s Victims in a Second Republic: New Histories, New Temporalities
3. To Make Free and Let Die: The Economics of Metropolitan Hindutva
4. A Power over Life and Rebirth: V. D. Savarkar and the Essentials of Hindutva
5. Between Death and Redemption: Hindu India and its Antique Others
6. The After-Life of Indian Writing in English: Telematic Managers, Journalistic Mantras
Bibliography
Index
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The Rhetoric of Hindu India This book examines the late twentieth-century rise of an urban, right-wing Hindu nationalist ideology called metropolitan Hindutva. This ideology, the book assesses, aspires to be a pan-Indian, urban form that is home to the emerging, digitally enabled, technocratic middle-classes of contemporary India. The success of this new-age Hindutva is based in a politics of language that attaches a kind of cybernetic global English to an ostensibly pan-Indian culture and idiom, now  violently being fashioned in exclusively Sanskritic terms. In contrast, the old Hindu nationalism was largely articulated in vernacular idioms, had strong regionalist affiliations, and was primarily associated with upper-caste, agrarian aristocracies and midcaste, trading families. Through close analyses of the writings of a range of self-styled public intellectuals from Arun Shourie and Swapan Dasgupta to Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi, this book maps this new avatar of Hindutva. Finally, in analysing the language of the new metropolitan Hindutva, it arrives at an emerging idea of India as part of what Amitav Ghosh has called a contemporary Anglophone empire. This is the first extended scholarly effort to theorize a politics of language in relation to the dangers of such an imperializing Hindutva. Manisha Basu is Assistant Professor at the Department of English, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. During her time at Illinois, she has been awarded the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory Fellowship, the Research Board Humanities Release Time Fellowship, and the Center for Advanced Study Fellowship. Her continuing interests are in modern South Asian literatures and cultures, postcolonial studies, literary and critical theory, and Anglophone African Literatures.

The Rhetoric of Hindu India Language and Urban Nationalism

Manisha Basu

University Printing House, Cambridge CB2 8BS, United Kingdom One Liberty Plaza, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10006, USA 477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, vic 3207, Australia 4843/24, 2nd Floor, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, Delhi – 110002, India 79 Anson Road, #06–04/06, Singapore 079906 Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge.

It furthers the University’s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9781107149878 © Manisha Basu 2017

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 2017 Printed in India

A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Basu, Manisha, author. Title: The rhetoric of Hindu India : language and urban nationalism / Manisha Basu. Description: Delhi, India : Cambridge University Press, 2016. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2016010293 | ISBN 9781107149878 (hardback) Subjects: LCSH: Hindutva. | Hinduism and politics--India. | Rhetoric--Political aspects--India. | Nationalism--Political aspects--India. | India--Politics and government--1977Classification: LCC BL1215.P65 B368 2016 | DDC 320.540954--dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016010293 ISBN 978-1-107-14987-8 Hardback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

For my mother, who taught me to read

Contents Preface

ix

1. Introductory Matters: The Strange Case of Secular India

1

2. Time’s Victims in a Second Republic: New Histories, New Temporalities

35

3. To Make Free and Let Die: The Economics of Metropolitan Hindutva

69

4. A Power over Life and Rebirth: V. D. Savarkar and the Essentials of Hindutva

101

5. Between Death and Redemption: Hindu India and its Antique Others

133

6. The After-Life of Indian Writing in English: Telematic Managers, Journalistic Mantras

166

Bibliography

199

Index

215

Preface The Rhetoric of Hindu India narrativizes the late twentieth century rise in India of an urban right-wing Hindu nationalist ideology called Hindutva. It does so in the light of three interrelated changes in the Indian political and cultural situation of this time: first, the opening up of the economy to global finance capital and consumer goods; second, the successful spread in urban and small-town Indian centers of networks of information processing, telecommunications and transnational managerial forms; and third, the rise of India as one of the most important business process outsourcing capitals in the erstwhile third world. In this transformed environment, I argue that Hindutva distinguished itself from an older variant of Hindu nationalism. The old Hindu nationalism was largely articulated in vernacular idioms, had strongly regionalist affiliations and was primarily associated with upper-caste agrarian aristocracies and mid-caste merchant capitalists. In contrast, late-twentieth century Hindutva aspires to be a pan-Indian, urban project and home to the emerging, digitally-enabled, technocratic middle-classes of the nation. The success of this new-age Hindu nationalism, which I call ‘metropolitan Hindutva’, has been greatly enhanced by its adoption of English in a type of globally cybernetic form to an increasingly Sanskritized national culture. This politics of language is the promised tool for overcoming the nation’s many heterogeneities based in class, caste, language and region and for shaping a homogenously Sanskritic-Hindu population that is to be representative of the new India. The citizenry thus formed is however legitimately national only because it is, first and foremost, globally viable as a digitally savvy, upwardly mobile and urban-metropolitan technocracy. My contention in this book is that it is through its politics of language that Hindutva launched its attack on a history of postcolonial secularism which had been at the foundation of conceptualizations of an independent Indian

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nation-state. Arguing that secularism in the Indian Republic was a pseudo form geared toward appeasing minorities and thereby manipulating electoral balances, the ideologues of metropolitan Hindutva proposed to usher in what they claimed to be ‘a better secularism’ that would be the harbinger of a second Indian Republic. In the new India, there would be no place for an older national population that had always formed itself in relation to a political commitment to protect and tolerate difference in all its forms. Instead, as we have seen, all differences – of caste, class, religion and region – were to be dissolved into a new Sanskritized Hindu nation that could be harnessed to a global Anglophone hegemony. At the heart of the matter therefore is the question of difference. And difference, for the ideology of metropolitan Hindutva, is to be managed not just at the level of lifestyles, but more foundationally, at the level of linguistic style. The beginnings of an undifferentiated Indian citizenry are therefore to be found in the syntactical generation of a perpetual present tense that is memoryless and ahistorical and dissolves the differences between contingent pasts, presents and futures. I will show in the course of this book that such a foundational reimagining of time forms the basis of the politics of metropolitan Hindutva, and is transmitted and circulated, in turn, through ‘a religion of instantaneity’ made possible by the consolidation of telematic networks of information processing, telecommunications and global managerial intelligences. Indeed, the focus on an instantaneously apprehensible present new-age is Hindutva’s tool for dissolving the conceptual force of difference, which I theorize as a function of the distances generated by a modern, secular temporality, between strictly separable pasts, presents and futures. The struggle over the category of difference is what ties my analysis of Hindutva to the metaphorics of postcolonial studies, at the core of which are foundational theories about alterity – between east and west, between civilization and barbarism, between self and other and between center and margin. Since these were consolidated in and through colonial encounters in the modern world, I read metropolitan Hindutva against this background as a template for what I call an ‘afterlife of the postcolonial condition’. The afterlife of the Indian postcolonial society, I argue, is characterized by a general civic culture in which the intellectual and political power of the narrative of decolonization has collapsed and nations have come to increasingly write themselves into empire, rather than oppose or counter it. In this context, my book asks the following fundamental questions: how, specifically, do we read the ways in which anti-colonial nationalisms have become intimately one with the forces they had desisted in order to posit their moral, if not political, cases

PREFACE

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for autonomy? What are the genres and styles of enunciation through which a postcolonial society engages with the new world order? What is the politics that emerges as these terms of engagement shift and transform themselves and what kind of intellectual structures have to develop in order for such changes to take root? To enter into these questions, I read the writings of a range of self-styled public intellectuals including journalists, think-tank economists, politicos and fiction writers. Arun Shourie, Jay Dubashi, Francois Gautier, Swapan Dasgupta, Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi are these intellectuals. This is not what one would call a large ‘sample-size’, but my study is a literary rather than ethnographic one and I keep the numbers down, as it were, so as to be able to pay close attention to illustrative examples from each author’s range of works. There are also specific reasons for which I choose to read these particular intellectuals rather than others – Arun Shorie, for instance, is an interesting figure for my inquiry because he represents the very beginnings of a right-wing, urban, Anglophone, elite intellectual formation that forms the core of metropolitan Hindutva. Jay Dubashi, the figure I spend most time on in this book, is also a pioneer in this sense for he is one of the first of the ideologues to theorize metropolitan Hindutva as a political rather than racial or religious concept. In the context of this claim, I do show that the politicization of the category ‘Hindu’ had already begun in the 1920s with the work of V. D. Savarkar, a man who has often been referred to as the ‘father of modern-day Hindutva’, but Dubashi’s project is different from Savarkar’s in several ways. One of those involves the economic template he develops as the basis of the politicization of contemporary Hindutva. The way in which he then deploys this template to demonstrate that political Hinduness is both the originary premise of the free market as well as its final objective, makes Dubashi’s work of particular interest to my exploration. This kind of a globally recognizable aspect for Hindutva is transparently comprehensible in a different way in the work of Swapan Dasgupta, who is another important figure in my assessment. Dasgupta speaks to the question of how right-wing Hindu nationalism must seek political success by usurping the place of privilege long been given to a left-liberal intelligentsia in the Anglophone media and he is one of the few ideologues of Hindutva who unambiguously points to the English language as a crucial tool in the remaking of Hinduism for a new age. This is also a significant context for another persona under consideration in this book – the French-born journalist Francois Gautier who provides Hindutva a cosmopolitan aspect in so far as he marries it to the global spread

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(via a kind of Orientalist and Orientalizing Indology) of Hindu spirituality in the modern western world. The place of India, and of Hinduism, in the western world is a matter provocatively taken up by the likes of Amish Tripathi and Chetan Bhagat, the last of the authors I address in this book. These men, I contend, represent the millennial avatar of Hindutva, narrating in their works a new Hindu India that is always already cosmopolitan and no longer needs to reach out to the west to prove its global viability. This is why the English-language prose of Bhagat and Tripathi has moved inwards toward what I have, following Suman Gupta, called a non-regionalized local form; the conversations have become internalized and the jokes private, never italicized or translated for an audience of supposed India-watchers. Added to this locally flavoured Anglophone language environment is a cybernetic aspect, complete with the idioms appropriate to social media exchanges and a corresponding exuberant youthfulness well-suited to the emerging arrogance of Hindu India on the global stage. Indeed, it is the likes of Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi who have arguably optimized the discourse of metropolitan Hindutva, not only by affording it a digitally savvy and managerially refined aspect of youth, but also, as I show, in the final analysis, by claiming for it a post-political and postideological character. In short, Bhagat and Tripathi function like the new-age managers of Hindutva who promise to give it an important image makeover, shifting the focus from its genocidal politics to its ostensibly apolitical digital competencies and from its attacks against the ideology of secularism to its championing of the seemingly creedless practices of free-market management. I should remark in closing that the designation ‘metropolitan Hindutva’ begs a question about what exactly the place of metropolitan cities is in the discourse of the current Hindu nationalism. I do not address this question in any great detail in the course of this book. In fact, it may seem to the reader that Hindutva as it appears in my analysis is grounded not in the alreadyestablished major metropoles, but rather in satellite small townships like Gurgaon where outsourcing centers have their homes, or, symbolic sites like Ayodhya which are locked, quite violently, in the battle between temples and mosques. The importance of such locations notwithstanding, metropolitan Hindutva, as I have described it here, is indeed conceptually tied to the idea of a new kind of metropolis, and more specifically, to what has come to be termed ‘the 100 smart cities project’ of the current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Narendra Modi government in New Delhi. Articulated as a grand urban strategy during the 2014 elections, the smart city idea involved building new

PREFACE

xiii

real estate enclaves on the outskirts of existing cities to provide serviced land to private companies. These gated cities were to have a centralized surveillance system, a digitally monitored water-supply program, technology-enabled waste collection and other information and communications technology driven amenities. But most importantly, they were to be designated as special investment regions in order to attract global capital and avoid the pesky mandates of India’s Land Acquisition Act, which require consent from and compensation for the farmers whose territories these regions were to encroach upon. The proposed smart cities are thus no less than foundational concepttemplates for what I have argued is Hindutva’s impulse toward cleansing its population such that it becomes an absolutely uniform whole of strictly middle and upper-class, technocratic and always digitally-enabled citizens. I mention the smart city idea here in the preface to the book, rather than elaborating it more fully in later pages, because I believe that to do otherwise would constitute a book-length study in itself, and indeed, I am not sufficiently trained in the study of cities to sustain such a project. Moreover, my use of the term ‘metropolitan’ to qualify the category ‘Hindutva’, while no doubt designed to draw attention to the urban impulse of this ideology, is also tied to the sense of the word in the study of colonial and postcolonial cultures. That is to say, when I refer to Hindutva as a metropolitan project, I draw on the idea of an imperial metropolis that exercises control over distant peripheries, or, to put it differently, I understand Hindutva as an imperial undertaking that hopes to extend into the far-reaches of the world what I have suggested is a Hindu-Anglophone way of being. It is in this sense that the new Hindutva I describe is ‘metropolitan’. The dangerously imperial avatar of Hindutva is to be understood, as I have argued, as an event of language that both manipulates the historical relationship between Sanskritized Hindi and imperial English as well as launches a foundational attack on the very concepts of history, memory and secular differences, at the micro level of syntactical manipulations. While there have been discrete instances of scholarly studies in this direction, my book, I believe, is the first sustained effort to theorize metropolitan Hindutva as just such a linguistic environment.

1 Introductory Matters

The Strange Case of Secular India In 1992, Sara Suleri opened her now classic study The Rhetoric of English India with the memorable claim that ‘while the representation of otherness has long been acknowledged as one of the most culturally vexing idioms to read, contemporary interpretations of alterity are increasingly victims of their own apprehension of such vexation’.1 If one of the principal tasks of postcolonial criticism was to question the duality of center and margin, Suleri argues that the almost pietistic commemoration of the ‘Other’ in a spectacular celebration of alterity has done little to dissociate ‘otherness’ from its conceptual reliance on this polarization. Instead, concealing the dangerous collusions that are bred in any exchange between master and victim in the colonial setting, the valourization of otherness has actually consolidated the asymmetrical power relationship between metropolitan and peripheral societies. For Suleri then, rather than valourizing their differences, it is in fact more important to confront the complicities between rulers and ruled, so as to understand that telling the story of the Other involves being forced to encounter the narrative of the self and to ask, always, ‘just how other’ the Other really is (Suleri, 1992, 9).2 This conceptual terrain, as laid out by Suleri, is vitally important for the investigations in this book, which involve examining precisely such complicities in a context where it might fairly be said that the intellectual and political strength of the narrative of decolonization has collapsed and erstwhile anti-colonial societies have come to increasingly write themselves into empire, rather than oppose or counter it. With Sara Suleri’s searching analyses in the background, my book looks into a colonial and postcolonial rhetoric of binarism, considering in particular the polarized relationship between categories like tradition and modernity, self and other, religion and reason and east and west. I strive to articulate how, what Suleri had identified as the shadowy intimacies between such intractable others, have fared with the maturing of the phenomenon of globalization. That is to say, I ask simply: in what ways has the celebrated dissolution of erstwhile dualities like center and margin in a globalized dispensation

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affected foundational colonial and postcolonial ideas about difference? Suleri had exhorted her readers to recognize that it is in the unsettling collusions between colonizer and colonized, when the boundaries between the two are at their most vulnerable, that it becomes possible to apprehend the profound vulnerability of power. A chilling fear, or, terror, as Suleri names it, is the product of such moments of vulnerability. To put it differently, one could say that terror is that act which brings uncannily close seemingly intractable others and in doing so reveals the limits of power. But this terror is also at the same time the spur, according to Suleri, for a certain kind of love – the kind of love that is hungry for the adventures of transgression and keen to encounter the imminent disappearance of the limit, which is about to be transgressed.3 Terror and love thus appear deeply imbricated in Suleri’s radical world-view, which, like the best postcolonial criticism, muddies every line of demarcation between the most jealously guarded binaries and points thereby towards the frailty of power. Yet, in a condition where binaries like self and other, nation and empire and tradition and modernity have been suspended to such a degree that the intimacies between them are neither terrifying, nor a spur to love, but merely normative, banal and ordinary, what happens to the recognition of power’s instability? Suleri’s analysis emphasizes the fact that just as no matter what the complicities between victimizer and victim, these positions are not and cannot be reducible to one another. So too, terror and love are not synonymous. They are as much separated by the polarities between ruler and ruled, as they are brought together in their convergences. In other words, just as without the possibility of fear, there can be no keenness of love, so too, without an understanding of the difference between the two, there can be no political imagination. The narrative of this book charts the fate of precisely such a political imagination, as it moves toward a postpolitical context, asking in particular, what happens here to the precariousness of power and to the mutually interdependent lineaments of terror and love, which, according to Sara Suleri, were imbricated in the relationship between erstwhile binaries. This narrative begins not a long, long time ago in a faraway land, but in a contemporary occasion, and at the same time as the structural management of postcolonial difference is inducting once marginalized peoples into an increasingly close-knit global system to which there seems no alternative. As it has moved fitfully between the forces of colonialism, nationalism and postcolonial autonomy, the category of difference has become increasingly important for the perception and selfrepresentation of formerly colonized people. Indeed, an especially valid case

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3

in point is the contemporary Indian situation, which is even now, tortuously caught in the problem of how to reformulate postcolonial otherness in the midst of the radically equalizing drives said to be embedded in the best forms of fiscal and cultural globalization. The previously protected Indian national economy was opened up to the forces of the free market in 1991 and around the same time the dangerous resurrection of Hindu supremacist organizations began to lead the Indian society to spectacularly ascendant fantasies of an emerging imperial complex. The economic part of this process forged a globally recognizable and increasingly technocratic middle class, which, awe-struck by the ‘equal’ opportunities of the newly-liberated market, no longer believed that problems of inequality and class difference were central to the forging of postcolonial nationhood. In a complementary movement, the cultural-political push toward Hindu supremacy called for the absolute subordination of (religious) difference into a majoritarian uniformity of Hinduized national culture. The mercurial spread and success of the contemporary ideology of Hinduization, or, Hindutva, as it is known, began with the crisis of a form of political and intellectual secularism that was tied to the young Indian republic under the stewardship of Jawaharlal Nehru. The triumph of this ideology moved neck-and-neck with the passing of a proto-socialist economic organization, that Hindu nationalist politics since the 1990s had consistently aligned with a particular kind of postcolonial secularism that continues, even today, to be identified as Nehruvian.4 At the time of independence and in the wake of the most devastating Hindu-Muslim riots, the subcontinent had seen, Indian secularism was a nodal point around which the tolerance of religious difference was articulated as the principal rule of national belonging.5 According to Hindu nationalist ideologues of the 1990s, the problem was that at this time the matter of religious tolerance was grafted onto the problem of economic inequality. This made secularism, at best, a watered-down tool for managing religious difference. With the twenty-first century on the horizon, these ideologues thus began to propose that a more efficient management of difference could be achieved not only through a radical overhauling of the standards of postcolonial secularism, but more importantly, in the corollary move to shift the socialist organization of the Indian polity. These intersecting projects would involve subordinating in absolute terms the question of inequality to that of difference and making difference, in turn, subservient to a majoritarian Hinduization of national culture. Thus, the issue of reconceptualizing how to manage difference and inequality came to be at the heart of the project of late-twentieth century Hindutva.

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As one of the most valued goals of the Enlightenment, modern secularization had entered the British-Indian context as a primary axis for formulating the national collective, but as it moved in tandem with the multi-pronged forces of nationalism its fate became a constantly shifting one. Indeed, it remains unsettled even to this day. In perhaps one of the most significant works on the construction of secularism in British India, Gyanendra Pandey famously argues that in the more mature years of nationalism in the subcontinent, communalism came to be identified as the polar opposite of secularism. That is to say, it was a strictly anti-national exercise closely related with the politics of religious (especially Muslim) minorities.6 Secularism, in contrast, came to be recognized as the only legitimate form of national community and henceforth was to be used as the bedrock for the articulation of the independent state as a liberal democratic structure. Embedded in this projected structure was the imperative to organize a diverse body of citizens into majority and minority groups. The overwhelmingly middle-class, upper-caste Hindu men, who were at the helm of engineering the Indian national collective, knew that creating a democratic Hindu majority and therefore sustaining their power would mean marshalling ‘Untouchables’ (or Dalits), who had traditionally been considered outside the fourfold division of the caste system, into an artificially homogenous structure of Brahminical Hinduness. It would also mean sustaining Muslim difference in relation to a broadly Hindu civic culture.7 According to the classical-liberal rules of the postcolonial Indian polity however, a democratic majority was to organize itself around a language of tolerance vis-à-vis the constitutionally guaranteed rights of precisely such minority groups. Indeed, it was the acceptance, even protection, one may rightly say, of deviations from a normative Hindu majority that in independent India was given the name secularism. Contemporary Hindu nationalists argue that such a grammar of secularism can only be an incomplete or pseudo form, for it actually upholds the difference of minority groups in relation to what could have been the uniformity of a pan-Indian civic culture. They further contend that the so-called secularists only recognize minority difference for the purpose of tipping electoral balances in favour of this or that representative parliamentary group.8 Thus, in so far as Hindutva ideologues call for a radical reconsideration of minority rights in the present political domain, they in fact claim to be proposing a truer form of secularism that will assimilate marginalized communities more properly into the national body. That is to say, instead of a collective grounded in the recognition and acceptance of difference through shifting

INTRODUCTORY MATTERS

5

political negotiations, they profess to aim for one based on the regularization of differences into a majoritarian conception of national belonging.9 As I have already suggested, such a uniformly constituted idiom of belonging would require not only an absolutist and indeed violent Hinduization of Indian civic culture, but also an obfuscation of the problem of inequality through the aggressive standardization of a nationally viable economy of desire. My contention is that Hindutva’s impulse towards such aggressive control and regularization of difference means not only a shift in the constitutive economic, political and cultural terms of the Indian polity, but a transformation in the very texture of the language whereby questions of difference had so far been discussed. While the changing constitution of the Indian polity under the auspices of Hindutva has been demonstrated very ably by several scholarly studies, the matter of an altered language of political and cultural self-representation marks the new direction in which I hope to extend these prior studies. I will of course address this question more illustratively in the course of the book, trying to understand it in relation to important changes in what we know as the postcolonial condition, and more specifically, in relation to what Sara Suleri argues about the differences and complicities between oppressors and their oppressed. But first let me say that in order to enter the matter of the changing texture of language, especially in so far as it speaks to the category of difference, I will return my story of Hindutva to the philological beginnings of modern secularization, and in particular, to that historical moment in which language became a human field and a project independent of a divine power. One could argue that these histories were distinctly western in their orientation and therefore had limited influence in the subcontinental situation. However, as rigorously philological minds from Friedrich Nietzsche to Edward Said have shown us, the emergence of a secular-historical project of human self-discovery in the west, had a great deal to do with the philological Orientalist ‘discovery’ that Sanskrit was of greater antiquity than the Biblical Hebrew.10 Moreover, this discovery fostered a concomitant interest in encounters with the diversity of mankind as expressed in the variety and historicity of its representative tongues, and so it was deeply implied in a conceptual understanding of difference. It is not surprising then that one of the principal ways in which present-day Hindutva has transformed the texture of secular-political exchange in the subcontinent is precisely by manipulating conceptual formulations of difference, and more foundationally perhaps, by challenging the independence of language from a transcendental power.

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Orientalism, Philology and the Idiom of Secularity During the long eighteenth century, there developed a layered relationship between the loosening of the doctrinaire belief that language was bequeathed to man through divine ordinance and the emergence of philological traditions that heralded the possibility of unifying an infinitesimally diverse humanity through the institution and study of literature. A deep crisis in human selfconception no doubt accompanied this undoing of a godly mandate over language. If there was empirical evidence for another language (Sanskrit) of greater antiquity than the sacred Hebrew, then this meant that there had been a profound mistake about the originary fount of human civilization. At the same time, in the term in which Edward Said puts it in Orientalism, perhaps the seminal text for describing this particular historical juncture: as the study of Sanskrit and the expansive mood of the later eighteenth century seemed to have moved the earliest beginnings of civilization very far east of the Biblical lands, so too language became less of a continuity between an outside power and a human speaker than an internal field created and accomplished by language users among themselves11

Radically independent of a celestial home, the production of meaning in this worldly field of language users was no longer dependent on the sacred unveiling of divine omens and godly prophecies and what used to be an immanent truth would henceforth be radically fallible. Also, interpretation would require means that were not exclusively clerical. That is to say, even scriptural works were now to be interpreted by means of technical procedures deriving from the secular science of philology, rather than from the transcendental pulpit of ecclesiastical authority. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that despite emerging from, and crystallizing a condition of (European) secular modernity, reinforced by the universalizing sway of scientific reason, philological Orientalism was also at the same time, one of those disciplines that readers of Said will have no trouble recognizing as the ‘naturalized, modernized and laicized substitute for (or version of ) Christian supernaturalism’ (Said, 1979, 122). With disciplinary advancements like comparative knowledge, diachronic analyses, anthropological generalizations and classificatory systems at his beck and call, the philological Orientalist could resurrect from the dead an ancient, classical Orient that had for long been irredeemably distant, veiled and unreadable. He could thus take pride in his role as ‘a secular creator, a man who made new worlds as God had once made the old’ (Said, 1979, 121). The

INTRODUCTORY MATTERS

7

new science of philology may appear to have put to flight the arcane story of the sacred, but this element of the sacred was in fact being ‘reconstituted, redeployed, redistributed in […] secular frameworks’ (Said, 1979, 121). In short, taking the place of the divine protagonist of ancient prehistory was now the unmistakably modern figure of the philological Orientalist, who, with dispassionate objectivity, rather than through the staging of spectacular revelation, taught us like God himself, about the creation and cradle of man.12 The demonstration in 1786 by Sir William Jones of the historical kinship between Sanskrit, Greek, Latin and the Germanic languages was of central importance in this milieu. The idea of a harmonious family of languages was on the one hand premised on the concept of a common genesis for mankind, and on the other, it was projected towards the ultimate unification of humanity. Thus, both premise and project of philological Orientalism was the possibility of a unified mankind. But there was a problem in this apparently easy circularity. The evidence for Sanskrit as a primal beginning in relation to the other languages of the Indo-European family meant that the Orient was understood as both remarkably intimate, because of its originary claim on humanity, as well as terrifyingly other, because of its remote distance. If this terrifying aspect of the Orient had to be overcome, it would have to be made, as it were, ‘in the image’ of the modern European world. The philological Orientalist promised to do this through the piercing clarity of secular-historical processes. But these processes, of course, had little significance without being understood in a Manichean relation to a more primitive space and time, which they claimed to have developmentally superseded. It was for this reason that non-European cultural products, evaluated under the rubric of modern historical categories, had to be arranged in relations of hierarchical subordination to the preeminence of their more advanced western counterparts. In short, the crypto-religious impulse that coursed through modern Orientalism at the end of the eighteenth century, resided in the convergence between the academic Orientalist’s relationship as creator-god to the very origin of humanity and his emphatically modern vision of his role vis-à-vis that ancient past. In this convergence, the Orientalist would ‘discover’ the Orient, master it and bestow it as a gift unto humanity at large – more particularly unto those colonized societies and cultures that, he thought, had not the mettle to discover their own past. With this kind of a ‘disguised ethnocentric race prejudice’, Orientalism, according to Edward Said, had enabled the conceptualization of a single world space inhabited by isolable and hierarchized enclaves of identity expressed along strictly national-civilizational lines (Said, 1979, 149).13 In an important

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extension of Said’s work to the specifics of the subcontinental context, Aamir Mufti has shown that what needed to happen prior to the establishment of such an apparently singular space carved out into distinct national enclaves was the uniform codification of heterogeneous expressive forms under the increasingly universal rubric of ‘literature’.14 That is to say, before the nation emerged as the necessary template under which all products of the human imagination were classified, those non-western practices of storytelling, which had come to light in the profoundly intimate, yet deeply unsettling encounter between western languages and the languages of the global periphery, had to be standardized. The structure used was literature.15 In short, one of the ways in which Orientalism promised to decode the otherness of the east was by reading the plurality of its stories as literature and it was in this institution of literature that India appeared, for the first time, as a distinct national unit with its own legitimizing traditions.16 India thus materialized on the Orientalist map as a unique national civilization authorized by a continuity of textual forms. But, it was only a sovereign violence of extraction and selection that could have deemed that the most authentic of those forms were to be located in the Sanskrit texts of the Vedic Aryans, rather than, for instance, in writings in Persian, or myriad vernaculars, dialects and proto-languages.17 Especially illustrative cases in point of this process were nationalist-Orientalist mappings of the Gita and the Laws of Manu as sources of authoritative tradition plucked from a richly differentiated field of textualities. Both of these works were instituted through the Orientalist knowledge machine as respectively the ‘Holy Book’ of a singular Hindu civilization and the binding compendium of statutes for an emerging Hindu subject.18 But, in actuality, the Gita was only one amongst many theological possibilities, just as The Laws of Manu was an arbitrary selection from amongst a myriad of equally legitimate law books. Part and parcel of the artificial engineering of an authentic ‘Indian national’ tradition was thus the textual fabrication of a kind of monolithic Hindu essence, which was now to dominate over what used to be remarkably varied practices of ethico-legal, moral and devotional exchange. The Indic national-civilizational complex had been consolidated then, through an assemblage of sacred and secular elements, or, more specifically, through an alliance between an Indian cultural identity and its authorizing form of Sanskritized Hinduism, both so tightly linked, one would be homeless without the other. The Sanskritization of Indian national tradition was accompanied by the invention of a range of modern vernaculars and it was in and through this

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process that ‘Hindi’ (of a Sanskrit measure) was standardized as the most properly national vernacular. Given its national representative status, Hindi was in hierarchized relations of proximity to the languages, dialects and registers of speech it sought to displace. Most alien to the authority of Hindi as the linguistic and literary crystallization of national consciousness was in fact another north Indian vernacular of similar descent – Urdu. Urdu, like Hindi, was a standardized register of the Hindustani language deriving from the Khariboli dialect and emerged in the eighteenth century under the rule of the late Mughals. But, replacing Persian in 1837 as the language of the colonial state, Urdu was also marked by residual imprints of Indo-Persian mongrelizations. It was thus an outsider to the relationship between Hindus, Indians and Hindi-speakers, which was being engineered as synonymous by the Orientalist knowledge machine. As a result, Urdu became attached through a strictly colonial logic, to a rival Islamic communal, rather than properly national identity. This ‘othering’ of Urdu in relation to an authentic Indian civilization was rendered complete when after independence (and partition) it was declared the national language of Pakistan. In other words, not only did the competing forms of Hindi and Urdu become the representative tongues of two quickly and bitterly differentiated groups (Hindu and Muslim), but also, just as the politics of Muslim minorities had in the mature period of nationalist struggle been given the name communalism, so too the Urdu language, marked by an Islamic religious identity, was deemed not-quite-Indian. Since it is one elaborated quite fully by more qualified scholars, I will not belabour the point about the divide between Hindi and Urdu and how this became critical for the religious lineaments in the partition of British India. Instead, I will draw attention to the place of the English language in relation to the formation of the ostensibly most legitimate national vernacular[s] of the Indian situation, and more specifically, to the relays between national (Hindi/Sanskrit) and imperial (English) linguistic powers, as they have developed in and through the late-twentieth century transformations of the Indian political context. Any study that aims to highlight this issue cannot but take into account the superb analyses of Gauri Viswanathan’s Masks of Conquest in which the author accounts, incisively and expansively, for the tensions and complicities between the discipline of English literature in India and the political and commercial imperatives of British colonial rule.19 First developed to communicate to natives, ostensibly without an ideological agenda, the mere mechanics of the language, English literary study came into its own in the shifting power equations between the East India Company and British Parliament; between

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the Company and elite natives; and between British officials and Christian missionaries. Each of these interested parties had its own template for the use of English literature in the colony. If one thought it should be an administrativebureaucratic instrument that could be deployed to ensure ‘industriousness, efficiency, trustworthiness and compliance in native subjects’, another believed it to be an enormous repository of Christian values that would improve the moral standards of non-believers, and still another felt it to be the most legitimate vehicle to prepare primitive minds for the humanistic ideals of the Enlightenment.20 For Viswanathan’s analysis then, the institution of English literature was not as commonly understood, a fully-formed hegemonic tool in the hands of the colonizer. It was, instead, an uneven terrain on which tactical manoeuvres and strategic shifts played out between those groups interested in, as well as resistant to, the strengthening and consolidation of imperial power. On this scalloped surface of literature, empire was simultaneously vulnerable and besieged, defensive and arrogant, and to return to terms introduced early in this chapter, both a source of terror and a spur to love. Most unambiguously put, one could say British Empire came to be on the institutional terrain of English literature.21 If indeed English literature had its origin in the colonial context, then this fact would actually suspend the intuitive notion that British national formations (such as literature) must precede the work of British Empire. The issue of class is the aporia that for Viswanathan most usefully challenges the idea that it is only a fully formed national culture that can make an imperial culture possible. Indeed, as she astutely demonstrates, it was in fact the realities of colonial oppression that resonated most loudly with the making of British national identity, through the shaping and reshaping of British class conflicts in the imperial era. Following her lead, I elaborate the political aspirations of contemporary Hindutva in the Indian context, with an eye particularly to the question of how, through the aggressive reconfiguring of sites of classcultural conflicts, it imagines itself as a fully formed imperial programme, while appearing in the guise of a nationalist discourse that is still in its formative stages. I attend in particular to the Hinduizing of an upwardlymobile Indian technocracy preparing to engage in the global cultural system with the confidence of an imperially expanding group. Highlighting the renegotiation of minority difference in relation to the free-market economic policies favoured by this emerging beau monde, I underscore in particular the forming of new kinds of public commentators and self-styled intellectuals who seek to pilot such changes. I put these developments into proximity with

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Aamir Mufti’s statement that an Indian national complex was articulated for the first time, in and through the Orientalist rubric of authenticating textual institutions, both sacred and secular. I show in the final analysis how the idiom of that older national complex as well as its legitimizing textual forms have changed in the current Indian context, ostensibly in foundational ways, but while still maintaining a continuity with the imperial impulse undergirding an Orientalist remapping of the globe.

The Languages of Hindu Nationalism in Anglophone India The imperial impulse inherent to Orientalism had been made most transparently clear in its paradoxical convergence with the policy of Anglicism, which, in overtly devaluing eastern cultures in favour of their western counterparts, initially appeared unequivocally opposed to an Orientalist preoccupation with the fineness of Indian literature. Yet, despite their explicit polarization, it is to the continuity between Orientalism and Anglicism that Gauri Viswanathan and Aamir Mufti point as they attempt to elaborate an ideological relationship between the two models, both implicated in what Edward Said called the ‘dialectic of information and control’ (Said, 1979, 36). To be sure, the processes of Anglicization relied on the enormous body of knowledge about the native mind that Orientalism had produced, at the same time as it made visible the hierarchical logic inherent to the system of comparative evaluations already embedded in the Orientalist machine. Anglicism marked in a sense, therefore, the peaking of philological Orientalism’s reorganization of human collectivities and the products of the human imagination. The only difference between the two positions was that in the former, the latter’s disguised prejudices had been unabashedly unveiled. This was perhaps most starkly clarified in Macaulay’s infamous 1835 Minute on Indian Education where he claimed that his idea about ‘a single shelf of a good European library [being] worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia’ was something he had gleaned from the Orientalists themselves.22 Despite their support for an ‘Oriental plan of education’ the most distinguished Orientalists could not but admit, according to Macaulay, the ‘intrinsic superiority of the western literature.’23 It is my contention that this cavalierly expressed continuity between seemingly opposed Orientalist and Anglicist positions is useful for understanding a similar offhandedness in the way ideologues of Hindutva collapse oppositions between the most intractable polarities of colonial and postcolonial thought – whether tradition and modernity, religion and reason, or east and west. It is

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as a function of such offhandedness that contemporary Hindu nationalists are particularly brash about their ability to write nation into empire and especially unambiguous on the question of how to reframe to this end, the relationship between national and imperial linguistic powers. In short, it is the politics of language that is central to Hindutva’s global aspirations, just as it was the relays between central and peripheral languages and literatures, that marked Orientalist-Anglicist imaginations about the shape of the world. It is widely known that alongside the institution of Hindi as the exclusive official tongue of government business, Hindu nationalist parties in the current Indian context, have vigorously pushed for the revival of Sanskrit as a kind of touchstone for the liturgical-scriptural consciousness of Hindu majoritarianism.24 Yet, many of the leaders associated with this ideology admonished those amongst their ranks who supported an angrezi hatao (ban English) policy as the necessary complement to their privileging of Hindi and Sanskrit as putative national tongues. Indeed, I would go so far as to argue that the success of 1990s Hindutva, or, what we might call its shift from extremist fringes to the very center of representative institutions, has come about in consonance with its adoption of a strictly Anglophone manner of speaking.25 Much like the fact that Orientalism and Anglicism were not in fact polarized phases of British educational policy in India, Hindu nationalism’s simultaneous support for both English and Hindi/Sanskrit at the same time is not a contradictory position.26 This is because the ideologues of Hindutva seek to reterritorialize and provincialize English to such a degree that it is no longer a foreign tongue, but one as intimately known across the land as the invented tradition of Sanskritized Hindi. Scholars of postcolonial Indian culture will argue that this kind of abrogation of standard English, in the service of a hybridized tongue that can carry the particularities of local experiences, is by no means a phenomenon unique to Hindutva. Indeed, the ‘chutnification’ of English, as it were, is a process that has characterized IndoAnglian writing from its very beginnings, even though it perhaps achieved its acme only in the 1980s, when the Indian novel in English became one of the most dazzling products of the world literary bazaar.27 In the hands of the most recognizable practitioners of this product, like Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh and Arundhati Roy, English is deployed as one of many regional vernaculars, with distinct regionalized particularities penetrating the very discursive strategies of the Anglophone prose. In contrast, in the prose of the writers of new-age Hindutva who I study in this book, English is decisively unbound from its regional affiliations and made

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to function as the most legitimate trans-local site – alongside and sometimes superseding standard Hindi and/or Sanskrit – for the crystallization of an uninterrupted national consciousness. In other words, the street Hindoostani of Bombay that marks Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, the endemic banalities of Bengali that characterize Tridib in Amitav Ghosh’s Shadow Lines and the Malayalam and Kottayam enunciations that feature in Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things have no place in the language of Hindutva. In their stead is a kind of English that makes the claim for local rootedness without recourse to the many localisms internal to national-peripheral space. This language is identical with standard Hindi in so far as it is being shaped as the most properly national vernacular that Indians use to speak to other Indians in a closed endogamous space – a space in which the conversations have become completely internalized and the terms of engagement have turned entirely private. That is to say, no longer does English written by Indian writers have to address an international audience of ‘India-watchers’ and no longer does that language have to express an exotic sensibility, which is still easily digestible for its largely western readership. If India has finally and decisively arrived on the global stage, the nation no longer has to be narrated for consumption overseas, by migrants who live overseas. As in the Orientalist-Anglicist situation, the idea of India is now being (re)made on the terrain of expressive forms.28 But the nature of these forms is different from those of the colonial context – and one of the most significant of these differences is that the language of the new India’s legitimizing expressions is English.

The irony of a proposed linguistic dispensation in which English is substitutable for Sanskritized Hindi as the most appropriate representative tongue of the nation, lies of course in the fact that the place of the latter as a truly pan-Indian form has always been besieged by competing claims to representative status.29 Thus, when the ideologues of Hindutva call upon English to occupy such a besieged place, they are, on one hand, attempting to strengthen the Orientalist engineering of the Indic national complex as a continuum of Hindi speakers, Indians and Hindus. On the other hand, they are also reinventing English in such a way that it can attach to, and therefore, become part of this continuity. The formation of such continuity is a central ideological aspect of metropolitan Hindutva. But before such continuity could be proposed, the language of Hindutva had to manipulate the primal significance of Sanskrit in the Indo-European family, so as to make it radically coincident with the increasingly universal hegemony of English in a world order defined by late-twentieth century globalization. Thus, what Sheldon

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Pollock has famously called the political power of a Sanskrit cosmopolitan conjuncture at the beginning of the common era, becomes in the hands of the ideologues of new age Hindutva, the originary forebear of those ways of thinking and being that have made English in the contemporary global system an increasingly exclusive medium of cosmopolitan exchange.30 It is worth remarking here that prior to ‘the rise and spread of a range of ... political-cultural practices’ embedded in the Sanskrit inscriptions of the first millennium, Sanskrit culture was restricted to fairly limited liturgical and scholastic domains.31 Demonstrating the different aspects of Sanskrit’s social sphere of influence on one hand, and its political strength on the other, Sheldon Pollock has emphasized the undoubtedly intricate complexities of this ancient cosmopolitan structure.32 In the rhetoric of Hindutva, however, emblematic signs from this Sanskrit structure are wrenched away from their historical context and written into the hegemonic political symbols of a contemporary ‘Anglophone coalition of the willing’.33 So for instance, in that rhetoric the karmic cycle of life and rebirth can be articulated as the best platform for the experiments of a free market economy; the Hindu god of destruction can become synonymous with a modern surgeon cleansing the body of disease; and the power of the moral cord of dharma can function as the primal antecedent for international policy platitudes about democratic freedoms. Hindutva thus manifests as a regime of power in which two very different cosmopolitan orders – one dating to the first millennium and the other formed under conditions of modern colonialism and contemporary globalization – become increasingly reducible to one another. It is on these grounds that we have the formation of what I will call a Hindu-Anglian prose of being, in which, the foundational differences of a secular modern world (east and west, self and other, and religion and reason) are arrogantly suspended.34 Within a grammar of alterity that was coterminous with the nationalist rhetoric of autonomy from British rule, the liaison between mythical gods and surgical heroes, karmic lives and free market consumption, dharma and democracy would have been completely taboo. In contrast, for the discourse of Hindutva that is shaping the new India, these prohibitions have become part of an environment of language that violently subsumes difference into a highly controlled and controllable field of signifying practices. Hindutva is not however a homogeneous ideology. Indeed, one of the primary contentions of this book is that in its current, mature phase, under the auspices of fiscal and cultural globalization, Hindutva is distinct from the ideology as it emerged and developed starting in the 1920s atmosphere of

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anti-colonial agitations. Wrenched away from what used to be its proto-feudal, regionalist and largely vernacular beginnings, cultural Hinduness in the late twentieth century is a highly metropolitan, elite and ostensibly pan-Indian Anglophone discourse, which I call ‘metropolitan Hindutva’, or differently, the rhetoric of Hindu India. Paradoxical as it may sound in the context of its affiliations with Hindu nationalism, this rhetoric is subject neither to a nationalist epistemology of political and cultural distinctiveness, nor to a postcolonial imperative to embrace the heterogeneous nature of the Indian nation, even if only by celebrating it in a kind of ruddy multiculturalism that counts as a tribute to tolerance.35 As I have already suggested, this is why latetwentieth century Hindu India is expressed in a register of language where English is radically transposable onto standard Hindi and the asymmetrical relays between national and imperial linguistic powers are brashly put under erasure, just as the myriad semantic and syntactic particularities of nonHindi speaking sections of the Indian population are gradually disqualified. Indeed, the kind of non-regionalized local English that the authors of the new Hindutva started to approximate beginning in the 1980s (and peaking in the new millennium) received a fillip from transnational flows rather than from strictly local transformations. The Indian context of the new millennium was changing as a result of the rapid spread of cross-border commercial enterprises strongly associated with the phenomenon of business process off-shoring, as well as with the quick consolidation of web technologies which were spurring increasingly borderless platforms for information exchange.36 This meant that an accelerated desire for a kind of cybernetic English as a tool of economic advancement coursed through the social body. This aspiration towards a digitally savvy English was coupled with the contrasting recognition that, given the deep penetration of a networked society into the banalities of everyday life, English, as the principal tool of internet-based communication systems, would become exceedingly plastic and malleable.37 Alongside the emergence of India as an important economic and military force in the Asian context, as well as one of the most important outsourcing capitals of the world, it was this recognition that made the distinctiveness of Indian English more and more a site for the performance of heightened global visibility. In this context, the Hindi-Sanskrit complex that had been the axis for reshaping English as a non-regionalized Indian vernacular shifted ever so slightly to address a new audience comfortable in the quick-fire argot of social media, awash with the consumer goods of a newly liberated market, and deft with a kind of pithy management speak

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suited to an outsourced industry’s most streamlined customer service agents. The primal authority of the Sanskritic cosmopolis was still distinctly visible in the Indian English of this millennial environment, but it was so more as a type of heritage site on which a new national collective could exercise its slew of emerging lifestyle choices. Thus, we have for instance, mushrooming karma yoga studios and massage parlours to ease the stresses of a new managerial class, haute couture marked by Sanskrit inscriptions for globally recognizable fashionistas and body art featuring Hindu gods and goddesses for media-savvy trendsetters. In short, what had been for the beginnings of the language of metropolitan Hindutva, the de-historicized symbols of a Sanskritic liturgicalpolitical authority, become with this new turn in its idiom, the ciphers of a kind of techno-managerial culture whereby a national elite claims its place on the world economic stage. To speak of a ‘new’ turn in the development of the Hindu-Anglian syntax of nationhood is to imply at least two isolable phases in this emerging field of signification. The first can be traced to 1985 when the think-tank economist Jay Dubashi published his collection entitled Snakes and Ladders: The Development Game (a text I read closely in chapter 3 of this book). A second stage in the life of this language can be mapped to 2004, when novelist and professed self-help youth icon Chetan Bhagat (whose work I attend to in my closing chapter) published his remarkably successful first novel, Five Point Someone: What not to do at IIT.38 The difference between these two registers of metropolitan Hindutva is a generational one, and one that I contend could be understood rather more clearly, if readers were to take seriously the convergences and deviations in the respective intellectual and professional formations of representative figures. The older cohort – comprising names like Jay Dubashi, Arun Shourie, Francois Gautier and Swapan Dasgupta amongst others – are more often than not think-tank based ideologues, have experience as politicos and/special columnists for leading English language dailies and boast of elite Indian educational backgrounds topped off with higher degrees from western universities. Their training is primarily in the social sciences and humanities – economics, political science, philosophy and history – and some were even left-leaning oppositional intellectuals, who turned a different corner, beginning approximately in the later 1980s.39 While the privilege of their instruction remains intact, the expertise of the new breed of believers is somewhat different. Trained in professional fields and the applied sciences – engineering and business administration, to be exact – or sometimes both, these later heralds of Hindu India have arrogantly streamlined, with the confidence

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of their licensed skills, what was only beginning to emerge as a managerialregulatory intelligence in the writings of the earlier ideologues. They are young men, these new-age engineers and managers, and full of a vaunted awareness of their own youthful success, they fashion themselves as icons who promise to redeploy for global viability common perceptions regarding the venerable eminence, unchanging antiquity and august wisdoms of Hinduness. Primal Hindu India might be, but as the first generation of ideologues were already beginning to suggest, it can be both foundationally originary, and radically contemporary, in the same instant – in that sudden flash of simultaneity that makes synonymous, as we have seen, tradition and modernity, antiquity and novelty, and nation and empire.40 The delegates of the second chapter in the life of Hindu India do not then replace or supersede in any sense the ideological ground of their older forebears. Instead, the writings of these new believers function in an adjacency with the earlier discursive practice. They inject it with the vitality of youth and refine and augment its violent synthesis of polarized dualisms, like the traditional and the modern, through what I will analyse as a kind of elaborate poetics of management-speak, authorized by the choicest professional degrees in the country. Despite these nuanced generational distinctions however, both groups of authors agree that India’s postcolonial intelligentsia is an antiquated one and must be replaced. They argue that the public sphere in the Indian context has been for too long dominated by left-leaning (even, Marxist) intellectual elites, who have increasingly lost touch with the national community, while still taking it upon themselves to represent the nation in metropolitan centers of the global cultural system. To take the place of such an obsolescent elite, the intellectual and professional formations that shape the strength of Hindu India have generated a new right-of-center intelligentsia that fancies itself more alive to the national spirit, its language more accessible to the People and its creed more expressive of what this People ostensibly aspires to. Yet, what remains unsaid in this charter is that such a seemingly homogeneous national People, has not, as it were, been waiting in the wings. It has had to be engineered, invented, or called into being by a distinct style of narration, a particular voice and pitch of address, a series of violent rhetorical strategies and a nexus of well-defined axes of cultural-political authority. One of the most important consequences of this range of discursive technologies has been, as I have suggested, the transformed relationship between national and imperial linguistic registers. This, in turn, has led to the successful normalization of the question of class-privilege in Hindutva’s fashioning of an upwardly mobile,

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young, English-speaking technocratic middle class as in fact the most authentic and authenticating aspect of the new India. Liberating this ambassadorial class from what used to be principal national questions like poverty and redistributive justice, as also making it unaware of its own elite formation, new-age Hindutva has freed it of its most defining postcolonial burden. But if the authors of Hindu India – both its first and second generations – accused an erstwhile intellectual elite of alienating itself from the nation on the wings of metropolitan migration, then its own form of elitism involves making precisely the relations of metropolitan-peripheral forces invisible. This is done by inserting nationalist confidence into imperialist fantasy and inventing a representative class that can be the unburdened vehicle for this avaricious fantasy. In such a scenario, it is as if the hierarchical logic inherent to Orientalist evaluations of a global cultural system has been done away with for good. But what has actually transpired is that the asymmetrical relationships between metropolis and periphery are merely being imagined in reverse, for in the fantasy of Hindu supremacy, structures of imperial dominance do not have to be radically dismantled; they can be merely transferred from western superpowers to an emerging force from the east.

A Post-political Story of Journalism Under the pressures of global free markets, the rise of economic and military powers in an increasingly strong Asian complex of states and the accelerated spread of technologies associated with the planetary consolidation of networked societies, it is not only the national players fashioned in the colonial-Orientalist nexus that are radically changed as they seek to become interchangeable with their erstwhile imperial aggressors. Indeed, in some sense, it is the stage itself upon which these politics of identity and cultural relations had been fashioned that is now being profoundly transformed as a result of shifts in the major institutions and foundations that had supported it. As I have already argued, via Aamir Mufti’s interrogation of modern philological Orientalism in the Indian context, the nation was first narrated as a distinct identitarian enclave on the increasingly universal plane of literature. That is to say, the institution of literature was the single most significant knowledge system, whereby an infinite diversity of non-western expressive forms was rendered knowable, and therefore, governable, along strictly national lines. As such, it was one of the strongest of the bases for the Orientalist machinery of power and the preeminent evaluative surface for the fashioning of India as

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a distinct national-civilizational complex, with its own legitimizing literary traditions. Two hundred years later, literature, as the semantic archive through which a nation could be willed to speak, has been outdone, I claim, by a new narrative system. The story of Hindu India while still perpetuating the same imperial logic inscribed in the Orientalist restructuring of global cultural relations, is not only no longer written in the putative national vernacular[s], it is also no longer written on the authenticating terrain of chronologically evolving literary traditions. Instead, metropolitan Hindutva is being narrated in and through what I will call a journalistic enterprise, which in turn is constituted and disseminated through the tempo and scope of a telematic assemblage of information processing, global managerial systems of control and smart telecommunications. Before going on to say more about what I mean by this telematic-journalistic configuration, let me turn again to some of Sara Suleri’s theorizations in The Rhetoric of English India. As we have seen before, Suleri had foregrounded the complicities rather than differences between colonizer and colonized so as to draw attention to the precariousness of imperial power. At the same time, however, she had also developed a theory of what she calls ‘the story of journalism’ so as to put into relief the brashness and arrogance of that same power, precisely at the time when it is at its most precarious (Suleri, 1992, 111). The journalistic narrative is, according to Suleri, the most apt form for this arrogance, which is expressed in what she calls the adolescent temporality of empire. This is because the story of journalism radically lacks ‘a past history’ and is absorbed completely therefore in an immediacy of presentness that performs ‘the concomitant youthfulness suggested by such exuberance of attention’ to the moment (Suleri, 1992, 111). Drawing on Edmund Burke’s pained remark that a venerable India was being subject to the impetuous governance of young, even boyish men, who succeeded one another, wave upon wave, with no end in sight, Suleri demonstrates that the curious ability of journalistic narration to always be at home in the continuing span of the present tense was in fact the most illustrative literalizing of this unchanging adolescence in colonial logic. The story of journalism is, thus, in Sara Suleri’s argument, expressive of the motionless novelty of an imperial time that has completely abnegated the finitude of mortality in its monstrous avarice for eternal youth.41 I develop in a different context and slightly distinguish from Suleri’s elaboration of the story of journalism, my own argument about metropolitan Hindutva’s appropriateness to what I am calling the telematic tempo of

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journalistic enterprise. First, let me emphasize as strongly as I can that even though exemplary instantiations of the writings of first generation Hindutva ideologues more often than not take the form of journalistic columns, feature articles and op-eds, the phrase ‘journalistic enterprise’, as I conceptualize it, has little to do with journalism per se. Instead, it is a diffused mode of narration that sustains itself in, and extends itself to, the stasis of a youthful temporality of avarice that is suited to the presentist tenor of the journalistic story. As such, it can manifest in a wide range of mediums of expression: literature, film, electronic media exchanges, marketing mantras, music and lifestyles, as well as of course, in the more traditionally journalistic commentary I have already mentioned above. This mode of narration attaches in the new millennium to the technology of telematics: a highly flexible assemblage of smart telecommunications, information processing and global managerial systems. In this telematic scenario of journalistic narration, it is possible to instantaneously transmit, receive, control and perpetuate what Suleri calls the adolescent temporality of empire over great distances and differences.42 That is to say, in the dispensation of metropolitan Hindutva, the journalistic enterprise is a loosely bound system of signifying practices, whereby a stasis of youth can travel remotely, but still in a regulated environment, and this time, without reckless colonizers having to be bodily transported to a venerable land from afar – as Edmund Burke had put it, almost poetically in his anguish, ‘one after another, wave after wave …’ (Suleri, 1992, 111–12). Thus, on one hand, the unchanging adolescence of empire can now be instantaneously, rather than chronologically (‘one after another’), projected on a global scale through the technology of cybernetic transmissions, and on the other, through the intervention of global managerial systems, the stasis of its tempo can be monitored and therefore preserved. I will show in the course of this book that one of the principal conceits that in the telematic-journalistic prose of Hindu India syntactically bears and rhetorically relays the elixir of eternal youth, is the cycle of life and rebirth. There is however one important distinction between this karmic cycle as it appeared in the Sanskritic culture of the Common Era and the same cycle as it has been re-articulated for the discourse of Hindutva. In the latter, it is detached from the final possibility of divine transcendence, and as such becomes a self-perpetuating pattern, that can function as perhaps the most suitable stage for the scripting and performance of a continually renewing, and more importantly, ahistorical life form. Of course, if an otherworldly liberation from the enduring pattern of life and death is dependent on the moral-ethical

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quality of one’s actions in successive lives (karma), then to take away the possibility of redemptive release is also to free the individual of responsibility for his worldly actions. Thus, removing from the cycle of life and rebirth the possibility of final liberation leads to the idea of a continuity of perpetually renewing lives, comfortable in the lap of the present tense of history, because they neither look back to past deeds, nor forward to a future that will ensure deliverance. The language of Hindutva inheres in such a scenario, and thus, augments and optimizes the unchanging adolescence of British imperialism, through an originary claim to what it presents as the primal epistemology of eternal life. On the back of such Hindu optimization, the conceit of immortal life, morally void and historically vacuous, slips easily and smoothly into an ascendant discourse about the vigour of the Indian consumer market, which, on the strength of its numbers alone, could offer a ‘continually renewing’ field for the movement of goods, services, finances and people. Not surprisingly, such market confidence is abetted by several international institutes whose research has analysed and predicted the evolution of economies of the global South. This research has suggested that favourable population composition related to the expansion of a new Anglophone middle-class and rising disposable incomes are the two most important features that make India stand out on the world economic stage.43 This kind of a promising population composition has been brought about, as I have already suggested, not only through the economic embrace of consumption-driven markets, but through a particular style of address, and a specific voice and pitch of articulation – in short, through the rhetorical and discursive strategies of an emerging narrative system. Metropolitan Hindutva has generated an intersection between the economics of the process and the narrative system that accompanies it by violently telescoping the semantic densities of the category ‘freedom’ into a pithy, flexible and lifeless cipher that will legitimize India as a leading member of the free world. That is to say, in the new Hindu-Anglian prose, India appears as a regime of power, which, through the scriptural claim to a continuing cycle of lives, detached from the possibility of transcendence, can offer human life ‘freedom’, even from the inevitability of death. More importantly, it can make a discourse of this ‘final freedom’, as it were, the most definitive surface for a celebratory rhetoric of economic liberalization. It is thus that a deathless, and in that sense, transcendental continuity of life, becomes the site on which the forces of a free market economy can renew themselves again and again, mobilized to a great degree by a religious fervour that denies finitude to the worldly interests of secular man. The phenomenon of a mass of life that must be cleansed of random and

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accidental features so as to be optimized in the service of a more enduring species, brings us, not surprisingly, to Michel Foucault’s ground-breaking work on sovereignty and bio-power. In chapter 3 of this book, after having introduced in the previous chapter, the narrative system and intellectual formations that form the backbone of Hindu India through a reading of the ideologue Jay Dubashi’s 1992 collection of articles entitled The Road to Ayodhya, I turn to the same author’s 1985 collection Snakes and Ladders: The Development Game.44 It is in relation to this earlier work, which I argue pioneers the economic discourse of metropolitan Hindutva, that I introduce my reading of Foucaultian biopolitics. I demonstrate that Dubashi’s conceptualization of the economics of Hindutva offers an enhanced version of Foucault’s diagram of the sovereign power to make live and let die. The augmentation unfolds, as I have already suggested, through an extended conceit of the Hindu cycle of life and death, which is mapped in this case onto the almost universally known – and childfriendly – game of snakes and ladders. Unbound from the trappings of finitude, Dubashi’s deployment of a continuing cycle of lives ushers the category ‘freedom’ into a bio-political imperative to optimize life, while also making that category a celebration of the economic desirability of an unchanging, eternally true liberalization, for which the game of snakes and ladders is a model. In the final analysis, Dubashi magnifies the power to make live and let die, so that pushed to its logical limits, it becomes the power to make free (even from death) and let die. It is this deathless, free life, liberated both by the powers of the open market, as well as by the primal force of a Hindu-Sanskritic epistemology, that he presents as the gift of Hindutva for the world. Since the economics of neo-liberalization in the Indian context are by now fairly well-known, I draw attention to the cultural conceits, whereby ideologues like Dubashi claim Hindu India as both the originary premise for the freedom of the market as well as its ultimate objective. These cultural devices have a long and complex genealogy, going back, my contention is, to a dense relationship between history-writing and the cycle of rebirth that had explicitly founded the early thinking of a man who has often been referred to as the father of modern day Hindutva. It is with this argument in mind that I turn in chapter 4 to explicate the thinking of V. D. Savarkar and to locate the beginnings of Hindutva in an early-twentieth century atmosphere of colonial agitations. Demonstrating how in his quirky 1909 work The Indian War of Independence, 1857, the founding ideologue of Hindutva had deployed life and rebirth as an indigenous instrument of resistance against the linearity of European historywriting, I contrast Savarkar’s conceptualizations to those of Dubashi. If for

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Dubashi, the concept of a cyclic transmigration of souls is embedded in a fantasy of imperial sway, for Savarkar that same concept functioned as an axis for articulating national distinctiveness in the face of British imperial control. Indeed, it is not until 1922, when Savarkar writes his foundational tract The Essentials of Hindutva, that we see traces in his work of the imperial logic of metropolitan Hindutva, and evidence therefore, for the appellation, ‘father of Hindutva’ as it attaches to him in contemporary times. Chapter 4 of the book is thus committed to understanding the deviations and convergences in the discourse of Hindutva as it developed between the early and later parts of the twentieth century. As I discuss these unresolved relays, I emphasize particularly, the gap between what I follow Michel Foucault in theorizing as an older sovereign power founded in the right to take life and a new biopolitical sovereignty committed to make live. I begin chapter 5, therefore, by addressing the gap between the two discourses of Hindutva and the two regimes of power that it has projected into the Indian context. In order to elaborate this gap between an older dispensation of Hindutva and its new age version, I turn to the question of style, and particularly, to the stylistic relays between national and imperial linguistic powers in the Anglophone prose of Hindutva ideologues. Moving from Savarkar’s Essentials of Hindutva (the one text in his oeuvre for which he chose English rather than the regional vernacular) to the writings of contemporaries of Jay Dubashi like Francois Gautier and Swapan Dasgupta, I demonstrate that in Savarkar’s Anglophone prose, the asymmetrical relations of force between English and Sanskrit, and between Sanskritized Hindi and the many regional vernaculars, was still starkly visible. In the later English language writers of Hindutva however, those uneven relations are subordinated to an Anglo-Hindu journalistic enterprise in which, as I have already suggested, a liturgical Sanskritic consciousness is interchangeable with the hegemonic status of English as a globally circulating lingua franca. Indeed, it is the tenuous space between these two isolable textures of writing – one represented by Savarkar and the other by someone like Dubashi, for instance – that is of interest to my story, for that space is one in which the transformations brought about by Hindutva in sites of class-cultural conflicts are most sharply visible. To elaborate more illustratively, the transformations that occur in the space between the two distinct instances of Hindutva, I introduce directly for the first time into the story of Hindu India, the stylistic resources of a widely recognizable Indian Anglophone literary culture, more or less coterminous

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with the rise of what I am theorizing as a new-age Hindu India. I take up Amitav Ghosh’s 1992 genre-ambiguous work In an Antique Land, which, I argue, poignantly struggles with precisely those moments of transition in which class-cultural conflicts are shaped and reshaped and settled environments of language collapse in the face of enhanced patterns of change. In an Antique Land appeared the same year that a sixteenth century Indian mosque was razed to the ground by Hindu nationalist cadres, and while Ghosh does not in any way directly reference this defining moment of the new Hindutva, what is in fact useful about his text is not its political address of the issue, but rather its rhetorical performance of, and challenge to, the kind of political and cultural condition that may have led up to that heinous act. Ghosh stages a lingering emphasis on the kind of complicities between oppressor and oppressed that are quickly gaining ground under conditions of fiscal and cultural globalization, and as he does so, he demonstrates how power becomes increasingly aggressive as it is bred in and attempts to normalize that collusive exchange. This dark picture notwithstanding, what is still at the forefront of Ghosh’s stage is not the aggression of this violently normalizing power, but rather its remarkably precarious poise. Unlike the language of metropolitan Hindutva then, Ghosh’s language persistently forecloses the possible intimacies between victim and victimizer from hardening into irreversible actualities. It is in this way that his style expresses a deeply secular human scenario in which identities are always contingent and meaning is always elusive, for tragically ruptured from the codified certainty of a divine power, man himself is the most tenuous creature of history. I imagine then that in its most tender and revealing moments, Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land is a brilliant literalization of an important intellectual task. This task, exemplified in the best of Anglophone Indian fiction, and postcolonial expression more broadly, strives to make visible the precarious instabilities of powerful and disempowered positions. My book concludes however, not with the hope invested in this kind of critical task, but with a contrary picture that asks readers to encounter both the vulnerability of power and its brash arrogance side by side and at close quarters. I reveal in this spirit, and as the other side of a text like In an Antique Land, a new, dangerously Hinduized phase of Indian literature in English in which the vulnerability of power is being put under erasure, the unrest of historical processes is being denied and the uncertainty of identities is being refused. The emerging authors of this millennial Anglophone Indian fiction pride themselves on their departure from globally recognizable names like Salman

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Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, and indeed, Amitav Ghosh. They argue, much in the manner of Hindutva ideologues like Jay Duabshi, that if these earlier figures had narrated the nation through a literary prowess expressly geared toward a privileged western readership, then their own stories of the nation, told in a language suited to the banal, everyday concerns of the national middle classes, are more appropriate for the sensibilities of this representative people. It is thus no surprise that the novels of men like Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi, who are the most significant of the new Anglophone-Indian authors, flaunt a ‘homegrown’ Hindu-Anglian prose that is recognizable in a kind of outsourced form in call center circles, between new-age campus youth and amongst a technocratic upwardly mobile class that prides itself in its casual comfort with the idioms of social media, management speak and smart telecommunications. Here, the symbols of a Common Era Sanskritic culture are arranged into a register of middle-class, urban lifestyle, in which the most repeated mantra is youthfulness, and ‘English is like Hindi’ rather than one of the many regional vernaculars, its tempo telematic, its enterprise journalistic.45 With the help of a Hindu-Anglian prose such as this, Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi, intellectually and professionally formed in the fields of business and engineering, have successfully promoted themselves as highly liberal (but as I will show, still insidiously conservative, especially in gender and class terms) youth icons. In their iconic avatars, they claim to have revolutionized the Indian publishing industry just as they have transformed Bollywood films, which draw generously from their work. In both cases, the ‘revolution’, I suggest, has involved injecting into cultural forms, a kind of authorship that is shaped by professionalized telematic intelligences.46 It is the insertion of this kind of technological and managerial expertise into cultural production that I demonstrate has enabled self-styled public figures like Bhagat and Tripathi to crystallize the idea of new India into what they present as a post-political and post-ideological formation – for technology in the eyes of technocrats has no politics. Thus, the political Hindutva that was a pioneering force in the shaping of the new India is cleansed of its communal-genocidal genealogy through the work of such millennial authors and made to appear as a force that merely invests, apolitically, in free market economies, digital competencies and smart communications. Reading the constitution of such a force through their spectacularly popular fiction, as well as the ancillary discursive, publishing and marketing practices of men like Bhagat and Tripathi, my book concludes with the fear that the journalistic-telematic enterprise of new-age Hindutva is spreading quickly and surely, from journalists and politicos, to novelists and

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youth icons and from manifestos and policy documents to literature, films, music and even the making of new styles of national belonging crystallized around these cultural forms. The atmosphere is thus ripe for the consolidation of a Hindu form of life that will brook no truants in achieving its violently absolutist goals. It is this terrifying political scenario, I argue, that is concealed by the seeming innocence of post-politics.

Notes on Method The texts and authors, who form the basic matter of this book, have to the best of my knowledge not been studied in the professional world of the Anglo-American academy. I have not found any references at all, for instance, to the novels of Amish Tripathi, although this may be changing very soon; Jay Dubashi finds a brief mention as an ideologue in two works on Hindu nationalism, Francois Gautier is quoted for his hard-right views in two articles on the same topic, and Swapan Dasgupta does not feature at all in this field of investigation, even though he has commented himself, on the writing of scholars studying the formation of Hindutva. Chetan Bhagat’s novels may in fact be the only texts I read that have received some academic attention, but this is more because they are understood as a gateway to understanding emerging phenomena in the contemporary Indian publishing industry, rather than as a platform from which the maturing of Hindutva discourses may be examined. Yet, important as it may be to introduce these texts and authors to a wider readership, filling the gaps in academic discourse is not what is at stake in this book. I will of course, as I move through the book, provide an argument for why I choose the works of these particular writers to read the idiom of metropolitan Hindutva, but what is really at the heart of my concern is how these writers employ the field of study marked out by some questions I start out with at the very beginning of this introduction. How did what used to be the terrifying, but still shadowy complicities between colonizer and colonized, become normalized and hardened to the extent that no longer is it terrifying to see traces of the primitive in the modern, the native in the foreign, or the slavish in the master? What is the particular environment of language in which these collusions are so strongly consolidated and erstwhile anti-colonial nations come to increasingly write themselves into empire rather than oppose, or, counter it? In what way does this new idiom of nationhood – suspending as it does the binaries of nation and empire – mark what we might call an afterlife of the postcolonial condition? And finally, how does this afterlife

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of postcoloniality speak back, on the one hand, to the knowledge forms and institutions engendered in modern secularizing processes, and on the other, to the intimate historical encounter, beginning roughly in the eighteenth century, between western and non-western languages and people? Given that the science of philology developed in the lap of processes of modern secularism and through instruments of imperial control and national legitimation, my story calls upon intellectuals who are committed to philological interrogations that take seriously the allied implications of Orientalism, imperialism and the unfolding of secularism in the modern world. The word ‘philology’ has etymological roots in the Greek philos (love) and logos (the word) and I keep these concepts alive in the background of my analysis, as a reminder of Sara Suleri’s theorizations about terror, love and the instability of power in so far as these are imbricated in what used to be the dimly apprehensible intimacies between oppressor and oppressed. I use this background to elaborate on the new idea that in the idiom of metropolitan Hindutva, terror is constituted not by confronting such complicities in the rhetoric of binarism, but precisely by a situation in which these have been regularized to the extent that there will be no more binaries, no movement between them, no limits to be transgressed, and thus, no spur to love. In short, my argument is that in Hindu India, terror is the impossibility of love, rather than its inevitable companion. This is so because, as I will demonstrate, Hindutva attempts to exercise a transcendental control over profoundly human scenarios in which language is a worldly field of fallibilities; where difference is the motor for contingent histories; and identities are insurgent and unrequited. It is because of my particular intellectual leanings, as I have elaborated them here, that Edward Said features most prominently in this book, especially, as he draws from the thinking of philologists like Eric Auerbach and Giambattista Vico, and more recently, as he has influenced the similarly oriented works of postcolonial scholars like Gauri Viswanathan and Aamir Mufti. I bring into conversation the Saidian philological tradition in the literary study of empire with a de Manian strain in deconstruction. The latter concerns itself, on the one hand, with the ways in which secular time is a phenomenalization of the figurative playfulness of language, and on the other, with the question of how imperialist narratives attempt to control the instability of power that results from such playful figurations. Sara Suleri and Gayatri Spivak are the core representatives in my book of the de Manian influence and I use their extension of this particular theoretical tradition to the context of subcontinental situations, to turn my attention to the critical

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historiographic project of South Asian Subaltern Studies, particularly in its Gramscian and Foucaultian variants. Drawing from Michel Foucault an emphasis on the history of the present and from Gramsci, a concern with the triangulated question of consent, coercion and hegemony, I combine the intellectual work of the Subaltern studies collective with the critical impulses of deconstruction and philological study. In the final analysis, my attempt is to have the distinct strands in this large body of philosophical and scholarly practices intersect with one another and speak specifically to the question of how secularization as a legacy of western Enlightenment thought has fared as it has traveled sometimes nimbly, sometimes clumsily, the gaps and congruencies between the languages of colonial culture, Indian nationalism, and now, increasingly, an ascendant discourse of Hindu empire. The organization of the book is not a chronological one. I begin with what is commonly agreed upon as a defining moment in the life of metropolitan Hindutva – the razing to the ground on 6 December 1992 of a sixteenth century mosque by Hindu nationalist cadres, who claimed that the site of the mosque was the birthplace of the mythical hero/god, Rama. Roughly spanning texts that appeared a few years before and after this event, between 1985 and 2005, the non-linear sequence of the book foregrounds thematic connections, rather than consecutive periods in the story of Hindutva. As I have already suggested, these thematic connections lead to a history of the present by examining the quickly changing story of postcolonial secularism, the vicissitudes and triumphs of fiscal and cultural globalization, and the environment of language introduced by the spread of telematic assemblages of exchange and control. In fact, it is also precisely these same thematic connections and the emphasis on historicizing the present, that calls for the critical resources of what some might think is a rather eclectic mix of theoretical practices. To have deconstruction speak to philological humanism and philological humanism to Subaltern historiography, is a choice I make because I believe that the porousness of boundaries in the world I describe demands a similar porousness of intellectual exchange. It is not a matter of being faithful to any one tradition of critical engagement. Rather, it is precisely faithlessness that is important to this book in several different senses, for what is at stake is the ability to call upon a malleable political metaphorics that will ‘highlight the necessarily uneasy relationship between colonial past and neocolonial present, history writing and current critique, cultural studies and political economy.’47 It is notable that this is the way in which Brent Edwards describes the work of postcolonial studies, which, he argues should function

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as ‘a task or problematic rather than a method or map’, and I draw on his description not only because it demonstrates my continuing commitment to the kind of radical uneasiness Edwards foregrounds in the politics of postcoloniality, but also because it offers a way for us to think about theories as intimately intersecting critical energies rather than discrete methodologies which must retain an isolable purity.48

Endnotes 1 2

Sara Suleri, The Rhetoric of English India (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 1. This work will henceforth be parenthetically referred to as English India. Suleri follows S. P. Mohanty in asking ‘just how other the other is’. See S. P. Mohanty, ‘Us and Them: On the Philosophical Bases of Political Criticism,’ Yale Journal of Criticism 2, no. 2 (Spring 1989): 5.

3 See Michel Foucault, ‘A Preface to Transgression,’ in Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews, edited and translated by Donald F. Bouchard (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1977), 29–52 for an elaboration of the relationship between limits and transgressions as I express them here. 4

5

6 7

8

See (extract from) Atal Behari Vajpayee, ‘Secularism, the Indian Concept,’ in Hindu Nationalism: A Reader, edited by Christopher Jaffrelot (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), 330 for a very clear articulation of the idea that when in the Forty-second Amendment (1976) the two categories, ‘socialism’ and ‘secularism’ were introduced into the Indian Constitution, they were mentioned together, ‘in one breath,’ as if without distinction.

See Partha Chatterjee, ‘Secularism and Toleration,’ Economic and Political Weekly 29, no. 28 (9 July 1994): 1768–77; Neera Chandhoke, Beyond Secularism: The Rights of Religious Minorities (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999); Aditya Nigam, The Insurrection of Little Selves: Secular Nationalism in India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006) and Gyanendra Pandey, ‘The Secular State and the Limits of Dialogue,’ in The Crisis of Secularism in India, edited by Anuradha Dingwaney Needham and Rajeshwari Sunder Rajan (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007), 151–76. All these authors contend that secularism in India is an instrument for the recognition and acceptance of difference within the framework of a liberal state, rather than an imperative to separate religious and political bodies of governance.

See Gyan Pandey, The Construction of Communalism in North India (New Delhi and New York: Oxford University Press, 1990).

Shabnum Tejani has succinctly argued that Indian secularism is ‘a relational category that emerged as the nexus of community and caste, nationalism and communalism, liberalism and democracy’. Shabnum Tejani, Indian Secularism: A Social and Intellectual History 1890-1950 (Ranikhet: Permanent Black, 2007), 15. See Chetan Bhatt, ‘Democracy and Hindu Nationalism,’ in Religion, Democracy, and Democratization, edited by John Anderson (New York: Routledge, 2006), 133–54 for

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the argument that the term pseudo-secularism in the Indian context has been used by Hindu nationalist parties to accuse their critics of practicing secularism only for the sake of the ‘appeasement’ of minority groups; see Shampa Biswas, ‘To be Modern, but in the “Indian” Way: Hindu Nationalism,’ in Gods, Guns, and Globalization: Religious Radicalism and International Political Economy, edited by Mary Ann Tetreault and Robert A. Denemark (Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2004), 115 for a reference to BJP Leader L. K. Advani’s statement that ‘secularism is only a euphemism for vote-bank politics’, and Anthony Elenjimittam, Philosophy and Action of the R.S.S for the Hind Swaraj (Bombay: Laxmi Publications, 1951) in which the author uses the phrase ‘pseudo-secularism’ at an early moment in the history of independent India to accuse leaders of the Indian National Congress (INC) of only ‘pretending’ to uphold secular principles.

See Gyan Prakash, ‘Secular Nationalism, Hindutva, and the Minority,’ in The Crisis of Secularism in India, edited by Anuradha Dingwaney Needham and Rajeshwari Sunder Rajan (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007), 177–90 for the claim that the Hindu Right seeks to establish a majoritarian rather than religious domination over the Indian polity. Prakash also contends that the hope that with a more stringent application of secularism, Muslims will be more properly assimilated into the national body, actually represents the pathologization of secularism in the Indian context. Without elaborating this pathology however, I think it is worth noting that in Prakash’s analysis, ‘secularism’ as it appears in the discourse of Hindutva, is synonymous with ‘assimilation’.

10 Edward Said makes clear his influences in the study of Orientalism when he notes that Nietzsche saw philology in ‘the Viconian sense as a sign of human enterprise, created as a category of human discovery, self-discovery, and originality’. Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), 132. 11 Edward Said, Orientalism, 136.

12 See Edward Said, Orientalism, 138, also for a brilliant observation about modern philology, as it moves from what Said calls ‘the dramatic attitude’ to ‘the scientific attitude’. 13 See Michael Holquist, ‘World Literature and Philology,’ in The Routledge Companion to World Literature, edited by Theo D’haen, David Damrosch and Djelal Kadir (London and New York: Routledge, 2012), 147–57 for an elegant elaboration of the shift from classical philology founded in the ‘non-nationalist’ study of ancient Greece, to modern philology’s national and nationalist study of literary traditions. 14 Aamir Mufti, ‘Orientalism and the Institution of World Literatures,’ Critical Inquiry 36, no. 3 (Spring 2010): 458–93.

15 See M. L. Varadpande, History of Indian Theatre, Volume 2 (New Delhi: Abhinav Publications, 1992) for a glossary of storytelling practices in Indian traditions – for instance, the ecstatic songs and dances of the bauls (or, wandering minstrels) of Bengal, the burra katha, a popular narrative form in Andhra Pradesh in which stories are narrated to the beat of a drum, and the keertan, prevalent in almost all parts of the country, in which storytelling takes the form of chanting. 16 For an understanding of the European formation of the category ‘literature’, see amongst others, Stefan Hoesel-Uhlig, ‘Changing Fields: The Directions of Goethe’s

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Weltliteratur,’ in Debating World Literature, edited by Christopher Prendergast (New York: Verso, 2004), 26–53. The author identifies two important discussions – one in philosophical aesthetics and the other in literary history – that, between the 1750s and 1820s, led to the consolidation of literature. In short, literature superseded aesthetic belles lettres as the most legitimate archive of evolving societies and cultures, and therefore of rigorous historical thinking. It was in this sense that Herder’s 1767 fragments ‘On Recent German Literature’ was principal in the understanding of literature as an emphatic historical object, and henceforth, it came to be that, a nation would speak most eloquently in and through its literature.

17 See Aamir Mufti, ‘Orientalism and the Institution of World Literatures’.

18 See Sibaji Bandyopadhyay, ‘Atho Ma Faleshu Kadachon,’ Anustup Sarodiya (2003): 2-232, for a titanic study of twelve centuries of commentaries on, and translations of, the Gita, which, together, demonstrate the Holy Book’s many nationalist positionings. 19 Gauri Viswanathan, Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989). 20 Gauri Viswanathan, Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India, 93.

21 See Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983) and Chris Baldick, The Social Mission of English Criticism 1848-1932 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983) for arguments about the role of empire in the emergence and consolidation of English literature as a discipline.

22 Thomas Babington Macaulay, ‘Minute on Indian Education,’ in From the East India Company to the Suez Canal, Volume 1 of Archives of Empire, edited by Mia Carter with Barbara Harlow (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2003), 230. 23 Thomas Babington Macaulay, ‘Minute on Indian Education’, 230.

24 There are several, varied, and sometimes contradictory reports on the policies of Hindu nationalist organizations regarding the place of Sanskrit in modern Indian society. For some of the more lucid coverage of this issue vis-à-vis the agenda of the present BJP government and the expectations from it, see http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/18/ world/asia/narendra-modis-election-sparks-hope-for-sanskrit-in-india.html and http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/bjp-demands-restoration-of-sanskrits-gloryopening-central-varsity-for-it/1157150/, last accessed on 28 August 2015. 25 See Selma K. Sonntag, ‘Ideology and Policy in the Politics of the English Language in North India,’ in Ideology, Politics, and Language Policies: Focus on English, edited by Thomas Ricento (Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishers, 2000), 133–50 for a reference to the BJP leader L. K. Advani’s recognition of the appeal of Hindutva to an upper-caste Anglophone bourgeoisie, and his admonishing on that ground, of the ‘banish English’ advocates amongst his party men.

26 On 20 June 2014, the Vice President of the Hindu nationalist BJP, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, was quoted declaring: ‘There is no conflict between Hindi and English’. See http://indianexpress.com/article/india/politics/govts-move-to-promote-hindi-notan-insult-to-english-bjp, last accessed on 28 August 2015.

27 Gayatri Spivak, ‘How to Read a “Culturally Different” Book,’ The Spivak Reader, edited by Donna Landry and Gerald Maclean (New York and London: Routledge, 1996),

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237–66 is an excellent summation of the different ways in which Indian writers of English have shaped and reshaped the relays between national and imperial linguistic formations. That apart, for a notable consideration of the reasons for the success of the Indian novel in English, see Francesca Orsini, ‘India in the Mirror of World Fiction,’ in Debating World Literature, edited by Christopher Prendergast (New York: Verso, 2004), 319–33 where the author argues that in the post-Rushdie, postcolonial novel, the west sees not India, but a contemporary realization of itself. For the term ‘chutnification’, see Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (London: Picador, 1982), 459.

28 For an argument about celebrations of the idea of India in the Anglophone world, especially in relation to the moral and political conundrums suffered by westerners, see, Amit Ray, Negotiating the Modern: Orientalism and Indianness in the Anglophone World (New York: Routledge, 2007).

29 Even up until recent times, after the BJP came to power in a sweeping mandate awarded them in the Indian parliamentary elections of 2014, there has been a heated debate about the party’s policy of favouring Hindi, with some remarkably vocal critics emerging from amongst the ranks of the BJP’s own allies. These critics have articulated fears that Hindi was being imposed on non-Hindi-speaking sections of the population. See two recent reports on the issue at http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/ imposition-of-hindi-unacceptable-now-bjp-ally-ramadoss-opposes-governmentorder-on-tweets-544926 and http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/ hindi-in-social-media-jayalalithaa-bjp-allies-oppose-nda-move/article6133406.ece, last accessed on 28 August 2015.

30 See Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Death of a Discipline (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003) for this claim about English becoming an increasingly exclusive medium of cosmopolitan exchange and Sheldon Pollock, ‘The Cosmopolitan Vernacular,’ Journal of Asian Studies 57, no. 1 (February, 1998): 6–37 for an elaboration of the Sanskrit cosmopolis. 31 Sheldon Pollock, ‘The Cosmopolitan Vernacular,’ 6.

32 Sheldon Pollock brilliantly delineates in ‘The Cosmopolitan Vernacular’ , the diffusion, beginning in the Common Era, of political Sanskrit in South Asia without the attendant realities of colonization, military conquest, sustained demographic migrations, or even organized structures of power. It is for this reason that he concludes that the spread of Sanskrit during this time is without parallel in world history. 33 The term is Amitav Ghosh’s. See Amitav Ghosh, ‘The Anglophone Empire: Can Occupation Ever Work?’ The New Yorker (7 April 2003). 34 For an excellent challenge to the appropriation of Sanskrit cultural and liturgical power by contemporary Hindu nationalism, see Simona Sawhney, The Modernity of Sanskrit (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009).

35 Francesca Orsini argues that in the postcolonial novel, in the post-Rushdie period, India is represented as a ‘florid, sensuous, inclusive, multicultural world’, one which is closer to the west’s latest interpretation of itself than to a less-easy-to-digest confrontation of India as a ‘disturbingly competitive, immediate, challenging […] modern mass society with laws of its own.’ See Francesa Orsini, ‘India in the Mirror of World Fiction,’ 332–33.

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36 I borrow the concept of ‘non-regionalized’ local English from Suman Gupta, who uses it in a slightly different context. See Suman Gupta, ‘Indian “Commercial Fiction” in English, the Publishing Industry, and Youth Culture’, Economic and Political Weekly 47, no. 5 (4 February 2012): 46–53. 37 The term is from Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society (Cambridge, Mass: Blackwell, 1996).

38 The year 1984 is significant also because in October of that year, after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and a crisis in the Congress Party, Hindu nationalist strategies were changed to meet the demands of the ‘favourable’ context. See, Christopher Jaffrelot, The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993) for the convergence of transformed Hindu nationalist manoeuvres in the early 1980s.

39 It has been well documented that the Indian political context of the 1980s showed signs of a mounting anxiety in the wake of separatist agitations, the decay of the Congress Party which had been independent India’s principal parliamentary party, and the exhaustion of secularism as the ideological mainstay of a multi-religious nation. For slightly different versions of this documentation, see amongst others, Ashutosh Varshney, ‘Contested Meanings: India’s National Identity, Hindu Nationalism, and the Politics of Anxiety,’ Daedalus 122, no. 3 (Summer 1993): 227–61 and Rajni Kothari, Communalism in Indian Politics (Ahmedabad: Rainbow Publishers, 1998). 40 After the loss of the Hindu nationalist BJP in the Indian parliamentary elections of 2009, Swapan Dasgupta, a leading and early Hindutva ideologue whose work I take up later in the book, had argued that the party would need to make itself more ‘contemporary’ and the change would need to be a ‘generational’ one. See Swapan Dasgupta, ‘Junking the Ugly Hindu Image,’ available at http://www.swapan55. com/2009/06/junking-ugly-hindu-image.html, last accessed on 28 August 2015. 41 Suleri theorizes her understanding of journalism with reference to the works of Rudyard Kipling (in spite of, as well as in conversation with, his literal profession as a journalist) in which, she argues, the history of empire is faced with the unchanging present of its adolescent tempo.

42 The French term telematique was coined by Simon Nora and Alain Minc in a 1978 report for the French President, titled L’informatisation de la Société and was translated as telematics in Simon Nora and Alain Minc, The Computerization of Society (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1980). Daniel Bell wrote the introduction for this first English language edition, and noted in that text that in a broad political and sociological sense, telematics would likely change the nature of many transactional social relationships. Gayatri Spivak uses the term ‘telematic tempo’ in her essay, ‘How to Read a “Culturally Different” Book,’ in a slightly different sense than I am employing it here, to describe the computerized and videographic circuits of popular culture.

43 See for instance, Deloitte UK’s 2013 report titled ‘India Matters: Winning in Growth Markets’. An online PDF of the report is available at this link: http://www2.deloitte. com/content/dam/Deloitte/uk/Documents/about-deloitte/deloitte-uk-about-indiamatters.pdf, last accessed on 4 November 2015, or the McKinsey Global Institute’s 2007 report entitled, ‘Bird of Gold: The Rise of India’s Consumer Market,’ available at

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http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/asia-pacific/the_bird_of_gold, last accessed on 28 August 2015.

44 Jay Dubashi is an interesting figure who has been both a core member of the economic think tank of the BJP government, as well as someone who became disillusioned with the party, especially in the years before the parliamentary elections of 2004. See http://www.tribuneindia.com/2002/20021109/edit.htm#5 for a 2002 interview with Dubashi, conducted by Gaurav Choudhury of the Tribune News Service. More recently however, after the Narendra Modi-headed new BJP government came to power, Dubashi seems once again to have returned to the ranks with a favourable report on the 2014 budget. See http://udayindia.in/2014/07/26/2014-budget-a-peepinto-achhe-din/, last accessed on 11 November 2015. 45 This is a quote from a reader of Chetan Bhagat’s novels who praises the author for writing in a form of English that does not tax his brain because it is interchangeable with Hindi. See Nirpal Dhaliwal, ‘Chetan Bhagat: Bollywood’s Favourite Author,’ The Guardian, 23 April 2014.

46 For a clear articulation of the intimate exchange between telematics and managerial intelligences, from the point of view of fleet management industries, see Jeff Zagoudis, ‘Telematics puts Managers in the Driver’s Seat,’ available at http://www.construction equipment.com/telematics-puts-managers-driver% E2%80%99s-seat, last accessed on 28 August 2015. I have not seen a similar argument in cultural or literary criticism. 47 Brent Hayes Edwards, ‘The Genres of Postcolonialism,’ Social Text 78, vol. 22, no. 1 Postcolonial Traces (Spring 2004): 1 48 Brent Hayes Edwards, ‘The Genres of Postcolonialism,’ 1.

2 Time’s Victims in a Second Republic New Histories, New Temporalities Martha Nussbaum’s The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence and India’s Future (2007) is an important instance of scholarly attack on the emergence of Hindu fundamentalism in the context of a newly globalizing India.1 One of the significant aspects of this work is that Nussbaum does not just stop at condemning the duplicitous politics and violent excursions of Hindu supremacist organizations. Instead, she seeks to ask what exactly it is that has made metropolitan Hindutva so successful despite the contradictions in its discourse and the regular instances of heinous brutality that dog its political footsteps.2 Nussbaum’s analysis is focused primarily on the years  between 1998 and 2004, when the parliamentary structure of India was controlled to a significant degree by right-wing Hindu nationalist forces which sought to make ‘fundamental changes in India’s pluralist democracy’ (Nussbaum, 2007,1). Led in government by the BJP and its allies, and aided by extra-parliamentary formations of similar ideological dispensation, the Hindu Right had been threatening, increasingly aggressively since the late 1980s and early 1990s, to dismantle independent India’s strong espousal of secularism whose founding figure was Jawaharlal Nehru.3 One of the most grisly manifestations of this dangerous ideology was the genocidal cleansing of Muslim minorities in the western Indian state of Gujarat in February-March 2002 and not surprisingly, given the period of her focus, Nussbaum gears her attack towards this event. It was soon after this Gujrat pogrom that the political units associated with Hindutva suffered a shocking electoral loss, but alongside many other scholars, Nussbaum was perspicacious enough to remark that the Hindu right-wing impulse remained strong in the Indian polity despite the parliamentary setback of 2004. Of course we know that in the years since the publication of The Clash Within, the Hindu nationalist BJP has returned to power on the

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strength of a sweeping mandate. But more pointedly, we also know that the figure who spearheaded this triumph was none other than a man, who serving as the chief minister of Gujarat between 2001 and 2014, was associated most closely with the 2002 ethnic cleansing in that state. I will turn to the very intriguing political persona of Narendra Modi, currently the fifteenth Prime Minister of independent India, in the final chapter of this book, but for now let me return us to the principal arguments Nussbaum forwards in attempting to understand the wide-ranging, and no doubt, spectacular triumphs of Hindutva in a late-twentieth century Indian context. Striving to comprehend the success of the Hindu Right in the current Indian context, Nussbaum tells us that Hindu nationalism ‘has many faces’ (Nussbaum, 2007, 52). It is precisely the complexity of its multiple aspects and its wide spectrum of affiliations that in Nussbaum’s view consolidates the power of Hindu nationalist ideology, as it reaches out to a large number of people of different classes, sexes and regions across the land and elsewhere. I take my lead from Nussbaum’s project, as it moves to uncover the configurations that spell the success of Hindu nationalism in the course of its emergence as the foundation of a brave, new India in the 1980s and 1990s.4 On the one hand, despite my emphasis on what I have called metropolitan Hindutva, it is important to note, like Nussbaum, that Hinduization in the current Indian scenario continues to have diverse strengths – in the vernacular hinterlands, amongst a proto-feudal agrarian sector and with the small-town petty bourgeoisie, as also, of course, in a specifically anglophone, urban, technocratic and globally savvy middle-class domain. On the other hand, I argue that even though Nussbaum’s findings take into account these varied affiliations of Hindu nationalist discourse, it is specifically a sophisticated, upper-class aspect of this discourse with which she is most enthralled.5 In other words, the value of Nussbaum’s study for me is that her gesture toward the radically diverse threads in the current discourse of Hindu nationalism almost unwittingly leads her to apprehend a mesmerizing thread of refined urbanity as the major strength of the contemporary Hindu Right. It is this upper-class aspect of the constitution of contemporary Hindutva that is the focus of Nussbaum’s analysis as well as a particularly provocative point of departure for my own story of the class-cultural transformations brought about by Hinduization in the millennial Indian scenario. Thus, of the three important figures, who together represent in Nussbaum’s book the ‘diversity’ (Nussbaum, 2007, 52) of Hindu perspectives in a late-twentieth century Indian context, I will focus

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only on one representative ideologue, the sophistication of whose views and lifestyle makes him what Nussbaum calls the ‘class-act’ of Hindu nationalist ideology (Nussbaum, 2007, 70). The Minister of Disinvestment, Communication and Information Technology in the former BJP-led government (1998–2004), Arun Shourie became a significant voice in matters having to do with religion and also remained very close to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for whom he functioned as a trusted advisor of the inner circle.6 Before his foray into politics, Shourie had been trained as an economist and after that training he went on to work for the World Bank for a decade in the late 60s and 70s. He also later established further privileged credentials as an investigative journalist who began writing for the English language daily, Indian Express, finally going on to become editor of that publication. Nussbaum reads Arun Shourie alongside and against men like K. K. Shastri and Devendra Swarup, who respectively occupy positions as president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in Gujarat and in-house historian for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).7 According to Nussbaum, if Shastri is uninspired and politically crass, ‘basically the head of a group of thugs’, unabashedly deploying crude violence in the face of a perceived Muslim threat, then Swarup is a man who lives an austere lifestyle of disciplined conformity in line with the belief that while violence is not a characteristic of Hindus, it is unavoidable because Muslims are inherently unable to live peacefully with other communities (Nussbaum, 2007, 68).8 While admitting that Shourie too believes that Indian Muslims must be kept from becoming too powerful and that he has nowhere condemned the Gujarat violence of 2002, Nussbaum nonetheless designates his quick intelligence a contrast to Swarup’s unimaginative orthodoxy, not to speak of Shastri’s untamed zeal. Arun Shourie, in Nussbaum’s words, is thus, as I have suggested before, the ‘class-act’ of the field that constitutes the contemporary Hindu Right, a man with carefully considered, though contentious economic ideas, which dovetail well with his sophisticated views about the different orientations of critical thinking in politics (Nussbaum, 2007, 70). Most provocatively, unlike K. K. Shastri and Devendra Swarup, both of whom are committed adherents to the idea of a pure, untainted Hinduism, Arun Shourie is revealed in Nussbaum’s work as a withering critic of all forms of traditional religion. He has in his writing virulently attacked Christianity and Islam for their proselytizing roles and Islam, more specifically, for its authoritarianism and denial of woman’s equality. He has even condemned Hinduism for its obscuring of powerful class-interests through other-worldly messages and its

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resulting function in social life as the ‘opiate of the masses’ (Nussbaum, 2007, 63). In fact, Shourie credits his turn to the BJP not to religious zeal but to a political need to respond to what the party calls ‘minority appeasement’ and ‘pseudo-secularism’ – or, what is perceived by the BJP and its allies, as the incongruous concessions made by the Congress Party supported by left-liberal secularists to the powerful ethnic minority of Indian Muslims. The Clash Within presents its author’s interview with Arun Shourie anecdotally, lingering on the atmosphere and setting of the encounter and trying to unravel the compulsions of this man, his personal history, his day-today life and even the nuances of his demeanor as he speaks about his beliefs. The anecdotal style reveals a wily politician who may be called ‘classy’ not only for his thinking, but also for his elite intellectual formation, his cosmopolitan professional experience and the quiet luxury of his domestic surroundings. Stepping back from the person of the man, but still taking very seriously the implications of the term ‘class’ in Nussbaum’s diagnosis of Arun Shourie, I attend to writings that are like Shourie’s – constituting a highly economistic, urbane, technocratic, global and increasingly Anglophone journalistic idiom, in and through which, starting in the late-twentieth century, a certain kind of ‘classy’ political Hinduness has circulated with varying degrees of intensity around the world.9 Indeed, one of the premises of my analysis in this chapter and in the book more broadly, is that it is this particular linguistic register of current avatars of Hindutva that constitutes the ease with which the discourse of the Hindu Right circulates amidst an accelerated integration of financial, labour and capital markets and alongside the dizzying flows of aesthetics, images and culture in transnational circuits of information.10 My contention is that the success of present-day Hindutva is achieved in the crystallization of a pithy journalistic medium that has its home in the large, expanding, English-speaking middle-classes of the Indian context. This representative group then privileges the role of an Anglophone allegiance among countries that make up the imperial ‘coalition of the willing’.11 Metropolitan Hindutva is furthermore consolidated in a telematic control of language that attacks not only the complexities of what we call the historical sense, but more specifically, the conceptual strength of human differences and diversities as a vector for that historical sense. In other words, governing and managing expressions of diversity at the very level of syntactic coincidences and semantic regularities, the new language of Hinduization attaches the markers of an ancient and venerable Hindu civic culture to the speed and technocratism of the information age as well as the contingencies of free market accumulation,

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rhetorically forging thereby a new ‘brand Hindu’, and from there, a new ‘brand India’.12 It is against the background of this kind of branding exercise that Martha Nussbaum’s analysis of Arun Shourie is important to my investigations. Often tonally shrill and polemical, Shourie’s emphasis is on Hinduness as a highly globalized economic and political category rather than a traditionally religious, or even racial one. His attempt, through such a transposal, to reconfigure historical and cultural self-understanding in a quickly changing South Asian situation is symptomatic of the kind of language environment which forms the premise of what I am calling ‘Hindu India’. However, before going on to say more about this, let me strongly state, that to argue that metropolitan Hindutva is a kind of language environment is not in any way to claim that it is in some simplistic sense merely a rhetorical formation radically isolable from realized facts. Of course, it does, as we have seen, actualize itself in genocidal killings, it does mobilize gruesome rioting and it does advance alarming limits on inalienable freedoms and chilling assaults on diverse communities. Indeed, all these have been richly and incisively documented by scholars across the world, including Martha Nussbaum, whose work I call upon for this reason, amongst others. My own book hopes to extend these prior studies and to argue from a slightly different angle that ethnic cleansing of the kind we have seen perpetrated by Hindu nationalism in the current Indian situation is profoundly involved with a cleansing of the textures of difference in language/s. Alongside Arun Shourie (and others like Swapan Dasgupta, Francois Gautier, Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi, whose works I take up in the course of the book), Jay Dubashi, the figure this chapter will undertake to read closely, is one of an increasingly influential network of public intellectuals who function as self-appointed interpreters of the Indian Right for the country’s Anglicized professional middle-classes.13 These intellectuals consistently attack left-liberal commentators, who they believe have for too long dominated the historical and political self-perception of the Anglophone national bourgeoisie. According to this right-of-center intelligentsia, it is time to dislodge from power the privilege of the erstwhile liberals.14 Yet, despite moving to usurp the place of a group of public commentators they accuse of elitism, the ideologues at the helm of metropolitan Hindutva, are in fact just as privileged in their training as their forebears. Like many of the figures they attack, these ideologues have experience as journalists and/or politicos and boast of elite Indian educational backgrounds topped off with higher degrees from western universities. Dubashi, for instance, earned a Bachelor’s degree in engineering

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from Mumbai, began his higher education, like Arun Shourie, in economics and later finished with a PhD in this area from the London School of Economics. Officially associated with the BJP, and more generally with the political right wing of Hindu nationalism, for several years, Dubashi was a core member of the economic think-tank of the BJP. But once again like Shourie, he is also known as a columnist writing regularly for English-language publications in India, specifically The Organiser and the India Today group.15 Apart from their elite training and professional experience, which they share, as I have suggested, with those left-liberal intellectuals they seek to dislodge from power, Dubashi and Shourie are similar in their focus on Hindutva as something other than a sectarian conceptualization. Indeed, according to Thomas Hansen in The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India, Jay Dubashi was one of the first leading BJP figures to formulate the ‘Hindu cause as a political cause, and thus disentangle Hinduization from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s more religious idiom.’16 It is also precisely this pioneering formulation of the category ‘Hindu’ as a political rather than religious one that ties Dubashi to Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, a man who has been referred to as ‘the father of Hindutva’ and a man, who in the first decades of the twentieth century had proffered just such a conceptualization of Hinduness. I will take up the work of Savarkar in relation to Dubashi’s writings later in this book, but suffice it for now to say that Jay Dubashi is an important character in my story of Hindu India, not only because his politicizing of the category ‘Hindu’ can be linked to the beginnings as well as the maturing of Hindutva, but also because as early as 1984, he had attached, unequivocally, the political programme of Hindutva to what ought to be its economic diagram. Moreover, he forged this politico-economic map into a primal force and the gift, therefrom, of Hindutva unto the world. This is something I will consider only in the following chapter because before doing so I think it necessary to understand more of the language environment initiated by men like Jay Dubashi and the ties, more specifically, between this language environment and the institution of ‘Hindu’ as a political, rather than religious entity.

The Political Resurrection of Hindus With an aggressive sense that Hindutva or cultural Hinduness as it has emerged in the late-twentieth century is far removed from matters of faith

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and more closely linked to discourses of fiscal and cultural globalization, the international metaphorics of security and terror and a new political patrimony that attempts to fold itself into US imperial interests in Asia, Dubashi’s writing is not very different from the way in which Nussbaum describes Shourie’s – often strident in its pitch, strongly polemical and with a penchant for ad hominem mockery. In his work, India is no longer a developing nation enmeshed in ideological conflict and multiple sovereign alliances. Instead, cleansed of the lived experience of asymmetrical histories and partisan politics, India is ready to be pressed into an undifferentiated continuum with the ostensibly smooth spaces of the global market.17 Metropolitan Hindutva in Dubashi’s hands achieves this transformation of the idea of India at the very level of language and style, collapsing the historically constitutive differences between tradition and modernity, east and west, and nation and empire in a highly flexible syntactic adjustment between the economism, militarization and technologism of an increasingly liberalizing Indian state and the ‘holy cows of Hindu scriptures’.18 Indeed, it is precisely in so far as Dubashi’s writing removes the ‘holy cows of Hinduism’ from their somewhat marginal, proto-feudal, agrarian and largely vernacular roots in the earlier parts of the twentieth century and gives them pride of place in the highly technocratic cultural, economic and political identifications of an urban Anglophone intelligentsia that it represents the (elitist) ‘class-act’ of present-day Hindu nationalism.19 In turn, as I will show through a reading of Dubashi’s prose, it is by the assumption of carefully chosen discursive signatures that ensure the circulation of intellectual products in a telematic world media space that this neo-Hinduized ‘class-act’ forms itself in the properly national (because globally viable) aspect of authentic Indianness.20 The question of what constitutes a ‘political category’ and what constitutes a religious or social one was something that had been addressed by the INC (Indian National Congress) as early as 1888. In a momentous decision at this time, the Congress decided to proscribe from discussion on its platform any matter of ‘social’ value for these were not the same as ‘political’ concerns: Social questions are to be left out of the Congress Programme ... the Congress commenced and has since remained, and will ... always remain a purely political organization devoting its energies to political matters and political matters only.21

Being a contradictory field crisscrossed by differential alliances based on gender, caste and religion, ‘social life’ could not be appropriately national,

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and therefore, had to be relegated to the private realm of the home. In the public sphere, only political concerns (constituted by economic and territorial questions) were to be heard, for it was these political concerns that would transcend individual or particularistic interests in the name of a unified, if still abstract, national community. Implicit in the 1888 programme of the INC was therefore a schism between the political aspect of the nationalist critique of colonialism and the cultural particularities of the population that was to constitute the ‘life’ of the emerging nation. Implying a certain distance from gender, caste and religious interests, it was this sense of the ‘political’, tied to the economic, that through various turns in the course of the nationalist movement for autonomy, developed into the neutrality of the language of postcolonial secularism.22 Even though he does not explicitly reference their programme, Jay Dubashi’s crafting of Hinduness as a political rather than social/cultural category could be understood as a response to the decisions of the INC in 1888.23 In other words, if Hinduness was not, according to the policies of the Congress, a matter for national concern because of its social affiliations, then the only way it could become an appropriate issue for the nation was if it were detached from religious and racial matters and redeployed as a political concept. Yet, when elevated to a political and therefore national ‘type’, the inevitably particularist affiliations of a category like ‘Hindu’ could lead to a renegotiation of the base fabric of the nation’s people. Indeed, it is this latter view that is at the forefront of Dubashi’s work in his 1992 collection, The Road to Ayodhya, where he suggests that a new generation of political Hindus, resurrected phoenix-like from the dying embers of their thousand year long decline and near-fall, are to be the harbingers of ‘India’s [imminent] second republic’.24 But who exactly, one might ask, are these ‘Hindus [who] are rising again, not as a race, not as religion, but as a vibrant political system’ and what was it that caused their previous decline and near-fall? 25 Dubashi argues, provocatively, in response to such a question, that the thousand-year descent of Hindus reached its nadir not when Hinduness was overcome by other political systems like Islam or Christianity, but rather in the post-independence period, when despite being the proud bearers of political autonomy, Hindus were unable to constitute themselves as a unified national community. These very same Hindus could only become truly political beings and organize themselves into a unified nation, he demonstrates, through their special relationship to the issue of the Babri Mosque at Ayodhya, especially after the events at that site of 6 December 1992.

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Before going on to unravel the tangled web of Jay Dubashi’s pronouncement, which I will read closely as a concrete symptom of the kind of language environment that inscribes the nation-building aspirations of contemporary Hindutva, it would be important to say a little bit about Ayodhya, a relatively small city in the Faizabad district of the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. In the linearity of Dubashi’s title, The Road to Ayodhya, Ayodhya appears to be a signature of the present political resurrection of Hindus. However, my contention is that Ayodhya is not just a signature of the present, but rather one that arrests, simultaneously and violently, all three orders of time in one instant. Let me try to explain this matter a little further. In the Indian cultural imaginary, broadly speaking, and more specifically, in the Indian cultural imaginary formed under the auspices of Hindutva, Ayodhya journeys back to the Ramayana, one of the earliest Indian epics of the subcontinent, variously dated between 500 and 100 BCE and often popularly attributed to the mythic single author, Valmiki. Credited in Valmiki’s text as the seat of King Dasharatha, who graced by the gods, sired the epic hero Rama, Ayodhya has since accrued multiple associations having to do with the sometimes discontinuous and often deeply conflicting influences of Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. All of these are again intermittently choked by modern-day contentions that these mongrelizing trespasses were in fact preceded by Rama’s prior, and therefore, original claim to the territory.26 It would not be surprising if such an originary claim formed the pivot of Dubashi’s claim to Ayodhya, but The Road to Ayodhya is actually directed more broadly against the intellectual principle of secularism in the Indian context and, as I have suggested before, against historical thinking as an expression of how processes of secularization are imbricated in the question of human diversity. This is why in Dubashi’s text, Ayodhya is at once a site for the past glory of the Hindus as graced beings under the protection of the epic hero Rama, the present volatile stage for perhaps the most defining spectacle of the new political system of Hindus and a symbolic platform for the future of these new Hindus as an emerging imperial formation. Indeed, this arresting of time emblematized in Dubashi’s sign ‘Ayodhya’ becomes the conceptual template for his prose, as it sets about to attack the unfolding of the historical sense and conceptualizations of diversity and difference as functions of that historical sense. Historical thinking is not however a solely organic or referential event but a linguistic one as well and Jay Dubashi’s stylistic manipulations are, in keeping with this idea, deeply imbricated in his theorizations of history. Several thinkers like Walter Benjamin, Paul de Man, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin

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Heidegger and Dipesh Chakrabarty (to name just a few) have reminded us that conceptualizations of historical time were first opened up when the production of meaning became a fallible human enterprise rather than an unshakeable divine decree. In other words, historical time becomes possible, according to these thinkers, when language becomes the place where man multiplies his differences and distances from a foreordained godly meaning, rather than the place in which he is merely a petrified witness to the absolute sovereignty of a transcendental power.27 In this sense, worldly time is the inability of the sign (or of Truth) to coincide with itself; it is the gap, the foundational distance and difference, between man and God and between a word and its meanings. Dubashi’s attack on this secular-historical sense involves countering such a sensibility by instituting in its place an ostensibly transparent linguistic code, which forfeits precisely those unreliable referential possibilities that came into being when language became a human endeavour independent of divine power. Hindutva, in his hands, is thus an environment of language in which the unensurability of meaning, the densities of textual difference and the unyielding gaps between a sign and its semantic gravitations are submitted to a technology of signification, inhuman in its attempt to restrain a field of unyielding variables. In The Road to Ayodhya, this environment of language is expressed through a journalistic narrative style, which, following Sara Suleri, I argue, unfolds through a perpetual present tense.28 In other words, the historical sense as a medium of distances and differences is reduced in Dubashi’s 1992 collection of essays to a governable ground of regularities, such that the accidents and contingencies of time and meaning are removed from the perfectly managed structure of a technologized language. In turn, it is precisely because they have conquered the human historical sense, and thus, dissolved the differences between all three orders of time (and therefore, between the developing postcolonial nation and the developed metropolitan center), that Hindus emerge in Dubashi’s 1992 collection as the bearers of an imperial power that will overcome the British, the Russians and even the Americans. Ayodhya – since it is the site on which past, present and future collapse into one another – becomes the geophany for this emergent imperial scenario.

Seizing a Hindu History As I have suggested before, the entire narrative drive of The Road to Ayodhya is directed solely toward the era of post-independence Indian politics and more specifically towards the principle of secular balance. The effects of

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British colonialism appear in occasional flashes as the flippantly cosmopolitan affiliations of contemporary Indian heads of state and traces of Moghul domination only spectrally haunt the landscape, leaving their legacy to those more contemporary ‘pseudo-secular’ political forces ready to genuflect before the bidding of the minority community’s vote. Given that the four decades or so after independence occupy the spotlight of Dubashi’s tableau, the most important figure in his writing is Jawaharlal Nehru. The iconic first Prime Minister of independent India was a committed advocate of Fabian socialism and the main architect of the non-aligned movement of nations – but perhaps most importantly for Dubashi, he was commonly reputed in the Indian situation as a champion of Muslim minority rights and of postcolonial secularism more broadly. 29 As such, so important is Nehru to Dubashi’s vitriol that the long temporal span of Hindu decline that the book uses as its organizing principle is released from its attachment to particular periods of foreign rule – its unfolding in time as it were – and congealed in its entirety into a contemporary cartography saturated to different degrees by what Dubashi considers the disastrous legacy of Nehru and his breed. Early on in his book, Dubashi invokes an occasion that, for the first time in fifteen years after independence, united a substantial opposition against Nehru’s vision of politics: The 1962 war [with China] changed [everything]. People began to wonder whether Nehru had not taken them for a ride. They also did not like the way Nehru had tried to create a family dynasty, on the lines of the Moghuls. Nehru was not the last Englishman in India, as somebody has said. He was the last Moghul and tried to create a Moghul dynasty of his own (Dubashi, 1992, 37).30

The extract starts out with what could potentially be a rather sophisticated critique of the political role that the Nehruvian cabinet played in engendering war with China. Almost immediately however, Dubashi employs a conjunctive adverb – ‘They also did not like the way Nehru had tried to create a family dynasty, on the lines of the Moghuls’ (my emphasis) – to syntactically manoeuvre his way out of a critical assessment of war and affectively attach to it an ad hominem attack on the Prime Minister. The problem according to Dubashi is that in the habits of his person and in his commitment to dynastic tendencies, Nehru is not only like a ‘Moghul’ – he is a ‘Moghul’. In other words, the meaning signaled by Nehru consists in its repetition of another sign, the Moghuls, such that, rather than establishing a relationship of historical anteriority between Nehru and the Moghuls, Dubashi’s writing

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brings about an absolute coincidence between the two. This coincidence is further strengthened when Dubashi concludes the extract in arguing that not only was Nehru ‘the last Moghul’, he was ‘the last Moghul who tried to create a Moghul dynasty of his own.’ In this syntactical disposition and others of its kind throughout the book, the brazenly redundant deployment of Moghul in both its noun and adjective forms ensures that the irreconcilable temporal distance between Nehru and the Moghuls is subdued to a flash of simultaneity, such that the two signs immediately concur with each other. What is thereby obfuscated is any possibility of the emergence of a difference or distance between the meaning signaled by ‘Nehru’ on the one hand, and ‘the Moghuls’, on the other. As an addendum to his violent yoking together of Nehru and the Moghuls, Dubashi says in the above extract that ‘Nehru was not the last Englishman in India’. However, elsewhere in The Road to Ayodhya, he contradictorily suggests that steeped in his Cambridge education, Jawaharlal Nehru was in fact closer to being British than Indian-Hindu. Even the term Nehruvian Raj as it is used in the book is Dubashi’s attempt at an ironic reference to the transparent identification he sees between British Raj and the system of governance practiced by ‘Nehru[’s] men’ (Dubashi, 1992, 20). For Dubashi then, Nehru is in the same instant both unabashedly British and the last of Moghuls, and thus, a tyrannical triumvirate emerges: Moghuls-Nehru-the British, in which each sign is merely a perfectly symmetrical repetition of the other. Given its globalimperial aspirations however, The Road to Ayodhya does not approach its climax merely with the generation of this triumvirate as the arch enemy of Hindusthan. Instead, as Dubashi’s drama extends itself, the web of simultaneous affiliations grows wider and wider and an emerging network of concurrent adjacencies spreads its tentacles to gradually embrace the entirety of world history. The discursive signatures of this world history are transnationally recognizable, and they are attached in Dubashi’s prose to realities specific to the Indian situation of the late-twentieth century, such that the latter becomes part of a globally viable, and thus, nationally legitimate, media space: History has its quirks, but there is method behind the madness. I said in my last column that November 9, 1989, would go down in Indian history as one of those dates that actually make history. I was not aware at the time that on the very same day the first brick of the Ram Shila foundation was being laid at Ayodhya, the Berliners were removing bricks from the Berlin Wall. While a temple was going up in Ayodhya, a communist temple was being demolished

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five thousand miles away in Europe. If this is not history I do not know what is. The two events one at Ayodhya and the other at Berlin are not unrelated. They are like the two events in Einstein’s relativity theory which appear totally unconnected but are not. They mark the end of the post-Nehru era and the beginning of a truly national era in India on the one hand, and the end of the post-communist era and the beginning of a truly democratic era in Europe on the other. History has rejected Nehru in India and also overthrown communism in Europe. It is not an accident that the two events are taking place at the same time … …. The men who presume to think what is good for the man in the street are the most dangerous species and should be locked up in asylums. Jawaharlal Nehru was one such man. He knew what was good for you and me, just as Stalin and Hitler did, and for almost twenty years went on forcing his ideas on this hapless country (Dubashi, 1992, 18–19).

Dubashi’s stylistic concentration of the epochal decline of Hindus into his congealed will to present the Nehruvian system of governance as the lowest ebb of the Indian political tide, sets the tone for the syntactical violence he practices in bringing together what he presents as identical worldhistorical events. In Dubashi’s writing, Nehru’s quasi-socialist programme for independent India is of the same degree of brutality as the colonial governance of the British Crown; the Berlin Wall and the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya are symmetrical historical monuments; and Lenin and Stalin are the same person with dictatorial agendas not very different from Nehru’s blueprint for India’s post-independence national state. This astounding array of references is tamed by Dubashi’s style in two principal ways. First, each figure and event is presented with an economy so strict and a discursive thinness so absolute that the sheer freight of proper names – Nehru, Stalin, Lenin, the Berlin Wall, the Babri Mosque – is considered enough to transmit meaning to a passive reader who is not involved in the production of meaning. Thus, language erases itself merely in what it intends to say and to whom it intends to speak, and as a consequence, purports to play the purely horizontal role of transmission, never besieged by striations that might reveal it as a medium that duplicates phonetic signifiers rather than reflects the signified itself.31 Secondly, with every turn of phrase, Dubashi’s syntax violently arrests each of these transmitters of meaning in a rigid structure of simultaneities that is immediately coincident with itself and erased of any clamour of historical discontinuity or unevenness. Thus, for

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instance, the sixteenth-century emperor Babur becomes synonymous with the mosque which he authorized at Ayodhya, as well as with Nehru, Lenin and Stalin. It is this structure of simultaneities in which there are no jagged edges of difference, that is to be designated not only as the very essence of history, but in fact as the only possible history – for as Dubashi writes, ‘If this is not history, I don’t know what is’ (Dubashi, 1992, 18).32 As the enemy on Dubashi’s stage appears in the company of a breathless procession of international figures and phenomena, so too the battalion that the author conjures up to wage war against such a formidable foe is equally if not more full. From the Lord Krishna to the Goddess Durga, from the heroic warriors of the Mahabharata to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, from the cultural Hinduness upheld by contemporary right-wing journalists like Swapan Dasgupta to what Dubashi terms the ‘political Jewishness’ of Albert Einstein and from V. S. Naipaul to Charles de Gaulle, the range of authoritative signatures called upon to confront Nehruvianism and its effects is almost overwhelming not only in its plenitude, but more so in its obfuscation of degrees of difference. Our author seems to have little difficulty in composing a sentence that with a flash of élan declares that ‘If it is right to pull down [hypothetical] Hitler columns in England, and Lenin mausoleums in Soviet Russia, I do not see anything wrong in pulling down a Babur monument in India’ (Dubashi, 1992, 81). Similarly, he can also brazenly argue that ‘India is a very different country after Ayodhya, as different as Russia after 1917, or France after 1787’ (Dubashi, 1992, 120). Much like the one I described in the last paragraph, the absorbing aspect of such a panoramic spread is that it violently chains together apparently disparate events and personae, and thus, stylistically performs its narrative as a system of instantaneous simultaneities, deigned to be identical with the sum total of world history. On one side of this recalibrated world history is the old Nehruvian order of postcolonial India, identifiable with Moghul emperors and with globally recognizable signatures of the abuse of power, like Stalin and Hitler, all of whom exist, as we have seen before, in perfectly symmetrical alignment with one another. On the other ‘victorious’ side of Dubashi’s world-historical arena is the imminent ‘second Indian Republic’, which is Hindu India after Ayodhya in 1992. This new India is identical in our author’s structure of historical coincidences with, once again, world media signs such as Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and France after 1787. Yet, despite its affiliation with such ostensibly secular world-historical events, the new India is also coincident with symbolic signatures of Hinduism like the Goddess Durga as national deity and the Lord

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Krishna and his modern-day devotees as the fullest realization of the promised political system of Hindus. Not surprisingly, in an environment of language where signs are unburdened of their contingent histories and become instead an infinite chain of such immediate identifications, Dubashi pronounces that although history may appear to be full of accidents and somewhat quirky, it is really profoundly methodical and deliberately designed. As such, I would hazard to say, it is in a relationship of absolute sovereignty with its constitutive category of time.

Theories of Sovereignty and Temporal Power in Metropolitan Hindutva The invigorating air of new beginnings liberated in revolutionary breaks from all that came before them were all on different occasions the revolutionary heralds of multiple waves of western secular modernity, each pronouncing itself to be without precedent. But, as Friedrich Nietzsche, one of the most radical thinkers of modern historical time put it cuttingly in his 1874 work, Untimely Meditations, the moderns suffered from a surfeit of history.33 The more they understood their rupture with the past in terms of clean epistemic breaks, so radical that nothing of yesterday survived in them, the more they attempted to privilege the uncovering of lifeless historical facts. Yet, these same moderns were also continually plagued by the horror of an eliminated past returning in all its vital force. They anxiously whispered about such a possibility in their salons and town councils, they called it the return of the repressed and they feared it would cause a slide back into the dark ages. No wonder then that these always apprehensive men and women spawned a considerable breed of anti-modernists who challenged their progressive understanding with notions of a voyage back in time. Thus, came into being the well-known dialectic of tradition and modernity: a struggle between the need to communion with the unsullied origin of mankind and the need to move into a civilized modern order, which retains nothing of the past. Since the advent of colonial rule, and more specifically, since the beginnings of English education in the subcontinent, Indian politics and cultural practice have almost inescapably given into precisely this dialectic. Indeed, one may still argue from either end of the suit about the leanings of Dubashi’s book, for while on one hand, the author appears to urge readers to revisit what seems to be a primordial purity of the kingdom of Hindus, on the other, the work presents itself as resolutely modern, at least insofar as it stubbornly advocates

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a revolutionary break with its immediate political inheritance. Before going on to unpack this apparently paradoxical structure however, let us first remind ourselves that to both traditionalists and modernists, the idea of time as an irreversible arrow that eliminates all obstructions in its path, was common. The only difference was that the latter reversed the direction of the former and promised to return mankind to a pristine past rather than surge forward by way of the revolutionary achievements of civilization. In both discourses, however, time continued to be understood as a linear force that with insatiable appetite devoured everything in its path. It was denied an access to thickness, and consequently, an ability to accommodate durational antinomies and the distinct rhythms of asynchronous temporalities. Now, to return to the temporal structure of Dubashi’s collection of essays, we have seen that it is radically modern insofar as it wants to cleanse itself entirely of a Nehruvian past and, at the same time, profoundly traditional insofar as it returns readers to the golden age of the Hindus. Nonetheless, this is not to say that the text presents itself as a radical renewal of time in which durations thicken, and we have a proliferation of multiplicitous temporalities. Rather, given that Dubashi’s conceptualization of the primordial golden age of the Hindus is coincident with his prediction of the future glory of that very same group, The Road to Ayodhya appears to be a dangerous experiment with the possibility of eliminating time and the constitutive antagonisms between past, present, and future from a principal role in historical-political visions. It is of course true that the story posits as its organizing principle what seems to be a familiar programme of periodization – the golden age of Hindus is followed by decline, a near-fall, and finally, the promise of an inevitable rise. Yet, such periods conceal a structure of simultaneities, which is by its very definition incommensurable with the logic of periodization. The successive periods are thus themselves profoundly anachronistic interventions in a landscape that is not committed in any way to the absolute passage of time and Dubashi’s concentration of the temporal decline and near-fall of Hindus into a contemporary cartography, saturated with different degrees of Nehru’s legacy, appears to be only predictable, given the author’s attempt to overcome what, after Bruno Latour, we might call a ‘politics of time’.34 This ‘politics of time’ could be conceptualized, albeit somewhat schematically, as existing in an intimate intersection with emancipatory meta-narratives and with a principal political fervour for liberation. That is to say, if the moderns and anti-moderns understood time in terms of its absolute, irreversible, passage and its elimination of all that came in its path, then such a conceptualization

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allowed them to think of emancipatory energies in terms of their capacity to engineer clean breaks from an oppressive condition that has already been left behind and therefore overcome. Time in such an epistemology was, thus, a force of distantiation and differentiation from a previous superseded reality. In other words, while the notion of time as an irreversible arrow undoubtedly entailed the figural destruction of the life-like quality of the past it claimed to have left behind, it sustained, at the same time, the possibility of difference, in the very idea of distance from this past. Indeed, the truly dangerous potential of Dubashi’s writing lies not in its impulse to overcome this or that obsolete political paradigm, but rather in the fact that it quite successfully flirts with the possibility of liberating itself from precisely such an epistemology of time. Intoxicated with the heady possibilities of its own exercise, it eliminates not only the notion of time as an irreversible phenomenon, but in the same stroke, does away with the very idea of temporal distance, and consequently, the possible energy of difference. Thus, the ‘historical’ Lord Rama, for instance, can comfortably co-exist alongside modern-day Hindus in one, transparent scheme of syntactic links without gaps or lacunae because what has been erased from this environment of language is the subversive potential of a past, ontologically and epistemologically distant and therefore different, from present formations. I will move from here to a different context of historical narratives, which will return us to the question of the Orientalist remappings of the globe, which I had elaborated in the introductory chapter. These, I argue, continue to undergird the machinery of Hindutva as it seeks to translate Hindus into an imperially dominant body capable of recentering the contemporary axes of international power. Under the influence of a translation that followed the English conquest of India as an exercise in violence, Ranajit Guha points out that the Sanskrit word itihasa, which was used to designate Indian epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, came to be identified with the English term history.35 Guha writes in History at the Limit of World-History that the implant had taken root despite, and paradoxically perhaps, in consonance with, the fact that the foundational theoretician of modernity, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel continued to stubbornly hold forth on the unredeemable problem of historylessness in India. To triumph over such a doomed infirmity and make India in the image of the modern historical west would do the colonial project proud, irrespective of the banner under which it traded and warred. With the translation of history as itihasa, a first step had been taken in this direction. Yet, as Guha shows, the term itihasa and moreover the apparent smoothness

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of its translation as history conceal a fundamental difference between western paradigms of storytelling where the primacy of unmediated experience has long held supreme sway, and corollary Indian forms.36 In the Sanskrit from which it is taken, [itihasa] combines two indeclinables, iti and ha with a verbal noun to produce a complex structure. … Iti joins the other avyaya or indeclinable ha in itihasa to radically transform something that ‘has been’ or ‘was’ (asit) into ‘what has just been said about it’ (Guha, 2002, 50–51).

Here, a certain distancing between narrator and event, rather than the immediacy of any personal experience, makes up the story. According to Guha, it is in this sense that the Mahabharata (approx. 400 BCE to 200 CE) is most profoundly itihasa, for the narrative is rich with Benjaminian storytellers of the traveling journeymen kind, each stylized to play the role of reteller rather than eyewitness. This diagnosis, Guha argues, applies even to the so-called principal eyewitness of the ‘Battle at Kurukshetra’, which is at the heart of the Mahabharata. Listeners and readers have no direct access to what the royal herald Sanjaya, who is supposed to have seen it all, actually said as he described it blow by blow to the blind king Dhritarashtra. In fact the version of Sanjaya’s report that we have in the Mahabharata is what has been handed down to us by a long line of raconteurs from Vyasa to Ugrasrava and even the very first narrator only distantly recounts it as told by his guru, therefore leaving no room at all for anything like an unmediated, direct experience. 37 However, what Guha does not tell us is that the one person in the Mahabharata who has the sovereign ability to figuratively collapse a carefully sustained distance, between both events and their narration and between different orders of time, is the Lord Krishna. In the face of the epic battle involving the Kauravas and the Pandavas, Arjuna, the most distinguished warrior in the latter army, expresses to Krishna, his charioteer and beloved friend, a firm resolve not to fight. The opposing forces comprise closely related kith and kin and many with whom the Pandavas have no quarrel. Moreover, the ‘enemy’ also includes highly esteemed gurus and elders and Arjuna’s scruples, therefore, rest on his imagination of the terrifying consequences that his decision to battle might have on the cosmic sustenance of dharma.38 To fight under these circumstances would be to force a decisionist intervention in the multiplicitous and competing laws that rule Arjuna’s being – as princely warrior, as peerless kinsman and as respectful disciple. To not fight would be to conserve a catastrophic balance between asymmetrically related versions of

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dharma (of the warrior, the clansman and the apprentice) and thereby allow for a proliferating mass of sovereignties. In response to the epic hero’s desire to achieve this kind of semblance of equilibrium when confronted with heterodox strands of dharma, Krishna speaks with Arjuna (the Bhagavad Gita is their dialogue) until he is once again determined to enter battle. Subsequently, the ‘Kurukshetra War’ is fought for eighteen days, leaving only a handful of warriors alive and the Pandavas, though disadvantaged by numbers at the start, emerge victorious largely due to the strategic wisdom of Arjuna’s divine preceptor. It is clear from the narrative that one of the principal causes for the Pandava victory was Arjuna’s change of heart and his decision, finally, to fight the war. In this, as we have seen, Krishna and the Bhagavad Gita played an important part; but a key question for us then becomes what exactly were the methods used by Krishna to spiritually and militarily rejuvenate his warrior disciple? The question is an important one, not least because it is Krishna’s methods in the Bhagavad Gita that Jay Dubashi draws on as he attempts to messianically resurrect Hindus from their long and impotent slumber and forge them therefrom into an emerging political system. At the height of their exchange in the Gita, Krishna bequeaths to his protégé a privileged access to trikaal darshan, or the Sovereign Being’s divine vision of the entirety of past, present and future in one instant. It is in this way, by collapsing the carefully sustained distance between events in different temporal registers, that he convinces the epic hero of his unavoidable part in the war: Drona, Bhisma, Jayed-ratha, Karna, and other heroic warriors of this great war have already been slain by me: tremble not, fight and slay them. Thou shalt conquer thine enemies in battle (my emphasis).39

According to Krishna’s words, since these events – that is, the war and its consequences – are already contained within the world, Arjuna is only an instrument who cannot help but slay his loved ones, just as by implication, he cannot help but briefly think that he must not do so. My argument from these grounds is that if in the Bhagavad Gita, the Lord Krishna revives the warrior spirit of his disciple Arjuna by bequeathing to him a divine access to the entirety of time, in The Road to Ayodhya, Jay Duabshi draws from this theory of time to resurrect Hindus from the ashes of their thousandyear-long decline and near fall.40 As we know, Dubashi’s theory of time, like the sovereign vision of the Lord Krishna, collapses the distance and

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consequently the difference between separable sequences of past, present and future. It thus seeks to dislodge the understanding of secular time that was made possible when language, as we have seen, became a human endeavour rather than a divine enterprise. Under the auspices of such a theorization, Dubashi can conceptualize history as a system of instantaneous simultaneities, rather than the linear movement of secular man away from his god. If itihasa had been translated by the violence of the Orientalist-Anglicist machinery of information and control into the modern understanding of ‘history’, then The Road to Ayodhya, in turn, retranslates that earlier translation. The secular-modern category ‘history’ with its linear directionality and isolable periods of past, present and future becomes, in Dubashi’s hands, trikaal darshan, or, an omniscient apprehension of past, present and future in one instant. In other words, the same imperial impulse that was at the basis of Orientalist restructurings of the world, shapes the Hindus of The Road to Ayodhya into a dominant political body capable of forcing worldly time into a divine vision of instantaneous simultaneities. Through that epistemology of time, it hopes to transpose the center of power from the western hemisphere to its eastern counterpart. Prior to this politicization of Hindus however, what Dubashi must do, as we have seen, is forge a technology of signifying practices that models the absolute subordination of difference, which is at the heart of his vision of history, just as it is at the core of the majoritarian politics of metropolitan Hindutva. This technology of signifying practices, deeply imbricated in the suspension of the distances and differences of secular time, founds and defines the language environment of contemporary Hinduization in India.41 It is insofar as through such a technology, metropolitan Hindutva seeks to cleanse its syntactical field of the contingencies of time and therefore of the contingencies of the human production of meaning, that I theorize Hindu India as an event in and of language. 42 This event of language, as it were, is further developed in what I have suggested is metropolitan Hindutva’s attempt to manipulate and transform the asymmetrical relays between national and imperial linguistic powers, but I will take that matter up more elaborately in the later chapters of this book. For now, let us return to the political system of Dubashi’s Hindus to understand further the kind of language that sustains it.

Metropolitan Hindutva as an Event of Language As the harbinger of India’s ‘second republic’, the new political system of Hindus will, according to Jay Dubashi, radically shift the national structure conceived

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by the post-independence Indian state. In order to fully comprehend the specificities of this momentous change in the domain of realpolitik in national space, it would be useful to return to the imaginative universe of the Mahabharata, which we have earlier employed as a template for understanding Dubashi’s orchestration of world historical powers in The Road to Ayodhya. According to Romila Thapar, one of the most incisive critical minds to have commented on the Mahabharata, the war recorded in that epic directly and indirectly involved almost all the intermittently warring clans in the subcontinental landmass. Through a sovereign instance of (epistemological) violence, this war also succeeded in heralding the beginnings of the monarchical state in the Middle Ganga Valley. The tragedy of the ‘Battle at Kurukshetra’ was thus not merely tied to the absolute death and destruction of human life that it brought about, but perhaps more profoundly to the passing of a style of human aggregation and its concomitant political form. If this argument were to be used as a point of departure for understanding the Mahabharata, then the Lord Krishna may in fact be the single most important figural expression of the transition that epic is said to have recorded. Krishna is not only the divine being who has supreme sway over past, present and future. He is, in addition, the sovereign entity who can intervene in a catastrophically balanced landscape to decisively declare the exceptional circumstance in which the dharma of the warrior overrides all other laws. As such, he is that complexity of forces in which we can recognize the beginnings of a strong state form.43 It is precisely in this sense – that is, the sense in which the Mahabharata marks the passing of a political style founded on precariously balanced alliances – that the Krishna of the epic, and indeed, the epic as a whole are figurally significant for Dubashi’s essays. In short, as I will momentarily demonstrate, Dubashi draws from the Mahabharata, and more specifically, from the Gita, not only a theory of time as we have seen, but also a theory of state and sovereignty. In titling his book The Road to Ayodhya, Dubashi is referring to what he calls a ‘long intellectual journey’ that originated after the Hindu nationalist BJP’s disastrous performance in the Indian general elections of 1984. This journey dramatically moved toward a climactic identification of the party’s agenda of Hinduness with a vitally rejuvenated political system (Dubashi, 1992, ix). Dubashi reports that the BJP had clearly reached the nadir of its career when two months after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination in October 1984 and despite a crisis in the Congress Party and therefore a favourable context for Hindu nationalist strategies, it came out of parliamentary elections battle-weary, bruised and humiliated – having only two members in the Lower

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House. As party members ran helter-skelter to amass their oppositional resources in the face of defeat, Dubashi (who joined the ranks of the BJP in 1985) and other prominent members tried to formulate a response that would begin to correct the near-desperate situation by first rearticulating foundational party ground. The pundits on the committee decided that cogently arguing the principal character of the party and elaborating specific programmes for a radically transformative historical-political agenda would help them to begin the work of reconstruction. The BJP had from its inception been rather gingerly treading the gaps between vaguely formulated descriptive terms for its politics – cultural nationalism, Hindutva, Hindu dharma and Hinduness being the principal contenders.44 Based on which of these terms came to the forefront of the BJP’s self-representation, numerous heterogeneous political forces were to be strategically rearranged such that the very political lexicon, as it were, could wholly metamorphose itself to magically raise Hindus from the ascetic impotency of their epochal stupor. Dubashi writes that the BJP’s National Executive identified two political lynchpins that would enable the outfit to design a trademark identity for itself. The first of these was the torrid question of an electoral alliance with the extremist Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and the second concerned what in common parlance has come to be called, simply, ‘the Ayodhya Issue.’45 The executive committee had already reached a near-complete understanding with Bal Thackeray, the notorious chieftain of the Shiv Sena at the time and the issue was scheduled to come up for ratification before the larger party in the Palanpur session of June 1989.46 What remained to be taken on therefore was the long history of the Ayodhya problem, which in its multiple ramifications, was already becoming something of a hydra-headed monster. According to Dubashi’s account, the BJP’s rank and file had for quite a few years been increasingly agitated in its appeal for a Ram Temple to be built at the contested site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and in 1989 it began to vociferously demand a firm stand on the issue, one way or another. Backed into a corner by such agitations, the National Executive Committee of the party, after much heated debate, came to an important decision to draft what it called ‘the Ayodhya Resolution’. The document was drawn up by party president L. K. Advani himself and it clearly presented the BJP’s political and moral support of the claim for a ‘Ram Mandir’ at the location of the sixteenth-century mosque. The primary claim of the document was that since the Babri Masjid had been built by a Mughal governor over the demolished remains of what Hindus believed to be an ancient temple marking Rama’s birthplace, it was now time for the

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wronged community to appease itself and, if need be, violently take its fill of revenge. Hindus had the right to take down the Babri Masjid not only because it was a symbol of Mughal domination in Hindusthan, but more importantly, because it was emblematic of the pseudo-secular politics of the Congress Party. They also had a right to build a Ram Temple over the decrepit rubble of Babur’s mosque so as to begin the work of rewriting the history of their land. This much is an oft-repeated rendition of the moral position of the BJP. Yet what is perhaps more intriguing about the Ayodhya Resolution is that it presents the issue of the Ramjanmabhoomi Temple not only as a principal weapon of Hindu historicity, but in an extension of such historicity, as the crucial intellectual axis for severing Hinduness from its racial-religious associations and resurrecting it as indeed a ‘vibrant political system’. Before beginning to draft the Ayodhya Resolution in June 1989, the BJP’s National Executive Committee had insisted unanimously on one thing: the proposed temple in honour of Sri Rama was first and foremost a political issue and it must be presented to the community at large as in fact the very cornerstone of Hinduized politics. Alongside arguing the exclusively political edge of the Ayodhya issue, the Resolution stubbornly proclaimed that the solution to the problem, and indeed the problem itself, lay outside the hands of law: The BJP holds that the nature of this controversy is such that it just cannot be sorted out by a court of law. A court of law can settle issues of title, trespass, possession etc. but it cannot adjudicate as to whether Babur did actually invade Ayodhya, destroyed a temple, and built a mosque in its place. Even when a court does pronounce on such facts, it cannot suggest remedies to undo the vandalism of history … In this context, it should not be forgotten that the present turmoil itself stems from two court decisions, one of 1951 and the second of 1986 (Dubashi, 1992, xii–xiii).

The Resolution went on to argue that not just was Ayodhya a condition outside law, it was an event that had been brought to such an exceptionally volatile status precisely because it had been referred time and again to the sanctified duty of preserving law. With litigations and counter-litigations being bandied about for more than a century and dust laden files taking on a Dickensian mass and decrepitude, Hindus had finally begun to clamour for their temple outside the auspices of constitutional law. In fact, instead of being rendered insensate by the slothfulness of court proceedings, the sharp political edge of Ayodhya had, according to the dangerous ideology of the BJP, been whetted

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precisely in the interstices of that sluggish and unproductive lumber toward a judgment, whose climax is continually deferred. The Hindu claim for a Ram Mandir could be answered in such circumstances only in two possible ways: by negotiated settlement in favour of the temple, or by the violence of a lawmaking, rather than a law-preserving decision. Litigation, in the account of the BJP, was certainly not the answer. In the discourse of the BJP, the political is that entity, which rises above the haphazard proliferation of multiple sovereignties and that entity which, from amidst such a bewildering morass, exactingly demands the intervention of a decisionist sovereign.47 From this perspective, the BJP’s stylized presentation of the condition that engendered and honed the Ayodhya Issue was not very different from Romila Thapar’s diagnosis of the political context of the subcontinental landmass prior to the ‘Battle at Kurukshetra’. The larger part of the Ganga Valley was before the Great Mahabharata War in the hands of manifold warring clans and their always-shifting allegiances. Similarly, the BJP had succeeded in construing Ayodhya as a ‘war front’ precisely by referring it back to the precarious alliances of the Congress Party, or what has been retrospectively called the Nehruvian paradigm (Dubashi, 1992, 32). These precarious alliances refer to the period after independence when the challenge for the Congress Party lay in the means it employed to balance all the struggling peripheral energies of the older social aggregations of the national landscape with the uniform political architecture of a sovereign state. The relatively homogeneous center of political power that presumed to have realized itself in the mixed bureaucratic-economic design of a benevolent state capitalism, thus gave itself the grave responsibility of maintaining at least the semblance of an equilibrium with the multiplicitous religious, linguistic, casteist, ethnic and ideological units that defined the plural society of tradition.48 The structure of the Congress, or of Nehruvianism as the BJP would call it, thus always depended on a catastrophic balance between a somewhat stable modern center and its asymmetrically related peripheries and on changeful coalitions between state monopoly and local bodies of governance with their varying patterns of operation. Most importantly, the ‘Congress system’ depended on a hazardous balance between religio-ethnic groups, primarily that between the majority of Hindus and the powerful minority of Muslims.49 The discourse of the Ayodhya Resolution had managed to present this very tableau of the Congress Party not only as the system responsible for the volatility of the ‘temple issue’, but as a condition that, much like the ‘Battle at Kurukshetra’, vociferously demanded an instantiation of the political. In other words, it demanded a sovereign act of

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decisionism, or, to put it differently, a law-making violence, rather than a lawpreserving equilibrium. But if Krishna had ushered in a new style of politics by intervening in the Great Battle to decide on an exception in which the dharma of the warrior was permitted to exert a monopoly over the claims of all other competing laws, then how was the BJP, in a different context, to realize such a foundational instance of sovereign violence?50 The BJP’s deployment of the ‘Ayodhya Issue’ to usher in Hinduness as a vibrant political system hinged on the idea that it was partition rather than independence that was the definitive moment of postcolonial Indian politics. Through a long history of litigations and counter-litigations between representative platforms like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Sunni Waqf Board, the Ayodhya problem, according to the BJP, served to show how the Congress Party continued to genuflect before the Muslim League lobby in the country, just as it had done in the early- and mid-twentieth century, in the face of a volatile demand for Pakistan. It was the view of the BJP that the forceful opening up of the ‘historical scar’ of the Babri Masjid would bring to light the fact that, ‘It is not the independence of India, but its division that constitutes for most Indians and certainly all Hindus the most important event of this century’ (Dubashi, 1992, 67). This is the key moment of discursive violence in The Road to Ayodhya, for it forces to the forefront of the national imaginary the idea that the euphoria of nation-formation under Nehru and his Congress System, was also at the same time a powerless acknowledgment of the impossibility of nation-formation. In order for a viable nation-formation, India must be conceived, according to the discourse of metropolitan Hindutva, in globalimperial rather than national terms. The Mahabharata’s Krishna had figurally expressed the beginnings of a sedentary design of political form and thereby signalled the passing of a style of aggregation based on the fluidity of multiple nomadic clans. In an analogous manner, the destruction of the Babri Masjid was to herald a political system that would not only overcome the catastrophic balances that constituted a precarious national whole for the Congress Party, but also dissolve the ostensibly intractable nation-empire binary. Indeed, Dubashi’s call in his 1992 collection is to think Hinduness as a conceptual category that consumes not just the piece of land that is the site of Rama’s alleged birth, but indeed the entirety of the created universe, as it is expressed in the suspension of the three orders of time into the imperial geophany of Ayodhya. This picture of Hinduness, rooted in the birthplace of a god and in a divine apprehension of the created universe, may seem contradictory to Dubashi’s effort to shape ‘Hindu’ as a political rather than religious category. But, I

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must stress that where the politics of state becomes identified through the creation of a particular kind of language environment with a supreme being who has absolute control over the contingencies of time, religion is no longer to be understood in commonsensical terms, by virtue of its ‘regressive’ place in the historical movement of the World-Spirit. It is no longer a set of rituals and practices that principally defined a primitive condition of man, which, according to the dictates of modernity, ought to be overtaken once and for all by the irreversible arrow of time. Rather, religion in this context designates a particular kind of communicative environment, a regulatory technology of transmission, that frenziedly works to preempt the thicknesses in the human production of language. It conflates the multiple referential possibilities of what is meant with what is being said, collapses the heterodox semantic orientations of a syntax of signs with the act that posits its meaning, and thereby, forecloses the emergence of difference as a phenomenal actualization of historical time. In this sense, the resurgence of a multiplicity of religious discourses in the extended domain of world politics is actually one and the same as the rise of different interest groups with claims to global technologies of regulation and transmission qua speed and mobility. These technologies, I have argued, are spearheaded by the aspiration towards a universally communicative language cleansed of asynchronous spatio-temporalities. To understand the rise of metropolitan Hindutva in contemporary politics in relation to such technologies, and therefore, as an event of language and of time, is no doubt to meet the new brand of Hinduization in India on its own terms and therefore to be prepared to adequately counter its dangerous political consequences. But, I would even go so far as to argue that only when this new Hinduness is apprehended as such, can one understand how it has been transformed from a ‘race and a religion’ into a majoritarian political system aspiring to reveal itself as always already an imperial rather than national formation. As we have seen, the imperial aspirations of the discourse of Hindutva are evident along the following axes: the cultural conceit of Ayodhya as a site on which past, present and future become one; a globally viable technology of signifying practices that advances this collapse of chronometric time; and the politicization of Hindus as the bearers of a sovereign vision of the three orders of times in one instant, as well the people who, through such sovereign vision, will restructure the erstwhile centers of world-power. These global manoeuvres have of course no doubt been strengthened by two decades of successful market liberalization in the Indian context, followed by a great burst of economic growth for the increasingly confident Indian middle class. Some

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say that in this jaunty economic climate, the BJP (especially given its electoral defeat in 2004) would do well to steer clear of the bigotry that has come to be associated with the term ‘Hindutva’, concentrating instead on fashioning itself as a market-friendly, pro-defense, socially conservative right-of-center party.51 This is why the particular ideologues who I argue spearhead the language of metropolitan Hinduness, consistently write themselves into the increasingly transnational embrace of the global market, treating it as an arena of universal consensus in which partisan politics can be overcome. Yet, even as they do so, they make this global market subject to a fungible field of Hinduized symbolic resources, such that the ‘freedom’ of the market becomes located in an originary Hinduism. Thus, we have what Ashis Nandy has called the ‘laptop religion’ of middle-class Hindus, a portable, economistic and technocratic banality of everyday life, commensurate with the material desires of a global beaumonde.52 But what are the stylistic specificities, the cultural conceits and the temporal frames that shape the kind of religion that Nandy describes, for if we have just elaborated the transformation of Hinduness from a race and a religion into a historical-political system, then we must ask what are the details of its transformation into an economic category?53 It is to these questions that I will turn in the following chapter.

Endnotes

1 Martha Nussbaum, The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India’s Future (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007). Hereafter, this work is cited parenthetically as Clash. 2

3

Gyan Pandey poses the same query in relation to the success of Hindu history as ‘a fraud that slides easily between myth and history.’ ‘The question remains,’ he argues, ‘why this fraud persuades so many people of different classes, regions, and sexes, why such large numbers of our countrymen and women fail to notice what we see as its ambiguity and duplicity — or, at any rate, are untroubled by it’ (‘The Culture of History,’ in In Near Ruins: Cultural Theory at the End of the Century, edited by Nicholas B. Dirks [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998], 35). The BJP or ‘Indian People’s Party’ is one of the more moderate of the Hindu Right wing units in India, formed more than twenty years after independence out of the remains of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. In the period immediately after independence, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, in contrast to most other Hindu nationalist outfits, assembled itself as a liberal constitutional party that could provide a substantial challenge to the Congress. The Jana Sangh’s alternative to Congress rule was centered primarily on overt hostility to Pakistan, and to the multiplicity of regional languages vis-à-vis Hindi as a standardized national tongue. It also challenged the Congress on the question of an effort towards liberalization. In confining itself to a rather limited constituency of

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the North Indian petty bourgeoisie however, the Jana Sangh failed to authoritatively present itself as a pan-Indian formation capable of usurping the throne of the Congress, and members had to wait until the formation of its successor, the BJP, before they could taste power. The BJP was formed in 1980, and as recently as the 1984 elections, it endorsed a benign form of state capitalism, in much the same way as did the Congress Party. However, by the time of the 1990 elections, the BJP quickly and completely changed its political discourse, such that ‘Nehruvianism’ simultaneously became the uniform label for the entire post-independence era, as well as a violent indictment of the developmental ethos of the Congress Party and its vulnerable politics of secular balance. See http://bjpindia.in/about-bjp/philosophy, last accessed on 28 August 2015 and Hindu Nationalism: A Reader, edited by Christopher Jaffrelot (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007) for extended excerpts from the BJP’s political tracts and election manifestoes. See also, Craig Baxter, The Jana Sangh: A Biography of an Indian Political Party (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1969) and B. D. Graham, Hindu Nationalism and Indian Politics: The Origins and Development of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (Cambridge, England and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990) for documentation on the emergence and character of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. See Sumit Ganguly and Rahul Mukherjee, India since 1980 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011) for an excellent account of the radical transformations that took place in India starting in the decade of the 80s. Following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the authors map the rise of the Hindu nationalist BJP and its challenge to a form of Nehruvian secularization through changes to foreign policy and discontinuous phases of economic liberalization that were to assure India a new place on the world stage.

5 See Amrita Basu, ‘Mass Movement or Elite Conspiracy? The Puzzle of Hindu Nationlism,’ in Contesting the Nation: Religion, Community, and the Politics of Democracy in India, edited by David Ludden (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996) for a reading of the tension/convergence between elitism and mass scope in Hindu nationalism. 6

Arun Shourie was not included in any capacity in the cabinet of the current Narendra Modi-led BJP government, and he is also not active at this time within the party. On 2 May 2015, he grabbed headlines for criticizing the economic policy of the present government as ‘directionless’ and for pointing out that the social climate was producing tensions among Indian minority groups. See http://www.financialexpress. com/article/economy/is-arun-shourie-right/69343/ and http://www.firstpost.com/ business/modi-sarkar-more-concerned-about-grabbing-headlines-lacks-substancesays-arun-shourie-2223096.html, last accessed on 28 August 2015, for full reports on this criticism.

7 The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or the National Corps of Volunteers and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or the World Hindu Council, are both extra-parliamentary organizations closely allied with the workings of the BJP and founded, respectively, in 1925 and 1964. For an excellent reading of these organizations, amongst others, see Tapan Basu, Sumit Sarkar and Tanika Sarkar, Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags: A Critique of the Hindu Right (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1993).

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It is interesting to note that K. K. Shastri was a distinguished scholar in his own right. He was associate professor of Sanskrit and Gujarati at B.D. Women’s College (Gujarat), and joined the Gujarat Research Society in 1961, as their honorary regulator. He guided several doctoral students in their research, and was considered a doyen of the Gujarati language and grammar, as well as of Vedic literature. Of course, his achievements, unlike Arun Shourie’s, for example, were in the vernacular/s rather than in the English language, and this may be one of the reasons that he has not been well received by the ideology of metropolitan Hindutva. An obituary that details Shastri’s career was published by the weekly magazine of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on 24 September 2006. See http://organiser.org/archives/historic/dynamic/modulesf196.html?name=Content&pa= showpage&pid=149&page=8, last accessed on 28 August 2015. For a complete list of Arun Shourie’s writings, please see http://arunshourie.bharatvani. org/contact.htm, last accessed on 5 November 2015.

10 See Meera Nanda, The God Market: How Globalization is Making India More Hindu (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2011) for a traditional Marxist diagnosis of what the author calls a state-temple-corporate complex and the argument that neoliberal globalization enables rather than disables religion, more broadly, and Hindu nationalism, specifically. 11 See Amitav Ghosh, ‘The Anglophone Empire,’ The New Yorker (7 April 2003).

12 See Romila Thapar, Syndicated Hinduism (New Delhi: Critical Quest, 2010) for an analysis of of how Hinduism has been homogenized through an affixing of the changing Indian economy and information networks, with the production of a religiosity that can be broadly mobilized, fungibly branded, and reduced to the pithy memos of a millennial intelligence, through mass spectacle and media serialization. 13 See M. Reza Pirbhai, ‘The Demons of Hindutva: Writing a Theology for Hindu Nationalism,’ Modern Intellectual History 5, no. 1 (April 2008): 27–53. This is an excellent essay that investigates the English-language publications since 1981 of an important right-wing Hindu publishing house named, Voice of India. With a growing number of contributions from diasporic Indians, Indians at home and AngloAmericans, the Voice of India, Pirbhai argues, is a significant development in the contemporary formation of Hindutva discourse. Indeed, many of the ideologues of Hindutva I discuss in this book – like Francois Gautier, Jay Dubashi, and Arun Shourie – have either published with, or, contributed to, publications of the Voice of India.

14 For an argument that claims that Hindu nationalism has emerged as the only possible alternative to the secular state, see Faisal Fatehali Devji, ‘Hindu/Muslim/Indian,’ Public Culture 5, no. 1 (Fall 1992): 1–18. Also, see Rajni Kothari, ‘Caste, Communalism and the Democratic Process,’ Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East 14, no. 1 (Spring 1994): 7–13 for the contention that when faced with a challenge from the Hindu Right, the left in India moved into a pragmatic association with the Congress Party, rather than working to build a substantive left-alternative. 15 Launched just a few weeks before the independence/partition of India in 1947, The Organiser is the official publication of the Hindu nationalist extra-parliamentary formation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, while the India Today group is not officially affiliated with any one political ideology. Also, I take the liberty of reminding

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readers here that unlike Arun Shourie, Jay Dubashi, while increasingly disillusioned with the BJP in the time leading up to its electoral defeat of 2004, has recently celebrated the Narendra Modi’s recent BJP government for the budget of 2014. See http://www.udayindia.in/english/content_26july2014/cover-story2.html, last accessed on 28 August 2015.

16 Thomas Hansen, The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1999), 259.

17 See Radhika Desai, Slouching Towards Ayodhya (New Delhi: Three Essays Press, 2002) for the claim that Hindutva’s mass mobilizations in the 90s were enabled by the transformation of the Indian agricultural sector through increased technologization and the extension of capitalist means of production to the far reaches of agrarian life.

18 In the face of Hindu nationalist politicians who have called for a ban on slaughtering cows, D. N. Jha, The Myth of the Holy Cow (London; New York: Verso, 2002) provides an excellent reading that challenges the sacral nature of the cow in the Hindu traditional system.

19 See Christophe Jaffrelot, The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996) for an argument about how moving away from the grassroots has affected the BJP’s Hindu nationalist scope. 20 Arvind Rajagopal argues that it was the medium of television that was responsible for creating a synergy between Hindu nationalism and neoliberal globalization, leading to the emergence of a new religio-political authoritarianism. He forwards this argument through an analysis of the serializing of the epic Ramayana – in violation of a secular nationalist taboo – by the Indian state-run television, starting in 1987. See Arvind Rajagopal, Politics after Television: Hindu Nationalism and the Reshaping of the Public in India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). 21 Quoted in Manu Goswami, Producing India: From Colonial Economy to National Space (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 232.

22 See Aamir Mufti, Enlightenment in the Colony: The Jewish Question and the Crisis of Postcolonial Culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), 2 for an explanation of the neutrality of the language of postcolonial secularism, and a gesture toward the collapse of the language of ‘symmetrical communalisms’, in the aftermath of the destruction by Hindu nationalist cadres of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya on 6 December 1992.

23 It is also the case that the relationship forged by the Congress between secularism and conceptualizations of the political qua economics, is not something unknown to the discourse of metropolitan Hindutva. As I suggested in the previous chapter, metropolitan Hindutva merely seeks to restructure that relationship by ushering in a new kind of economics, and new kind of ‘more proper’ secularism. 24 Thomas Pantham, Political Theories and Social Reconstruction: A Critical Survey of the Literature on India (New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1995), 181.

25 Jay Dubashi, The Road to Ayodhya (New Delhi: Voice of India, 1992), 137. Hereafter, this work is cited parenthetically as Road. 26 For an excellent analysis of the form of the Ramayana, its many discontinuous versions, and the way in which it has been hijacked and homogenized by the Hindu Right

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see Romila Thapar, ‘A Historical Perspective on the Story of Rama,’ in Anatomy of a Confrontation: Ayodhya and the Rise of Communal Politics in India, edited by Sarvepalli Gopal (New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 1991), 141–63.

27 Edward Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, edited by Akeel Bilgrami (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004) is to my mind one of the most elegant elaborations of language as a place of seething discordances, a place where we upset, question, and reformulate much that is presented to us as certain and uncontroversial. 28 I draw my argument about the perpetual novelty of history in relation to journalism from Sara Suleri, The Rhetoric of English India (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993). 29 For an elaboration of this ‘Nehruvian legacy’ as the final fully mature instance of Indian nationalist thought under the auspices of which secular nationalism was secured as a part of state ideology, see Partha Chatterjee Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1986).

30 The 1962 border war with China was a watershed moment in the rise of Hindu nationalist forces in the Indian context. Because the ill-equipped Indian forces were routed in the war, Nehru was immediately attacked by the right wing of the Congress for his non-alignment policies. Even though the Congress won the general elections, the rise of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (the predecessor of the BJP) as a liberal constitutional party (unlike the many extra-parliamentary units of Hindu nationalist outfits) signalled a formidable merging of industrial pro-liberalization forces with those of Hindu communalism, in collective opposition to Nehru. See Achin Vanaik, The Furies of Indian Communalism: Religion, Modernity, and Secularization (London: Verso, 1997) to understand further the fall of the Congress in the 1970s and 80s, and the subsequent rise of the organizations comprising the strength of the Hindu Right. 31 See Michel Foucault, ‘Language to Infinity,’ in Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews by Michel Foucault, edited by Donald F. Bouchard (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), 53–67. 32 For different perspectives on the Hindu Right’s attack on history see Sumit Sarkar, Beyond Nationalist Frames: Postmodernism, Hindu Fundamentalism, History (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002), Romila Thapar, Somanatha: The Many Voices of a History (New Delhi: Penguin, 2004), Mushirul Hasan, ‘The BJP’s Intellectual Agenda: Textbooks and Imagined History,’ South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 25, no. 3 (Special Issue 2002): 187–209 and Neeladri Bhattacharya, ‘Myth, History and the Politics of Ramjanmabhumi,’ in Anatomy of a Confrontation: Ayodhya and the Rise of Communal Politics in India, edited by Sarvepalli Gopal (New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 1991), 122–40. 33 Friedrich Nietzsche, Untimely Meditations, edited by Damiel Breazeale, translated by R. J. Hollingdale (Cambridge, Mass: Cambridge UP, 1997).

34 Bruno Latour used the phrase ‘the politics of time’ in his paper ‘Emancipation or Attachments: The Different Futures of Politics’ presented at a conference entitled, ‘Modernity and Contemporaneity : Antinomies of Art and Culture after the Twentieth Century’ held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania between 4–6 November 2004. 35 Ranajit Guha, History at the Limit of World-History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002).

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36 In History at the Limit of World-History, Ranajit Guha performs a careful analysis of western paradigms of story-telling, beginning with Herodotus and Thucydides, who according to Hegel, were the kind of historians who had actually been themselves subjected to the experiences they wrote about. Guha traces such a primacy of unmediated experience right up to the beginnings of the modern novel form in the west. 37 See Romila Thapar, Time as a Metaphor of History: Early India (New Delhi: Oxford, 1996) and Ranajit Guha, ‘Indian Historiography of India,’ in Dominance without Hegemony: History and Power in Colonial India (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1997) for elaborations of temporal consciousness in the historical chronicles of the subcontinent. 38 See Patrick Olivelle, Dharmasutras: The Law Codes of Ancient India (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999) and J. N. Mohanty, Classical Indian Philosophy (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000). As Olivelle and Mohanty indicate dharma has often been cited as the most foundational concept in the South Asian context, for it is central not only in the Brahmanical/Hindu tradition, but also in Buddhist and Jain philosophies. The category first appears in the early Vedic literature with reference to the way in which the Arya (a term with a complicated history, but one that could, for the sake of simplicity, be translated as ‘noble’ or ‘distinguished’) maintains social and cosmic order through the performance of his Vedic rites. However, the semantics of dharma soon extended themselves to include norms of correct social behaviour in both the ritual and the moral/social spheres. In the Dharmasutras, which are part of the Vedic Supplements, one notion overlaps with another, and the authors pass imperceptibly from one to the other. After the Dharmasutras, dharma came to be embodied in the Dharmasastras, which despite continuing a similar engagement with the category, were composed in a different style. The concerns voiced in the Dharmasastras were followed by critical encounters with the notion of dharma in the epics, the Gitā, in Buddhist and Jain thinking and in the work of thinkers responsible for the formative stages of nationalist discourse in the subcontinent. Since the root of the word, ‘dhr’, means ‘that which sustains’, Arjuna in having to encounter a threat to his dharma, expresses at the same time, his fear of a threat to the ‘sustaining’ of political order. 39 The Bhagavad Gita, translated by Juan Mascaro, Introduction Simon Brodbeck (London and New York: Penguin Books, 2003), 56. 40 In G. N. Devy, Of Many Heroes: An Indian Essay in Literary Historiography (Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 1998), the author argues that the formation of powerful sects around readings of literary-religious texts is a phenomenon strikingly significant to the Indian political context. Most important of such sectarian breakaways from dominant centers of power were those constituted around analyses of the Bhagavad Gita – and my contention is that Dubashi in inserting The Road to Ayodhya into a rereading of the Gita, actually imagines himself in that long line of sectarian revisionings. 41 Even though she speaks specifically of the difficulties of forming a properly national vernacular in Pakistan, Alyssa Ayres’ work is a useful counterpoint to my own analysis of the Indian context and of the broader idea that language is a technology of state

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power. See Alyssa Ayres, Speaking Like a State: Language and Nationalism in Pakistan (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

42 At present no existing book-length work addresses Hindutva as a narrative system, or an environment of language. There are, however, a number of dispersed essays that have taken up this question in different ways. See Janaki Bhakle, ‘Country first? Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883-1966) and the Writing of Essentials of Hindutva,’ Public Culture 22, no. 1 ( January, 2010): 149–86; Rohit Chopra, ‘Global Primordialities: Virtual Identity Politics in Online Hindutva and online Dalit Discourse’, New Media and Society 8 no. 2 (April 2006): 187–206; M. Reza Pirbhai, ‘The Demons of Hindutva: Writing a Theology for Hindu Nationalism,’ Modern Intellectual History 5, no. 1 (April 2008): 27–53 and Sudipta Kaviraj, ‘Languages of Secularity,’ Economic and Political Weekly 48, no. 50 (December 2013). 43 I draw this argument from Romila Thapar, From Lineage to State: Social Formations in the Mid-First Millennium B.C. in the Ganga Valley (Bombay: Oxford University Press, 1984). 44 The term Hindutva was made prominent in 1922 by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in The Essentials of Hindutva, but it can be argued that the term has realized itself most fully in a fungible stylistics of governmentality starting only in the India of the 1980s and later. 45 For one incisive account among many of the events leading up to the destruction of the Babri Mosque at Ayodhya on 6 December 1992, and particularly of how the residents of the town experienced these events, see Ashis Nandy, Shikha Trivedy, Shail Mayaram and Achyut Yagnik, Creating a Nationality: The Ramjanmabhumi Movement and Fear of the Self (New Delhi: Oxford India Paperbacks, 1998). 46 See Arjun Appadurai, ‘Spectral Housing and Urban Cleansing: Notes on Millennial Mumbai,’ Public Culture 12, no. 3 (Fall 2000): 627–51 for a diagnosis of the Shiv Sena’s role in the process of late twentieth century Hinduization in India, and particularly for the question of how ‘the political geography of sovereignty, focused on border wars with Pakistan, was brought into the same emotional space as the political geography of cultural purity’ (646). 47 This theorization is not very far from the elaborations of the hard right thinker Carl Schmitt (particularly in his tract entitled, The Concept of the Political), whose work I refer to more elaborately in chapter 5 of this book. 48 See Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, ‘The Politics of Hindu “Tolerance”,’ Boundary 2 38, no. 3 (Fall 2011): 67–86 for an extended investigation of how, in the multireligious context of independent India, the tenet of Hindu tolerance was superimposed on the category ‘secularism’. 49 For an excellent discussion of the development of majority and minority religious identities through language politics, cow protection movements, print and visual technologies, patterns of migration, and sites of pilgrimage in the Indian context, see Peter van der Veer, Religious Nationalism: Hindus and Muslims in India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994). 50 For a perspective on dharma from the point of view of Swapan Dasgupta, a prominent

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right-wing public intellectual see ‘The Notion of Dharma,’ http://www.rediff.com/ news/2003/dec/08swadas.htm, last accessed on 28 August 2015, which I will take up more elaborately in chapter 5 of the book. In this piece, Dasgupta, like Dubashi, dissolves the binary between a seminal trope of Vedic literature, and perhaps the most commonly bandied category in contemporary world political debates (ie. ‘democracy’), arguing that dharma can be translated as the ‘fundamental commonality of democratic expression.’ 51 See Swapan Dasgupta, http://www.swapan55.com/2009/06/junking-ugly-hinduimage.html, last accessed on 28 August 2015 for an argument from right-of-center about the BJP needing to leave behind its ‘ugly Hindu image’. 52 See Ashis Nandy, http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main42.asp?filename=Ne270609 coverstory.asp (27 July 2009). 53 See Aijaz Ahmed, ‘Radicalism of the Right and Logics of Secularism,’ in Religion, Religiosity, Communalism, edited by Praful Bidwai, Harbans Mukhia and Achin Vanaik (New Delhi: Manohar Publishers and Distributors, 1996), 37–74 for the argument that the discourse of Hindutva seeks to marry the categories ‘community’ and ‘nation’ without really speaking of the economic context for this identification. My argument clearly challenges this claim in seeking to demonstrate Hinduness as an economic category under the auspices of metropolitan Hindutva.

3 To Make Free and Let Die

The Economics of Metropolitan Hindutva Manu Goswami and Sukanya Banerjee have argued in their recent writing on the economic discourse of nationhood that there has long been a divide in Indian historiography between economic nationalism and cultural nationalism.1 The critical privileging of narrative conceptualizations of the national body, they contend, has only served to conceal from view the importance of ‘numbers’ in imagining the nation. Goswami and Banerjee counter this trend by emphasizing that in providing abstract appropriations of a calculable whole made up of equivalent citizens, it was indeed economic challenges to colonial rule that offered the earliest propositions of a unified national aggregate. Banerjee particularly takes up the case of Dadabhai Naoroji’s Poverty and UnBritish Rule in India, which appeared at the turn of the century in 1901. This text for the first time presented readers with a statistical estimate of the national income of British India, which, when divided by the population as a whole, in turn yielded the per capita income of the individual Indian citizen. Given the political climate of the time, the per capita income was actually something of a charmed figure, for calculated from the conceptualization of a national whole, this number, through a circular logic, actually consolidated that whole by establishing a numeric correspondence between singular members of the body politic. Describing the role played in nationalist articulations by the per capita income of the individual Indian, Sukanya Banerjee writes that ‘As a figure that derived from and established a functional equivalence between the members of the body politic it thus constituted, the per capita income went a long way toward rendering that body a nation’.2 Yet, regardless of the foundational status of Poverty in statistically projecting an aggregate of equivalent persons and from there a nationally bounded group, the text, Banerjee tells us, has been largely ignored in cultural analyses of the movements for autonomy. This is because such analyses have routinely disregarded the fact that economic arguments, like many others, unfold through rhetorical and imaginative devices and are not restricted to what is often presented as an ideologically innocent regime of numbers. What is especially surprising about

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the cultural disregard for Poverty is that Naoroji’s magnum opus is a more pointed example than most of the intertwining in nationalist mythographies of economic data and social idioms. That is to say, in addition to providing a first statistical basis for Indian nationalism, the economic argument of Poverty was also demonstrably alive to the significant aesthetic and literary pressures of a late imperial metropolitan imaginary. Naoroji’s writing, in its sensitivity to these pressures, not only crafted a conceptually unified Indianness, but also in the process fashioned and refashioned what it meant to be truly English in relation to an emerging Indian citizenry. At the end of the nineteenth century, with the decline of British hegemony in the face of growing American and German power and mounting discontent even amongst Britain’s most favoured colonial subjects, it was the genre of lateVictorian Gothic that became increasingly tied to the problems of colonial relations at a time of decaying imperialism.3 A distinguished academic and gentleman of significant political standing both in Bombay and later in England, where he was elected as a liberal candidate from Central Finsbury in 1892, the cosmopolitan Dadabhai Naoroji was perhaps well aware that Poverty would appeal to a metropolitan audience through precisely its allusion to such Gothic narratives. It would be even more appealing to this audience, were it to focus on those incipient psycho-social consciousnesses plagued by the emerging issue of imperial guilt.4 Consequently, Naoroji’s writing emphasizes the zeal of British liberal ideology in its promise to ‘better’ the Indian situation. Specifically against this background, it reveals the disquieting products of Britain’s immoral economic practices in India, making them appear even more horrific in relation to a failed promise. At the core of Naoroji’s argument is the Gothicized image of an Indian body politic, depleted and wrung dry to feed English commercial and industrial interests. This, he presents as evidence for the colossal failure in India of British liberal ideology. The resultant ill health of the relationship between India and England, Naoroji elaborates by means of the metaphors of drainage and circulation, for if this man of letters knew of the nineteenth-century literary significance of late-Victorian Gothic, then he surely knew of the political significance during that same period of the relationship between bad health and faulty circulatory principles.5 With the increasingly capillary regulation of public health and the widening medicalization of the population in late Victorian England, the healthy individual body – sexually disciplined, hygienic and optimally productive – was becoming fast normalized as a principal basis for the health of the larger social body.6 The discourse of health as it appeared across different registers of civic engagement

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was held together most conspicuously by a trope of circulation, and insofar as he used this trope in relation to economic theorizations, Naoroji’s work was continuous with that of a long line of metropolitan thinkers.7 Alongside the easily recognizable conceit of flawed circulation, Naoroji’s poignant figuration of the emaciated Indian coolie, shipped away from home as a replacement for slave labour after Britain’s political abolition of slavery, was an astute appeal on the author’s part to those ‘true’ Englishmen, guilt-ridden at the breakdown of British liberal ideology in their colonies. In short, the Indian indentured labourer, as Naoroji tactically deployed this exilic figure, was for the liberal imagination a powerful representative of a frail colonial space, in exile, as it were, from the metropolitan discourse of health. It was also, additionally, a strong metonymic embodiment of a body politic drained in the course of what Naoroji wanted to foreground as the extractive relationship between colony and metropole. Poverty’s questioning of the gap between British liberal ideology and the actual practices of colonial rule in India, brings together statistical data and cultural imaginaries to begin the work of conceptualizing a unified national form. However, many decades later, it is the fulfilment of this national form that the pundits of metropolitan Hindutva are foundationally reconceptualizing in anticipation of what has been called ‘India’s imminent Second Republic.’8 In the previous chapter, I read closely those stylistic devices whereby a representative ideologue of contemporary Hinduization begins the business of reconstitution by setting out to transform Hindus from a race and a religion into a political-historical system through the narrative manipulation of what has come to be called the ‘Ayodhya Issue’. The work of this chapter focuses not on the political-historical regime of metropolitan Hindutva, but rather on its economic aspect, and more specifically, on the cultural conceits that call into being the economics of Hindu India. Much like Banerjee and Goswami’s arguments about economic challenges to colonial rule providing the earliest instances of nationalist resistance, my contention is that the early groundwork for the political revolution of new-age Hindutva was first laid in economic quarters. As evidence of this claim, I will tell a story that begins a good number of years prior to the publication of The Road to Ayodhya when Jay Dubashi – still true, at that time, to his early training as an economist from the London School – was in the process of composing a tract, which appeared in 1985 by the title Snakes and Ladders: The Development Game.9 A compendium of rather uninspired liberalistic attacks on the social market policies of the post-independence Indian Republic, Snakes and Ladders

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is worthy of attention not only for marking the beginnings of the political project we saw in The Road to Ayodhya, but more so for the way it combines economic arguments with cultural conceits to imaginatively construe a new kind of ‘species life’ for the emerging structures of Hindu India.10 As we have seen, the question of biological life, tied in this particular case to problems of circulation, health, the emaciated body of the individual and the drained body of the nation, was an important part of the argument in Dadabhai Naoroji’s Poverty. But there is at least one principal distinction between this conceptualization of life and what I have called the ‘species life’ theorized in Jay Dubashi’s Snakes and Ladders. While in the 1901 work, the relationship between the individual Indian and the larger body politic is both a constitutive part of the economic landscape as well as at the very heart of the cultural imaginary of the nation, by the time Snakes and Ladders is published in 1985, this central linkage between the individual Indian and the larger body politic has all but disappeared from view. In other words, transforming Naoroji’s national whole from a sum of singular citizens into an undifferentiated mass of life where individual bodies like that of the indentured labourer have no part to play, Jay Dubashi replaces ‘man as body’ with ‘man as species’. The subject of economic analysis is then no longer the life of the individual citizen, but rather the generic expanse of human life itself.11 This also means that the disproportionate relationship between the per capita income of the individual Indian and the sum total of the larger national income no longer constitutes the basis of the argument in Snakes and Ladders. To be sure, it is safe to say that in Dubashi’s dispensation, the continuing emphasis on inequity is not only superfluous, but more seriously, as our author emphasizes, the sign of an unimaginative and outdated economics that cannot seem to slough off the archaic burden of terms like ‘poverty’, ‘the poor’ and ‘distributive justice’. As I argued in the last chapter, in The Road to Ayodhya, Dubashi has already developed a style that systematically suspends the constitutive gap between binaries like tradition and modernity, religion and reason and nation and empire and so history becomes for him a structure of instantaneous simultaneities rather than a narrative of what we might call the creative antagonisms between the implacable opposites of modern thought.12 In Snakes and Ladders, we see an early version of this style, but one that, I hope to demonstrate, is more dangerously cavalier in its efforts to collapse the distinction (in particular) between rich and poor, by dissolving the materiality of figurable individual citizens into a massified population that is both classless, and importantly in the Indian context, casteless.13 This life of the

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population as a whole – classless, casteless and entirely homogeneous – is in Dubashi’s design invested with the symbolic resources of what is presented as an ancient Hindu form of life. Unchained from the clutches of protectionist state forces, which had ostensibly throttled the original liberty and flexibility of its spirit, this Hindu life becomes accessible in its archetypal form, and in this form, appears as the most suitable contemporary playground for liberal economic experiments. I will turn momentarily to an extended consideration of the specific illustrative conceit Dubashi uses in Snakes and Ladders to theorize this kind of an economistic version of Hindu species life and from there to the question of how the propositions in Snakes and Ladders are continuous with the policy statements of leading BJP politicians who have dangerously inflected the constitution of majority-minority relations in the contemporary Indian context. But before turning to such matters, let us first understand the context for Snakes and Ladders, for it is this context that will both afford us an entry-point into the cultural idioms Dubashi uses to present his economic argument, as well as provide a platform from which to identify the stylistic and narrative continuities between this earlier text and Dubashi’s 1992 collection, The Road to Ayodhya, which was the object of the previous chapter.

A Hindu Ontology for the Free Market A compendium of English-language columns first appearing in the magazine India Today between 1977 and 1984, Snakes and Ladders was written at a time when the heady days of the Young Indian Republic had almost decisively come to a close and the not-so-young architecture of governance was beginning to show indelible signs of political and economic turmoil. Dubashi’s book begins at a difficult political moment. It is located in the years following the declaration of emergency by the Indira Gandhi government in 1975 and begins just before the incumbent Prime Minister was defeated in the parliamentary elections of 1977, when the opposition Janata Party emerged victor over the illustrious INC (Indian National Congress). On 2 January 1978, Indira Gandhi and her followers seceded from the INC and formed a new opposition party, popularly called Congress (I), the ‘I’ signifying Indira. Over the next year, this new party attracted enough members of the legislature to become dominant as the official opposition and in 1981 the national election commission declared it the ‘real’ INC (the ‘I’ designation was dropped

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in 1996.)14 Meanwhile, Gandhi regained a parliamentary seat in November 1978 and in 1980 she was again elected Prime Minister. In 1981, to stem the financial crisis in which she found the country, the premier took India’s first ever International Monetary Fund (IMF)loan of a whopping $5 billion.15 But before a democratic citizenry could vote on the political effects of this rather significant economic step, Indira Gandhi was brutally assassinated by her own security guards in October 1984.16 Written in such a troubled milieu, Dubashi’s essays take up not just the issue of swiftly changing and therefore unstable governments, but more elaborately, the question of India’s overwhelming international debt situation and the politics of Gandhi’s exchange with Bretton Woods-type organizations. One of Dubashi’s points of departure is that the economic policies of successive Indian governments continued to derive from an outmoded and infirm socialism, which, as the sacrosanct legacy of Nehruvian politics, could not be overthrown. The principal argument in Snakes and Ladders is therefore rather simple: the trouble with the Indian economy is its unwillingness to throw off the shackles of a state-protected market and to imagine creative business principles outside intervention and protectionism.17 Culminating in the complaint that ‘the [Nehruvian] doctrine of modernization [as] an incarnation of the theory of progress has given rise to a growing faith in centralized institutions,’ Dubashi offers a less than unique solution based on the principles of free competition. ‘The only solid foundation for genuine democracy,’ he writes, ‘is diffusion of economic power, including state power’ (Dubashi, 1985, 16). In a continuation of this argument, our author asserts that the difficulty with centralized institutions of socialism is that blindly taken up with the attempt to justly distribute inadequate state resources, they are unable to think of ways to enable and ensure the productive generation of those very same resources.18 To Dubashi’s mind, this condition is a rather surprising one, for ensuring that resources are generated is not, by any means, a difficult proposition – all government has to do is leave the market largely to its own devices and productivity will take care of itself, for as the author of Snakes and Ladders writes: Capital, like knowledge is not a finite quantity and keeps on growing. It is wrong to look upon it as a limited resource, so limited that it has to be carefully doled out by the spoonful by some babus in the Planning Commission or elsewhere (Dubashi, 1985, 48).

Such a diagnosis, despite the note of righteous élan in Dubashi’s writing, is

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tiresomely familiar, especially in the time of globally escalating and widespread liberalizations.19 But what is intriguing is that this fatigued description of a free market and its miraculous effects is in Snakes and Ladders complemented by a provocative illustrative conceit that promises to present Hindu India as both the originary premise for the freedom of the market as well as its ultimate objective. As the title suggests, Dubashi’s book is brought together by an elaborate metaphor of snakes and ladders, a board game banally familiar to every man and woman in the subcontinent, from child to octogenarian.20 Historically derived from karmic philosophies of life and rebirth, which develop through the annals of Brahminical Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, the game is an important counterpoint to shatranj (chess), another game with origins in the subcontinent.21 Unlike shatranj, the symbolic and much-lauded game of the courts, played often as an expression of war-time strategizing between rajahs and the commanders of their armed forces, snakes and ladders is undoubtedly the game for plebeians. The game does not operate on the regulated codes of war – there are no battle lines, rears, fronts, strategies, or tactical manoeuvres – and it does not restrict the number of competitors, each of whom in snakes and ladders is represented by a token on the board. These tokens are not distinguished from each other like the game pieces in chess which are made unique by the differentiated ways in which they move. The board of snakes and ladders typically consists of a series of squares numbered from one to a hundred and while some of these feature the ends of ladders, others feature the forked tongues of venomous vipers. Each player must cast the chance-ridden die and move the number of spaces it indicates to a particular square on the board, the winner being one who is able to reach the finish line (or top square) in the shortest amount of time. If a player is wounded by a poisonous snake, he or she topples down to a lower position and if he or she is lucky enough to hit a ladder, he or she has the opportunity to immediately rise to a higher rank on the board. This means that a player who has once risen to the upper echelons may very easily be ousted from his or her superior standing, and similarly, someone who has suffered a fatal brush with death can once again be a part of the game, if only he or she were to come across a golden ladder of opportunity. Indeed, it is precisely because this maze of ups and downs on the board does not constitute a particular pattern that Dubashi is able to deploy snakes and ladders as a rhetorical conceit for ‘the development game’ under the auspices of free-market trade, unburdened by the restrictive policies of state and therefore playful and flush with the merry abandon of apparently

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myriad possibilities. As Dubashi imagines it, the game of snakes and ladders provides an ontological principle of development that can in one fell swoop dismiss the relentless critique of neoliberal economic policies forwarded by an antiquated socialist economy, unable to rethink its misconstruing of the difficult notion of inequity. That is to say, the primary critique of pro-liberalization forces in India (which had started coming into their own ever since India was defeated by China in the 1962 war) involves what Dubashi calls the interminable burden of an argument about growing inequity that stubbornly refuses to pass.22 This argument – ‘the rich grow richer and the poor, poorer’ – not only prevents policymakers from coming to terms with the existent realities of economic growth, but also, is so rigidly ossified in the minds of Nehruvian economists that it forecloses their creative reassessment of the relative distance between rich and poor (Dubashi, 1985, 158): The hard economic fact is that there are poor people and rich people in all countries, and no matter what the governments do and do not – and also no matter how rich or poor the countries are in overall GNP terms, when the rich become richer, the poor do not become poorer but maintain more or less the same relative distance from the rich (Dubashi, 1985, 236).

Dubashi contends that political kingpins in India believe, for some inexplicable reason, that while private companies are morally degenerate monsters, ready to exploit their workers and the nation at large every chance they have, the government is a benevolent benefactor and therefore will be just in controlling the widening gaps between rich and poor.23 In contrast, his own book promises to demonstrate that forces of privatization have nothing at all to do with growing income disparities, for just as the fates of players in the game of snakes and ladders cannot be controlled by the intervention of skill (as in chess), growing inequality, according to our author, cannot be controlled by state intervention.24 Indeed, no matter how frantically one searches, there can be no one cause for unequal incomes. These may only be explained by a natural gap between rich and poor which is true, in Dubashi’s view, for all human collectivities, and therefore an inflexible circumstance, which cannot be remedied by political structures. Only the freeing of the economy can in Dubashi’s opinion administer – rather than correct – the problem of poverty by making rich and poor radically reversible positions. That is to say, the rich ‘player’ and the poor ‘player’ in the development game are equally disposed to find themselves in the other’s place and it is as a metaphorical map for

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precisely such radical reversibility that the freedom of opportunity implicit in the board of snakes and ladders helps us rethink what Dubashi considers the essentially misunderstood notion of inequity: The rich do get richer but it is not the same rich, nor is it the same poor who get poorer. Even the very poor can do get rich and the very rich often vanish into limbo. And what is true of companies is also true of life in general (Dubashi, 1985, 162).

As a fundamentally democratic distribution of completely unhindered energies, snakes and ladders thus incarnates a new world picture for Jay Dubashi. This picture is one in which government cannot concern itself with why some ‘players’ are gulped down whole by insatiable pythons for ‘there are apparently no convincing reasons why one company—or a group of companies—has done well and another blotted its copy book’ (Dubashi, 1985, 161). Similarly, Dubashi contends ‘there are no hard and fast rules in development. Countries go up and countries go down, leaving economists and others wondering why a particular country is surging forward, and another barely limping along’ (Dubashi, 1985, 198). It is important to note however that this emphasis on the completely unchecked forces, let loose by the metaphorical landscape of snakes and ladders, is on Dubashi’s part a foundational reconstruction of the quite unambiguous genealogies of the game. Dating back in most records to the second century BCE, snakes and ladders, as I have suggested before, had its roots in philosophies of life and rebirth and by extension a moral universe tightly linked to the forces of karma. These are represented in the game by the fall of the die, just as the rewards of virtues like reliability, generosity and asceticism are represented by ladders and the consequences of vices like pride, lust and murder are represented by snakes.25 In some varieties of the game, the navigation of these virtues and vices was tied to the development of the self in its journey towards a final union with the infinite. Thus, the end object for players of snakes and ladders was to reach a complete understanding of the relationship between the individual and absolute self, and by exiting the board, to symbolically become one with the ‘Supreme Being’, finding moksha thereby from an interminable cycle of lives.26 Deliberately displaced from such a taut moral universe, the ‘life’ that Dubashi imagines being represented in and by the game of snakes and ladders is not framed by a relationship between the individual and absolute self, or, as we have already noted, between the individual and the larger body politic. No

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surprise then that the players on Dubashi’s board are ‘companies’ and ‘countries’, released from the pursuit of economic growth in relation to a larger whole. Given this absence of a larger framing whole, there is in Dubashi’s account of the game, in fact no outside to the grid on which players find themselves; the final object therefore does not involve reaching the finish line and with the flourish of the winner, realizing an ‘other’, as it were, to the banality of the board. Indeed, the free market economics ordained by the game cannot actually permit an outside, for it is coeval, as Dubashi stresses on several occasions, with the enduring expanse of the life of the human species itself, which is in turn synonymous with the continuing life of companies and countries. ‘In economics as in life, there are no easy answers’ (Dubashi, 1985, 98), writes Dubashi, with the smugness of the pedagogue, just as he pedantically notes again within a few pages ‘What is true of companies, is true of life in general’ (Dubashi, 1985, 162). For Dubashi then, the life of companies, of the species and of the free market, occupy one continuum of economic regularities and it is on this same continuum of regularities that he manages the persistent problem of inequity, making rich and poor as radically reversible, and therefore as paradoxically synonymous, as the categories ‘species life’, ‘the life of companies’ and ‘the life of the open market’. In other words, one of the principal moments in his project is the suggestion that in an economic scenario where ‘species life’, ‘the life of companies’ and ‘the life of the open market’ are one and the same thing, inequity is a normalized, normative circumstance that is essentially causeless and therefore unworthy of economic analysis. The problem of inequity having thus been suspended in the economic map laid out by Dubashi’s version of snakes and ladders, the players do not in fact need to exit the board. Indeed, to do so would be to not only confront the harrowing prospect of a life plagued by inequities, but also to exit the ‘life in general’ of the human species itself, represented as it is by the board on which Dubashi would have us play snakes and ladders. Unlike chess, which was restricted to the courtly order of Rex and Brahmin, the plebian grid of snakes and ladders thus horizontally expands itself to cover the whole range of human life and all are invited into a contest from which there can be no escape. As we have seen, having set about to liberate economic policy from state-led welfare, the illustrative figure of Dubashi’s snakes and ladders brings about a foundationally violent convergence between the unchecked game of free market development and the life of the human race itself. The violence of this proposition of course rests in the apparently benign suggestion that the freedom of the market is synonymous with, and

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no doubt a precondition for, the liberty of man as species and that there are no possible alternatives to such an expedient merging. Yet, if no form of life is to be different from that implied in Dubashi’s version of snakes and ladders, the grid of the game, inspired as it is by a conceptualization of freedom, itself becomes a fetter outside which all alternative types of living would constitute unpardonable, indefensible forms of enslavement. Thus, in a paradoxical reversal of modern, historical values, it is actually, so to speak, ‘the free life’ that functions in Dubashi’s imagining of snakes and ladders as humanity’s strongest and most unyielding chain. Indeed, so absolute is Dubashi’s call to freedom that it implies liberation even from the sovereign fiefdom of death, for just as inequality is banished from his enterprise, death too has no place in an econocratic version of snakes and ladders. As we have already seen, even the redemptive final union with a supreme being is here awarded no valence for the object is not to emancipate oneself from the board. Rather, it is to endure infinitely in the game, to make the development game replete with a deathless mass of players and to free the life of the species itself from the release promised by the death of the individual human.

The Time-capsules of Memoryless Development In Society Must Be Defended, his lectures between 1975–76 at the College de France, Michel Foucault contends that the emergence of the regulatory technology of bio-power in the latter half of the eighteenth century involved a ‘gradual disqualification of death’ from the realms of public ritualization and spectacle.27 To demonstrate this linkage between bio-power and the taboo on death, as it were, Foucault uses as his point of departure the classical theory of sovereignty which was centered on the right of the sovereign to take life or let live. He then shows how starting in the nineteenth century, this right was complemented (rather than replaced or superseded) by a new right – its opposite in a sense – to make live and let die. Arriving at this claim through the observation that in the nineteenth century the state was increasingly taking control of the biological processes of human life, Foucault notes that well before this time, jurists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had already begun to debate whether life is the right of the sovereign, or whether it must remain outside the social contract. However, instead of turning to the annals of political theory to map the emergence of life as a political problem, as he calls it, Foucault in a signature approach, chooses to analyse the

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process at the level of the ‘mechanisms, techniques, and technologies of power’ (Foucault, 2003, 241). In the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, these technologies of power were centered on the body, serializing, spatializing and hierarchizing individual subjects through what Foucault calls an anatamopolitics of the human body and by means of disciplinary instruments. However, the bio-power that appears in the latter half of the eighteenth century no longer addresses individual bodies. It is directed, instead, at a planetary mass of life, or at man as a species, identical with itself and therefore susceptible to generalized characteristics such as birth, mortality and illness. Foucault takes a great deal of care to emphasize that this new power – a bio-politics of the human race as opposed to an anatamo-politics of the human body – did not supplant older mechanisms of power, but was contiguous with them, inserting itself into existing disciplinary techniques, even while operating in a different area and with distinct instruments. The area of operation of bio-power being different from that of anatamo-power, the objects of the former are not individual bodies, as I have just emphasized. Bio-power is interested, rather, in phenomena like birth and mortality rates, longevities, fertility rates, old age and the endemic effects of urban environments – in other words, generalized processes that have economic and political effects and can be observed, not in the individual human body, but in a massified population that endures over a period of time. The devices used to arrive at this kind of massification and generalization, the devices of bio-politics, so to speak, similarly do not involve disciplinary systems of surveillance, routines of inspection, or exercises of coercion in relation to individual bodies. Instead, they are constituted in large-scale statistical averages, broad forecasts and standardized scientific formulae that will render the variable or changeful elements in a population into constants. Bio-power, Foucault tells us, is thus a regularizing power; it is a power that creates equilibriums and suspends as far as possible the random, accidental factors in the life of the species. Itself continuous with the population as such a symmetrical field of application, bio-power’s object is to protect and optimize life itself, its aim, to make live. Insofar as an overall statistical estimate of the national income of British India forms the cornerstone of Dadabhai Naoroji’s Poverty and UnBritish Rule in India, the text no doubt marks the beginning of those regulatory devices of bio-power, which will ultimately go on to generate modular figures for birth and death rates, life expectancies, fertilities, illnesses and indices of age within a national population. Yet, at the turn of the twentieth century, the body of the individual Indian citizen is as emblematic for Naoroji as is the possibility

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of a national aggregate created by the massified whole of the population. In other words, Naoroji’s highlighting of both the person of the Indian coolie as well as the larger social body he represented meant that Poverty appeared in an occasion that quite sharply instantiated Michel Foucault’s assertion that a bio-politics of the human race co-exists in an intimate intersection with an anatamo-politics of the human body. However, by the time we have arrived at Jay Dubashi’s 1985 tract Snakes and Ladders – and I spend some time recounting Foucault’s elaborations in order to underscore this point – this intersection is no longer part of a broad field of economic and political visibilities.28 My contention in pointing this out is not that disciplinary technologies like surveillance, the codification of time and space and the production of docile bodies is no longer true in 1985. I am merely suggesting that in the final decades of the Indian twentieth century, and particularly in the work of Hinduized economists such as Dubashi, the intersection between disciplinary regimens of power and regulatory regimens is not the principal object of attention. Instead, in a text like Snakes and Ladders, what we see is the rhetorical and discursive production of a technology of power that enhances and augments the field of bio-politics as the latter increasingly takes under its care the generalized life of man as species. I say ‘enhances’ and ‘augments’ because this power introduces what I am arguing is ‘a third vector’ into the trajectory that Foucault has traced from the old sovereign right to ‘take life or let live’, to the bio-power to ‘make live and let die’. This third vector of biopower produces, reproduces and administers species life only insofar as that life is an economistically ordained free life. To put it somewhat differently, the third vector I speak of, extends and magnifies the power to make live and let die so that pushed to its logical limits, it becomes the power to make free (even from death) and let die. As Dubashi conceives of it, the ancient game of snakes and ladders is the stylistic vehicle for a contemporary imagination of the power to make free and let die, just as it is a conceit for the kind of economic development that Dubashi envisions. In this projected grid of development, no longer do particular corners of the world have to be designated for civilization and no more do particular groups of humans have to be elected as the chosen ones who can be inserted into the course of historical development. Indeed, it is the availability of masses of free life, the promise of an endless cycle of lives, as it were, that consolidates Dubashi’s claim that his vision of society is one in which ‘everyone must act freely, for the show must go on’ (Dubashi, 1985, 188).29 My analysis of the economics of metropolitan Hindutva is concerned with the rhetorical style whereby the power to make free and let die emerges

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and inserts itself into a cultural imaginary, rather than with the historical appearance (as in Foucault’s case) of institutionalized devices, techniques and technologies whereby this same power operates.30 It thus emphasizes the expressive points at which an ideologue like Jay Dubashi economistically ordains the category of freedom and affixes it to the bio-political dispensation of optimizing life. This optimized free state of life is then dated back to an artificially manufactured originary Hinduism that endures in a deathless cycle of rebirths liberated even from the possibility of a redemptive outside.31 To return us to the concerns of the previous chapter, it is perhaps fair to ask at this point what the relationship is between the absolutist ‘disqualification of death’ that constitutes the economic matrix of Hindutva we see in Snakes and Ladders and the attack on secular-historical thinking that that same ideology has unleased in the contemporary Indian context. As a point of departure to answering this question, it is important to remind ourselves that especially in a Hegelian and post-Hegelian context, the linear developmental conception of history has always had an intimate relationship with the linear temporality of life and death. It is not surprising then that Dubashi complements the ban on death in his version of the development game, with, what appears to be a ban on history, relegating history to the status of what he calls a ‘limbo’ that can have no place on the board of snakes and ladders. In place of the limbo of history are what the author terms ‘time-capsules’, which act like random variables that no doubt affect the future of the players in the game, but are conditioned and encoded only by relevant information about their current state, rather than by their historical behaviour (Dubashi, 1985, 20).32 What this means is that since in snakes and ladders the probability of players going from one place to another is completely independent of the prior history of their moves in the game, Dubashi styles the time consciousness of his development game as one that has no use for the historical sense. We are thus not very far at this point from the world that this author conceives in his 1992 compilation The Road to Ayodhya, for in that later text, history was suspended in a system of language for which each sign was merely the perfectly symmetrical repetition of another and there were no gaps, and consequently, no temporally inflected relationships between a sign and its semantic gravitation. In short, if The Road to Ayodhya removed the constitutive categories of past, present and future from a principal role in historical-political visions, then in Snakes and Ladders we have Dubashi providing the beginnings of this political vision with the idea of development as a memoryless economic game.33 The attribute of ‘memorylessness’ is the connecting thread here, for even though it belongs

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in this case to the field of mathematics, and more specifically, to statistical probability distributions, which indicate the prospect of moving from one economic place to another in mathematically constant or continuous time, it attaches easily to a cultural condition that has no recourse to the depth of past (colonial or postcolonial) histories. The fundamental right to life in Snakes and Ladders and its attendant banishment of the immobility of death, converge not only with Dubashi’s pronouncement of the end of history, but also with his declaration of the end of inequality. In a dispensation where the asymmetries of history and inequality have been replaced by the even distribution of a free memoryless life, there are no generative antagonisms between binarized forces like rich and poor, past and present, tradition and modernity, or east and west. The creative principal here is thus, not the dialectic between historically specific forms of unevenness, but rather a type of managerial intelligence that exists in the smoothness of a temporality that has taken on what I have called the mathematically continuous values generated by memorylessness. For the author of Snakes and Ladders, the manager of business ought to be someone who embodies this principal of intelligence. He also ought to be someone who can bring a new world into being because he can constitutively rethink precisely what Dubashi calls the ‘versus complex’ of the protected Indian economy (Dubashi, 1985, 146). When confronted with unevennesses, or binaries such as ‘large versus small industry, public versus private sector, urban versus rural, equality versus growth, and finally, almost as a natural corollary, government versus people’, this manager can ensure that all oppositions are distributed horizontally along a continuous plane of regularities and therefore sanitized of their antagonistic force (Dubashi, 1985, 146). Thus, no longer does the Indian economy have to be hopelessly torn between contraries, for Dubashi’s business manager liberates the world into an abandon of sheer productivity, in which ‘villages and cities, multinationals and self-reliance, atomic energy and cow dung, and industry and agriculture’ freely dissolve into one another (Dubashi, 1985, 3).34 Once he has unchained what, according to Dubashi, are the oppressive parallelisms of an old socialist landscape, such a creative manager is someone who turns his attention to the larger problems at the root of such dualistic thinking. These ‘larger problems’ had of course involved the recognition of increasing poverty and widespread inequality, causing successive governments to think in terms of contraries like city or country, atomic energy or cow dung and industry or agriculture. But Dubashi’s creative business professional is someone who can attack the very source of this kind of thinking by pointing

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to the historylessness of the development process and validating therefrom the radical reversibility, as we have seen earlier, of categories like ‘rich’ and ‘poor’, as well as other supposedly intractable binaries that stem from a mistaken perception of unequal realities.35 Indeed, to consolidate this vein of inspired reordering, Dubashi reaches back, even to the classical legacy of Plutarch, only to clearly misunderstand his thinking and make the case to readers that it was actually the ancients – rather than contemporary neoliberals – who knew that there was no earthly reason for poverty, just as they also knew that the disparity between rich and poor could not be blamed on the accumulation of wealth by the latter: The disparity of fortune between the rich and the poor has reached its height, so that the city seems to be in a dangerous condition, and no other means for freeing it from disturbances seem possible except perhaps despotic power. This sounds like Robert McNamara in one of his addresses to the board of governors of the World Bank, but it is not. It is Plutarch writing about the Athens of 594 B.C. … There is no earthly reason for any human being to starve but there is also no earthly reason why the man who starves should blame the rich man for his condition (Dubashi, 1985, 93–94).

Hinduness and Bio-power As a point of departure for the question of style, which is my primary concern here, I want to emphasize that many of Dubashi’s segments in Snakes and Ladders in fact begin precisely in the above manner – with the pedantic tone of a father chiding his young son and paradoxically, alongside that, a mood of entirely blithe lightheartedness that echoes the child-friendly game that is snakes and ladders. In other words, even while imagining a sport that frolics presumably without supervision (just as the market thrives without protection), Dubashi’s syntax often reminds readers of the unmistakable voice of a swaggering pater. With some flourish, this overbearing father sometimes patronizingly asks his child rhetorical questions whose answer is inherent in the question itself, as in this illustrative example: ‘Does a country always stay a less developed country or should it finally, like children, be asked to leave home?’ (Dubashi, 1985, 229). At other times, as in the previous extract about Plutarch, the father condescends to his offspring by pointing out that when he or she believes something by force of habit alone, he or she may in fact

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be believing wrongly – ‘This sounds like Robert McNamara in one of his addresses to the board of governors of the World Bank, but it is not.’ Once the befuddled child – or, the targeted reader – is convinced that what seems to be, is actually not so, he/she is thrown into a further morass of confusion. Though the two sound identical, not only is Plutarch not Robert McNamara, but even problems that the callow mind believes to be at the very basis of a developing economy are for all practical purposes non-problems. Men as far apart as Plutarch and Robert McNamara may have debated endlessly about poverty and the rancor resulting from widening disparities of income, and indeed, such problems may be existent realities. But if one were to take seriously the board of snakes and ladders as an imaginative conceit for economic life, then one would know that the free market is not to be blamed for a heightening in the hard, evidently timeless facts of economic inequity. And even though we may not be accustomed to thinking so, life released from the restrictive fetters of developmentalist socialism will lead us inevitably to the following truth: ‘There is no earthly reason why a human being should starve, but there is also no earthly reason why the man who starves should blame the rich man for his condition’ (Dubashi, 1985, 94). Promising, in this way, to emancipate economic life from the immobile morass of cause-effect patterns of thinking, Dubashi’s economics offers itself, in an apparently cavalier style (with a trace of hardened arrogance), as the millennial portent of a manner of living in which starvation and inequality are as ridden with chance as the die cast by the plebeian players of the game of snakes and ladders. The style of Dubashi’s articulation about starvation and inequality is then on the one hand seemingly merry and unburdened and on the other dogged by a self-righteous paternal authority. This paradoxical structure is sustained by a rather taut parallelism, consolidated in a mathematical balance of rhythm that reciprocal arrangements of evenly measured clauses cannot but bring in their wake (‘there is no earthly reason why … /but there is also no earthly reason why …’) In fact, the essays that make up Dubashi’s book are saturated with such pithy, almost homily-like arrangements, which in heralding a new style of economics and of life are all the more noticeable because of their conspicuous juxtaposition with lyrical, even at times plaintive descriptions of the old Nehruvian order: The word Government today suggests a nebulous entity slowly gone to seed. A government office is a long murky tunnel reeking like a public urinal. And Government Servants are small, shabby clerks huddled among fraying file covers while serving life sentences in Dickensian dungeons (Dubashi, 1985, 27).

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In contrast to the above dirge-like passage that Dubashi writes to the ‘big government’ of the Nehruvian era, we have what might be called the terse memos of a millennial intelligence, which, with their carefully measured staccato rhythms are the harbingers of a new dispensation on the verge of usurping the decrepit Nehruvian throne: Democracy as we popularly know it cannot coexist with planning; alternatively, planning cannot be done in a democratic set-up.

Actually there is no such thing as ‘scarce resources.’ Resources need dynamic effort, and additional development creates additional resources. Any undue control on resources inhibits development and lack of development results in lack of resources (Dubashi, 1985, 128–29).

The quick, timely beats of firmly condensed reciprocal structures lend Dubashi’s prose a foppish cocksureness of measure that gives the sense that the new dispensation will veritably strut through what an older order may have perceived as the insurmountable problems of development and scarce resources.36 At the same time, and paradoxically so, the terse, indeed stiffly restricted homilic style of the new regime sits rather uneasily with what Dubashi has insisted is the causeless ineffability and sheer sense of liberation afforded by an economy fueled through the freedom of snakes and ladders. Does this mean then that the rhythm of Dubashi’s prose threatens, through the very tightness of its grip, as well as in its stylistic reliance on a swaggering father, to coincide with precisely that syntax of an oppressive Nehruvian paternalism that Snakes and Ladders had set out to jettison? My contention is that the hard, metrically inflexible style of Dubashi’s restrictive homilies is related to the way in which our author ordains the category of ‘freedom’ in absolutist and economistic terms, transforming it from one that might liberate the many possibilities of human living, into one that rigidly de-limits the scope of such possibilities. This conception of freedom is in turn linked, as we have seen, to Dubashi’s collapsing of the asymmetries of inequality into an allegedly uniform plane of opportunities available to all under the auspices of a market unshackled from the protections of Nehruvian socialism. Dubashi’s understanding of freedom is thus paradoxical in so far as it is totalizing in its aspirations to subsume all expressions of multiplicity into its vision of a massified, undifferentiated biological life of the human species.37 The problem of diversity, or heterogeneity, or simply put, difference, is a central one in the context of the unequal relations of force that Dubashi

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wants to disavow when he makes rich and poor radically reversible situations in the regularized continuum of life that constitutes his view of the human condition.38 It is not surprising therefore that it is to precisely the linkage between difference and inequality that the ideologues of contemporary Hindu nationalism turn their attention as they set about to unravel the historical and political vectors of a Nehruvian system of governance – something which I had gestured toward in the introduction to this book and which I will elaborate more fully in the following pages. In 1992, the same year in which the Babri Mosque was demolished and Jay Dubashi published The Road to Ayodhya as a response to the situation, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the eleventh Prime Minister of independent India and first president of the Hindu nationalist BJP, delivered the Rajendra Prasad Lecture on All India Radio. Titling it, provocatively for the times, ‘Secularism, the Indian Concept’, he noted, in this lecture, that the Forty-second amendment (1976) to the Indian Constitution, which introduced the two categories, ‘socialism’ and ‘secularism’ into that document, also inextricably yoked these together, mentioning them ‘in one breath,’ as if without distinction.39 Even though the alleged union between socialism and secularism was constitutionally articulated only in 1976, for Vajpayee, secularizing processes in the autonomous Indian context had always been aligned with a socialist structure and in fact it was for this reason that they had become a bane, and plainly put, ‘not sufficiently secular’.40 The association between socialism and secularism is seemingly only a fleeting moment in Vajpayee’s broad argument. The more elaborate part of the idea is that the particularities of Indian secularism are not to be contained by the secular process as it evolved in the west.41 That is to say, without really going into the genealogies of the category of socialism, Vajpayee turns his attention to the category of secularism and declares that in India, secularism had to do with the state respecting equally all religious faiths, rather than separating itself from the realm of religion. Yet, long before the new Prime Minister’s remarking the specificities of the Indian context, several scholars had already shown that secularism in the postcolonial South Asian situation had little to do either with the separation of church and state, or the development of an everyday ethics of worldliness and more to do with the negotiation of religious differences.42 What is significant about Vajpayee’s lecture is therefore not his parroting of this older assertion, but rather, precisely, his brief and implicit suggestion that if secularism involved a negotiation of religious differences, then the socialist bent of the young Republic was an overlapping political arrangement that involved structurally

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managing economic inequalities.43 Despite its brief appearance in the larger scope of the argument, I mark this as the most significant place in Vajpayee’s lecture because it was this complementary arrangement – the grafting of difference and inequality onto each other – that beginning in the 1980s, contemporary metropolitan Hinduization had started to challenge most aggressively. The autonomous Indian democracy as it had come into being under the stewardship of Jawaharlal Nehru was based on the formation of a properly national (Hindu) majority. Against the established background of such a majority, Nehru’s classic developmental flourish involved a pledge to have modernization erase the economic and cultural backwardness of minority groups such that they could be more easily assimilated into the organic whole of a properly national body.44 In their challenge to what they have called the Nehruvian system, the ideologues of metropolitan Hindutva claimed that the attempt to negotiate backwardness through the conjoining of cultural difference and economic inequality caused the relationship between majority and minority to be a dangerously restless one. This was because neither did difference presuppose inequality, nor was the reverse true in any way, and so the solution of Hindutva ideologues was to do away with the falsity of the Nehruvian structure once and for all.45 The new polity that would come into being in its place was to be based not on the negotiation of difference and inequity as a unit, but on the absolute subordination of ‘difference’ into the majoritarian conception of a uniform national culture. As I pointed out in the first chapter, the language of metropolitan Hindutva is one in which such absolute subordination requires, first and foremost, the complete subservience of inequality to the standardization of heterogeneous economies of desire.46 Before going on to further theorize the language of majority-minority relationships in the South Asian context, it is necessary to say a little about the formation of the Muslim League and the political making of Pakistan. These are nodal moments in the shifting grammar of Indian secular discourse, as it negotiates majority-minority tensions, affixing them, as Vajpayee wants to argue, to economic inequalities. The Muslim League was founded in 1906 as the All India Muslim League by Aga Khan III; within just three years of its coming into being, the Morley-Minto reforms of 1909 awarded separate electorates to candidates amassed under the banner of the League and by 1916 the content of these reforms was consolidated in a League-Congress agreement known formally as the Lucknow Pact.47 Against this background, and impelled by Sir Syed Ahmad’s late nineteenth century two-nation theory

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hailing suchcha Musalmans (true Muslims) as distinct people with a unique way of life and originary cultural values, Muhammad Iqbal, an early leader of the League, was one of the first to propose the creation of a separate Muslim India in 1930. By 1940, under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the League for the first time formally demanded the establishment of a Muslim state in the form of Pakistan. In the elections of 1946, the League won almost all the Muslim vote and after the division of the Indian subcontinent in the following year, it became the major political party of newly formed Pakistan. Indeed, it was in this period through the 1930s and the 1940s, and particularly after the failure of the Khilafat Movement, that the Mussalman of British India increasingly became a sign of intractable otherness, a figure that threatened the integrity of a singular national form.48 As I have shown before, for the mainstream nationalists faced with the challenge of the Muslim League, communalism became the name for the politics expressed by such ‘threatening’ entities and despite the fact that this ‘communalism’ had its own nationalist pretensions, they deemed it anti-national, inward-looking and above all, illegitimate. Emerging in a binary opposition to this proscribed politics, the language of Indian secularism became attached to the mainstream center of the nationalist movement and strongly authorized it over and against the communalism associated with the Muslim League. Legitimizing itself thus, the mainstream struggle for autonomy – like the normatively Hindu majority it claimed to speak for – staged itself as most properly ‘national’ and in doing so, engendered a chasm between ‘Muslim interests’ (communal interests) and so-called ‘national interests’, the latter being understood as always already secularized.49 When the widening of this chasm led to the partition of British India, the meaning signaled by ‘Muslim’ in an earlier nationalist climate shifted ever so slightly. In independent India, the Muslim was not exactly an anti-national other, but a sign around which the nation was to be imagined as uniform and united, an ‘included exclusion’, as it were, that the liberal nation-state under Jawaharlal Nehru pledged to tolerate. In short, Indian Muslims became a minority in a new Republic, which had nationalized the practices of modern Hindu identity in turning the Muslim first into its anti-national other and then into a tolerated exclusion.50 It was precisely this crucial point in the formation of independent India that beginning in the early 90s Hindu nationalist outfits began to attack more aggressively than ever before, promising, as they did so, to dismantle completely the negotiating stance of the majority-minority structure. For the early postcolonial state, these negotiations had involved a

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developmentalist reorganization of the economic sphere such that the national majority could be made equal in its relations with a modern international world, and on the domestic front, the backwardness of minority groups could be alleviated so as to ensure distributive justice for all. The ideologues of Hindu India sought to undo these developmentalist structures so as to rearticulate the fabric of the ‘secular’ national body. They argued, disingenuously of course, that the framing of the Nehruvian majority-minority structure was in many ways responsible for sustaining the difference of Indian Muslims in relation to a broadly Hinduized civic culture (But as we know, organized by the language of tolerance and rights, it was the negotiation of such difference that had according to the classical-liberal rules of the postcolonial Indian polity provided the template of secularism).51 When they questioned the grammar of postcolonial secularism therefore, some Hindu nationalist parties of the 90s claimed to call only for its more stringent application, so that Muslims could be more ‘properly’ assimilated into the national body.52 But what was actually happening was that they were calling for a major transformation in the existing secular lexis of the Republic. That is to say, instead of using shifting political negotiations as the primary instrument for managing difference, they were going to aim for a polity based on the absolute subordination of economic inequality to cultural difference, and of difference, then, to the majoritarian conception of a uniform national culture. As Jay Dubashi imagines it, the economic universe of metropolitan Hindutva had already rightly understood the problem of inequity as an unchangeable circumstance of the human condition and something that was consequently superfluous to the work of economic analysis. In this, its new avatar, inequality could be dissolved into the regularized biological continuum of the human race as a random, or accidental feature of life itself. Such a feature was to be managerially administered by making rich and poor changeable positions in a world brimful with the freedom of opportunity. The economically conceived domain of free life, without striations, smooth and identical with itself, was in turn to function as grounds for the cultural creation of a uniform national body in the way that Vajpayee envisions it. The only thing that would remain to be taken into account after this is how this purportedly unbroken field of life is in fact continually fractured by a power that not only makes free (or, makes live deathlessly as we have seen), but also, lets die. Michel Foucault answers the question of how the power to make live can also (paradoxically) let die, by pointing to a kind of racism whose very function is to separate out ‘the groups that exist within a population’ and to create ‘a biological type caesura within a

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mass of life that appears to be a continuous biological domain’ (Foucault, 2003, 255). In other words, Foucault argues that it is a kind of biological racism that introduces a break into the continuum of the human race, establishing what may be considered an inferior sub-species that can be exposed to death more readily than its relatively vigorous counterpart. This is a species that biopower can let die rather than make live – whether this be through inadequate healthcare, improper access to education, or insufficient basic resources of food and water. My own argument is only slightly different from Foucault’s in this instance. It focuses on the idea that the bio-political function of increasing the risk of death for a section of humanity intersects in the contemporary Indian context with the continuing processes of minoritization of culture, as Hindutva sets about rearranging language, community and identity in a distinctly metropolitan setting without memory of its colonial past.53 That is to say, if a certain part of the population can be, in Foucaultian terms, biologically imperiled, then there are also certain collectivities (intersecting, more often than not, with those that are biologically imperiled) that can be subject to political death, rejection of rights and civic expulsion. Indeed it is to this dangerous situation that Partha Chatterjee, amongst others, refers when he writes that the new element in legitimate politics in South Asia involves the idea ‘that the constitutionally guaranteed rights of minorities must be negotiated afresh in the political domain’.54 My claim in closing this chapter is that the crisscrossing of bio-power and processes of minoritization is consolidated in the economic field of Hindutva, by the category of freedom as we have seen it unfold in a text like Jay Dubashi’s Snakes and Ladders. Much like Foucault’s population is improved in evolutionary terms by the dying out of inferior races, so too the continuum of the human race in Dubashi’s development game is bettered by the elimination of those species that are minoritized. Because they cannot inhabit a Hindu perpetuity of rebirth, because they cannot free themselves from the shackles of a protected economy, because they continue to be dependent on the affirmative actions put in place by the erstwhile protectionist state, and in the final analysis, because they cannot be comfortable in the memoryless time-capsules of managerially regularized ways of being, these minorities are marked not just by religious and cultural affiliation, but also by the absence of a certain technocratic class privilege that in Dubashi’s universe is essential for life itself. For Dubashi, the more such parts of the population die out, the more normalized the population as a whole will be, and importantly therefore, the less prone to political or biological death. The deathless, normative, free

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life, increasingly invigorated by the purging of inferior races no doubt forms the foundation for the normative population of Hindutva, but it is the cultural conceits through which it emerges that deserve more attention, for their genealogy is a long and complex one. They go back, as we shall soon see, to a dense relationship between history-writing and death that had explicitly founded the early thinking of a man who has often been referred to as the father of modern-day Hindutva.

Endnotes

1 Sukanya Banerjee, Becoming Imperial Citizens: Indians in the Late-Victorian Empire (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010); Manu Goswami, Producing India: From Colonial Economy to National Space (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004). 2

Sukanya Banerjee, Becoming Imperial Citizens: Indians in the Late-Victorian Empire, 44.

3 Following Marx’s famous formulation of the vampire as a metaphor for capital, Franco Morretti argues that Bram Stoker’s foundational Gothic vampire, Dracula is a metaphor for monopoly capital and therefore literalizes the deepest fears of bourgeois liberalism, which thrives on the ideas of free competition and individual liberty. According to Morretti, the late Victorian imagination perceives the tyranny of feudal monopoly as the past or the ‘other’ of free competition, refusing to recognize that competition itself generates monopoly – or that the ‘other’ is in this sense, part of the self. See Franco Morretti, ‘The Dialectic of Fear,’ New Left Review 136 (Nov-Dec 1982): 67–85. As a template for understanding the complexity of colonial relations, Moretti’s suggestion that the fear of the bourgeoisie is generated by the question of ‘just how other the Other really is’ could be related back to Sara Suleri’s noting of the fearful complicities between colonizer and colonized which I refer to in the first chapter of this book.

4 To understand further the modernizing impulse of Gothic narrative, see Stephen Arata, ‘The Occidental Tourist: Dracula and the Anxiety of Reverse Colonization,’ Victorian Studies: A Journal of the Humanities, Arts, and Sciences 33, no. 4 (Summer 1990): 67–85. Also, see Micahel Gamer, Romanticism and the Gothic: Genre, Reception, and Canon Formation (Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000) and David Putner, Literature of Terror: A History of Gothic Fiction from 1765 to the Present Day (London, New York: Longman, 1980) for arguments relating to the links between Gothic narrative and social and political anxieties in the age of empire. 5

Dadabhai Naoroji is of course celebrated as the pioneer of the notable drain thesis in Indian economic investigation. To understand how the drain theory was taken up and propagated by other Indian nationalists from Justice Ranade to Romesh Chunder Dutt, see Bipan Chandra, ‘Indian Nationalists and the Drain, 1880-1905,’ Indian Economic and Social History Review 2, no. 2 ( January 1964): 103–14, and for an account of Dadabhai Naoroji as an early liberal in the Indian context, see Partha Chatterjee, ‘Modernity, Democracy and a Political Negotiation of Death,’ South Asia Research 19, no. 2 (October 1999): 103–19. However, for a comprehensive

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account of Naorji’s work that emphasizes both the strength of the drain theory as well as the weaknesses of Naorji’s writing in relation to the laws of classical political economy, see B. N. Ganguli, Dadabhai Naoroji and the Drain Theory (New York: Asia Publishing House, 1965).

Michel Foucault’s work in relation to this aspect of the Victorians is an important point of reference for my own thinking and it is something I will move toward later in this chapter.

Beginning in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the analysis of wealth and resources consistently centered on a discursive harmony provided it by the category of circulation. In the Leviathan (1651) for instance, Thomas Hobbes uses the circulation of natural blood to talk about the passage of money and resources through the social body; similarly, in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century work of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, the medical concern with blood flow becomes a central principle in political economy, just as in Karl Marx’s famous account of circulation in Capital, Volume I (1867), the metaphor of the draining of blood is used to analogize capital with a parasitic vampire.

8 See Parth J. Shah, ‘Evolution of Liberalism in India,’ Liberal Times: A Forum for Liberal Policy in South Asia X, no. 4 (2002), available at http://www.ccsindia.org/ people_pjs_liberalism.asp, last accessed on 28 August 2015, for a specific reference to a second freedom struggle in India that will deliver to the people economic and social freedom and will follow upon the political part of the liberal project, which reached its fulfillment with the flourishing of democracy in India. 9

Jay Dubashi, Snakes and Ladders: The Development Game (New Delhi, Allied Publishers Private Limited, 1985). Henceforth, this work will be referred to both parenthetically and otherwise as Snakes and Ladders.

10 See Barbara Harriss-White, India Working: Essays on Society and Economy (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003); Achin Vanaik, The Painful Transition: Bourgeois Democracy in India (London: Verso, 1990) and Stuart Corbridge and John Harriss, Reinventing India: Liberalization, Hindu Nationalism and Popular Democracy (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2000) for select analyses of changing economic conditions as the grounds for Hindu fundamentalism in India. Dubashi is in this context a fairly interesting figure, for he has been both a core member of the economic think tank of the BJP government as well as someone who criticized the party’s Gandhian policies in Snakes and Ladders, as I have shown in note no. 42 of chapter 1. 11 See Michel Foucault, Society Must be Defended: Lectures at the College de France, 19751976 (New York: Picador, 2003) for an analysis of the shift from disciplinary power to regulatory bio-power and the concomitant shift in the object of power, from man as body to man as species.

12 To understand further my analysis of difference as a product of generative antagonisms, which constitute the narrative of modern history, see Manisha Basu, ‘A Battle of the Books: Linguistic Antagonisms and the Crisis of Postcolonial Secularism,’ The Comparatist 37, no. 1 (May 2013): 105–21. 13 See Francois Gautier, ‘Are Brahmins the Dalits of today?’, available at http://www. rediff.com/news/2006/may/23franc.htm, last accessed on 28 August 2015, for one instance amongst many of how the ideologues of metropolitan Hindutva have

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launched an attack on the discourse of caste privilege by challenging the project of state reservations and quotas for backward classes and castes. In this particular piece, which I return to more elaborately in a later chapter, the author claims that the tables have turned on the so-called privilege of Brahmins, who live in large numbers below the poverty line, while the Dalits (or, erstwhile ‘Untouchables’) enjoy escalating state protections. With Brahmins literally becoming Dalits (and Dalits ostensibly turning into Brahmins) under the pressure of what Gautier calls ‘reverse discrimination,’ we are fast approaching the regulatory landscape of Dubashi’s Snakes and Ladders in which the object of economic power is a mass of indistinguishable species life rather than the individual Indian citizen, marked, amongst other things, by class and caste identifications. See Deepak Lal, The Hindu Equilibrium: India C.1500 B.C. – 2000 A.D (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005) for the argument that despite the move from a planned economy to a market economy, India’s distinctive caste system continues to be of significance to its political and social field of realities.

14 See amongst others, Ashutosh Varshney, ‘Contested Meanings: India’s National Identity, Hindu Nationalism, and the Politics of Anxiety,’ Daedalus 122, no. 3 (Summer 1993): 227–61; Rajni Kothari, Communalism in Indian Politics (Ahmedabad: Rainbow Publishers, 1998) and Christopher Jaffrelot, The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993) for different versions of the Indian political context of the 1980s, the crisis in the Congress Party, the emergence of separatist agitations, the exhaustion of secularism as the ideological mainstay of national belonging and the convergence therefrom of transformed Hindu nationalist maneuvers toward parliamentary power.

15 See Ashok Bhargava, ‘Indian Economy During Mrs. Gandhi’s Regime,’ in India: The Years of Indira Gandhi, edited by Yogendra K. Malik and Dhirendra K. Vajpeyi (New York: E.J. Brill, 1988), 60–83; Atul Kohli and Pratap B. Mehta, ‘Ideological Conflicts in Post-Cold War India,’ in Politics at the Turn of the Century, edited by Arthur M. Melzer, Jerry Weinberger and M. Richard Zinman (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001), 280–98 and Mitu Sengupta, ‘Economic Liberalization, Democratic Expansion, and Organized Labour in India: Towards a New Politics of Revival,’ Just Labour: A Canadian Journal of Work and Society 14 (Autumn 2009) for the argument that discontinuous phases of liberalization in India began in the later part of Indira Gandhi’s years as Prime Minister. 16 For an account of the reign of Indira Gandhi from the point of view of a close associate of the Prime Minister, see the work of P. N. Dhar, who was Gandhi’s principal secretary during some tumultous years. P. N. Dhar; Indira Gandhi, the Emergency, and Indian Democracy (New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press, 2000).

17 As evidenced by the titles themselves, particularly pointed narratives of India outside the auspices of protectionism are available in Sanjeev Sabhlok, Breaking Free of Nehru: Let’s Unleash India (New Delhi: Anthem Press, 2008) and Gurcharan Das, India Unbound (New York: A. A. Knopf, 2001). It is perhaps worth mentioning here that Martha Nussbaum claims that while Das is a significant proponent of free markets, he is no ally to religious violence. Yet, the figure of the Hindu goddess of wealth (Lakshmi) not so subtly graces the cover of Das’s India Unbound. See Martha Nussbaum, The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India’s Future (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007).

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18 For similar arguments see Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya, Why Growth Matters: How Economic Growth in India Reduced Poverty and Lessons for other Developing Countries (New York: Public Affairs, 2013); Arvind Panagariya, India: The Emerging Giant (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008) and Jagdish Bhagwati and T. N. Srinivasan, ‘Trade and Poverty in the Poor Countries,’ The American Economic Review 92, no. 2 (May, 2002): 180–83. 19 In 1980, the Hindu nationalist BJP established Gandhian socialism as its official ideology. The guiding philosopher of the BJP was a man named Deendayal Upadhyaya who, in Gandhian terms, visualized for India, a self-reliant economy with the village as the main unit of productivity. See http://www.bjp.org/pandit-deendayal-upadhyaya, last accessed on 28 August 2015.

For an analysis of the appropriation of the Gandhian utopia by Hindu nationalists see Richard Fox, ‘Gandhian Socialism and Hindu Nationalism: Cultural Domination in the World System,’ Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 25, no. 3 (1987): 233–47, and for the shifting economic philosophy of the BJP as it emerged from Gandhian socialism and moved toward supporting neoliberal globalization, see Salim Lakha, ‘From Swadeshi to Globalization: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Shifting Economic Agenda,’ South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 25, no. 3 (2002): 83–03.

20 Gita Mehta uses the conceit of snakes and ladders to understand modern India from a very different point of view than Dubashi’s. Where Dubashi highlights the ability of the Indian economy to suspend the antagonism of historically intractable binaries like town and country and rich and poor, Mehta writes of India precisely as the land of irredeemable opposites. See Gita Mehta, Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of India (New York: N.A. Talese, 1997).

21 See Andrew Topsfield, ‘The Indian Game of Snakes and Ladders,’ Artibus Asiae 46 no. 3 (1985): 203–26, and Deepak Shimkhada, ‘A Preliminary Study of the Game of Karma in India, Nepal, and Tibet,’ Artibus Asiae 44, no. 4 (1983): 308–22 for analyses of the specifically karmic resonances of snakes and ladders and its relationship to the question of spiritual liberation. Topsfield also traces the journey of the game to England, reading closely the Jain, Muslim and Vaishnava versions, while Shimkhada pays attention to the game as it emerged in Buddhist versions in Nepal and Tibet.

22 For an early instance of liberalism, affixed particularly to spiritual values in the Indian context, consider the launch of the Swatantra Party by Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari in 1959. See H. R. Pasricha, The Swatantra Party – Victory in Defeat (Mumbai, India: Rajaji Foundation, 2002) for an elaboration of the principles on which the party was founded. Also, consider Rajmohan Gandhi, Rajaji: A Life (New Delhi, New York: Penguin Books, 1997) for the argument that the liberal and conservative stance of the Swatantra Party, a far cry from the militancy of the Hindu Jana Sangh (which was precursor to the BJP) made it accessible both to moderate Hindus as well as non-Hindus.

23 See Peter Bauer, ‘B. R. Shenoy: Stature and Impact’ in Cato Journal 18, no. 1 (Spring/ Summer 1998): 1–10 for a celebratory analysis of an early critic of ‘big government’ and particularly of centralized planning in the Indian context. Bauer makes a saint and a hero of B. R. Shenoy for being the only Indian economist to write a note of dissent against the second five-year plan, and for challenging the hegemonic opinions of development economists in the west. The point is a notable one, especially in relation

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to the fact that at the beginning of January 2015, Prime Minister Narenda Modi dismantled India’s 65 year-old Planning Commission, accusing it of stifling growth with a Soviet-style bureaucracy.

24 For a version of the game that actually involves skill, and an analysis that transforms snakes and ladders into precisely such a skill-based venture, see Elwyn R. Berlekamp, John H. Conway and Richard K. Guy, Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays (New York, Academic Press, 1982). 25 Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children not only deploys snakes and ladders as a central metaphor, but also emphasizes the moral universe exemplified in the game through what could be understood as the duality or twoness implicit in its polarized symbols of staircases and serpents. ‘All games have morals; and the game of Snakes and Ladders captures, as no other activity can hope to do, the eternal truth that for every ladder you hope to climb, a snake is waiting just around the corner, and for every snake a ladder will compensate. But it’s more than that; no mere carrot-and-stick affair; because implicit in the game is the unchanging twoness of things, the duality of up against down, good against evil; the solid rationality of ladders balances the occult sinuosities of the serpent; in the opposition of staircase and cobra we can see, metaphorically, all conceivable oppositions, Alpha against Omega, father against mother’. Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (New York: Random House, 2006), 160. As we shall see, this reading is in stark opposition to Jay Dubashi’s reading of snakes and ladders as something that precisely dissolves polarizations and dualities. 26 In Harish Johari, The Yoga of Snakes and Arrows: The Leela of Self-Knowledge (Rochester, VT: Destiny Books, 2007), the author offers a self-help version of the game of snakes and ladders, specifically claiming that repeated play will pave the way for a true understanding of the self, disengaged from the illusory life of the ego. 27 Michel Foucault, Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de France, 19751976 (New York, NY: Picador, 2003), 247. Henceforth, this work will be referred to parenthetically as Society.

28 This is not the place to provide an exhaustive survey of the economic discourse of nationhood in the Indian context and there is clearly a great deal that emerges in this regard between the time of Naoroji and that of Dubashi. My reference, exclusively, to these two writers is not meant to gloss over this fact. Instead, I deploy Naoroji and Dubashi to earmark two particularly notable moments in the articulation of national belonging through a regime of numbers, as it were. I try wherever possible in the notes to provide a more comprehensive account of the complexities in between – for instance, the conceptualization in the 1970s of the Hindu rate of growth (which I refer to in a later footnote) and the launch in the 1950s of the Swatantra Party, attaching liberalization to the solidity of Hindu spiritual values.

29 See Arif Dirlik, ‘Global South: Predicament and Promise’ in The Global South 1, no. 1 and 2 (Winter 2007): 12–23 for an elaboration of the argument that increasingly, once colonized and marginalized peoples are being inducted into a global modernity to which there remains no outside. 30 One of the main efforts of the economists of metropolitan Hindutva was to displace the derogatory expression ‘Hindu rate of growth’ which first appeared in the work of the economist Raj Krishna, as an explanation for India’s low rate of

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economic growth between the 1950s and the 1980s. As compared to the high rates of growth in east Asian countries, India’s low economic growth was attributed, via this expression, to Orientalist ideas about the relationship between Hinduism and fatalism. The phrase ‘Hindu rate of growth’ was popularized by the World Bank President Robert McNamara (whom, ironically enough, Jay Dubashi quotes favourably in his collection Snakes and Ladders). See William Gould, Religion and Conflict in Modern South Asia, (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012) for an elaboration of the term and its uses. The Hindu nationalist ideologue and economist Arun Shourie, who I refer to in an early chapter of the book, challenged the hypothesis of a ‘Hindu rate of growth’, arguing that it had little to do with Hinduism and had in fact emerged under the purview of socialist governments that considered themselves highly secularized. See Arun Shourie, ‘Hindutva and Radical Islam: Where the twain do Meet,’ see http://archive.indianexpress.com/ news/hindutva-and-radical-islam-where-the-twain-do-meet/254969/, last accessed on 28 August 2015.

31 See M. G. Bokare, Hindu Economics: Eternal Economic Order (New Delhi: Janaki Prakashan, 1993) for the author’s promotion of the Hindu economic order as an ethical and eternal one, harking back to the time of the Vedic texts and the codes of Manu, Apastambha, Gautama and Yajnavalka. Much like Bokare calls in his 1993 work for a tax-less Hindu budget, the economist Subramanian Swamy, speaking to reporters in September 2013 at his maiden press conference after merging his Janata Party with the BJP prior to the 2014 Indian elections, also called for abolishing taxes in India. However, while Bokare was a committed proponent of economic self-sufficiency, Subramanian Swamy and the BJP more generally have moved from their Swadeshi (a nationalist term referring, simply put, to economic self-reliance) beginnings towards support of foreign direct investment under the auspices of globalization (http://articles.economictimes. indiatimes.com/2013-09-21/news/42272534_1_subramanian-swamy-janata-partybjp-leader, 14 November 2013, last accessed on 28 August 2015). 32 See S. C. Althoen, L. King and K. Schilling, ‘How Long is a Game of Snakes and Ladders,’ The Mathematical Gazette 77, no. 478 (March 1993): 71–76 for an analysis of the game’s mathematical rather than moral aspect. The authors model snakes and ladders on an absorbing Markov chain, which is used to analyse games in which the odds of a player moving from one position to another is not dependent on any prior game history.

33 For a completely different account of development than Dubashi’s, based on the notion of well-being and human agency in the Indian situation, see Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen, India: Development and Participation (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).

34 See Manu Goswami, ‘Autonomy and Comparability: Notes on the Anticolonial and the Postcolonial,’ Boundary 2 32, no. 2 (Summer 2005): 201–25 for remarks on the epistemology of comparison (intellectual versus manual labour, urban versus rural realities, local economies versus world markets) that our author argues defined nationalist projects of autonomy during the Swadeshi Movement in British India.

35 See Gyan Prakash, ‘Postcolonial Criticism and Indian Historiography,’ Social Text no. 31/32 (1992): 8–19 for a reference to the implacable polarities of colonial logic and

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how they can be undone to render a radical, oppositional politics, very different from that presented by Dubashi in these essays. As I suggested in opening this book, the dismantling of the duality of center and margin and other polarities that stem from it, was one of the most important tasks of postcolonial criticism and particularly the kind of postcolonial criticism influenced by poststructuralism. It is therefore deeply ironic to note that what Hindu nationalism claims to have achieved in dissolving the binaries of colonial thought has led to a very different politics than that envisioned by the best of postcolonial studies. Indeed, it has led to what I call ‘the after-life of the postcolonial condition’.

36 For a poignant account of why the celebrated recent rate of economic growth in the Indian context does not necessarily translate into the structures of development, see Dipankar Gupta, The Caged Phoenix: Can India Fly? (New Delhi: Penguin Viking, 2009). 37 Giorgio Agamben speaks to the contiguity between ‘freedom’ and the totalizing impulse, when drawing on Foucault’s conceptualization of bio-politics and Carl Schmitt’s definition of sovereignty, he points to ‘the inner solidarity between democracy and totalitarianism.’ See Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), 10. 38 See Aamir Mufti, ‘Orientalism and the Institution of World Literatures,’ Critical Inquiry 36, no. 3 (March 2010): 458–93 for a suggestion about how to pluck the category ‘diversity’ from the clutches of a global cultural system that has consistently celebrated it and reveal the ways in which, despite this celebration, it is a deeply colonial and Orientalist problematic. 39 (Extract from) Atal Behari Vajpayee, ‘Secularism, the Indian Concept,’ in Hindu Nationalism: A Reader, edited by Christopher Jaffrelot (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), 330. 40 See (an extract from) Atal Behari Vajpayee, ‘The Bane of Pseudo-secularism,’ in Hindu Nationalism: A Reader, edited by Christopher Jaffrelot (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007): 315–18.

41 See T. N. Madan, ‘Secularism in its Place,’ and Ashis Nandy, ‘The Politics of Secularism and the Recovery of Religious Tolerance,’ in Secularism and its Critics, edited by Rajeev Bhargava (Delhi: New York: Oxford University Press, 1998): 297–320, 321–44 for distinct arguments about the particularities of Indian secularism from ideological grounds very different than that of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. See also in this regard, Sudipta Kaviraj, ‘Languages of Secularity,’ Economic and Political Weekly 48, no. 50 (December 2013). 42 See Gyanendra Pandey, ‘The Secular State and the Limits of Dialogue,’ in The Crisis of Secularism in India, edited by Anuradha Dingwaney Needham and Rajeshwari Sunder Rajan (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007), 151–76 and Shabnum Tejani, Indian Secularism: A Social and Intellectual History 1890-1950 (Ranikhet: Permanent Black, 2007) for two instances among many that make the argument about secularization in India having to do with the recognition and acceptance of (religious) difference. 43 See Shabnum Tejani Indian Secularism: A Social and Intellectual History 1890-1950 for the argument that for the overwhelmingly middle-class, upper-caste Hindu men who were at the helm of engineering the Indian national collective, creating a democratic Hindu majority depended on the marshalling of class and caste particularities into an

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artificial singularity of Brahminical Hinduness, as much as it relied on the sustaining of Muslim difference in relation to a broadly Hindu civic culture.

44 See Gyan Prakash, ‘Secularism, Hindutva, and the Minority,’ in The Crisis of Secularism in India, edited by Anuradha Dingwaney Needham and Rajeshwari Sunder Rajan (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007): 177–90 for the argument that Nehru’s modernization involved a promise to erase Muslim backwardness so as to assimilate that community into the national mainstream.

45 See Robert Eric Frykenberg, ‘The Concept of Majority as a Devilish Force in Indian Politics,’ Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 25, no. 3 (1987): 267–74 for a provocative contention that the concept of ‘majority’ in India is falsely conceived both in empirical and historical terms, and has as such, consistently damaged the structures that underlie the political integrity of the nation.

46 See Madhava Prasad, ‘On the Question of a Theory of (Third World) Literature’ in Social Text, no. 31/32 (Third World and Postcolonial Issues, 1992): 57–83 for questions (from conflicting Marxist and poststructuralist viewpoints) about whether ‘difference’ conceals ‘inequality’, whether it exists in spite of inequality, whether it erases or ends inequality and whether it is more disposed to reification than inequality.

47 Founded in 1885, the Indian National Congress was a pioneering body that came to be identified (despite being divided fairly early on, along ‘extremist’ and ‘moderate’ lines), as the defining and only viable platform for heterodox expressions of nationalist struggle. See S. R. Mehrotra, The Emergence of the Indian National Congress (New Delhi: Vikas Publications, 1971) for a detailed, almost laborious elaboration of the alliances that led to the formation and institutionalization of the Congress as the major vehicle for the Indian movement for autonomy. See Ayesha Jalal, The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994) and Sumit Sarkar,  Modern India: 1885–1947 (New Delhi: Macmillan, 1983) for further perspectives on the relationship between the Muslim League and the Congress in British India. 48 A 1919–24 anti-colonial movement in support of the Ottoman Caliphate during the aftermath of the First War, Khilafat was particularly significant in the Indian context because once Gandhi grafted onto it the force of his own non-cooperation campaign against the British, it became a resistance, which decidedly organized itself around the figure of the Muslim as the sign of the nation. See Gyan Prakash, ‘Secularism, Hindutva, and the Minority,’ for the argument that it was only after the failure of Khilafat that the Muslim becomes a figure capable of dismantling the integrity of the national whole. 49 I follow Gyan Prakash, ‘Secularism, Hindutva, and the Minority,’ and Gyanendra Pandey, ‘The Secular State and the Limits of Dialogue’ in order to make this argument.

50 See Ayesha Jalal, The Self and Sovereignty: Individual and Community in South Asian Islam since 1850 (London and New York: Routledge, 2000) and Aamir Mufti, ‘Secularism and Minority: Elements of a Critique,’ Social Text, no. 45 (Winter 1995): 75–96 for an understanding of how Muslim leaders attempted to challenge the designation of ‘minority’ by demanding equality between Muslims and so-called national collectives. 51 Gyan Prakash, with a very different impulse than that of Hindu nationalists, asks whether the language of tolerance and protection can in fact defend their rights when

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it produces Muslims as minor subjects of the nation. See Gyan Prakash ‘Secularism, Hindutva, and the Minority’.

52 Gyan Prakash has called ‘the pathology of secularism’ the Hindu nationalist argument that its ideology can provide a more stringent and thus truer form of secularization. See Gyan Prakash, ‘Secularism, Hindutva, and the Minority’. 53 See Aamir Mufti, Enlightenment in the Colony: The Jewish Question and the Crisis of Postcolonial Culture (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2007) for an excellent analysis of minoritization as a process inherent to the coming of modernity, both in the metropolis as well as in the colony. 54 Partha Chatterjee ‘The Contradictions of Secularism’, in The Crisis of Secularism in India, edited by Anuradha Dingwaney Needham and Rajeshwari Sunder Rajan (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007), 142.

4 A Power over Life and Rebirth V. D. Savarkar and the Essentials of Hindutva Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883–1966) – important revolutionary figure, advocate of proto-fascist communal politics, significant social reformer, genocidal proponent of militarization and violence, man of science and rationality, committed adherent of capitalist industrialization, unimaginative bigot, passionate patriot and patriarchal ideologue of nothing less than grotesque proportions – the appellations that attach to this name have always been numerous, and indeed passionately varied.1 However, what concerns me in this chapter is neither the debate between Savarkar’s sympathizers and his critics along such deeply divided lines, nor the paradoxes and controversies that have led to the persistently varied descriptors that accompany any conversation about him. I am also not interested therefore in attempting to underline the varied aspects of one of the most prominent and controversial leaders of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha.2 Rather, for the purposes of an intellectual history of what I have called metropolitan Hindutva, I am drawn to the recent claim from different quarters that his work is perhaps the most noteworthy source for the reappearance in the contemporary Indian context of militant Hindu fundamentalism.3 Most scholars have argued that what consolidates Savarkar’s place as the founding father of present-day Hindu nationalism is an almost pithy 1922 pamphlet-type publication entitled The Essentials of Hindutva, reprinted as Hindutva: Who is a Hindu in 1928.4 Squarely separating his conceptualization from the dogma of Hindusim as a religion, Savarkar – like Jay Dubashi and Arun Shourie – makes Hindutva a cultural, historical and political essence, which, only as such a congealed singularity, could function as grounds for his imagining of the strongly militarized national form of Hindustan. The theoretical beginnings of political-cultural Hinduness, in this sense, can actually be traced back earlier than Savarkar’s 1922 pamphlet to the thinking of the nineteenth-century Vedantic scholar Brahmabandhav

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Upadhyay (1861–1907). But there is no doubt that the discursive strength and visibility of the term today is an effect of Savarkar’s thinking as it emerged with and consolidated itself in the publication of Hindutva.5 This said however, my own contention is that more provocative as a point of departure for the metropolitan majoritarianism of contemporary Hindutva is the earlier Savarkar, or the Savarkar of the turn-of-the-century, who is yet to elaborate an apparatus of political Hinduism. This is a figure who is therefore not commonly identified as the precursor to current patterns of fundamentalist Hinduization. But my effort will be to shift that common perception to show that it is in fact the earlier Savarkar who anticipates some of metropolitan Hindutva’s more dangerous bio-political bases, as we have encountered them in the previous chapter. In this regard, Savarkar’s 1909 work The Indian War of Independence, 1857 is of particular interest.6 A remarkable quasi-historical narrative whose plot mobilizes indigenous epistemologies of life and rebirth in the service of anti-colonial resistance, 1857 both conserves and revolutionizes the language of current-day Hinduization on the relationship between historywriting and the power to make live and let die. It is thus a stimulating point of entry into the Hinduness of metropolitan Indian life, precisely because neither is it completely foreign to that discourse as it has emerged since the 1980s and 1990s, nor is it completely continuous with it. Indeed, it is this angular relation to the grammar of late twentieth century Hinduization that makes Savarkar’s account of 1857 a curious, albeit not entirely unpredictable forebear to his arguably more defining work in Hindutva, which, as we shall see, appeared in political conditions very different from those in which the history of 1857 was written.7 Jyotirmaya Sharma points out in ‘History as Revenge and Retaliation’ that ‘the first step in any contemporary reading of Savarkar’s account of 1857 ought to be the title of the book itself.’8 If such an exercise were undertaken, one thing that would come to light is that the word, ‘Indian’, for instance, did not figure in the original Marathi title, which could be translated as The War of Independence of 1857. In fact, it appeared much later, as Sharma demonstrates, in interpolations he ascribes to the works of Vasanth Krishna Varad Pande and Harindra Srivastava. In ‘Savarkar as a Historian’ and Five Stormy Years: Savarkar in London, respectively, Varad Pande and Srivastava referred to the text as The Indian War of Independence of 1857. In his hagiographical account titled simply Veer Savarkar, Savarkar’s biographer Dhananjay Kheer added the word ‘First’ to this already changed title. In referring to the text as The First Indian War of Independence—1857 Kheer claimed a pioneering status

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in nationalist historiography for Savarkar’s reading of the events of 1857. As Sharma documents them, these interpolations are significant not simply for their academic-scholarly value but because they underscore the degree of political momentum some commentators have ascribed to Savarkar’s writing. The central claim of his history is the following: what most British historians had so far described as a mutiny was in fact a first national war of independence. Thus, in some sense, Savarkar himself had prepared the grounds for the additions to his title, and in some sense therefore, his readers were only extending the political work he had already begun.9 In other words, retrospectively constructing for the rebels of 1857 an incipient national identity that would supersede all competing loyalties across disparate social and political groups, Savarkar was actually positing 1857 as the originary moment of Indian nationalism, and in that sense, neither the word ‘first’ nor the word ‘Indian’ was alien to his argument. It is also not surprising, especially in an early twentieth century political landscape shaped by the zeal of Swadeshi10 and the division of Congress Party members into extremists and moderates, that radical self-determinists like Savarkar chose to see the 1857 uprisings as a unifying anti-colonial war, proleptically imposing a nationalist battle for autonomy on a subcontinental terrain yet to be articulated as ‘nation’.11 Equally important of course were those moderates mediating on behalf of empire and those who therefore preferred to understand the same events as aberrant political disturbances, more cognizable as a local ‘mutiny’ than a generalized ‘war of independence’. However, as the noted historian Gautam Chakravarty has shown, it is incorrect to assume that the mutiny-versus-war debate, which continued well into the twentieth century, materialized only with the emergence of such distinctly isolable ‘nationalist’ and ‘imperialist’ viewpoints.12 Indeed, to evidence his argument, Chakravarty demonstrates that the problem of how to name the events of 1857 developed in the immediate aftermath of the uprisings themselves and thus antedated, by a good number of years, the radicalization of nationalist politics, which began in and continued through the last decade of the nineteenth century. Chakravarty’s contention is that the early quarrel about whether the 1857 resistances were to be named a ‘mutiny’ or an ‘anti-British war’ was actually a function of the cracks within colonial governmentality itself and had little to do with later narratives about the doomed irreconcilability of nation and empire. What was at stake was British policy in regard to the character of the East India Company’s rule in India and the complexities that emerged as

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the Company developed in the late eighteenth century from an exclusively mercantile power into an increasingly territorial one. As a reward for keeping wayward regional governors under control, the East India Company was appointed to hold territories on behalf of the Mughal emperor, beginning in 1764. At the same time, Company officials were mandated to confirm their subordination to this same emperor in a highly ritualized annual ceremony where they paid obeisance to him with a portion of the revenue from those territories they held on his behalf. Despite keeping up the appearance of this contractual obligation, the Company’s expanding territories began to slowly but surely undermine a fragile Mughal authority and before long high-ranking representatives even made an effort to tamper with the royal right of succession. It was to the effects of this quickly disintegrating constitutional relationship that the doyen of Indian historiography, R. C. Majumdar alluded when in 1957 he argued that rather than a war that heralded the national movement for independence, the rebellion marked the death throes of the decrepit Mughal political order as it was being perceptibly and painfully replaced by a British colonial system.13 Majumdar’s eviscerating critique of the ‘war of independence’ thesis involved the idea that the so-called First Indian War of Independence of 1857 was neither a national war, nor a fight for independence, nor even pioneering in any sense. Traces of this critique continue to appear in the work of more recent historians like Eric Stokes, Chris Bayly, Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Gautam Bhadra and Tapti Roy, who, from a slightly different standpoint, persist in the challenge to composite, homogenizing readings of the rebellion. Calling attention instead to the entirely and stubbornly varied character of the insurrections, these historians argue that as the result of incongruent and often conflicting causes, the events of 1857 could not be read in terms of great unities – whether national, civilizational, or those based on class and caste.14 In keeping with this basic position, and no doubt influenced by the rise of Subaltern theory in India and abroad, the focus of their studies is on the discrete acts of resistance by local actors, communities and social groups and more specifically perhaps on recovering fragmentary voices, visions, symbols and other traces of peasant consciousness, in and through an alternate historiography of the rebellion. My point in going into this rather involved recounting of a long history of responses to the events of 1857 is not only to emphasize that there had always been a conflict insofar as the naming of those events was concerned, or that the mutiny-versus-war of independence dispute substantially predated

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the rise of radical anti-colonial nationalism, or even that the emergence of Subaltern historiography prised open the long-standing binary between 1857 as an aberrant mutiny or a generalized war against British domination. Rather, I want to draw attention to two other significant matters that come to light from the material around this issue. The first is that despite being clearly committed to the heterogeneous and fluid character of the rebellions, at least a few of the historians I mention above have in some way or another pointed to a vaguely unifying effect in the otherwise disparate uprisings. Even though he finally arrived at a different conclusion, Eric Stokes, for instance, had actually begun his study by trying to understand the local specificities of 1857 in terms of the great regional unities of caste. Similarly, Tapti Roy, while no doubt emphasizing the bewildering many-sidedness of the rebellions, notes that there was an indistinct but still strong anti-British sentiment that brought them together. Finally, even Chris Bayly who is resolutely in favour of investigating the myriad particularities of the revolt contends at the same time that the rebellions expressed a ‘larger’ crisis of legitimacy, as regional and local kingdoms were progressively dissolved by the seemingly undaunted march of British expansionism. Bayly’s point about the crisis of legitimacy leads directly to the second matter to which I want to call attention before turning to a discussion of one of my central points in this chapter: Savarkar’s authorization of The Indian War of Independence, 1857 as a revolutionary model of anti-imperial historiography. In her astute 1994 study The Politics of a Popular Uprising: Bundelkhand in 1857, Tapti Roy provides a useful point of entry into the question of legitimacy that Bayly brings up. Departing significantly from many accounts that came before hers, Roy argues that the Revolt was not in fact a spontaneous and largely incoherent expression of discontent against British domination. Rather, it was a distinctly regimented attempt to imagine and institute a political system that would replace that of the Englishmen.15 Demonstrating at some length how they established centers of administration everywhere in the wake of the displaced British, Roy incisively shows that the rebels were in fact fighting specifically to conceive of a different structure of governance that would address the crisis of legitimacy generated by the dissolution of Mughal authority and accompanying cracks in colonial governance. The stakes of this analysis are clear. In the face of studies condemning the rebels for being confused in their purpose, Roy wants to claim for them a strong political will toward creating alternative instruments of power. In a similar manner, the characters in Savarkar’s narrative of the events of 1857 are gathered together

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by the vision of a nationalist historian, whose task is to shape an indigenous mode of governance in opposition to imperial dominance. The title of Tapti Roy’s study The Politics of a Popular Uprising: Bundelkhand in 1857 indicates that she is interested in the intricate details of discrete acts of resistance and therefore will not uniformly label ‘the politics’ of the uprisings prior to a cautious investigation of their particularities in a specific location – in this case, Bundelkhand in 1857. In contrast, Savarkar’s title is brazenly monothematic (The [First] [Indian] War of Independence, 1857), the uprisings having been unequivocally standardized, at the very outset, by the unifying framework of a nationalist reading. Of course, even apart from the differences in titles, Savarkar’s study is distinct from Roy’s in ways too manifold to remark and I make no attempt at all to situate these two very dissimilar figures in the same line of thinking. However, as I have already implied, there is at least one point of contact between the two texts, even if that point of contact has to do, by no means, with the intellectual world of the authors. Savarkar’s history of 1857 is what one might call an inspirational form, a passionate call to arms, as it were, that situates the author himself in the same tradition of the rebels he sets out to eulogize. That is to say, in shaping the rebels of 1857 as the pioneers of the Indian freedom movement, not only does Savarkar create and find a motivational reservoir of national heroes, but more importantly, he adds the figure of the historian to this customized lineage of patriotic revolutionaries. If the historian, as Savarkar conceives him, is thus a revolutionary figure just like the rebels of 1857, then it is not surprising that as the ultimate purpose of that historian, ‘history-writing’ for Savarkar is an anti-colonial war driven by the vision of political self-determination.16 The counterpoint I mention above between Tapti Roy’s Politics of a Popular Uprising and Savarkar’s Indian War of Independence, 1857 is therefore in the prescience qua the problem of legitimacy that the two authors attribute to the rebels. The former legitimizes the rebels as thoughtful resisters who were attempting to restructure certain capillary instruments of power and the latter validates the figure of the historian-rebel who gathers together these rebels, retrospectively narrating their actions in and through his own vision for anti-colonial resistance. However, while Roy is poised at a distance from her material, detailing the administrativebureaucratic assemblages that the rebels instituted to replace falling British configurations, Savarkar, as himself the rebel par excellence, formulates a new grammar of power based on an anti-colonial design of temporal reckoning. In his indigenous composition of historicity – if one can call it that – the historian is an intimate, subjective part of his material; time and death are not

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markers of that which is irrevocable as in a linear determinist dispensation; and the past is therefore not beyond the reach of repetition and rectification.17 I will soon elaborate this temporal conceit more fully, but let me highlight before I do so that a world-view in which time and death are not irreversible is continuous, as we have seen, with the discourse of Hindutva in its present avatar. So, the question of whether or not metropolitan Hindutva is legatee to Savarkar’s work should not, at this point, be far from our minds. At the same time, it is equally important to emphasize that for current ideologues, unlike for Savarkar, such a world-view is quite manifestly not a tool for anti-colonial resistance. Rather, as we have noted in our reading of The Road to Ayodhya, this world-view is precisely the imaginative instrument whereby India will dramatize its imperial aspirations and prepare to cleanse and regenerate its population, such that a superior and new Hinduized species is available to succeed (rather than oppose) the British, the Russians and finally even the Americans.

History-writing as Ritualistic Reiteration Vinayak Damodar Savarkar rather shrilly declares in the very first pages of The Indian War of Independence, 1857 that his work as historian will involve setting out to deliberately expose and correct the untruths of imperial historiography. On the one hand, such a project entailed revealing that what British historians had described as a ‘sepoy mutiny’ was actually a ‘revolutionary war of independence’. On the other, Savarkar’s counter-history was a polemical confrontation with the nature of the historical method itself. Not only were the British incorrect in their reading of the particular instance of 1857, but historical thinking itself, as conceptualized by the British, was more systemically untrue because it was based on the notion that time is an irreversible arrow, which robs what has come before it of all vital life. In Savarkar’s opinion, such an arrow of time could only be an illusory, and therefore deceptive icon of emancipatory progress, for in its monstrous insistence on the irrevocable, it refused to grapple with the power of history as a revolution that is still being made, still open to the pressures of the unrequited and the insurgent. The only way therefore, to counter such a false, yet imperially ascendant temporal structure, was to write a true history in which time emerged as the effect of cyclical lives that could be repeated and perfected in a grand rehearsal toward emancipation. Given Savarkar’s emphasis on the rehearsals of time and on the recurrences, reenactments and repetitions that give time its density, his

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principal methodological instrument for overcoming the imperialist historical method is that most quaint of Oriental epistemological formations – the karmic cycle of life and rebirth. In keeping with the centrality in his work of this indigenous epistemology of rebirth, Savarkar orchestrates The Indian War of Independence, 1857 as a great ritual sacrifice in which the karmic lives of the warriors are offered as a continuing libation to the spirit of the Revolution. Indeed, divided into four parts, each recalling in its naming the rousing stages toward the performance of the iterative ritual, Savarkar’s book is openly antagonistic in its very organizational principles to the secular bases and objectivist structures of most contemporary European history writing. The rhetorically charged chapter headings, ‘Adding Fuel to the Fire’, ‘Light up the Sacrificial Fire’, ‘The Conflagration’ and ‘The Culminating Offering’ gradually build on one another in a rising surge of devoted incantation. Predictably therefore, even the characters who inhabit this sacred world are syntactically cast in the same ritual grammar as the chapters that house them. They are not distinct individuals with their own inimitable personas, but rather iterations of each other, soul to blessed soul affined, one rehearsing the life of the other, one giving birth to the other and one bleeding into the other, to constitute a timeless sequence of interminable life cycles. Nana Sahib, the Maratha aristocrat who led the Kanpur rebellion of 1857, and Lakshmi Bai, queen of the Maratha-ruled Jhansi, are the protagonists of Savarkar’s story. They are thus the proud bearers of the ritual tradition he elaborates and also the material embodiments of the Revolutionary spirit that galvanizes 1857 as an anti-imperial history. ‘At the place of honour’, Savarkar writes, ‘sat the proud and noble form of Nana Sahib, the very incarnation of the Revolutionary Spirit. ... [and] There also sat the lightening Queen of Jhansi’, their unconquerable souls having taken root from the blood of Shivaji, the great Maratha warrior who lived centuries before them18 ( Savarkar, 1947, 209). Following this introduction, Savarkar describes Nana Sahib and Lakshmi Bai, almost amorously, as ‘two witnesses, sword in hand [who] prove that the blood of Hindusthan that gave birth to Shivaji is not yet dead’ (Savarkar, 1947, 25). If Shivaji himself had prophesied that ‘Out of [his] blood [would] rise thousands of heroes,’ Nana Sahib and Lakshmi Bai could not allow his words to be falsified, says Savarkar (Savarkar, 1947, 320). They must ensure the continuity of Shivaji’s noble martyrdom, and therefore, prepare their own lives as sacrificial offerings to a revolution that will give rise, in turn, to thousands of fearless souls.With this portentous enunciation that peremptorily does away with the finality of death, and therefore with the irretrievable movement of

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time, Savarkar consolidates his use of the karmic cycle of life and rebirth to suggest that history is not about absolute successes and failures but rather about endless rehearsals and reenactments founded in extended cycles of lives. The princely warriors of The Indian War of Independence, 1857 are thus not historical personages violently immobilized in the death frieze of an absolute past, but recurring figures who retain their vital lives and stage again and again Savarkar’s scripting of history as a continuing anti-colonial revolution. Yet, it must be noted that Savarkar’s history does not repeat itself without any difference, for in keeping with the discrete aspect of each of their karmic incarnations, his pantheon of heroes must actually perform and interpret anew earlier conflicts – the war of the Mahabharata, the struggle against the Mughals and the Battle of Plassey against the British. Savarkar suggests that neither do Nana Sahib and Lakshmi Bai mimetically represent the Revolutionary spirit of the great Maratha warrior Shivaji, nor are Shivaji’s wars in their turn invariably one with the war of the Mahabharata, nor even are the sepoys of 1857 absolutely coincident with the martyrs of the Battle of Plassey. Rather, these figures and the occasions they are affiliated with, are expressions of a recurring pressure of resistance, but only insofar as each instance is distinguished from the other to suit its own contemporary conditions of battle. Affixed to the repetition and difference inherent to his karmic conceit of temporality, the metaphor of the theatre is a principal tool for Savarkar’s history of 1857. It highlights the revolutionaries as actors who appear at different times in different roles, and the revolution itself as the recurrent staging of a script that many centuries ago dramatized history in the terms of anti-imperial resistance, and many centuries hence, will continue to enact the same script in performances improvised toward their particular contexts. Yet, if Savarkar thus deployed the punctuated temporality of karmic lives and theatrical reiterations to combat the sovereign power of English historiography, then a question still remained about the place of the historian in this grand drama of counter-history. Was the historian in this situation a sort of directorial figure, performing his vision for the production as a whole but always somewhat removed from the hustle-bustle of events on stage, or was he in fact, as I have suggested above, one of the principal actors, plumb in the midst of the action as it unfolded? How was the temporal reckoning of Savarkar’s narrative going to make room for the ostensibly objective author of history as someone who was both an intimate participant in the Revolution, and at the same time, someone who retained his legitimacy as a reliable witness and teller of truth?

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As we have already seen, beginning in the very first pages of The Indian War of Independence, 1857 with a provocative call for aggression, Savarkar rallies against all those forms of historiography which composed from the point of view of the Queen’s Men could not help but designate ‘the brilliance of a War of Independence’ as merely ‘the mutiny of 1857’ (Savarkar, 1947, xxiii). In the author’s introduction to the work Savarkar claims to have garnered all his resources for research before setting out to confront the might of the imperial historians, for as he tells his readers, ‘even the slightest references and the most minute details in [his] book can be as much substantiated by authoritative works, as the important events and main currents’ (Savarkar, 1947, xxiv). Having asserted his intention to write such an unprejudiced history, a somewhat awkward problem still remained for Savarkar. Because, according to him, no European author had been able to objectively study the 1857 war and no Indian author has so far even undertaken this difficult task, precisely those sources that Savarkar had the opportunity to consult were only blemished representations of the brilliance of the sepoy war of independence. This is why, in order to meet his objective of writing a legitimate and true history, Savarkar had to forcibly launch his own persona as historian into the immediate fray of the sepoys’ battle. Rise, then O Hindusthan, rise! Even as Shri Ram Das exhorted, ‘Die for Dharma; While dying, kill all your enemies and win back Swarajya; while killing kill well.’

Murmuring such sentiments to himself, every sepoy in India began to sharpen his sword for the fight for Swadharma and Swarajya (Savarkar, 1947, 66).

It is only as an intimate part of the uprisings of 1857 that Savarkar could be privy to the innermost sentiments and softest murmurs of the sepoys that he refers to in the above extract. It is also only in this way that he could combat the silence of Indian writers, and the blindness of English historians, on the issue of what exactly caused the uprisings (was it a mere mutinous rumour about Hindu and Muslim sepoys being – against the demands of their respective faiths – forced to bite into cartridges greased with the fat of cows and pigs, or, was it a generalized desire for autonomy and self-rule?). In short, it is the personal testimony of the historian, his subjective involvement in the very grain and texture of past events that was to constitute for Savarkar the substance of his ‘authoritative’ position. However, in affecting a temporal

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synergy between the past of which and the present in which he is writing, the author of The Indian War of Independence, 1857 is no longer a historian in the objectivist, scientific sense. No longer is his language at a secure distance from the events which it records and no more is he concerned with providing citational evidence for every detail in his work, even one as apparently inaudible as the soft ‘murmurs’ of the sepoys. Instead, Savarkar is now a principal actor in his own historical script, a figure who shares the lives of the sepoys of 1857, a figure who like them was reborn from the blood of the heroes of the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and a figure who again restages their lives a hundred years later in early twentieth century struggles for freedom from British rule. Much like the insurrectionists themselves then, Savarkar, the historian is a reincarnation of the Revolutionary spirit; he takes root from the blood of earlier heroes and defying the irrevocability of a past returns to earthly life to rehearse anew the events of yore. It is this Revolutionary spirit, or, the pressure of insurrectionary antagonism, that is integral to the political and temporal landscape of Savarkar’s ‘history’. As we have seen, impelled by the figure of the rogue historian, who does not always have to submit to the demands of objectivist truth and is in fact in the same ritualistic reiterative line as the revolutionaries themselves, The Indian War of Independence fashions itself as a rebellious counter-point to English historiography. But what is in turn constitutive of this anti-colonial rebellion is the historian’s stylization of difference as an unassimilable particularity and a generative pressure that can give rise to alternative forms of living and thinking. That is to say, in developing a karmic conceit of temporality and its punctuated cycle of lives as irredeemably other to the historicist architectonics of the imperial state, Savarkar first notes the sheer impossibility of translating certain indigenous forms of cognition into European concepts. But second, and more important, he suggests that it is precisely those irrepressibly indigenous expressions of life that form the antagonistic force of the kind of anti-colonial politics which will eventually lead to nationalist epistemologies of political autonomy. In short, for Savarkar, writing in the still early period of nationalist resistance, this uncontainable otherness is a constitutive antagonism that is the very ground for national becoming in opposition to empire. There can be no doubt that from a sweepingly Orientalizing point of view, many have argued that an epistemology of karma – which is Savarkar’s primary conceptual tool – proposes repetition and sameness, rather than distance and difference, as the basis for temporal relations. But I want to emphasize yet again that Savarkar takes great care to ensure that each iterative persona and event he writes into

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his history is in fact intricately distinguished from its forebear, much as one karmic life is differentiated from another in its worldly performance of the cosmological law. This means that on the one hand Savarkar’s theorization of time and death as reversible rather than irrevocable phenomena makes the temporal design of his history convergent upon that which we saw, for instance, in Jay Dubashi’s The Road to Ayodhya. On the other, however, Savarkar’s historical structure could not be more distinct from Dubashi’s. In other words, if Dubashi collapsed the difference between past, present and future into one homogenous instant, then Savarkar, as we have seen, consistently retains the force of difference in his temporal reckoning. It is for this reason that the category is a principal aspect of his anti-colonial resistance against imperial domination. Savarkar ends The Indian War of Independence, 1857 with a conceit that yet again underlines the cycles of repetition in his narrative with instances of unassimilable difference. This conceit comes from the ancient Persian verse form of the ghazal, which, with its stubbornly recurring rhyme scheme, functions as a map for a history founded in a stubbornly recurring cycle of lives. However, Savarkar suggests to his readers that like the cycle of lives he elaborates, this repetitive rhyme pattern actually shapes history as differentially staged rehearsals of time, rather than as a homogenous instant, in which the three orders of time become one. It is no surprise therefore, that when faced with the sepoys’ crushing defeat, the Emperor Bahadur Shah is said to have turned to the resources of the ghazal in order to sustain his belief in the potential of any event to generate multiple instances of thought and imaginative action.19 Touched by such a style of expression, the sepoy insurrection was in the Emperor’s view (no doubt in keeping with Savarkar’s own opinion) not so much a failed mutiny as a rehearsal for the day on which Indian swords would ring at the very gates of the Queen’s palace: Ghazion men bû rahegi jab talak iman ki

Tab to London-tak chalegi têg Hindusthan-ki

As long as there remains the least trace of love of faith in the hearts of our heroes, so long the sword of Hindusthan shall be sharp, and one day shall flash even at the gates of London. (Savarkar, 1947, 545)

With its obdurate refusal to yield either to any attempt at latitudinal progression, or to any effort toward forming a continuum of sameness, the ghazal form rhythmically parallels a host of Savarkar’s characters. In expressing particular occasions in an endless sequence of lives, these characters are, as we have seen, no longer inimitable historical personalities who come to be and pass away as

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the matchless and irretrievable effects of time. Rather, they become iterative, but still distinct instances, in the continuing performance of the great ritual. These men and women amorously offer themselves to the welcoming arms of death, and in so doing, allow their sacrificial blood to take root. It is this sacrificial blood that is to give rise to more libations for the ritual, enfiguring in this way, the ghazals recurring erotics of measure. To consolidate this sense, Savarkar tells us that in defying death the insurrectionists become men and women who ‘wielding the sword dripping with their own hot blood, in that great rehearsal, walked boldly on the stage of fire and danced in joy even on the very breast of Death’ (Savarkar, 1947, 544). As we have already noted, even Savarkar, the writer, is part of this ceremonial design, for he is by no means the scholarly bystander; bodily infiltrating events themselves centuries apart, he, like the rebels, offers his desecrate corporeality to the ritual fire and hopes that his sacrifice will yield ‘a yet coherent history of 1857 ... in the nearest future from an Indian pen, (Savarkar, 1947, xxiv). As he explicitly suggests, this ‘yet coherent’ creature is to be a true, unblemished representation of the events of 1857. But given the new paradigm of history Savarkar has inaugurated, such ‘coherence’ he hopes will also be channeled toward organizing the extant revolutionary forces of 1857 in such a manner so as to successfully execute a nation wide, armed uprising against British domination in India. In short, for Savarkar, in the first decade of the twentieth century, history-writing is at one and the same time a textual exercise of truth-telling and an armed war of anti-colonial resistance, the historian being both a fierce warrior passionately involved in the events of the battlefield and a disinterested reporter splendidly isolated from the fracas of war. It is not surprising therefore that Savarkar, in the final analysis, both calls upon the historian to bear testimony to the rebellion of 1857 and to join the revolutionaries as they experience the glories as well as the tragic failures of that event. He writes: Tell us now O Muse of History, how Nana Sahib, the Moulvie of Lucknow, the Rani of Jhansi, and other grand heroes clung to this principle (the Revolution) with such extraordinary persistence! And fail not to tell, also, O History, how all Indians could not cling to it as these Heroes did! Come and sing the songs of glory and of praise with us in the first part, and, also, come and weep with us later on (Savarkar, 1947, 159).

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A Rationalization of Competing Mythologies Born of the sacrificial offering of The Indian War of Independence, 1857, the new historical method, as Savarkar conceptualizes it, will undoubtedly be a reiteration of its karmic forebear’s worldly mode of being. This will be history as ritualistic reiteration; this will be history where death does not spell the apprehension of life; this will be history as a series of mutable rehearsals, an elaborate dramatic script in which every life and every event appropriates and restages another that came before it. As such, the Indian nationalist movement will have a style of expression that is capable of taking on the imperial might of British Raj itself. This much is not difficult to grasp from Savarkar’s account of the events of 1857. But matters become somewhat more complicated when one thinks of what in the author’s view is to become of this formulation of history once the colony has actually transformed into an autonomous, selfdetermined nation? Is historical time still imbued with the spirit of the Revolution, who are the revolutionaries that are to feed the sacrificial flames in this transformed political situation and who the historian that is to gather together these insurrectionary forces? The answers to these questions, difficult as they might be, are already nascent in Savarkar’s account of 1857. In other words, there are perceptible warning signs in that work of history (or, the spirit of the Revolution, as it were), which ossify into an almost God-like creature, who continually demands the blood of her devotees for sustenance. And if history were indeed such a sovereign figure, then the historian would have to be someone who sweepingly gazes across the centuries and congregates a mass of lives to offer the goddess in a great ceremonial libation. This having been said, one cannot help but remark that Savarkar deploys unevenly mixed metaphors in his account of 1857, moving rather haphazardly from history as a secular force of revolution to the idea of the historian as a holy custodian, and again, as we have seen, from the theatre, to the Persian ghazal, to the iterative sacrifice reminiscent of Vedic rituals. But at the same time, it is not difficult to see that the sacrificial ceremony is far and away the most consistent of the metaphors that Savarkar employs in The Indian War of Independence, and in that sense, it is the central galvanizing principle for his formulation of history as anticolonial revolution. Unlike the largely secular trope of the theatre, the offering of sacrificial libation is unfailingly imagined by Savarkar as a devotional Vedic form, invested with pietistic zeal and not far, at this point, from congealing into a definitive Hindu practice. Such an imaginary is of course in keeping with the centralizing drive towards a ‘Back to the Vedas’ Hinduism that was still, in the

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early years of the twentieth century, locking horns with a seething discordance of regional cults and their heterogeneous beliefs and practices.20 It is against this background that I turn my attention to Savarkar’s 1922 pamphlet The Essentials of Hindutva, striving to understand how it is both in tension and convergence with the emerging Hindu practice that marks his earlier 1909 work. Several scholars have noted that the strength of The Essentials of Hindutva lay in the fact that Savarkar’s writing in this pamphlet went to great lengths to extricate the concept of Hindutva from what he presented as the narrow shackles of theological speculations, positing it instead as an entirely modern, rationalist and historicist idea of nation formation.21 My own view is that the conceptual coup of the tract, however, is enacted in Savarkar’s insistence that the notion of Hindutva was to be equated with history itself, while Hinduism was only a secondary derivative of the former, and like all other ‘isms’ had its roots in spiritual or religious dogma. It is in this specific moment in the Pamphlet that the warning signs of Savarkar’s history of 1857 crystallize into a dangerous actuality, for if history is synonymous with Hindutva and Hindutva is the singularity that will be the foundation for a strongly militarized national state, then the historical method cannot be discontinuous with, or in opposition to, the state form as Savarkar has conceived it. And so, history, the Revolutionary spirit and resistant force of The Indian War of Independence, 1857, open to the pressures of the emergent and the unexplored, is in this moment, well on its way to becoming a law, in that binding sense of the word. That is to say, in Hindutva, history becomes a statist form, something that requires for its militaristic survival, the casting of a hostile ‘other’ who will fill the vacuum left by the colonizer and pose a continuing threat to every succeeding generation. If, in his account of 1857, Savarkar was already guilty of consecrating history as an almost divine force, and of bequeathing to her the historian as saint and keeper, then what has happened a little less than two decades from the publication of 1857 is that the transcendence of History has not only consolidated itself, but more significantly perhaps, has tied itself into the sovereign authority of a distinctly identifiable Hindu state. Given that he does all he can to isolate his conceptualization of Hindutva from the religious affiliations of Hinduism however, what is it that makes the state form Savarkar imagines so unambiguously Hindu?22 And even prior to formulating the structure of such a state, how does Savarkar amass a bewildering field of customary practices, mythographies, world-views and metaphysics into the singularity of a ‘Hindu tradition’? To answer these questions in any kind of substantive way, it is necessary to first understand the political conditions in which Hindutva was being written, just

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as it is important to navigate the emerging intellectual field – shaped by a mix of British colonial administrators, Indological scholars, radical and moderate nationalists and the influences of eight centuries of Islamic culture – of which the pamphlet was to become a part.23 In the second decade of the twentieth century, the subcontinental situation saw dynamic lines of force intersecting, encompassing and converging upon each other in the heat of the pre-independence struggle, but specifically for Savarkar’s later work, in the wake of the Khilafat Movement. Unfolding between 1921 and 1924, this was perhaps the most significant expression in the colonial context of Muslim-Hindu collaborative resistance and its failure meant the end of that collaboration. Published in 1922, Savarkar’s Essentials of Hindutva came prior to the failure of Khilafat, but still on the heels of another event that well may have shaken his earlier vision in 1857 of Muslims and Hindus standing together in their challenge to the British.24 I refer specifically to the Mappila rebellion of 1921, the causes of which, much like those of the events of 1857, have always been hotly debated. In the same manner as colonial administrators before them, modern historians of South Asia continue to ask whether the Mappila Muslims were responding in 1921 to a violent crackdown against protesting Khilafatists, or, whether they were drawing attention through armed revolt to a host of agrarian injustices against their community. This dispute about the cause of the rebellion stemmed from the fact that in addition to seizing courthouses, state coffers and police stations, in short, the signature monuments of British rule in India, tenant Mappilas also rose against the economically and ritually dominant landed Hindu castes in the area.25 It was this aggression – read as a ‘Muslim’ attack against ‘Hindus’, rather than through the intricacies of colonial economic and social policies, – that might have influenced the ethno-nationalist world-view of Savarkar’s Hindutva.26 This would have been especially true at a time when the Hindu Mahasabha was still struggling to formulate a conceptual response to Government’s 1909 Morley-Minto reforms.These reforms had awarded separate electorates to candidates amassed under the banner of the Muslim League and the anxieties of the Mahasabha regarding the achievements of the League had only been further fanned by the Lucknow Pact of 1916, which served to consolidate the content of the Minto-Morley Act in a LeagueCongress agreement. Central to the worries of the Hindu Mahasabha (and therefore to Savarkar who was already an active member of this body) in this regard, was the two-nation theory hailing suchcha Musalmans (true Muslims) as distinct people with a unique way of life and originary cultural values. There

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has been considerable argument about the origin of the two-nation theory, some contending that Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was the first proponent of that idea, others proposing the name of the poet Muhammad Iqbal as its pioneering philosophical exponent and still others claiming that it was in fact Savarkar who first explicitly articulated the theory long before the Muslim League was moved to embrace it.27 Whether or not the two-nation theory can be traced back to Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, it is clear that he did not oppose the concept – for after the Lahore Resolution of 1940, when Mohammad Ali Jinnah began to loudly promote the call for a separate Muslim state based on the two-nation theory, Savarkar, despite being vehemently hostile to the partition of India, still maintained the following: ‘I have no quarrel with Mr. Jinnah’s two-nation theory. We Hindus are a nation by ourselves and it is a historical fact that Hindus and Muslims are two nations.’28 Clearly then, from the point of view of the Hindu Mahasabha, which Savarkar himself stewarded beginning in 1937, the problem was not, per se, the theory espousing Hindus and Muslims as separate nations but rather the need to identify the Hindu – like others had the Muslim – in terms of a singular way of life and a distinct cultural orientation.29 Hindutva thus begins by attempting to corral the diversity of Hinduism into the unitary inheritance of a defining tradition. If Sanatan Dharm, was, in Savarkar’s argument, the religion of the majority of Hindus, then Hindu Dharm (which is what Savarkar designates as Hinduism) was the splendid totality of religious beliefs and practices common to both Sanatanis as well as non-Sanatanis such as Budhhists, Sikhs, Jains and Arya Samajis.30 As ‘the conclusion of the conclusions, arrived at by harmonizing the detailed experience of all the schools of religious thought,’ Savarkar’s telescoped version of Hinduism smacked of a reformed design in which a myriad of castes, innumerable local and familial deities with their particular rituals and customs, countless village gods and goddesses complete with the divinity of their animal vehicles, and inestimable numbers of vernacularized religious epics, had to be submitted to the discursive consolidation of a Hindu identity (Savarkar, 1938, 138). This process however had had its beginnings in 1840s Calcutta, then the capital of British India, where a congregation of reformers that called itself the Young Bengal Group started rather contemptuously to speak of Hindus as a budding national formation. This was the first time the ‘native’ had spoken of Hinduism as a holistic form, even though somewhat critically, and no doubt influenced by the colonial-Orientalist understanding of Hindus as an aggregate doomed by their fundamental plurality and their tendency towards renunciation and

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other-worldliness. Indeed, it was not until about two decades later that this perception began to shift in the works, most notably of Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay (1838–94), India’s first significant modern novelist, and someone who, while being critical of many things classified as ‘Hindu’, still maintained that the faith could be substantially reimagined for the political exigencies of current times. In an excellent essay very carefully detailing the invention of a panIndian Hindu tradition in the image of Abrahamic monotheisms, Anustup Basu contends that the process was a textual exercise that demanded the pedagogical violence of extraction and selection.31 Basu identifies two defining moments in this textual consolidation of a monothematic Hindu subject. I have gestured toward these in an earlier chapter when discussing Aamir Mufti’s work on Orientalism, but I will elaborate them more fully here, following Basu’s work. The first moment Basu refers to is Charles Wilkins’s 1785 translation of the Bhagavad Gita, the publication of which ensured that Hindus, like Muslims and Christians, could now boast a unitary holy book. The second moment was the East India Company’s naming of the Laws of Manu as the authoritative compendium of Hindu statutes. Both instances involved sovereign measures of selectivity, for just as the Gita was merely one episode in the larger Mahabharata, the longest epic known to recorded history, so too the Manusmriti had to be culled from a multitudinous field of other law books, each as potentially legitimate as the other.32 By the end of the eighteenth century then, the oneness of the Hindu people was thus being engineered under the auspices of the colonial population state and as a function of scriptural and legal taxonomization. The seminal works of Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay are central to this performance of what we might call a Hinduized textual modernity, and while there are several other figures who may be worthy of attention in this regard – Raja Rammohun Roy, Sri Aurobindo, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, to name a few – it is Bankim’s efforts that will help us understand most thoroughly how Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s Hindutva both intersects with, and simultaneously departs from, the discourse of metropolitan Hinduization in the late twentieth century. This is not only because Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay is one of the most critically charged modern thinkers the subcontinent has ever produced, but more specifically, because there is a particularly provoking point of contact between Bankim’s approach to epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata and Savarkar’s navigation of those same literary-cultural cornerstones of an emerging Hindu historicity.

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Partha Chatterjee has shown that taking as his point of departure the principal question of the subcontinent’s long stretch of abject servility in the face of foreign invasions, Bankim argued, with the strictest adherence to western models of Positivist and Utilitarian thought, that the kernel of the problem lay in Hindu cultural values and the attitude to power that these values had generated.33 The problem was that Hindus had been unable to rationally evaluate the importance of power to their material condition, privileging instead the significance of salvation, other-worldliness and fatalism. As Bankim laid it out, this condition could be corrected only if Hindus were to develop a national will, and in order to do so, they would have to first become aware of themselves as a distinctive aggregate of people. Given his commitment to historicist principles, Bankim claimed that the self-recognition of people comprised the knowledge of their own history and the primary task for nationalist mobilization was therefore none other than history-writing. But in order to be an effective motor of power in current times, history had to be conceptualized as a rationalist receptacle of objectivist truth, or so was the argument forwarded by Bankim’s post-Enlightenment scientific viewpoint. The absence of this nature of history from the Hindu world-view was to be remedied by positing Hindu mythology, stripped of the irrational untruths it had accrued over centuries of inscription and reinscription, as indeed the earliest form of Hindu historiography. In other words, the contemporary demand for veracity had to be met with a style of narration that recognized disciplinary protocols for truth-telling. Especially as he set out to enter the intricacies of the Gita, considered both as that newly instituted Holy Book of the Hindus as well as an exemplary instantiation of the mythic material of the Mahabharata, Bankim thus employed in his reading an entire gamut of devices for proof and evidence and the subsequent lines of reasoning following upon a use of such devices. Armed with the sophistication of his pedagogical instruments, he published Dharmatattva in 1886, styled as a Socratic dialogue between a master and his pupil and designed to explicate the idea that the Positivism of Auguste Comte, the culture of Matthew Arnold, the Utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill, and more broadly, the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment values of scientific and logical rigour were already contained in the more advanced philosophies of the Gita. At once unhitching the Gita from the difficult questions of renunciation and other-worldliness and making it a superior precedent for the codas of western humanism, Bankim turned his attention, within the next two years, to the divine enunciator of that Best of Books, launching an epic

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project to render (the lord) Krishna a radically historical figure – finite, human and more worldly even than Christ or the Buddha. In order to execute this project, Bankim’s Krishnacharitra/The Life of Krishna (1888) had to rescue its protagonist from the falsehoods of the mythic material that over the centuries had obscured his true person, and of course, such primordial authenticity could only be accessed from the most purified or unadulterated kernel of the Mahabharata. Bankim called this ‘kernel’ itihasa (or history), and in order to reach it, dismissed from the life of Krishna, much that was inadmissible to the spirit of science and reason, as inauthentic interpolations. Yet, it must be remarked here that itihasa was a linguistically complex structure, that, under the auspices of philological Orientalism, came to be rather indiscriminately translated by the English term ‘history. It was perhaps precisely for this reason that it functioned as the most suitable platform from which Bankim could engage disciplinary configurations of truth so as to transform mythic mantras into ethical philosophy (Dharmatattva) on one hand and historical record (Krishnacharitra) on the other.34 Compared to the astute elaborations of someone like Bankim, there can be no mistake that the writings of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar are at best derivative and at worst banal. Nonetheless, it is no doubt a fact that like Bankim, Savarkar too invoked the all-important trope of history as the cornerstone for his work – and while in his account of 1857, history is an instrument of anti-colonial resistance, in Hindutva, it is legitimation for the sovereignty of a rationalist doctrine of Hindu statehood. However, despite his stridently articulated commitment to a kind of scientized historicity, and to political rationality, as a function of such historicity, Savarkar in Hindutva suggests, in terms quite contrary to those of Bankim, that the ontos of the word, ‘Hindu’, lies beyond the clutches of historiography. Bankim, as we have seen, believed that the epic and mythic Sanskrit texts must be shorn of their falsehoods in order to render them historical receptacles of a rationalist truth, and thereby, of power. For Savarkar, however, myth did not have to submit to the regime of veracity because the relationship between history and power was ensured not so much by a dyadic reciprocity of truth as by potentially unifying energies that could strengthen the constitution of a militaristic Hindu state.35 Let me try to explain this more illustratively. In Savarkar’s narrative, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are not merely histories of Hindu Rajas and their epic victories, which if absolved of their fairy-tale elements might conclusively prove that the Hindu, just like the English Sahib, had a profound understanding of European paradigms of sovereign power and its enlightened historical

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foundations. Instead, the epics, and ostensibly even their conflicting versions (which were precisely what Bankim objected to), are for Savarkar, especially in the context of competing claims to nationhood, an infinite vessel brimming over with common heroes, kings, kingdoms, laws, disasters and triumphs. As a dynamic and infinitely assimilative body of representations, this cast had the capacity to reach out to the teeming millions of Hindusthan and elicit some recognition from each and every one. In the absence of a Prophet or a Book, these institutions could not only be cast as the aggregations of godheads that constitute a ‘Holyland’, but also could serve to topographically plot the territorial expanse of an emergent nation-state. This is a definitive moment in Savarkar’s text, for it is here that our author defines Hindu people as that part of the Indian populace that recognizes the commonality of the epic and mythic institutions of Sanskrit texts, simultaneously realizing in them the typical signatures of a ‘holyland’ and the territorial markers of the Fatherland. Indeed, once Savarkar has emphatically identified this population, over and against a heterogeneous mass of competing communities, he postulates it as the foundational cast of the sovereign state of Hindusthan, and one that could constitute what he somewhat infamously nominated as the ‘reserved forces’ of Hindudom.

The Reserved Forces of Hindudom In a different version of what Anustup Basu has called the making of Hinduism in the image of Abrahamic traditions, Ashis Nandy argues that the almost pathological zeal for vigour and masculinity that emerged in several strands of Hindu nationalism beginning in the nineteenth century was in fact a function of the self-hatred of Hindus.36 Always haunted by a certain grudging regard for ‘Christianity and Islam as religions better in touch with the processes of state formation and nation building’, Hindu reform movements borrowed generously from these grand monotheisms. In doing so, according to Nandy, they often had to emphasize a violent polarization of self and non-self that would help bolster a somewhat undermined Hindu pride.37 For instance, in Hindutva Savarkar very overtly claims that ‘nothing can weld peoples into a nation and nations into a state as the pressure of a common foe’ (Savarkar, 1938, 54).38 The invention of a common foe is thus the originary political axiomatic of Savarkar’s Hindu nation-state, and if at the time of his account of 1857, this foe was clearly the English colonizer, by

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the time of Hindutva, the foe has become the non-Hindu, or he who cannot recognize India as, simultaneously, both a ‘holyland’ and a fatherland. To be sure, even as he is writing his 1922 pamphlet, Savarkar takes care to always frame both the Christian as well as the Muslim citizens of his proposed ideal nation-state in differential relations of proximity with the Hindu people, but it is the Mohammedan, rather than the Christian, who most spectacularly fails the test of Hindutva, for his holyland is always Mecca or Palestine, even if he were to recognize Hindusthan as his fatherland. It is as the obverse of the unassimilable particularity of this figure that Savarkar’s notion of sovereign power in reserve is constituted: ... the life of a nation is the life of that portion of its citizens whose interests and history and aspirations are most closely bound up with the land and who thus provide the real foundation to the structure of their national state. ... [The] American State, in the last resort must stand or fall with the fortunes of its Anglo-Saxon constituents. So with the Hindus, they being the people whose past, present, and future are most closely bound with the soil of Hindusthan as Pitribhu [Fatherland], as Punyabhu [Holyland], they constitute the foundation, the bedrock, the reserved forces of the Indian State (Savarkar, 1938, 181–82).

Challenging the liberal conceptualization of sovereignty as a happy coming together of consensual political will and paternalistic protection, Savarkar shows little interest in a familiar language surrounding the inalienable rights and freedoms of those who don the universal frock of citizen vis-àvis a homogeneous state. Instead of having to precariously balance diverse segments of the population in relation to the resources of such a state (as would the Indian National Congress in later years), Savarkar is thus free to emphasize that the life of the sovereign could be constituted only in a portion of its citizenry, and indeed, he is also free to go even further. In short, calling upon the American model to provide direction for the new state of Hindustan, Savarkar commandingly decrees that even this apparently privileged portion of the population, like the Anglo-Saxon constituents of America, is to be instrumentalized as the power in reserve of the Indian sovereign form – deployable by this sovereign form, presumably, as it will.39 There can be no doubt that one can see here at least some traces of Savarkar’s world-view as it had unfolded in the account of 1857, for the spirit of anti-colonial resistance in the 1909 work was no stranger to the idea of an instrumentalized mass of lives returning again and again to feed the offering to the Goddess of

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Revolutionary History. Yet, what in The Indian War of Independence, 1857 was a potentially radical notion of historicity, which knew not the finality of death and was content to find itself adrift in a differentiated series of repetitions, became in Hindutva the transcendental axiomatic for the emergence of a distinct sovereign authority. In other words, by 1922, Savarkar had quite decidedly aborted his rather intriguing attack on imperial historiography and transferred his energies, via the work of the Hindu Mahasabha, to the crystallization of an inimitable Hindu-Indian state-form, poised in its own way for the excursion into imperial playgrounds of power.40 The project of The Indian War of Independence, 1857 could only have come into being through the crafting of ‘difference’ as an inflexible, insubordinate particularity and Savarkar highlights such ‘difference’ by writing scriptural formations and practices into the very discursive practice of what he claims is a scientific history. It is from there that he generates an indigenous epistemology of temporal relations whose very untranslatable ‘otherness’ he will use to challenge the most powerful cultural-pedagogical tool of the Crown: English historiography. But, if Savarkar’s ‘history’ of the rebellion is framed by the resonant ring of an imaginative counterpoint to imperial might, then Hindutva, in stark contrast, is grounded in an analogy between the Hindu people of the new nation and the Anglo-Saxon constituents of the American state, especially as the latter begins to consolidate its imperial influence in the face of declining British hegemony. In other words, there is an arresting proximity here between Savarkar’s enactment of the grammar of nation and the contentions of metropolitan ideologues of Hindutva, who, many decades later, promise that a newly globalizing Hindu India will write herself into, and indeed supersede, rather than distinguish herself from, a long line of imperial formations.41 For these contemporary ideologues, Hindutva is a syntax of being, a style of violence in language that systematically suspends the generative antagonisms – between east and west, between self and other, between nation and empire – that in the early work of someone like Savarkar, for instance, had given rise to an alternative politics of autonomy. In Hindutva, Savarkar may not yet have arrived at this kind of an imperially styled syntactic violence, but he is no doubt already developing a theory of governmentality that would be ‘compatible with any conceivable expansion of [the] Hindu people’ (Savarkar, 1938, 152). To this end, he reaches out, as we have seen, to the American imperial structure, which can arguably afford what Savarkar believes to be close ties to his ethno-national, and dare one say, biological language of human aggregation.42 But is it enough to merely

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argue that Savarkar’s rhetoric about the state’s ‘reserved forces’ is proximal to the bio-political idiom of a text like Jay Dubashi’s Snakes and Ladders? Or, is it also important, through comparatist readings of Savarkar and Dubashi, to try to pry open the gap between the bio-power to make live and let die, and an earlier, archaic dispensation of the sovereign’s right to take life or let live? I have argued in the previous chapter that Jay Dubashi’s 1985 collection of articles imagines a new kind of power that inserts itself into the field of bio-politics and introduces, as it were, a third vector into the established Foucaultian schema of the sovereign power to make live and let die. This new power extends and augments the dispensation of bio-power, so that pushed to the logical limits of optimizing human species life, it morphs from the power to make live and let die into the power to make free (even from death) and let die. As we have seen, Dubashi’s conceptualization of freedom in this case is mediated by a coarse language of neoliberal economics that performs a semantic coincidence between being freed from the sovereign clutches of death (and therefore having the power to live an optimal life) and being unchained from the last ties of a moribund but still prevailing socialism. For its rhetorical strength, this highly flexible management speak of the free market relies on the Hinduized temporal conceit of an interminable cycle of lives – deathless, and therefore massified, in infinite terms, to provide a plane of enduring species life from which a neoliberal economics can expand its influence. Given the boundlessness of cycles of life and rebirth in Dubashi’s Snakes and Ladders, there is no conceivable outside to this Hindu sphere of expansion, just as for Savarkar in Hindutva ‘the only geographical limits of Hindutva are the limits of our earth’ (Savarkar, 1938, 153). To consolidate the planetary scope of Hindutva, Savarkar’s sovereign state can call for deaths, demand deaths and give the order to kill – relying primarily on the sacrifice of that privileged portion of its population that recognizes Hindustan as both fatherland and ‘holyland’ and constitutes therefore its ‘reserved forces’. In other words, it is the patriotic fervour of its most beloved citizens that enables the sovereign Hindu state not only to turn murderous in calling for the death of the foe, but even suicidal, in exposing the same loyal citizens that most properly constitute it, to the possibility of absolute destruction. It is worth remarking at this point that Dubashi’s map of a planetary economism comes with no such mandate to patriotic loyalty, for, as we have seen, the forces of individual karma play no part in his version of the archaic morality game of snakes and ladders and there is consequently no vision, for him, of a larger totality to which the players are unavoidably

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tied. In fact, Dubashi’s ‘players’ are not in any sense individual souls with organic origins and linear biographies. Instead, scattered as continually mobile variables in what I have called mathematically continuous or memoryless bytes of constant time, these players constitute biological life in general, subject only to a regulatory power charged exclusively with improving its chances, prolonging its duration and insuring against its tragic failures. This, as I will go onto show is not the case in Savarkar’s world-view of Hindutva, which exists in some senses in proximity to Dubashi’s work, but in others, diverges from it. Drawing from the work of the Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico, Edward Said marks the figure of the human not with a mathematized direction toward constant betterment, but with a profoundly disputable infallibility, a tragic flaw that cannot be remedied, precisely because it is constitutive of the elusiveness of this figure. To attempt to compensate for its tragic failures and render it an empirical object of knowledge is therefore to attempt to dissolve the very possibility of the human as a subjective form; it is to try to make man into a systematized Cartesian neutrality.43 The solidification of the Cartesian paradigm was no doubt well under way with the development of what Foucault calls the disciplinary technologies of power whose object was ‘man as body’ rather than ‘man as species’. The field of bio-power with its translation of the elusiveness of man into a governable science of generalized species life was the paroxysmal point in the advance of this dangerous anti-humanist exercise. In Savarkar’s 1922 pamphlet, one can see what I contend are only the very callow beginnings of this exercise, for despite the power of his sovereign being constituted in an instrumentalized mass of indistinguishable lives, the martyrdom of Savarkar’s beloved Hindu citizens still relies on their potentially inconstant, possibly changeful and undoubtedly frail human loyalties. In other words, risking one’s life and offering oneself as martyr may no doubt be the duty of the identifiable Hindu, but in the 1920s one could not yet make standardized statistics of the matter. Another way of putting this is to say that its object being the particular Hindu subject rather than a Hinduized mass of human life, the archaic power of the sovereign over man as body was still dominant at the time of Savarkar’s Hindutva.44 The work of Hinduization would thus have to wait some years before its target could become a global, indistinguishable expanse of human species life, and to be sure, as we arrive at Jay Dubashi’s vision of snakes and ladders, the ancien regime of the individual Hindu, preparing to join the ranks of a nascent national people has morphed into a new technology of power whose basis is the human species as massified and enduring plane of economistically free life. What remains to be seen,

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however, is whether the classic mechanism of power – which gave the State the right over life and death, and which still in many ways, is the mainstay of Hindutva – will coincide with the new bio-power of Snakes and Ladders, which renders life into a field of symmetrical regularities, gradually unencumbered even by the accident of death. That is the real danger. For it is in the political condition when a governable field of life, insured, compensated, secured and cultivated in biological terms, is made completely continuous with the state’s right to kill not only the hostile other, but also its own most beloved citizens, that we have an absolutely murderous state and an absolutely suicidal state at one and the same time. It is indeed in such a condition that we also have the possibility of universal death – or, what we might call the final solution for the foe and the suicidal protection of the friend.45

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Endnotes

See Ashis Nandy, ‘The Demonic and the Seductive in Religious Nationalism: Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and the Rites of Exorcism in Secularizing South Asia’, Heidelberg Papers in Comparative and South Asian Politics 44 (February 2009), http://archiv.ub.uniheidelberg.de/volltextserver/9086/1/HPSACP_NANDY.pdf, last accessed on 28 August 2015; Lise Mckean,Divine Enterprise: Gurus and the Hindu Nationalist Movement (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996); Siegfried O. Wolf, ‘Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s “Strategic Agnosticism: A Compilation of his Socio-Political Philosophy and Worldview”’, Heidelberg Papers in Comparative and South Asian Politics 51 ( January 2010), available at http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/volltextserver/10414/1/HPSACP_ Wolf.pdf, last accessed on 28 August 2015 and Vinay Lal, ‘Veer Savarkar: Ideologue of Hindutva,’ http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/southasia/History/Hindu_Rashtra/veer. html, last accessed on 28 August 2015, amongst others, for elaborations of these views. After the establishment of the All India Muslim League in 1906 and the colonial government’s setting up of separate Muslim electorates in 1909, the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha (or, All India Hindu High Assembly) came into being to protect the interests of ‘all Hindus’. This pan-Indian organization drew on previously existing regional Hindu assemblies and is the oldest Hindu nationalist formation in the country, dating back to 1915.

See Mujeeb B. Khan, ‘Islamic and Western Worlds,’ in The New Crusades, edited by Emran Qureshi and Michael Anthony Sells (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 170–203 and Janaki Bakhle, ‘Putting Global Intellectual History in its Place,’ in Global Intellectual History, edited by Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), 228–53, amongst others, for an elaboration of the continuity between Savarkar and the contemporary Hindu Right in India. All references in this chapter are to a 1938 version of the text. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Hindutva (New Delhi: Central Hindu Yuvak Sabha, 1938). See Ashis Nandy, ‘The Demonic and the Seductive in Religious Nationalism: Vinayak

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Damodar Savarkar and the Rites of Exorcism in Secularizing South Asia’, for a note on the proximity between the political Hinduism of Brahmabandhav Upadhyay and the Hindutva of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. Also see Jyotirmaya Sharma, Hindutva: Exploring the Idea of Hindu Nationalism (New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 2003) for the argument that Hindutva, while rightly attributed to the works of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, can also be traced back to the thinking of Swami Dayananda, Aurobindo and Vivekananda. 6 Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, The Indian War of Independence, 1857 (Bombay: Phoenix Publications, 1947). All references are to this version which will henceforth be parenthetically referred to as 1857. 7 To understand further the milieu of a developing Hindu nationalism to which Savarkar both contributed and was legatee, see Jose Kuruvachira, Hindu Nationalists of Modern India ( Jaipur, India: Rawat Publications, 2006). The author studies Swami Dayananda Saraswati (1824–83), Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902), Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856–1920), Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883–1966), Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar (1906–73) and Sita Ram Goel (1921–2003) to understand the emergence of Hindu nationalist ideology. 8 Jyotirmaya Sharma, ‘History as Revenge and Retaliation: Re-reading Savarkar’s The War of Independence of 1857’, Economic and Political Weekly 42, no. 19 (12–18 May 2007): 1717. 9 Savarkar was neither the only person, nor even the first, to reflect on the fundamental difference between Indian and British views of the events of 1857. John William Kaye’s History of the Sepoy War in India (1857-1858) – which first appeared between 1864 and 1876-and Rajnikanta Gupta’s Sipahi Juddher Itihasa (History of the Sipahi War) – written in five volumes between 1870 and 1900, both described the uprisings as a reaction to colonialism and as late as 1957 (on the centennial of the insurrections), Surendranath Sen’s 1857 unambiguously documented the events as a response to foreign domination. 10 I have referred to, and briefly explained this term in footnote number 31 of Chapter 3 11 See William Gould, Hindu Nationalism and the Language of Politics in late Colonial India (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Sumit Sarkar, ‘Indian Nationalism and the Politics of Hindutva’, in Contesting the Nation: Religion, Community, and the Politics of Democracy in India, edited by David Ludden (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996) and Achin Vanaik, The Furies of Indian Communalism: Religion, Modernity, and Secularization (London: Verso, 1997) for an elaboration of the ideological links between the Congress and the development of Hindu supremacist organizations in Northern India. 12 Gautam Chakravarty, ‘Mutiny, War or Small War? Revisiting an Old Debate’, in Mutiny at the Margins: New Perspectives on the Indian Uprising of 1857, volume IV, edited by Crispin Bates and Gavin Rand (New Delhi; Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, 2013), 135–46. 13 R. C. Majumdar, The Sepoy Mutiny and the Revolt of 1857, Second Edition (Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1963). 14 See Tapti Roy, Politics of a Popular Uprising: Bundelkhand in 1857 (Delhi and New York: Oxford University Press, 1994); Eric Stokes, The Peasant Armed: The Indian Revolt of

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1857, edited by Chris Bayly (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986); Gautam Bhadra, ‘Four Rebels of 1857,’ Subaltern Studies: Writings on South Asian History, volume IV, edited by Ranajit Guha (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1985), 229–75; Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Awadh in Revolt, 1857-1858: A Study of Popular Resistance (New Delhi: Permanent Black, 1984); C. A. Bayly, Rulers, Townsmen and Bazaars: North Indian Society in the Age of British Expansion, 1770-1870 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983) and Eric Stokes, ‘Rural Revolt in the Great Rebellion of 1857 in India: A Study of the Saharanpur and Muzzafarnagar districts,’ The Historical Journal 12, no. 4 (December, 1969): 606–27.

15 In making this argument about Roy’s excellent study, I follow Farhat Hasan, ‘A Welcome Study,’ Social Scientist 26, no. 1/4 ( January-April, 1998): 148–51. 16 See Jyotirmaya Sharma, Hindutva: Exploring the Idea of Hindu Nationalism (New Delhi: Viking, 2003). Sharma shows that Savarkar, like many other nationalists (Bipin Chandra Pal, M. A. K. Gandhi and Surendranath Banerjea), was profoundly indebted to the political philosophy of Giuseppe Mazzini and in his account of 1857 he drew on Mazzini’s work to claim that every revolution was galvanized by a certain political essence or axiom. 17 See Fredric Jameson, The Antinomies of Realism (London; New York: Verso, 2013) for a recent argument that attaches death to an insistence on the temporality of the irrevocable, a temporality for which the past has been settled once and for all.

18 Shivaji Maharaj (1627–80) was the Maratha chieftain and ruler of the Deccan region who rebelled against the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1664, setting up in his own empire and titling himself chhatrapati (supreme ruler) in 1674. The founding moment of Shivaji’s empire and the later defeat of the Marathas at the hands of the British became a focal point for the kind of masculinist Maratha Hindu nationalism we see in Savarkar’s 1857. However, Savarkar’s investment in this direction was preceded by the work of Marathi nationalists like Vishnushastri Chiplunkar (1850–83), Vishwanath Kashinath Rajwade (1863– 1926) and the leader of the extremist wing of the Indian National Congress, Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856–1920). Tilak even sponsored the first annual public birthday celebration of Shivaji Maharaj in 1896. This line of Marathi chauvinism continues to find expression in the work of the Shiv Sena, a political organization founded to demand preferential treatment for Marathis over migrants to the city of Mumbai. See Janaki Bhakle, ‘Country first? Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883– 1966) and the Writing of Essentials of Hindutva,’ Public Culture 22, no. 1 ( January, 2010): 149–86.

19 See Aamir Mufti, ‘Toward a Lyric History of India,’ Boundary 2, 31, no. 2 (Summer 2004): 245–74. With regard to the Urdu lyric poetry of Faiz Ahmad Faiz (1911–84), Mufti argues that ‘In the decades following the 1857 Rebellion,[…] the classical tradition of lyric poetry, and in particular the  ghazal  form, became the site of fierce contention about the prospects of a distinct “Muslim” experience in Indian modernity’ (245).

20 Savarkar’s 1925, Hindu Pad-padashahi or Hindudom and Hindu Kingship is like The Indian War of Independence, 1857, a text about revolution, and here too, the author uses the conceit of the Vedic fire sacrifice to valorize martyrdom on the battlefield. By the

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time of Hindu Pad-padashahi however, Muslims are the enemy of the Hindus rather than the British and most heroic are the Maratha warriors who fought to establish a Hindu empire.

21 Christopher Jaffrelot argues that Savarkar’s is an ethno-religious conceptualization that posited Hindus as an ethnic community with territorial, racial and cultural commonalities. He emphasizes that Savarkar was not a believer, but an ideologue. See Christopher Jaffrelot, Hindu Nationalism in India (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996).

22 See Arvind Sharma, ‘Hindu, Hindustan, Hinduism and Hindutva’, Numen: International Review for the History of Religions 49, no. 1 (2002): 1–36. Savarkar opens Hindutva with a long meditation on the importance of naming – and he particularly takes up the case of the words ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hindustan’, before moving on later to ‘Hinduism’ and ‘Hindutva’. Sharma’s essay is useful because it intervenes in the discourse about the word ‘Hindu’ and its cognates and the relationship these bear to the geopolitical mapping of ‘India’. 23 See Ashis Nandy, Shikha Trivedy, Shail Mayaram and Achyut Yagnik, Creating a Nationality: The Ramjanmabhumi Movement and Fear of the Self (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995) for an elaboration of the psycho-social milieu in which Savarkar’s work has been debated.

24 See Vinay Lal, ‘Veer Savarkar: Ideologue of Hindutva,’ https://www.sscnet.ucla. edu/southasia/History/Hindu_Rashtra/veer.html, last accessed on 28 August 2015 for an elaboration of this argument. It is also important to note here, that despite Savarkar’s vision in the history of 1857 of Hindus and Muslims standing together in their resistance to British colonial rule, there is in that text, a strong strain of Maratha Hindu nationalism founded in the celebration of Shivaji and other Maratha leaders like Nana Sahib and Lakshmi Bai. 25 See Stephen Fredric Dale, The Mappilas of Malabar, 1498-1922 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980) and K. N. Panikar, Against Lord and State: Religion and Peasant Uprisings in Malabar, 1836-1921 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1989) for more on the debates surrounding the Mappila Rebellion.

26 See Annie Besant, The Future of Indian Politics: A Contribution to the Understanding of Present-Day Problems (Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1922) where the noted British theosophist and translator of the Bhagavad Gita (1905) wrote the following to underscore her reading of the rebellion in terms of Muslim aggression against Hindus, particularly in the context of the Khilafat Movement: ‘Malabar has taught us what Islamic rule still means, and we do not want to see another specimen of the Khilafat Raj in India (304).’ 27 Ashis Nandy claims in ‘The Demonic and the Seductive in Religious Nationalism: Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and the Rites of Exorcism in Secularizing South Asia’, that it was Savarkar who first explicitly propounded a two-nation theory in South Asia, 16 years before the Muslim League took to the idea. 28 See Anil Nauriya, ‘The Savarkarist Syntax,’ The Hindu (18 September 2004). The article quotes Savarkar from the Indian Annual Register 2 (1943):10.

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29 See John Zavos, ‘Searching for Hindu Nationalism in Modern Indian History: Analysis of Some Early Ideological Developments’, Economic and Political Weekly 34, no. 32 (7–13 August 1999): 2269–76 for an argument that isolates the ideology of Hindu nationalism from Hindu communalism. The latter, according to the author, was not an ideology, but rather, a historical condition that beginning in the 1920s, drove the ideological pressures of Hindu nationalism towards certain material political objectives. Savarkar’s Hindutva is probably a combination of both these impulses. 30 I follow here Gyan Pandey, ‘Which of Us Are Hindus?’ in Hindus and Others: The Question of Identity in India Today, edited by Gyanendra Pandey (New Delhi: Viking, 1993), 238–72.

31 Anustup Basu, ‘The “Indian” Monotheism’, Boundary 2, 39, no. 2 (2012): 111–41. For a shorter version of this argument, see Anustup Basu, ‘Hindutva and Informatic Modernization’, Boundary 2, 35, no. 3 (Fall 2008): 39–50. 32 See The Dharmasutras: The Law Codes of Ancient India, edited and translated by Patrick Olivelle (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) and The Laws of Manu, translated by Wendy Doniger with Brian K. Smith (London and New York: Penguin, 1991). 33 Partha Chatterjee, Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1986). With regard to Bankim’s influence on the beginnings of nationalism in the subcontinental situation also see Sudipta Kaviraj, The Unhappy Consciousness: Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay and the Formation of Nationalist Discourse in India (Delhi; New York: Oxford University Press, 1995) and Bankimchandra Chatterjee, Sociological Essays: Positivism and Utilitarianism in Bengal, edited and translated by S. N. Mukherjee and Marian Maddern (Calcutta: Riddhi, 1986). 34 I have already referred to the argument surrounding the translation of itihasa as history in chapter 2 of this book. I follow Ranajit Guha, History at the Limit of WorldHistory (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002) in detailing the intricacies of the argument.

35 See Janaki Bhakle, ‘Country first? Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883-1966) and the Writing of Essentials of Hindutva,’ Public Culture 22, no. 1 ( January 2010): 149–86 for an elaboration of the idea that unlike in his early work, the Savarkar of Hindutva has abandoned history in favour of myth. 36 See Ashis Nandy, ‘The Demonic and the Seductive in Religious Nationalism: Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and the Rites of Exorcism in Secularizing South Asia’. 37 Ashis Nandy, ‘The Demonic and the Seductive in Religious Nationalism: Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and the Rites of Exorcism in Secularizing South Asia’.

38 For the argument that the content of the political is to be determined through a categorical distinction between friend and enemy, see Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, translated by Charles Schwab (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1976). 39 In an interview with Denton J. Brooks, the Far Eastern correspondent of the Chicago Defender (appearing in the Defender on 10 June 1945 and in the Hindu on 15 June 1945), Mahatma Gandhi was asked whether he would care to send a

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special message to the Negro people of America. In response, he pointed to a recent statement he had made at the beginning of the San Francisco conference. There, he had indicated that India’s freedom was to be closely identified with the welfare of all other underprivileged people: ‘The freedom of India will demonstrate to all exploited races of the earth that their freedom is very near and that in no case will they be exploited.’ The rigid polarization between Mahtama Gandhi and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar notwithstanding (Savarkar was arrested after Gandhi’s assassination for abetting the conspiracy), I cannot stress enough the significance of this distinction between the Hindu Right on the one hand and the Gandhian-Nehruvian strands of thought on the other. Despite their differences on some issues, and their rather complicated relationship, the Mahatma and Nehru agreed on the identification of India’s independence with the freedom of oppressed peoples globally (in this context, Nehru’s nonalignment policies and his participation at the Bandung Conference in 1955 are just as important as Gandhi’s highly affective proclamations), while Savarkar and other members of the Hindu Mahasabha imagined an empathy between Hindu India and Anglo-Saxon America. The Hindu Mahasabha was known for its refusal to endorse any movements (led by the Congress in particular) against British colonial rule in India. Indeed, on Savarkar’s demeaning pleas for clemency from his jail in the Andamans, his willingness to collaborate with the British in order to wield political power in the provinces, his attempt to militarize Hindu society by having Hindus fight alongside the British overseas and his (and the Mahasabha’s) lack of active involvement in the freedom struggle, see A. G. Noorani, Savarkar and Hindutva: The Godse Connection (New Delhi: Left Word Books, 2002) and Christopher Jaffrelot, ‘The Germination of Insecurity,’ available at http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?218449, last accessed on 28 August 2015. A provocative argument about the changing face of metropolitan Hindutva is offered by one of its preeminent contemporary ideologues. Swapan Dasgupta contends that in the transitional decade of the 1990s, Hindutva offered hope to a people burdened by a sense of defeat. In the first decade of the twenty-first century however, with India’s emergence as a significant force in global geopolitics, Dasgupta’s sense is that Hindutva is no longer useful. Defeat, which according to Dasgupta, was a hallmark of the Hindu state of mind in the past, has been replaced by the swashbuckling arrogance of a neo-imperial foreign policy that finds Hindutva a hindrance to the spread of Indian influence abroad. See Swapan Dasgupta, ‘Politics Beyond Hindutva,’ (15 August 2009), http://swapan-dasgupta.blogspot.com/2009/08/politics-beyondhindutva-august-2009.html, last accessed on 28 August 2015. While Christopher Jaffrelot very specifically argues that Savarkar’s is not a biological theorization of race, Ashis Nandy takes the opposite direction when he contends that Savarkar’s racism drew directly from nineteenth century European biology and eugenics. See Ashis Nandy, ‘The Demonic and the Seductive in Religious Nationalism: Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and the Rites of Exorcism in Secularizing South Asia’ and Christopher Jaffrelot, Hindu Nationalism in India (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996). See Edward Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, edited by Akeel Bilgrami (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004) and Giambattista Vico, New Science: Principles

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of the New Science Concerning the Common Nature of Nations, translated by David Marsh (London; New York: Penguin, 1999) for the genealogy of this argument. 44 For an excellent analysis of the disciplinary technologies of power over the individual human body, employed in its structural foundations by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – or ‘The National Corps of Volunteers’, an organization that is in many ways at the heart of the militancy of the Hindu Right, see Tapan Basu, Sumit Sarkar and Tanika Sarkar, Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags: A Critique of the Hindu Rilght (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1993). Also, see two excellent documentary films on the RSS produced and directed by Lalit Vachani, The Boy in the Branch (1993; Colour; 16 mm; 27 minutes) and The Men in the Tree (A Wide Eye Film, 2002; Colour; Video; 98 minutes).

45 See Michel Foucault, Society Must be Defended: Lectures at the College de France, 19751976 (New York: Picador, 2003) for the elaboration of this argument in relation to the Nazi state.

5 Between Death and Redemption Hindu India and its Antique Others I argued in the previous chapter that despite the convergences between them, there is no doubt a gap between the discourse of Hindutva as it emerged through the work of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in the 1920s and the same ideology as it has manifested in the Indian context of the late twentieth century. In the earlier version of Hindu nationalism, the callow beginnings of regulatory mechanisms of power that have as their object a massified domain of biological life are still intimately linked to disciplinary technologies of power centering on the individual human subject. In the Hindutva of the 1980s and 90s however, power increasingly has as its object not the individual Hindu soul in its differential relations to an ‘other’, but an exclusively Hinduized mass of species life that is bio-politically guaranteed, protected and insured against all contaminating deviations. This gap between the two iterations of Hindutva, is inflected, as I will demonstrate in this chapter, by yet another difference that has to do with the separable signifying practices whereby the interdependent but still autonomous discourses of 1920’s Hindutva and new age Hindutva come into being. In remarking this point of distinction in relation to the matter of the two models of power associated with the earlier and later instances of Hindu nationalism, I hope to draw attention to the counterpoint between imaginations of power on one hand and the specifics of style and the politics of language on the other. I indicated in the previous chapter that the style of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s writings is in a differential relation of proximity to the signifying practices of a contemporary ideologue of Hindutva like Jay Dubashi, for instance. While this is no doubt true in a variety of different ways for almost all of Savarkar’s work, it is important to note that in writing the text for which he would be most reviled as well as memorialized – his 1922 pamphlet The Essentials of Hindutva – Savarkar chose English, or at least a kind of early

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Indo-Anglian idiom, rather than the regional vernacular Marathi.1 The choice is worth mentioning not only because it proves that Savarkar was clearly astute enough to know that the Queen’s tongue would be most suitable for addressing a pan-Indian nationalist bourgeoisie attuned to hearing anticolonial politics being voiced in English. It is also important for showing the ways in which his selection can be mapped onto the language choices made by contemporary Anglophone ideologues of Hindutva, even if with varying degrees of compatibility. I will return to this matter of the affinities and differences between the two kinds of English we see in classic and archaic articulations of Hindutva at a later time. For now, let me emphasize that until the instance of his 1922 work, Savarkar had written largely in the regional language (sometimes himself translating his own work into the metropolitan tongue) and so the choice of English for Hindutva marked what seemed to be an important shift in his oeuvre. Yet, he reverted back almost exclusively to the vernacular soon after the publication of that work, thereby putting to question the notion of an overall ‘shift’ and making his infamous pamphlet even more conspicuous as a distinct point for stylistic reference. While Savarkar has no doubt moved away from the comparatist structure of an anti-colonial project of autonomy as we saw it unfold in his historical reimagining of the rebellion of 1857, in Hindutva, he is still committed to theorizing the place of history in shaping and grafting together incipient nationalist aggregates. He begins his notorious 1922 work with the contention that the concept, ‘Hindutva’, is not only a modern, rationalist and historicist idea of nation-formation, but equivalent in precise ways to the term ‘history’. Yet, within a few pages of this assertion, Savarkar has already aborted this line of reasoning to suggest that the power of nationalism does not reside in the truth-telling protocols of modern historiography. Unlike The Indian War of Independence, 1857, which irrespective of its anti-colonial stance, is still caught in the scholarly expectations of post-Enlightenment scientific historiography, Hindutva very deliberately chooses not to submit itself to the demand for veracity and the corresponding proprieties of argumentation and proof. Indeed, for the Savarkar of Hindutva, myth seems to be a more forceful instrument for nationalism than history and even though he does not specifically address this as a form of substitution, he does seem to dissolve one frame into the other – myth becomes history and history mythical.2 That is to say, the agonistic polarity of myth and history, which had so formatively defined the thinking of an early nationalist figure such as Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and that crystallized more fully, later, in a general subcontinental climate of

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the consolidation of European colonial education, is here dissolved. In its place is a kind of hybridized configuration that is a cognate for the stylistic mongrelizations we see in the writing of Hindutva. One of the few critics to have commented specifically on the style of Savarkar’s Hindutva, Janaki Bhakle argues that despite being written in English, the core moment in Savarkar’s pamphlet is isolated in the rising cadence of a sonorous Sanskrit verse – ‘A Sindu Sindhu paryanta, Yasya Bharatbhumika/Pitribhuh Punyabhushchaivasavai Hinduritismritah’.3 The couplet literally translates into the declaration that India’s geographic contours extend from the Sindhu River in the north (today in Pakistan) to the seas below in the south [and that] anyone at all, or anyone for whom India is both pitrabhu (land of one’s ancestors) and punyabhu (sacred land), can be its natural and national inhabitant.4

As an extension of the geographical heterogeneity of the landmass he describes in this couplet, Savarkar points towards the rhythmic niceties of a diversity of regional vernaculars while still remaining committed, however, to the unifying force of Sanskrit as the ‘mother-tongue’ of Hindustan (Savarkar, 1922). It is no doubt the case that Savarkar came from a line of nineteenth and early twentieth century scholars who were familiar with both English and Sanskrit, but Bhakle makes it a point to note that his use of Sanskrit was not a scholarly enterprise that could stand up to the challenges either of Brahmin pundits, or of professional Indologists. Indeed, the snippets of Sanskrit that pepper Savarkar’s English prose in Hindutva are often inaccurate, often taken out of their historical contexts and often inadequately transliterated. But, according to Bhakle, they served to prove to a middle-class audience, Anglicist, but at the same time hungry for nationalist/Orientalist romances about the original antiquity of Sanskrit, that the author of Hindutva was indeed an authoritative figure. Savarkar could thus be understood as an impeccable strategist who set out to claim a reputation as a specifically Hindu-Anglophone scholar – someone who could use both modern methods as well as a wealth of ancient learning as the basis of his vision for the future of India. To extend Bhakle’s argument in this regard however, I will show that it is important to study not only the intellectual history or political exigency that called for Savarkar’s use of a particular kind of hybrid Indo-Anglian idiom, but also the syntactical forms, the grammar of thinking and the overall language environments that resulted from the particular ways in which he combined a national tongue

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with the metropolitan language, and the discursive customs from which he drew in doing so. A first step towards this investigation would involve emphasizing that Sanskrit words and phrases appear in Savarkar’s English-language writing of Hindutva in the form of what Bhakle suggests are snippets rather than sustained discursive patterns. That is to say, they constitute isolable instances of angularity or woodenness in the largely continuous domain of Savarkar’s Standard English prose. The resulting hybridized configuration marks what Gayatri Spivak in a slightly different context has called an early phase in the development of Indian writing in English. Such a formation is distinct, according to Spivak, from a later manifestation of Indo-Anglian prose in which ‘English attempts to claim its status as one of the Indian languages (belonging to a national underclass) through the technique of sustained literal translation of the vernacular’ into the very discursive practice of the narration.5 To put it differently, one could say that in the early phase of Indian writing in English, the Indianness of the English is constituted not by the vernacular having inserted itself into the Anglophone idiom, but rather, in contrary terms, by the palpability of the gap between national and imperial linguistic powers. It is this gap that is characteristic of Savarkar’s metropolitan language in Hindutva, peppered as it is with discrete snippets of a national Sanskritic culture. However, if Savarkar’s English language writing could thus be read as an early instance in the development of the Indo-Anglian idiom, still bound to the binaries of self and other, and nation and empire, then how do we read the relationship between English and the vernaculars in the prose of later ideologues of Hindutva – and how does this latter-day Hinduized prose navigate the relays between national and imperial languages? The issue of class-cultural struggles for national representative stature provides an important point of departure for such questions. These struggles are evident in the changing textures of the Indo-Anglian novel from its beginnings in the works of figures like R. K. Narayan, Nayantara Sahgal, Kamala Markandaya and Raja Rao to its later manifestations in the landmark postcolonial novels of Salman Rushdie. Spivak notes in reading this range of authors, that beginning in the early 1970s, one can notice an obvious change in the relationship between the writer of Indo-Anglian literature and his or her use of the native languages. In the context of the increasingly diversified peregrinations of a globally savvy postcolonial beau monde, Spivak writes that ‘what was an upper class, upwardly mobile, or upwardly aspiring private

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relationship to the vernacular in national peripheral space was to transform into a public declaration of ethnic identity in the metropolitan space of the newish migrant writer.’ What is important to note here is that if the upper classes in national contexts had a private relationship to the vernacular, in metropolitan spaces, these same upper classes, now migrant, used the vernacular as a public statement of ethnic identity. Now admittedly, Savarkar is not a novelist in the postcolonial tradition of English language fiction that Spivak is examining. Neither is it possible in his case to say, as Spivak does of the historical Indian context, that there is no serious contact between the terrains of Indo-English writing on the one hand and vernacular writing on the other, for Savarkar as we know traversed both those terrains rather successfully. Yet the shifting politics of national self-representation that Spivak indicates is a function of the changing relationships between English and the national vernacular/s, is just as important to understanding the relays between Savarkar’s English and the English of metropolitan Hinduization, as it is to recognizing the changing face of Indo-Anglian fiction.6 We have already noted that the Savarkar of Hindutva peppers his English language writing with discontinuous snatches of Sanskrit. In contrast, a later figure like Jay Dubashi conjures, as we have seen, an unbroken synergy between the de-historicized and therefore ‘empty’ symbols of an ancient Sanskritic culture and the politics of the contemporary Anglophone world. It is in this sense that by the time Hindutva has come to be elaborated in the hands of ideologues like Jay Dubashi, an older environment of language in which the tension between marginal and imperial symbolic worlds is still recognizable has given way to one in which this struggle is on the verge of being dissolved. This language environment is the result of a new signifying practice whereby the metropolitan language is provincialized as one of many regional argots, and in turn,vernaculars enter the discourse of what has come to be called Global Englishes.7 To be sure then, the ostensibly unfractured surface of the Hindu-Anglian prose of late Hindutva renders invisible the continuing relations of force between global metropolitan idioms and the languages of the global south. However, it still remains to be pointed out that if Savarkar could be accused of a kind of disjunctive English language style suitable to an older language environment and manifest in his largely gratuitous allusions to ‘native’ texts and textual traditions like the Bhavishyapurana, the national anthem and the Varkari and the Mahanubhav Marathi traditions of Bhakti literature, then Dubashi too is guilty of a similarly wanton map of citations. Furthermore, most of Dubashi’s references are as violently ripped from their

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intellectual contexts and as stilted in their relationship to the general tenor of his prose, as are Savarkar’s allusions. The difference is that in the case of a collection like Snakes and Ladders, for example, Dubashi’s arguments are interspersed with references not to the extensive and diverse literary traditions of the subcontinent, whether in Sanskrit or the regional vernaculars, but to an unambiguously Anglo-American canon ranging from Plutarch and Somerset Maugham to Charles Dickens and George Orwell. Dubashi’s readership in the 1980s and 90s is not unlike the audience that Savarkar imagined for Hindutva – an upper class, or, at least, upwardly mobile elite, accustomed to speaking and being spoken to in English and concerned rather keenly with how they were being presented before the world.8 But what needs to be emphasized in the context of late or metropolitan Hinduization is that during the 1990s, the very fabric of the Anglophone elite was changing under the auspices of a global cultural system in which the Indian upper classes now wished to participate on equal terms.9 The signatures of authority demanded of the new age raconteur, poised to articulate or shape the political and cultural self-representation of such an elite, were no doubt different from those required of a radical nationalist of the early twentieth century, still trapped by the stringent boundaries between self and other. Thus, in Dubashi’s work pedantic references to ‘Dickensian dungeons’ replace the allusions to Sanskrit scriptures of Savarkar’s writing and George Orwell takes the place of the Bhavishya Purana, in a time of opening outs of home into world – a time in which the ways of being Hindu were becoming normalized and normative to such a degree, they no longer need to be proved in a smattering of quasiVedic wisdoms. In short, in the same way as Dubashi smoothly writes the ancient Hindu game of snakes and ladders into a primal map for the success of economic liberalization in the west, Hindus at this time could unambiguously embed in an ostensibly uninterrupted Anglicist syntax – with just the right references to Plutarch, Somerset Maugham, Charles Dickens and George Orwell – the originary Hinduness of the planet. In relation to its agenda of Hindutva, the BJP has always equivocated on the question of language policies. As we have seen in an earlier chapter, there are those in its ranks that push towards an Angrezi hatao (‘Ban English’) movement and others, who, having recognized the importance of the Anglophone allegiance that ties together the imperial coalition of the willing, admonish groups that back the Ban English programme.10 I have not earlier lingered for long on the English language writings of Jay Dubashi to prove that either this or that end of the BJP’s politics of language is the winner, as it were.11

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In other words, I am by no means contending, despite my emphasis on the global predicates of an Anglophone Hinduness, that the vernacular strengths of an older Brahminical ideology, largely rooted in the agrarian hinterlands of northern India, and amongst the small town, mid-caste petty bourgeoisie, have disappeared from the scenario. To be sure, paroxysmal expressions of violence, terrifying exercises in fundamentalism, alarming dominances of dogma and genocidal ethno-racial ideologies are all very much alive in these (and other) quarters of influence. However, what I am drawing our attention to in reading Jay Dubashi’s work so closely is a less studied terrain. This is one that exposes late Hindutva as an insidiously engineered stylistic normalcy in the narrative of national becoming, a normalcy that functions at the level of syntactic violence of the kind we see in Dubashi’s work, a normalcy that has come to set the terms of political debate from the very center of representative institutions which speak to us not only in an Anglophone, but now increasingly, in what I have called a Hindu-Anglian tongue.12 To extend my analysis of the specific stylistics that accompany what it means to be this kind of normalized Hindu in the global metropolis, I will turn to two other figures who I argue share in Jay Dubashi’s intellectual history and read their work in relation to what I have said about late Hindutva as it begins to move away from an earlier phase of that ideology. In the spirit of this investigation, let me set out by saying that in the case of both Swapan Dasgupta and Francois Gautier – the two authors I will study in intersection with Dubashi – I will look most closely not at other genres they may have authored but at discrete journalistic editorial columns. This emphasis will sharpen our understanding of late, or mature Hindutva as a class-cultural struggle for political self-representation through what I have suggested is the homogenously continuous narrative of a journalistic enterprise.

Journalism, Arrested Time and the Mathematics of Metropolitan Hindutva Swapan Dasgupta’s column ‘The Notion of Dharma’ appeared rather unobtrusively in an important online news portal only a few months before the dramatic Indian parliamentary elections of May 2004 in which a coalition led by the Congress emerged surprise victor over the ruling BJP and its infamous doctrine of Hindutva.13 A new-age public intellectual, who had been perhaps one of the most passionate media ideologues for the BJP and its allies, Dasgupta stayed determinedly away from endorsing the incumbent party in the period

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before the 2004 elections.14 Instead, he chose in ‘The Notion of Dharma’ to strategize, with an almost chilling quietude, something he conceptualized as the silken bond of Indian democracy. Without directly addressing the issue of particular electoral outcomes and probabilities, Dasgupta’s column plunges headlong into an investigation of what he diagnoses as the ‘inglorious history of election reporting in India’ (2003). Racked by the ostensibly objective presentation of an almost dizzying variety of local imponderables – microlevel caste equations, the dynamics of block-level factionalism within parties and changeful and asymmetrical coalitions between the ‘modern center’ and its many satellite bodies of governance – Indian election correspondence, according to Dasgupta, produced texts that read like ‘meandering exercises in prevarication’ (Dasgupta, 2003). Not surprisingly, these uninspiring texts proved too bland for the palates of spectacle hungry masses on the brink of discovering the dustier, noisier, hedonism of a fully liberalized media space. It was thus that the outmoded crop of yesteryear’s reporters gave way to a new school of popular correspondents. With steady cameras on their shoulders and techno-scientific savvy at their beck and call, these dapper men and women trailed politicians into the very hearts of their campaigns, their aim being to produce riveting copies of the heat and dust of campaigning However, from Dasgupta’s point of view, the trouble with both these forms of reportage was that they relied on a methodology based on ‘the celebration of the fragment’ (Dasgupta, 2003). The celebration of the fragment is troubling for Dasgupta because it expresses a practice of political thinking from which the category of the average voter has disappeared. Beset by that accursed ‘celebration of the fragment’, the safely rounded contours of the average voter and his manifest will toward unification have been replaced with a postmodern patchwork of disaggregated communities, each fractured from the other to such a great degree that none can relate to the ‘larger picture’ that binds them (Dasgupta, 2003). Yet, according to ‘The Notion of Dharma’, there is indeed a larger picture and the still youthful tale of political auguries in India has been a disgraceful one precisely because it has lost touch with the unifying power of this larger picture. In ‘The Notion of Dharma’, Swapan Dasgupta offers his vision of such a seamless union by concluding his column in the following somewhat brazen manner: There is a fundamental commonality in democratic expression and that link is forged by the big picture. This is what connects the Gujjar to the Jat and the middle classes to the Adivasis. Yesterday

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they voted for the BJP and tomorrow they may well opt for the Congress.

As we have observed before, coming at the time it does, four months before a fretfully contested election, ‘The Notion of Dharma’ is significant, apart from everything else because it stays rather pointedly away from the fracas of the battle. Indeed, when Dasgupta writes that ‘Yesterday [the voters] voted for the BJP and tomorrow they may well opt for the Congress’, he makes very clear that the point of his article does not involve portending the success of one party over another. Instead, he is interested in what appears to be an originary concept of ‘the political’ for the Indian context. This, according to Dasgupta, is the constitutive oneness of national expressivity. It is much in the nature of a manifest will that is perceptible well before the specifics of a political contract, the diagram of rights and duties for a citizen, or even the representationbased design of a normalized, democratic polity. What is at stake in any electoral situation, for Dasgupta, is the mobilization of such an immovable and unshakably united spirit – in this case, the spirit of democracy (Dasgupta, 2003). Democracy as such a continuous commonality of spirit is not however simply a primal essence, waiting to be uncovered by the powers that be. It is also a technology for managerially governing all possible fragmentations in a complex electoral picture. In Dasgupta’s hands then, democratic expression emerges not only as just another name for the sacrosanct parameters of consensual nationalism, but also as a mode of governance that articulates and sustains itself through precisely that notion of consensus for which any attempt at critical analysis is a hideous condition of exception. Counter to liberal expectations, the object and objective of such democracy is cohesive unification rather than dissenting debate. It is in this way that it functions for Dasgupta as the concept of the political. The wide-spread return in recent times to the thinking of hard right theoreticians of sovereignty like Carl Schmitt would be pertinent to this discussion of Dasgupta’s column.15 Indeed, Dasgupta’s argument in ‘The Notion of Dharma’ is in some ways even more alarmingly proximal to the Schmittian attack on the inadequacies of political liberalism than is Savarkar’s explicit engineering of a categorical distinction between friend and foe. In The Concept of the Political, Schmitt had conceptualized the substance of the political as a primal essence, prior to, and therefore unsullied by merely ceremonial arrangements like the institution of the Contract, the ordaining of rationalist parliamentary processes, the drafting of the rights and freedoms of citizen subjects and the setting up of constitutional obligations and duties.16

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It was only this unitary spirit of the political, which, if subtending sovereign power as its singular essence, could ensure that the state was not subjugated to a precarious alliance of multiple sovereignties. Such a precarious condition could be caused by the checkered reality of the Weimar Republic in Schmitt’s time, or, it could be caused by what the Hindu Right, starting especially in the 1980s, conceptualized as the catastrophic equilibrium encouraged by the Congress party. For Schmitt, the clarity or simplicity of the political essence depended precisely on the fact that it was free from the fractious elements of civil society and thus could lend itself to the existential and categorical distinction between friend and enemy – one that in times of peril would constitute the exceptional tool of a strong sovereign power. For Dasgupta, of course, the content or substance of the political in this sense is what he calls ‘a fundamental commonality of democratic expression.’ Whether determined by the BJP or the Congress Party, rationalist parliamentary processes and electoral exercises can only follow after this foundational oneness is established as the basis of India’s sovereignty. Yet, what is left rather chillingly unsaid in Dasgupta’s column is that anything that represents a serious threat or conflict to the singular cohesion of this democratic feeling will not be tolerated, for the ‘silken bond’ that cuts across Indian society must stand above all critical expositions of fracture. Thus, we are at this point, not very far from a Schmittian domain of exception in which, paradoxically, the Constitution must be suspended so that it can be rescued, for Dasgupta proposes in the same vein that any possible dissensus in democratic expression in India must be proscribed so that the cohesion of democracy may be salvaged. ‘The Notion of Dharma’ translates the scriptural trope of dharma (which may be loosely rendered as ‘moral law’) into a seamless enactment of what Dasgupta designates as this ‘fundamental commonality in democratic expression.’ Given Dasgupta’s conceptualization of democratic expression as a force of cohesion rather than dissent, this synonymous relationship renders the potentially heterodox strands of dharma into a similarly cohesive whole. The sovereign violence in this exercise is reminiscent of something we have seen before in our reading of Krishna’s intervention in the Bhagavad Gita to declare to his warrior-disciple Arjuna that the dharma of the warrior, in a condition of exception, must override all other strands of dharma. Just as in that ancient text, the scriptural law of dharma – or, more specifically, its rendering as a singularity – was to lead to the foundation of the monarchical state in the middle Ganga Valley, in Dasgupta’s text too, a displaced theological concept becomes the axis for a modern theorization of state.17 However, instead of

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turning to political theory to analyse this affinity between a modern secular category and a Vedic scriptural one, it is more important for my purposes to draw attention to the signifying practices whereby such an affinity is presented. That is to say, what is noteworthy for my argument in this book is that the proximal relationship between dharma and democracy is entrenched so deep in Dasgupta’s Anglophone syntax that no propositional or narrative unfolding is needed to elaborate how and why we should understand one as a template for the other. It is the quiet violence of this exercise in translation that reinforces the idea that Hinduness no longer has to posture and call attention to itself – as it did in Savarkar’s writing, for instance – as the primordial origin for western political forms. That, in this case, is a conclusion already foregone. The effect of Dasgupta’s writing is thus not very different from that of the regularizations in Jay Dubashi’s prose. After all, the latter too – without much fuss – neutralizes the differential energy of the gap between tradition and modernity by equating an endless cycle of life and rebirth with the pithy urban-managerial intelligence of global capital and by making the worldly time of finance capitalism subject to a divinely inspired vision of past, present and future in one instant. A similar staging of such violent coincidences is also part of the work of Francois Gautier, a French correspondent and writer, who, while sharing in the political discourse of Hindutva as it appears in figures like Arun Shourie, Swapan Dasgupta and Jay Dubashi, could actually be understood in something of an angular relation to its intellectual history.18 Unlike Shourie, Dubashi and Dasgupta who were educated at elite institutions in India, Gautier received his own equally privileged early training in Europe. Having experienced problems ‘fitting in’, he was expelled from several upper-class boarding schools across Europe and in 1969 he left for India at the young age of 19. Thereafter,he met the Indian nationalist and spiritual guru, Sri Aurobindo’s French collaborator, Mirra Alfassa and became part of the early group involved in establishing the experimental community of Auroville in Pondicherry.19 Indebted to the vision of Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa (commonly known in Aurovilian circles as ‘the Mother’), Auroville was founded as a utopian space in which men and women would live in harmony, above all conflicts of politics, creeds and nationalities – and indeed, as of May 2014, it was home to over 2000 individuals from 49 different nations.20 It is this universal township that Francois Gautier made his home in the early years of his stay in India, but as he went onto become what Malini Parthasarathy has called ‘a prominent voice in the campaign for Hindutva,’ he began to move outside Auroville, to more

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metropolitan centers like Bangalore and New Delhi.21 In contrast to those ideologues of Hindutva I have already discussed, Gautier had an early interest in Indology and it is from this perspective that he celebrates the India of the Vedas and the Upanishads as the kind of formation that should expand and extend itself to the far reaches of the world. More specifically, according to Gautier, it is India’s Sanatan dharma, (which Savarkar referred to as the religion of the majority of Hindus) which should take on this imperially charged task, for it has the capacity to recharge humanity with the real meaning and truth of its life. Just as in the past, conceptualizations of dharma had influenced the civilizational and religious histories of Oriental nations from Japan and China to Cambodia and Burma, in the twenty-first century, Gautier contends, India, through the exercise of dharma, is to become a superpower on par with any developed western nation. But before turning toward this vaster terrain of influence for dharma – and this is a key moment in Gautier’s argument, especially as it relates to the discourse of metropolitan Hindutva – India must free its economy, decentralize its industries from the heavy hands of big government, Indianize its education methods and political systems, and even, if need be, rewrite its Constitution.22 It is not difficult to see from this elaboration how despite a different orientation founded in what we might call Aurovilian Indology, Gautier writes himself into the line of public intellectuals more unambiguously associated with the discourse of new age Hindutva.23 Gautier’s reference to an imperially expanding dharma is of course resonant with Swapan Dasgupta’s translation of dharma as democracy and his attempt therefrom to normalize India as the originary fount of modern political expression. But Gautier’s thinking on issues dear to metropolitan Hindutva can also be specifically tied to the work of Jay Dubashi as we have seen it unfold in earlier chapters. For instance, just as in the 1985 work, Snakes and Ladders, Dubashi theorizes rich and poor as radically reversible and therefore paradoxically synonymous positions, in his 2006 column entitled ‘Are Brahmins the Dalits of Today?’, Gautier lays out an economic condition in which the lower and upper castes of the contemporary Indian context are in fact profoundly changeable identities.24 Drawing on a statistical study of a Brahmin community in a district of Andhra Pradesh, Gautier writes that ‘55 per cent of all Brahmins live below the poverty line— below a per capita income of Rs 650 a month,’ – and goes on to conclude from there that ‘since 45 per cent of the total population of India is officially stated to be below the poverty line, it follows that the percentage of destitute Brahmins is 10 per cent higher than the all-India figure’ (Gautier, 2006). Relying on

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the ‘first-hand experience’ of the journalist, Gautier also offers as evidence for his argument, an archive of his own encounter with the many Brahmins who clean Delhi’s public toilets, work as coolies in the capital’s busiest railways stations and drive the rickshaws that clang along the city’s inner streets. These examples, he argues, are not from a pampered and affluent upper-caste, and indeed such ostensibly upper-caste men could be understood no differently than the Dalits they have been historically accused of victimizing. Given that Gautier uses statistical documentation and first-hand experience, it may seem at first glance that the grounds for his analysis of the profound changefulness of caste and class equations in India are different from the more abstract terms involved in Dubashi’s conceptualizations. But in both cases, as I will momentarily show, what is at stake in actuality is a dangerously radical theory of history. In a February 2007 article titled ‘The Truth about Aurangzeb’, Gautier ties the centrality of statistical analysis and personal experience in his thinking to a theory of history founded in first-hand factuality. ‘History (like journalism) is about documentation and first-hand experiences,’ he writes, aggressively harnessing the technology of what we might call the presentism of journalistic reportage to the ostensibly archaic narrative of the historian.25 In doing so, Gautier offers us only a slightly different version of Jay Dubashi’s theorizations of time in Snakes and Ladders, and later, in The Road to Ayodhya. If in the latter, Dubashi had presented a vision of history as the sovereign perception of past, present and future in one instant, in the former, his emphasis was on memoryless bytes of time that occupy a mathematically continuous domain. These mutually interdependent notions of a regularized continuum and an immediately apprehensible instantaneity that dissolves the contingencies of time intersect with Gautier’s vision of a presentist history that has no recourse to the densities of memory. Explicitly articulating the idea that such a history is ‘like journalism’, Gautier reminds us, most overtly, of Sara Suleri’s argument that journalistic narratives are impelled by a perpetual present tense, in and through which history appears always simultaneous with itself, and always concurrent with the act of its own reporting. Of course it is such a history, radically without precedent, and therefore radically novel, that Suleri understands as the product of a kind of imperial logic which believes in its unchanging youth and inheres therefore in a kind of adolescent avarice and exuberance for the moment. This is the tenor of the story of journalism, and insofar as the language of contemporary Hinduization shares in this tenor of the perpetually present, the eternally youthful, the imperially rapacious and

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the historically novel, it is in a profound sense, what Sara Suleri would call ‘journalistic’. The journalistic narrative of metropolitan Hindutva cannot be understood in exclusion from a Hindu-Anglian prose of political becoming, which involves dislodging from national representative status what ideologues of new-age Hinduization claim is the discourse of an increasingly irrelevant, yet still privileged, left-liberal intelligentsia. Indeed, in the introduction to his blog, whose intentions are not even thinly veiled in the title, ‘The Right Angle’, Swapan Dasgupta offers an important point of departure for a conversation about such sites of class-cultural struggle: Right Angle began as a column in a now-defunct Sunday Magazine in November 1991. The Column allowed me the luxury of presenting an alternative to the prevailing left-liberal consensus in India … The Right is an endangered community in India’s English-language media. I happen to be one of the few to have retained a precarious toe-hold in the mainstream media.26

Given that posts to the blog began in 2004, Dasgupta might believe, as he says in this introduction, that the Right, even at that time, had very little access to a mainstream Anglophone media in the Indian context. Yet, it is no doubt the case that the kind of right-wing Hinduization I have been attempting to describe in this book now increasingly occupies the very center of representative institutions rather than being isolated at the extremist fringes, precisely because it has moved to hijack India’s English-language media from a left-of-center dispensation.27 What Dasgupta of course does not elaborate are the stylistic mores of such an appropriation and the question of how changing styles of signification are imbricated in changing imaginations of sovereign power. He does not ask, for instance, what form of power is called into being when, against the background of a memoryless time, the meaning of the sign ‘democracy’ is made to reside solely in the act that posits its instantaneous coincidence with ‘dharma’, or, what manner of sovereignty is imagined when as a function of the perpetual present tense, the meaning of the sign ‘Brahmin’ is made to reside solely in the violence of its posited translation as ‘Dalit’? The erasure of the import of such questions makes invisible how a universal and transparent linguistic code in fact works when it is never beset by the pressures of historical differences, and more foundationally, never subject to the changefulness of time. It furthermore renders obscure how such an environment of language can become the basis for the violent engineering of a population that is undifferentiated in class and caste terms, and increasingly,

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as we shall soon see, in regional and linguistic terms as well. My own purpose in emphasizing such matters is to argue that a standardized population such as the one I have described is the ground for the emergence of bio-political technologies of power whose object is a massified body of species life rather than the discrete life of individual humans. To understand this symbiotic relationship is to understand that the consolidation of regulatory mechanisms of bio-power in the Indian context are intimately involved in the stylistic standardizations of the discourse of Hindutva. It is to understand that the politics of style is a point of entry into the politics of Hindutva.

Other Styles, Other Forms The matter of style moves me to turn away, at this point, from the Englishlanguage writing of the ideologues of Hindutva to a more widely recognizable kind of Indian writing in English, which, especially after the success of Salman Rushdie’s 1981 novel Midnight’s Children, has had a consistent presence in the global market for postcolonial literatures. Even though its stylistic elaborations and corresponding political impulses could be understood in fundamental contradistinction to the discourse of Hindu nationalism, my shift to consider this familiar commodity in relation to metropolitan Hindutva is not a counterintuitive one. There are several reasons for this, some of which will become apparent only in the following chapter. For now, let me emphasize that from my point of view, one of these reasons involves the idea that postcolonial Indo-English writing is in fact at its most valuable when, at the level of style, it struggles with and participates in those very moments of transition I have been attempting to track as I tell the story of Hindu India. These are moments in which what becomes clearly visible are wayward strands of the anti-colonial, the postcolonial and the neocolonial as they overlap with one another, human desires as they are caught between anti-colonial insurgencies and neo-imperial complicities and settled syntaxes of being as they are rendered restless by the fast changes and sudden extinctions called forth by an accelerated technologization of the globe. If the discourse of metropolitan Hindutva attempts to put under erasure such multiplicitous alliances, then the best kind of postcolonial Indian writing in English brings precisely these alliances to the foreground, elaborating from there the inherent changefulness of identities, meanings, languages, forms and ultimately, of power itself. I find an exemplary instance of such a case of Indian writing in English in a highly revealing and tender moment from Amitav Ghosh’s 1992 work In

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an Antique Land.28 Dramatizing the inchoate beginnings of an environment of language that threatens to press postcolonialism into an undifferentiated continuity with imperial imaginaries, this is a moment that demonstrates Ghosh’s sensitivity to what Gayatri Spivak calls the perilous sites of ‘classcultural struggle’, especially as these are made visible in such occasions of transition. It also reveals what I will contend are the changing idioms of political being in a system of global interconnectedness where all delegates, marked in identitarian terms, must reach towards what appears to be the possibility of equal representation.29 But before turning to the specifics of the moment to which I refer, let me say a little about the worlds that frame this poignant moment of historical reckoning. Describing itself as ‘history in the guise of a traveler’s tale’, the first edition of Amitav Ghosh’s travelogue draws attention right away to an all too precarious binary between the truthfulness of history, and the guile, as it were, of storytelling. In keeping with the complicities so incisively set up in the subtitle, there are ostensibly two colluding narratives in the book. The more elaborate is one in which the Ghosh persona – an anthropologist from India traveling for research in Africa, India and the United States – describes his experiences living in a Fellaheen village in Egypt. In the accompanying narrative (a version of which appeared in Subaltern Studies, Volume VII as ‘The Slave of MS. H.6’), this same narrator-persona pursues the wayward historical traces of the slave of a twelfth century Jewish merchant as the latter traversed commercial routes from the horn of Africa to the Malabar Coast of India and from the British isles to America.30 Distinct forms of representation as they are, the historian’s archival reconstruction of the life of a twelfth century slave and the anthropologist’s travelogue about the Fellaheen (perhaps the oldest peasantry in the world) in contemporary Egypt seem to have little in common apart from a shared reliance on the figure of the Ghosh persona as storyteller. Yet, as his text unfolds, the author very carefully elaborates how the apparently unrelated worlds of these two narratives in fact imbricate and converge upon each other, such that history actually does emerge from and in the guise of a traveler’s tale. In an Antique Land begins plumb in the middle of the anthropologist’s troubles in apprehending the traditional identity of Fellaheen. Very soon however, these difficulties that had been specific to the anthropologist (who is also in this case the travelogue writer) begin to resonate in Ghosh’s text with the difficulties that the academic historian faces in excavating the life of the subaltern slave, Bomma. After all, if it is near impossible to historically reconstruct the life of a slave precisely because histories as we know them

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are always told of the master, then in the same way, it is equally difficult to accurately capture essences and identities, for pressured by the unreliable business of time, they shift, modify and transfigure themselves. The Ghosh persona, for instance, finds that the same villagers whose traditional selves he is professionally obliged to examine and document, are themselves in a condition of flux. As the first children of Nasser’s Revolution of 1952, these denizens have had to learn how to survive in a new political-economic order, and more often than not, this has meant casting aside their old-world attachments – their essence if indeed it must be named such – and embracing a dominant vision of modernization and industrial progress. Thus, in much the same ways as the slave Bomma plays truant with the academic historian’s search for the truth about his life, his loves and his passions, so too the protean Fellaheen – their lives kneaded and pressed into novel conditions of nation-building – escape the traveling anthropologist’s quest for custom-bound identities.31 This remarkable analogy that is thus set up between the history of Bomma and the traveler’s tale of subaltern villagers is supported and elaborated through yet another convergence whereby the historian attempts to unearth the forgotten lines of exchange between ‘superseded civilizations’ like India and Egypt (Ghosh, 1992, 236). He begins to explore this point of contact by describing how through their medieval travels, Abraham Ben Yiju and the slave Bomma had staged the lively richness of Indian Ocean trade routes, which were only much later, countered by the rigid east-west bifurcations of Orientalist maps of the world. As he imaginatively reconstructs their voyages, the merchant and his man Friday become for Ghosh figural expressions of a bustling network of connections, encounters and migrations that were once dominant forces in shaping global culture and economy. Encrusted thickly by layers upon layers of other emerging dominants, such a dynamic order of once-significant affiliations may have fallen gradually more silent, but In an Antique Land endeavours, quite doggedly, to recover this forgotten text of the medieval world, both as academic archive and as contemporary political force. That is to say, the impulse toward archival reconstruction, on one hand, sets in motion a valuable historical endeavour of guarding against loss and forgetting. On the other hand, such a testament to increasingly subdued lines of movement that had once called into being the lush fabric of the Middle Ages is not merely an inert and unthinking monument to a romanticized pre-colonial past. Instead for the anthropologist-historian, this recuperated texture of economic, political and social relations should have the power to inflect even present-day geopolitical mobilizations, for in bringing to light

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a different world of past affinities, it gestures toward a potential fellowship between contemporary actors on the postcolonial stage. The theme of defending against loss and forgetting is one that Amitav Ghosh will return to time and again in the course of his oeuvre and perhaps most recognizably so in a 1996 novel entitled The Calcutta Chromosome. As Bishnupriya Ghosh points out in ‘On Grafting the Vernacular: The Consequences of Postcolonial Spectrology’, here Ghosh probes certain ways of knowing the world that have become increasingly obscure to the current global hierarchies of knowledge.32 Ostensibly a medical mystery, Ghosh’s 1996 novel is layered by multiple levels of extinct genealogies, which appear in the form of folk rituals, cultish religious practices and the journeys of transmigrating souls. What had apparently started out as a medical thriller thus becomes all at once a disjunctive series of ghost stories, an alternative history of medicine, and in that sense, an imaginative historiographic project. While The Calcutta Chromosome is in my view Ghosh’s most sophisticated negotiation with the ethical questions that are raised by the resuscitation of atrophied ways of knowing, there is already an early testimony to the importance of this subject for his thinking in the uneven and recursive narratives of In an Antique Land.33 To be sure, as the travelogue writer moves fitfully between Africa, India and the Americas, he writes the political cartography of the medieval world into a contemporary model of living for antiquated societies. The errant loopings of his movements act as a refracting surface not only for his imaginative historiography, but also for the generic affiliations of his writing.34 Transgressing almost all categories from travel writing and fiction to (auto) ethnography and academic history writing, the distinct strands of Ghosh’s text infectiously infiltrate one another, confounding along the way the blunted boundaries of present-day epistemological configurations.35 In short, In an Antique Land raises the question of atrophy not just in relation to fading worlds, their peoples, their antagonisms and their amities, but also in relation to a diverse field of literary and scholarly traditions that in escaping the apparent fixity of divisions like history and a traveler’s tale contagiously mingle with one another.36 However, unlike Amitav Ghosh’s writing where the boundaries between ethnography, travel writing, fiction and academic history blur into the beginnings of an intricate weave of lost, palimpsestic histories, metropolitan Hindutva, despite its many generic expressions, resolutely forecloses, as I have suggested before, the emergence of such historical densities.37 Most important about Ghosh’s work is that despite being principally committed to having the recovery of the past speak to the present, whether such

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a conversation involves aesthetic, or, ethical questions, he is also keenly aware of the present dangers that accompany, even stalk, such a provocative project. Thus, a particularly thoughtful moment in Amitav Ghosh’s 1992 travelogue opens itself to the challenge of how to reformulate postcolonial otherness in the perilous times of neo-imperial complicity, underlining the capricious instability of an all too easily assumed fellowship between delegates from what Ghosh calls ‘superseded civilizations’ (Ghosh, 1992, 236). The moment begins on a day at the market-place frequented by the Fellaheen, when Ghosh’s narrator faces the ostensibly inexplicable rage of the local Imam he had hoped to at some time interview.38 The Imam begins the encounter by sourly refusing to acknowledge the equivalence between his own learning and the learning of the Indian narrator who is in the present occasion a student at Alexandria. He then moves on to very shrilly condemn the people of the narrator’s country for their savagery – for burning their dead and for worshipping cows, unlike westerners who are advanced and educated and have science, guns, tanks and bombs. It is at this point that the Ghosh-persona descends into his own volley of attack and the following conversation ensues between the two men: ‘We have them too!’ I shouted back at him. ‘In my country we have all those things too; we have guns and tanks and bombs. And they’re better than anything you’ve got in Egypt – we’re a long way ahead of you.’

‘I tell you, he’s lying’, cried the Imam, his voice rising in fury. ‘Our guns and bombs are much better than theirs. Ours are second only to the West’s’.

‘It’s you who’s lying,’ I said. ‘You know nothing about this. Ours are much better. Why, in my country we’ve even had a nuclear explosion. You won’t be able to match that even in a hundred years.’ It was about then, I think, that Khamees appeared at my side and led me away, or else we would probably have stood there a good while longer, the Imam and I: delegates from two superseded civilizations, vying with each other to lay claim to the technology of modern violence

I was crushed, as I walked away; it seemed to me that the Imam and I had participated in our own final defeat, in the dissolution of the centuries of dialogue that had linked us: we had demonstrated the irreversible triumph of the language that has usurped all the others in which people once discussed their differences (Ghosh, 1992, 235–36).

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The conflict between the Imam and the Indian is a frontispiece for several of Ghosh’s most important concerns in this (auto)ethnography, and as such, it has generated a wide variety of strong critical responses. Gauri Vishwanathan, for instance, has argued that the narrator’s response to the struggle is a disturbingly nostalgic one, immediately taking him back to a pre-colonial, pre-modern idea of syncretism, that is at best, a romantic escape from the problem at hand.39 From a contrary point of view, Robert Dixon and James Clifford have applauded the narrator’s ability to see, after the event, that he and the Imam in fact understand each other perfectly: ‘We were both traveling, he and I: We were both traveling in the West’ (Ghosh, 1992, 236).40 And finally, Christi Ann Merrill has drawn attention away from the primacy of this exchange to the cautious but hopeful humour that follows between Khamees’ family and the narrator.41 While recognizing the value of these interpretive exchanges, I would like to present what is perhaps a slightly different aspect of the narrator’s tussle with a seemingly respectable member of the society he wishes to study. The petulant struggle between the Imam and the Indian is in Ghosh’s text an occasion in which the assumed oneness of postcolonial identities and histories is pushed to its very limits. As a result, instead of a possible postcolonial brotherhood between Imam Ibrahim of the Fellaheen village and the anthropologist person from India, we see the two men competitively hurl derisions at each other solely on the grounds of which one has a greater claim to the necessarily western instruments of modern violence.42 I will explain momentarily the intricacies of this fractured relationship, but first let me emphasize that the most unsettling aspect of this bitter transaction is not that these two representative figures vie with each other to monopolize the technology of violence as an indicator of national superiority. Rather, it is that as the two characters rush at breakneck speed to the furious impasse, they appear to arrive at an environment of semiotic pressures in which not only is such an altercation possible, but it is in fact staged as inevitable. This stylistic manipulation points to a persistent problem nestled amidst the increasingly pious attempts to base possible postcolonial solidarities in a giddy exaltation of the uniformity of differential ethnicities (in this case of the Egyptian and the Indian). The problem involves the uneven vagaries of neocolonial traffics in cultural identity, which stubbornly come to the fore, even as they point us toward the ruthless complicities of desire generated by a global market for ‘alternative’ subjects. In focusing on this problem, Ghosh pitilessly questions the purity of cultural origins, foregrounding, incisively, the idea that origins

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are always tainted by the clutter of history, always affected by the burdens of the contemporary. Given the dangerously normative Hinduization of culture and politics in the current Indian context and the resulting subordination of historical complexities to presentist regularities, it is paramount that such clutter and burdens be kept alive. In the context of my own account then, it is this aspect of Ghosh’s narrative that is of incalculable value, and especially in the space of language, which is where I have argued the cleansing of history has its beginnings.

The Restlessness of Radical Dissent Trapped on one hand in a drive to erase capitalist-imperial histories of unevenness, and on the other, in an attempt to formulate alterity as a means of keeping alive anti-colonial epistemologies of comparison, the postcolonial milieu in India was always rife with foundational struggles to articulate itself. Amitav Ghosh demonstrates how in the current dispensation of fiscal and cultural globalization, this struggle is rendered even more complex as the rush to smoothen the implacable asymmetries of the colonial experience coincides with a uniformity of otherness proposed by the neo-imperial traffic in cultural identity. Such a regularized evenness cloaks the emergence of new inequalities, and masked as they are by this thick veneer of homogeneity, these new inequalities become in turn the platform for an unabashed congruence of imperially driven needs and desires. In such a condition, otherness itself becomes a suspect category, attaching itself to hardened notions of identity and severing its connections with dissident thought, language and practice. A closer reading of the conditions that lead up to the complexity of the exchange between the Imam and the Indian in Ghosh’s In an Antique Land could elucidate further this emerging historical condition, and therefore, the fractured relationship I had promised to comment on earlier. During his stay at the Fellaheen village, the Ghosh persona meets the local Imam twice – once when as an anthropologist, he hopes to study the Imam’s interest in traditional medicine and a second time when he is pulled away from their encounter by the local village jester Khamees the rat.43 Even before the two meet for the first time, the younger inhabitants of the village have already told the visitor, whom they call ‘doktór Amitab’, that Imam Ibrahim was once ‘famous as a man of religion’, but ‘nowadays people laugh at his sermons’, for ‘he doesn’t seem to know the things that are happening around [them], in

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Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Israel’ (Ghosh, 1992, 141). In other words, the Imam is becoming increasingly anachronistic in a world racked by situations that his learning from the village Quran school is ill equipped to meet. Yet, since the anthropologist is interested not so much in Imam Ibrahim, the man of religion, but rather in Imam Ibrahim, the traditional medic, he is not in the least deterred by the youthfully cruel jests around this once-legendary figure. Little does he recognize however, that for the Imam, who is marginalized not so much by the banter of the villagers, but rather by an acute awareness of his own obsolescence, ya doktór’s overbearing interest in his folk remedies is in itself a cruel joke. ‘Why do you want to hear about my herbs?’ he asks the Ghosh-persona when the two meet for the first time, ‘Why don’t you go back to your country and find out about your own?’ (Ghosh, 1992, 192). The tetchiness of the Imam’s questions has to do not only with the gradual erasure of his own legitimacy in a rapidly changing economy, but also with the Indian doktór’s assumed status as investigative subject and his own position therefore as anthropologized object of inquiry. As David Scott points out in his compellingly insightful analysis of the encounter between the Imam and the anthropologist, doktór Amitab announces himself as ‘someone who, from the space of the absence of Tradition, goes in search of its plenitude and authenticity.’44 As representative of such an empty space of power, the visitor bears ‘the inescapable historical imprimatur of the west’ vis-à-vis his native subjects. But, despite the anthropologist’s self-assumed arrogance, the Imam’s view of doktór Amitab is somewhat different from his visitor’s own. In a paradoxical twist to the conceptualization of the migrant postcolonial voice as vehicle of authenticity, Imam Ibrahim’s suspicions of the anthropologist’s credentials have to do precisely with his belief that Amitab functions as a representative of Indian cultural essence rather than a bearer of western modes of inquiry.45 Is not the doktór from a centuries old civilization like India, and if so, then is he too not a product of tradition? Why then must he turn to a Fellaheen Imam for his investigation of medicinal practices of the past, when he could well examine similar remedial practices within his own civilizational heritage?46 Rhetorical as they are, the answers to these questions are clear. Imam Ibrahim has a more than canny understanding of the uneven values generated by the movements of bodies from national-peripheral space to the metropolitan space of the center. That is to say, he knows that the traditional knowledge of the periphery can only be legitimized when it is borne by migrant intelligentsia who also represent the investigative theory of the center. The obsolescent man of religion is thus able to very nimbly displace the superior

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positioning of the migrant postcolonial, forcing the latter to encounter his own national-cultural affiliations prior to their induction into the metropolitan value forms of nativist authenticity. Refusing to perform his ethnicity as a text for the migrant anthropologist, Imam Ibrahim attempts to raise himself to the station assumed by the doctor. Announcing his own almost forced unmooring from the authenticity of an obsolete past, he shows his Indian visitor a box of phials and syringes as proof of his determined turn to contemporary cures and his resolute effort to kill the past and forget all he knows about traditional medicine. The future lies not in herbs and poultices according to Imam Ibrahim, but rather in hypodermic syringes and modern medicine and indeed ‘There [is] a huge market for injections in the village; everyone [wants] one, for colds and fevers and dysentery, and so many other things’ (Ghosh, 1992, 192). Yet, ya doktór finds that despite the Imam’s unabashed flaunting of phials and syringes, the villagers remain skeptical of his abilities. His practice, they believe, continues to smack of folk remedies, for as one of them cuttingly remarks to their Indian visitor, ‘he sticks in the needle like it was a spear’ (Ghosh, 1992, 142). This harsh analogy between a spear – which functions here as the sign of a deathly archaism – and Imam Ibrahim’s use of a needle brings a somewhat thorny problem to light for the excavating anthropologist. If the quaint folk medic is to survive in the new economic order as anything more than a trite joke, then he must ensure that he can in fact forget his faded ways of knowing. That is to say, even the most fugitive traces of traditional medicine must not taint a future of hypodermic needles. On the one hand then, it is precisely because of his traditional character that Imam Ibrahim is a value form to the professional anthropologist, committed as the latter is to keeping alive other knowledge and epistemologies. On the other however, the responsible postcolonial intellectual cannot ignore the fact that this increasingly irrelevant folk medic is besieged by those very conventional customs that make him valuable to contemporary western theory, for even the slightest traces of his traditional habit are now rendering him incapable of survival in the modern world. This first meeting between the Imam and his Indian visitor may not be the occasion in which matters between the two come to a head, but the exchange does indeed raise some rather troubling questions. Can Imam Ibrahim in fact overcome his anachronism and become modern without actually killing the past? If not, then how is it that the narrator himself, as migrant postcolonial intellectual, can at once be a signatory for obsolete custom, as well as in the same breath, a fraternal representative of the inquiring western mind in quest

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of other postcolonial traditions? The disturbing valence of these questions brings to light the kind of inequalities generated by the neo-imperial commerce of identities and continues to burden the second occasion on which Imam Ibrahim and the narrator meet each other. As we know from the quoted extract, this is the instance in which the already strained relationship is pushed to its very limits and the two inexorably hurtle off to a tongue-lashing in which a competitive claim to technologized violence is the only possible axis of reciprocity. Indeed, what is noteworthy is that Imam Ibrahim ridicules his Indian visitor’s traditions not through an assertion of Fellaheen or even Egyptian superiority, but through the universal measure of the west against which particular national achievements must be calculated. For the Imam, the rhetorical strength that he draws from the west is an extension of that box in which half a dozen phials and a hypodermic syringe lie unused on a bed of soiled cotton. It is all that is foundationally opposed to an eminently forgettable world of herbs, plants and poultices, and like in the case of the injections, it is where the future lies. Indeed, the anthropologist brings to bear on his very first meeting with the Imam precisely such a claim to the imprimatur of western superiority. But Imam Ibrahim’s own rhetorical reach toward the west is his fitting answer to the migrant postcolonial intellectual, who, when talking to ‘other postcolonials in other places’ seems readily able to shed indigenous affiliations and assume a metropolitan air of disinterested objectivity.47 Like the Imam, although far less overtly, Amitab too has been pushed to a corner by the perceived disparity between his metropolitan-professional associations on one hand and peripheral-traditional filiations on the other. During his stay with the Fellaheen, not only the Imam’s questions, but the villagers’ host of interrogations about the traditional practices of Hinduism have relentlessly plagued him, for paradoxically enough these questions are counter-anthropological, locating the anthropologist himself as object of investigation.48 Why do you burn the dead in your country, why do you worship cows, why are men not purified, who is your god, do you worship fire, are you communist, the villagers ask Amitab, suggesting that like Imam Ibrahim, they too believe that the Indian anthropologist does not come from an empty space of modern power bereft of tradition. Ensnared by inquiries that make him seem as obsolete as the Imam, ya doktór has to come to terms with the idea that ‘tradition,’ when not-yet coupled with the tag of authenticity offered it by the market-place, can only be a cadaverous archaism preventing even bare existence in the novel conditions of the modern world.

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But unlike the man of religion, doktór Amitab does not face this problem of survival, because in his case, the traditional knowledge he represents is buttressed by his legitimate training in modern theory and this in turn has been authenticated by his diasporic foray into the metropolitan centers of the west. Because Imam Ibrahim understands this consolidation of value, he forces Amitab to encounter a ‘tradition’, which is legitimized by neither the voice of western inquiry nor the movements of diasporic intelligentsia. Once ya doktór does so, he is as obsolete as the Imam. It is precisely as a result of this likeness of obsolescence that the Imam and his Indian visitor must turn to their complicit vision of the imperium as the only authoritative yardstick of survival. After all, this power has come into being only by cleansing itself of the primitiveness of such things as herbs and poultices on the one hand, and cow worship and communists on the other. Thus, much as the man of religion kills the past and only through the conduit of western modernity turns to the future, doktór Amitab too latches onto guns, tanks, technology and even a nuclear explosion as the sole way to legitimize himself as attested practitioner of a modern discipline like anthropology. Locked in battle for an authority that is thus endlessly deferred to their colluding tryst with the imperial center, the Imam and the doktór arrive at an occasion in which the ruthless continuum of their economies of desire is unabashedly laid bare. In a perfectly symmetrical situation, Imam Ibrahim and the Indian Ghosh persona (having shed his migrant-metropolitan aspect) would have first discovered and then consorted over their shared-but-different histories, deploying these as a fulcrum for insurrection against the ruling race. Yet of course, given the irregular tectonics of progress and development, the brotherhood of postcolonial selves is partitioned even before it comes into being. The figurehead of western theory (the Ghosh persona) assumes an aura of mastery over his traditional subject (Imam Ibrahim), which the latter is understandably loath to concede. The encounter between the Imam and the Indian thus becomes a chronicle of how when faced with the radically equalizing drives said to be embedded in the best forms of neoliberal globalization, contemporary interpretations of postcolonial alterity – whether that of traditional Fellaheen or that of the migrant postcolonial intellectual – threaten to profoundly rupture from their dissenting anti-colonial beginnings. In foregrounding the bitter exchange between representatives of superseded civilizations, Amitav Ghosh, like Sara Suleri, cautions against the congealing of difference into a self-explanatory theory of resistance against imperial domination. In his view, as in Suleri’s, such a position would disregard the burden of those pitilessly

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compatible neo-imperial urges that interrupt the narration of postcolonial otherness as a consistently unfolding tale of radical oppositional forces. Despite gesturing toward a surge in such collusive aspirations, especially in the context of accelerated paces of fiscal and cultural globalization, Ghosh is not cynical enough to suggest that they are in any way constitutive. That is to say, the complicit metropolitan and peripheral economies of desire as they appear in In an Antique Land never crystallize into a sovereign world in their own right, or an architecture of desire that underlies and thus presides over all other desires. Threatening to flash up only as occasional instances of peril, and thus never palpably manifesting as a triumphant rhetorical stance, these moments in Ghosh’s work mark what we might call a persistent incompleteness in the homogeneous project of global restructuring.49 It is not doubt true that after the encounter with the Imam, the narrator of In an Antique Land contemplates ‘the irreversible triumph of the language that has usurped all the others in which people once discussed their differences.’ But it is also true that after having been wrenched away from the Imam, he is able to carefully mull the seeming irreversibility in what has just happened and recognize the vulnerability of both disempowered as well as powerful positions in a global economy of liberalism. In other words, it is at this moment that the narrator is able to comprehend most fully that even though the collusions in his and the Imam’s desires are inevitable, they are so only because coming from a densely differentiated history of development, both of them are now increasingly subject to the possibility of globally viable equivalences. In the writings of figures like Dubashi, Dasgupta and Gautier, the complicities between differentially related postcolonial subjects, or, between postcolonial subjects and their former imperial masters, have become normalized to such a degree that they are no longer a source of the kind of terror that Sara Suleri had described as a symptom of the precariousness of power. Indeed, in line with an internationally recognizable rhetoric of homeland security, Hindutva attempts to protect itself from such terror by dissolving fears of fragile national balances into the imagination of a strongly militarized state. The value of Ghosh’s narrative therefore lies in the fact that it focuses precisely on a contrary picture of frailty, whether of the ‘Indian’ Ghosh-persona’s seemingly superior metropolitan station, or the Imam’s designated peripheral subaltern status, or even the western colonizer’s technologies of militarism, which both these figures aspire toward. In short, Ghosh challenges the arrogance of power in asking the following foundational question: how other really is the figure we designated as Other? More importantly, he expresses the precariousness of

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consolidated positions of identity implicit in this rhetorical question through a complex politics of style. This is why what is palpable in the encounter between the Imam and the Indian is not in fact, as the narrator claims, the irreversible triumph of a language that has superseded all others, but rather, a stunted idiom of exchange that is Ghosh’s stylistic template for the instability of power. As we witness the graceless choler of the exchange between Imam Ibrahim and doktór Amitab, we are on one hand dismayed at the appearance of a kind of language that is trapped, with ostensibly no alternatives. But we are also hopeful, because in its spasmodic and fitful movements, this same language seems to still be seeking other directions in which to go. It is in this sense that Ghosh’s lingering emphasis on the two encounters between the Imam and the Indian stages that radically transitional space with which we had started this chapter. This is the space in which one dispensation of power has still not been completely overtaken by another and the space in which we can actually view the loss of older textures of language, the increasing archaism of anti-colonial idioms of resistance that are nonetheless still residually visible and the callow beginnings of new syntaxes of being that threaten to press postcolonialism into an undifferentiated continuity with the metropolitan center. In terms of a politics of style, this is the kind of linguistic space that would most profoundly challenge the language environment of metropolitan Hinduization as it sets about to resurrect an older form of Hindutva in a dangerously optimized form and from this platform consolidate its dispensation of power into what appears to be an inevitable and irreversible reality.

1

2

Endnotes

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak points out that in the late 1950s under the editorship of P. Lal, the Writer’s Workshop Collective in Calcutta coined the term ‘Indo-Anglian’ to describe Indian writing in English. See Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, ‘How to Read a “Culturally Different” Book,’ The Spivak Reader, edited by Donna Landry and Gerald Maclean (New York and London: Routledge, 1996), 237–66.

See Gyan Pandey, ‘The Culture of History,’ in Near Ruins: Cultural Theory at the End of the Century, edited by Nicholas B. Dirks (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998) for remarks on the stunning success of ‘Hindu history as myth or, more carefully, as a fraud that slides all too easily between myth and history’ (35).

3 Janaki Bhakle, ‘Country First? Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883-1966) and the Writing of Essentials of Hindutva,’ Public Culture 22, no. 1 ( January, 2010), 154.

4 This translation is quoted in Janaki Bhakle, ‘Country Frst? Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883-1966) and the Writing of Essentials of Hindutva,’ 154. Even though Bhakle refers to Savarkar’s pitribhu and punyabhu as pitribhumi and punyabhumi, it is

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important to stay with the rarer form bhu, as I choose to do here. This is because, as Ashis Nandy has demonstrated, the ideology of Hindutva, from its very beginnings, had a strong masculine content and Savarkar was probably the first and the last to call India a fatherland (pitrubhu) – drawing from a Continental tradition – rather than a motherland (matrubhumi). According to Nandy, in order to highlight this masculinity, Savarkar had to knead Sanskrit grammar to his purposes, shed the common term bhumi (land), which was feminine and use the more uncommon bhu. See Ashis Nandy, ‘The Demonic and the Seductive in Religious Nationalism: Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and the Rites of Exorcism in Secularizing South Asia’. Spivak, ‘How to Read a “Culturally Different” Book,’ 240. Spivak, ‘How to Read a “Culturally Different” Book,’ 239.

7 David Crystal argues that as the dominant language of business, science and technology across the world, English is no longer the domain only of ‘native speakers’ – indeed English as a global commodity will be increasingly influenced by ‘non-native speakers’, so much so that we will have to rethink the category of ‘the native speaker’. See David Crystal, English as a Global Language (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997). 8

For an excellent argument about the relationship of the contemporary Indian elite to the spaces of cultural and political self-representation, see Rohit Chopra, ‘Global Primordialities: Virtual Identity Politics in Online Hindutva and Online Dalit Discourse,’ New Media and Society 8, no. 2 (April 2006), 187–206. The author argues that the term ‘global primordiality’ refers to a new mode of representing collective identity, following upon developments in the Indian technological and cultural fields since the 1990s. If globality is the desired attribute of Indian identity at this time, then primordiality is its corollary based on which globally mobile Indians will stake their cultural supremacy. Exercises in global primordiality, according to Chopra, are led by elite Hindu nationalists who have complete sway over the global dominance of Indian technological fields – and so it is that ‘global primordiality’ finds its most substantial expressions in the space of cyber-representation as it intersects with the banality of everyday life in all its dimensions and modalities.

9 See Aamir Mufti. ‘Orientalism and the Institution of World Literatures,’ Critical Inquiry 36, no. 3 (Spring 2010), 458–93 for the argument in a slightly different context that the desire of the Indian Anglophone elite to participate alongside metropolitan upper-classes in the global cultural system involves concealing the continuing relations of force in this system.

10 On 19 July 2013, BJP president Rajnath Singh addressed a function in New Delhi where he expressed two basic concerns: first, that the Anglicisation of the country is dangerous; and second, that only a handful of people speak Sanskrit now (http:// www.radianceweekly.com/370/11044/egypt039s-al-sisi-dragged-the-country-intocivil-war/2013-08-04/editorial/story-detail/the-bjps-language-politics.html, last accessed on 28 August 2015). At the same time, the BJP leader L. K. Advani has in the past reproached ‘Ban English’ policies within the Sangh Parivar. See Selma K. Sonntag, ‘Ideology and Policy in the Politics of the English Language in North India,’ in Ideology, Politics, and Language Policies: Focus on English, edited by Thomas Ricento (Amsterdam, Netherland: John Benjamin’s Publishing Company, 2000), 133–50.

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11 The two ends of the BJP’s language politics should not be understood as discontinuous. Indeed, much in the same way as Orientalism and Anglicism, despite appearing as polarized educational policies, in fact shared a continuity, the Hindu Right’s championing of both Sanskrit and English at the same time should be seen as connected strategies. I refer to these connections more elaborately in the first chapter of the book.

12 See Rohit Chopra, ‘Neo-liberalism as Doxa: Bordieu’s Theory of the State and the Contemporary Indian Discourse on Globalization and Liberalization,’ Cultural Studies 17, no. 3/4 (May 2003), 419–44 for the argument that in post-independence India, the major groups with access to the technological fields were middle and upper class, upper caste, urban English-speaking elites. The accumulation of technological capital was dependent on fluency in the English language alongside privileged positions in class, caste and educational hierarchies. 13 Swapan Dasgupta, ‘The Notion of Dharma,’ available at http://www.rediff.com/news /2003/dec/08swadas.htm, last accessed on 28 August 2015.

14 Swapan Dasgupta is an Anglophone Indian journalist who has held senior editorial positions in several English-language dailies in India including The Statesman, The Indian Express, The Times of India, and most recently, India Today. He also appears frequently on news channels in English-language debates on Indian politics and international affairs. After a remarkably elite early Anglophone education in Calcutta and New Delhi, Dasgupta earned his doctoral degree in history from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. A section from his thesis on local politics in the Midnapur district of Bengal was published in the fourth volume of Subaltern Studies edited by Ranajit Guha in 1985. Dasgupta has also edited a 1997 collection of essays, published by Harper Collins in India, entitled Nirad C. Chaudhuri, The First Hundred Years: A Celebration. In 2015, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan (the third highest civilian award in India) in the field of literature and education by the BJP government. Some controversy surrounds Dasgupta’s recent achievements, especially in light of his leanings toward the BJP, but the journalist has never shied away from such controversy and indeed he makes his affiliations clear, both in his blog where he identifies himself with a right-of-center political faction, and in his appearance in a weekly NDTV (New Delhi Television) show, provocatively titled, Politically Incorrect. 15 See Jan-Werner Muller, A Dangerous Mind: Carl Schmitt in Post-war European Thought (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003) for an elaboration on the continuing importance of Schmitt’s thought to debates on globalization and the search for a planetary liberal order, and The Challenge of Carl Schmitt, edited by Chantal Mouffe (London; New York: Verso, 1999) for the argument that Schmitt’s thinking strains against the complacent triumphalism of an increasingly global liberal politics. 16 See Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, translated by Charles Schwab (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1976).

17 In Political Theology (1922), Carl Schmitt argued that all significant concepts of the modern theory of the state were in actuality, displaced theological concepts. Insofar as ‘dharma’ is a category perhaps most resonant with religious practices and customs in the subcontinent, it is worth remarking in this context that in making ‘dharma’

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synonymous with ‘democracy’, Swapan Dasgupta actually approximates Schmitt’s theorization. See Carl Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, translated by George Schwab (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1985).

18 For more about Francois Gautier, his publications, professional associations and political affiliations, see his official website, http://www.francoisgautier.com/aboutfrancois-gautier/, last accessed 28 August 2015. Gautier also hosts a blog at the following address: http://francoisgautier.me/, last accessed 28 August 2015. He is perhaps most known for his defense of Hinduism in the face of the Marxist hegemony over history-writing in India. He is also notorious for the following contention: ‘The massacres perpetrated by Muslims in India are unparalleled in history, bigger than the holocaust of the Jews by the Nazis; or the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks; more extensive even than the slaughter of the South American native populations by the invading Spanish and Portuguese,’ http://www.rediff.com/news/1999/feb/12rajee1. htm, last accessed 28 August 2015. See Rohit Chopra, ‘Global Primordialities: Virtual Identity Politics in Online Hindutva and Online Dalit Discourse,’ and Dibyesh Anand, ‘Anxious Sexualities: Masculinity, Nationalism and Violence,’ British Journal of Politics and International Relations 9, no. 2 (May 2007), 257–69 for references to the notoriety of this argument. 19 See Francois Gautier’s interview with Rajeev Srinivasan for an elaboration of the former’s early life and role in Auroville, amongst other things, http://www.rediff.com/ news/1999/feb/12rajeev.htm, last accessed 28 August 2015. 20 See the May 2014 Census of the Auroville Population, http://archive.auroville.org/ society/av_population.htm, last accessed 28 August 2015.

21 See Malini Parthasarathy, ‘Legitimating Majoritarian Chauvinism: The Indian Media and the Hindutva Campaign,’ in Pluralism and Democracy in India: Debating the Hindu Right, edited by Wendy Doniger and Martha C. Nussbaum (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 98.

22 In mapping out these views, I refer, in most part, to an article titled ‘Arise O India of the Ages’, which appeared on the Francois Gautier website on 29 December 2013, http://www.francoisgautier.com/?s=arise+o+india, last accessed 28 August 2015. 23 The relationship between the thinking of Sri Aurobindo (on whose spiritual values Auroville is said to have been established via his French disciple Mirra Alfassa) and Hindutva in its early form in the work of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar is succinctly laid out in Jyotirmaya Sharma, Hindutva: Exploring the Idea of Hindu Nationalism (New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 2003). Also see Hinduism in Public and Private: Reform, Hindutva, Gender, and Sampraday, edited by Antony Copley (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003) for a slightly different elaboration of how Hindutva has ideologically appropriated the spiritualism of Sri Aurobindo. 24 Francois Gautier, ‘Are Brahmins the Dalits of Today?’, available at http://www.rediff. com/news/2006/may/23franc.htm, last accessed 28 August 2015.

25 See ‘The Truth about Aurangzeb,’ available at http://www.rediff.com/news/2007/feb /16francois.htm, last accessed 28 August 2015. 26 On his profile page (https://www.blogger.com/profile/01862272792815377402, last accessed 28 August 2015), Swapan Dasgupta clarifies that ‘Right Angle’ (http://

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swapan-dasgupta.blogspot.com/, last accessed 28 August 2015) is an archive of his published articles, while ‘Usual Suspects’ (http://www.swapan55.com/, last accessed 28 August 2015) subtitled ‘Random thoughts on politics, media and the good life from the Right’ is his blog.

27 Swapan Dasgupta’s implicit suggestion that in order to survive politically, the Right must move to have a toe-hold in the English-language media is strangely resonant with the language policies in the community of Auroville. Despite the emphasis on Sanskrit and Tamil in that community, according to the languages section of the Auroville website, ‘English is necessary for survival or at least integration into Auroville,’ http:// archive.auroville.org/society/Language_avlish.htm, last accessed 28 August 2015. 28 Amitav Ghosh, In an Antique Land (New Delhi: Ravi Dayal Publishers, 1992; New York: Alfred Knopf, 1993). All citations in this chapter are to the 1993 edition.

29 See Eric D. Smith, ‘Caught Straddling a Border: A Novelistic Reading of Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land,’ Journal of Narrative Theory 37, no. 1 (Fall 2007), 447–72 for the argument that Ghosh’s writing is ambiguous in its dealings with the difficult problem of the politics of identity. This argument is also made in Robert Dixon, ‘“Traveling in the West”: The Writing of Amitav Ghosh,’ Journal of Commonwealth Literature 31, no. 1 (March, 1996), 3–24. My own argument is distinct from these in so far as it suggests that Ghosh has a very clear theoretical project vis-à-vis the problem of identity. 30 Amitav Ghosh, ‘The Slave of MS. H.6,’ in Subaltern Studies VII, edited by Partha Chatterjee and Gyanendra Pandey (New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1993), 159– 220. 31 John Hawley attacks In an Antique Land on the grounds that for Ghosh, Bomma is ‘not only a subaltern who cannot speak, but also one that Ghosh uncovers/discovers and thereby owns’ (96). See John C. Hawley, Amitav Ghosh: An Introduction, Contemporary Writers in English (New Delhi: Foundation Books, 2005).

32 Bishnupriya Ghosh, ‘On Grafting the Vernacular: The Consequences of Postcolonial Spectrology,’ Boundary 2, 31, no. 2 (Summer 2004), 197–218

33 Gaurav Desai distinguishes between restorative and reflective projects of nostalgia, contending that if the former categorically refuses modernity, the latter encourages a contrapuntal concert between the medieval and the modern. It is this concert that we see in Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land. Gaurav Desai, ‘Old World Orders: Amitav Ghosh and the Writing of Nostalgia,’ Representations 85, no. 1 (Winter 2004), 125–48.

34 Gayatri Spivak has argued that once opportunely launched into the very thick of a global market for non-western cultural forms, lost textual traditions may function as a stimulus for the constant small gags that interrupt and displace the packaged certainties of inflexible economies of knowledge. She calls these ‘stylistically non-competitive’ interventions in the contemporary. See Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, ‘Teaching for the Times,’ in Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives, edited by Anne McClintock, Aamir Mufti and Ella Shohat (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 483. 35 Mary Louise Pratt uses the term autoethnography ‘to refer to instances in which colonized subjects undertake to represent themselves in ways that engage with the

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colonizer’s own terms [...]. [I]f ethnographic texts are a means by which Europeans represent to themselves their (usually subjugated) others, autoethnographic texts are those the others construct in response to or in dialogue with those metropolitan representations’. See Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London and New York: Routledge, 1992), 7.

36 Leela Gandhi claims that even though In an Antique Land sets out to challenge the methods of modern historiography, Ghosh’s own anthropological and historiographic models in the book are not very different from those which he seeks to undermine. See Leela Gandhi, ‘“Choice of Histories”: Ghosh vs Hegel in an Antique Land’, New Literatures Review 40 (2003), 17–32. 37 See Neelam Srivastava, ‘Amitav Ghosh’s Ethongraphic Fictions: Intertextual Links between In an Antique Land and his Doctoral Thesis,’ The Journal of Commonwealth Literature 36, no. 2 ( June 2001), 45–64 for a further note on the ambiguous genre of In an Antique Land.

38 Prior to the appearance of In an Antique Land in 1992, an essay titled ‘The Imam and the Indian’ appeared in Granta. Amitav Ghosh, ‘The Imam and the Indian,’ Granta 20 (Winter 1986), 135–46. This piece was reprinted after the publication of In an Antique Land in a volume of essays in contemporary cultural studies, Displacements: Cultural Identities in Question, edited by Angelika Bammer (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), 47–55. Like ‘history in the guise of a traveler’s tale,’ the title, ‘The Imam and the Indian’ too is guileful in more ways than one. First and foremost, the instantaneous bifurcation and conjoining of the two figures – the Imam and the Indian – immediately calls attention to the vagaries of cultural, religious and national identity formation. After all, why is not possible for the Imam to be conceived of as Indian in national and cultural terms? Or conversely, why is the bearer of Indian cultural identity affiliated only with the traditional practices of Hinduism and thus distinct from a man of religion in the Islamic tradition?

39 Gauri Vishwanathan, ‘Beyond Orientalism: Syncretism and the Politics of Knowledge,’ Stanford Humanities Review 5, no. 1 (1996), http://www stanford.edu/group/SHR/51/text/viswanathan.html, last accessed 28 August 2015. 40 Robert Dixon, ‘“Traveling in the West”: The Writing of Amitav Ghosh,’ The Journal of Commonwealth Literature 31, no. 1 (March 1996), 3–24 and James Clifford, Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997). 41 Christi Ann Merrill, ‘Laughing out of Place: Humour Alliances and other Postcolonial Translations in In an Antique Land,’ Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 9, no. 1 (2007), 106–23.

42 For an excellent elaboration of the argument that Ghosh in In an Antique Land does not equate modernity with the malevolence of western expansionism, but instead, makes a more complicated effort to examine the triumphs and tribulations of late modernity in locations outside the industrialized west, see Frank SchulzeEngler, ‘Literature in the Global Ecumene of Modernity: Amitav Ghosh’s The Circle of Reason and In an Antique Land,’ Literatures in International Contexts, edited by Heinz Antor and Klaus Stierstorfer (Heidelberg: Carl Winter Universitatsverlag, 2000), 373–96.

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43 Even to the mind of the author himself, the significance of these two encounters is apparent from the fact that after the first appearance of the essay titled ‘The Imam and the Indian’ in 1986 (reprinted in 1994) and the first appearance of In an Antique Land in 1992, Ghosh separately published relevant sections from his experiences in Egypt under the title ‘The Imam and the Indian.’ Amitav Ghosh, The Imam and the Indian: Prose Pieces (Delhi: Ravi Dayal Publisher, Permanent Black, 2002). 44 David Scott, ‘Locating the Anthropological Subject: Postcolonial Anthropologists in Other Places,’ available at http://culturalstudies.ucsc.edu/PUBS/Inscriptions/vol_5/ DavidScott.html, last accessed 28 August 2015. 45 Javed Majeed argues that Ghosh’s narrator does not suspend his authority in relation to the subjects of his inquiry and that ‘this collusion [with modernity] is evident in the way that the author’s own authoritative persona is continually reaffirmed rather than subverted’ (53). See Javed Majeed, ‘Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land: The Ethnographer-Historian and the Limits of Irony,’ Journal of Commonwealth Literature 30, no. 2 ( June 1995), 45–55. My disagreement with Majeed’s argument is evident in the following reading.

46 Insofar as it corrals fractured stories into the coherence of a holistic narrative, Javed Majeed argues that In an Antique Land is a displaced navigation of problems that have riddled the construction of a homogeneous Indian national identity, at least since the 1920s. See Javed Majeed, ‘Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land: The EthnographerHistorian and the Limits of Irony’.

47 This is a reference to the phrase ‘postcolonial anthropologists in other places,’ David Scott, ‘Locating the Anthropological Subject: Postcolonial Anthropologists in Other Places.’

48 See Anshuman A. Mondal, ‘Allegories of Identity: “Postmodern” Anxiety and “Postcolonial” Ambivalence in Amitav Ghosh’s In An Antique Land and The Shadow Lines,’ The Journal of Commonwealth Literature 38, no. 3 ( July 2003), 19–36 for the argument that Amitav Ghosh’s ‘Anxiety over the fragility of secular identity in India is consistently reinforced by the effacement of his national identity as an Indian by that of his religious identity as a Hindu or a non-Muslim’ (29–30). Mondal further adds that Ghosh successfully reverses his ‘Indian’ communal position in demonstrating the tribulations he faces as a Hindu (and therefore a member of the minority in Egypt) in relation to the Fellah who represent the Muslim majority. As I have suggested in an earlier chapter, Ghosh’s In an Antique Land was published in the same year that Hindu nationalist cadres razed to the ground a sixteenth-century Indian mosque which was followed by gruesome rioting on a large scale. Without addressing this event in any kind of direct manner, Ghosh’s text is clearly involved in the politics of identity between the bitterly polarized and polarizing groups of Hindus and Muslims the world over.

49 In his review of the book, Clifford Geertz notes that In an Antique Land ‘has a sense of incompletion about it; something not said about then, and even more, about now.’ Clifford Geertz, ‘A Passage to India,’ The New Republic 209, no. 8/9 (23–30 August 1993), 41.

6 The After-Life of Indian Writing in English Telematic Managers, Journalistic Mantras

In the previous chapter, I turned my attention from the Anglophone writings of the ideologues of Hindutva to a more recognizable form of Indian writing in English that offers a challenge, in my opinion, to the discourse of metropolitan Hindutva. In order to emphasize how such a challenge is particularly effective at the level of style, I read closely in the fifth chapter Amitav Ghosh’s 1992 work In an Antique Land. In this, the final chapter of the book, I will examine how an emerging band of Anglophone Indian authors is claiming to have superseded writers of Ghosh’s generation, who starting in the 1980s, are credited with having made Indian fiction in English an important commodity in the world market for postcolonial literatures. I will demonstrate, in particular, how it is precisely in the manner they distinguish themselves from an earlier generation of authors that these new Indo-Anglian scribes write themselves into the discourse of contemporary Hinduization, indeed even optimizing this discourse in its millennial version, for a digitallyenabled and globally-connected, young technocratic middle-class. It is not uncommon to hear it being said that the Indian novel in English is not part of popular culture on the subcontinent. Scholars have contended that it has always traveled in and through the corridors of a cosmopolitan (even colonial) elitism and that it has increasingly come to represent a psychology of assimilation into metropolitan languages, their cultures and the customary protocols of their writing and circulation.1 Such observations are true for both phases of Indian writing in English – the first, dating roughly to the 1930s and dominated by the grand trinity of Raja Rao (1908–2006), Mulk Raj Anand (1905–2004) and R. K. Narayan (1906–2001) – and the second, beginning, if one were to be somewhat schematic about the matter, with the publication of Midnight’s Children in 1981.2 Evidence for the elitism of the Indian English novel is close at hand. R. K. Narayan, for instance, despite being the most widely read of the first group, is still at best a short extract in textbooks meant for select Indian high schools. Similarly, Salman Rushdie, according to some, is recognizable in popular cultural circles courtesy the manipulation of a fragile

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politics of secular electoral balances. Thus, despite their very different thematic orientations and styles, as well as their varying degrees of significance in the razzle-dazzle of canonical world literature, popularity in national-peripheral space has consistently elided the representatives of both phases of Indian writing in English. My contention however is that in the second decade of the twenty-first century, a third phase in the realm of Indian writing in English marks a ‘seismic’ shift in this pattern of local and/or global reception.3 That is to say, in this latest version, the Indo-English novel has reversed its prior fate and quite decisively entered a field of national-popular forms. A sweeping statement such as this no doubt opens up several ancillary questions: if indeed Indian fiction in English is now part of popular culture on the subcontinent, then what is the relationship between the creators of such fiction and regional public cultures on the one hand and global markets on the other? Does the Indo-Anglian novel in its present avatar appear to be both ‘successful’ and ‘new’ only because it has effectively marshalled the polarities between ‘high literature’ and ‘pulp fiction’, decisively abandoning literary prowess in favour of a more ‘commercial’ form?4 How is the English of these novels implicated in the polyphony of Indian languages, and what therefore, are the relations of force in these texts between dominant and subordinate linguistic powers? In what way are these new novels part of the story of Hindu India, and how do questions about the style, language environment and form of these texts resonate with similar questions we have encountered in relation to the Anglophone writings of Hindutva ideologues? Before entering the complex terrain opened up by these issues however, it would be important to encounter some illustrative instances of what I am proposing is a third phase of Indian writing in English – its authors, its channels of circulation and distribution, its audiences, its rhetorical stances and its idiomatic environments. The New York Times calls him ‘the biggest selling English language novelist in India’s history’, and in its signature tongue-in-cheek manner, The Guardian contends that ‘he is the biggest-selling writer in English you have never heard of ’ (emphasis mine).5 As such, Chetan Bhagat is part of an emerging culturalpolitical phenomenon that has shaken the kind of acclaim reserved for IndoAnglian authors in the global literary bazaar. As I have already suggested at the beginning of this book, Bhagat has so far not received a great deal of scholarly-critical attention from the Anglo-American academy.6 But he has been, and continues to be, widely celebrated in the Indian popular press for opening up a world of books to an upwardly mobile Indian youth faced with the many hopes and frustrations that accompany the prospect of

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growing national wealth. Terming this audience the first generation of ‘call center’ English readers, the writer Devangshu Dutta has argued that this is a reading public which may not be used to literary fiction outside school and college curricula and is probably intimidated by the formal and linguistic dexterity of the Salman Rushdies, the Arundhati Roys and the Aravind Adigas.7 Nonetheless, this public is still canny enough to know that in a postliberalization Indian context, the next call center job could be around the corner and that job would come with a preference for a grasp of English as the principal device for access to a network society that penetrates everyday life in all its dimensions and modalities.8 Often coming from small-town India and moving to the bigger cities in search of ‘a better, more globally connected life’, Bhagat’s readers are youth who for the first time are being exposed to the idea that reading a particular kind of English fiction may help them to get particular kinds of jobs.9 But it is not only Bhagat’s novels that speak to readers in this way. It is the man himself who penetrates the banalities of their everyday lives, staying with them ‘all the way’ (as his publisher Kapish Mehra of Rupa and Co.) puts it, and making himself instantly available to them via his Twitter account, his website, his Facebook page and his regular responses to email.10 Indeed, abetting Mehra’s celebration of his ability to remain in his readers’ lives, Bhagat too underscores the following points: ‘My website attracts a lot of traffic, and readers can share their views with me, and even have their views displayed for all to see … The idea is not to sell or market, but remain connected with my readers.’11 Bhagat’s tone here may make it seem like this kind of ‘continual connectedness’ requires no labour, that it is an end in itself and that it comes with no incentives. But the remarks of his publisher are perhaps more accurate in providing an implicit picture of the carefully calculated managerial preparation that goes into marketing, rendering accessible and making visible an authorial phenomenon ‘that [affects] everybody, [touches] everybody’s life.’12 Publishing professionals have repeatedly cited Chetan Bhagat not just as a best-selling author, but as a marketing phenomenon that has radically transformed the industry itself – so much so that Indian publishing in English could henceforth be divided into pre- and post-Chetan Bhagat periods. The numbers, as it were, are mind-boggling. Five Point Someone—What not to do at IIT, Bhagat’s first novel published in 2004, sold 100,000 copies within no time of its launch. His third novel titled The 3 Mistakes of My Life and published in 2008 sold a million copies in ten months and just a year later, a fourth novel, Two States: The Story of My Marriage was all set to meet the astronomical target

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of a million copies in ten weeks. The promotion plans are carefully designed to ensure that the books are instantly accessible to an expanding middle-class from one end of the nation to the other, for they are all priced judiciously, just below 100 and released simultaneously across big metropolises and smaller towns. Given the resulting sales figures, it is not surprising that the common mantra amongst publishers is that Chetan Bhagat sells more, and is more accessible, even than a daily newspaper in a city, and indeed, it is insofar as his books provide the same habitus as newspapers, that the author is less an object of professional academic attention than he is a part of emerging questions of lifestyle.13 In a 2006 interview conducted by Tapan Basu, V. Karthika, the former managing editor of Penguin India, points to the entry of large retail bookstore chains like Landmark, Crossword and Oxford to further explain the phenomenon of Chetan Bhagat as a matter of lifestyle choices: You see the big Landmark, Crossword, Oxford sort of chains coming in, they are selling to the middle class and they are selling not just books but toys and music and lifestyle to them. Therefore what happens is that along with the success of Indian writing the media picks up on it. Because the English language media – the newspapers, the magazines – are also talking to the middle class. Their readers are from the middle class. So they start giving visibility to books. So … book launches are glamorous events to go for. It says that this is valuable, this is glamorous, this is what you want to be a part of. So every second person … also wants to write a book. So everyone says oh everyone is talking about it. I must take it back to my book shelf.14

In this scenario, publishing professionals must act like readers, argues Suman Gupta in a recent essay on the Indian publishing industry and contemporary youth culture – but, importantly, not readers who are invested in the critical understanding of textual traditions.15 Publisher-readers decode markets and market penetration rather than the textures of cultural forms. As this kind of ‘expert reader’, they also work alongside retail chains and distribution channels to increasingly partake in a sort of greater network of authorship. That is to say, they seem to speak as the authorial functions of a field of literary production and reception in which the novelists themselves are fungible signatories who contribute only in a nominalist manner. Through a variegated field of interviews, press releases and addresses at book launches, publishing professionals, proprietors of retail chains and management honchos of

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distribution networks come to record their own narratives as kind of supraauthorial figures who represent a much-discussed growth industry. This is similar to the way in which call center workers embodied the growing Indian outsourcing industry only a few years earlier. The conceit of the call center and the figure of the call center employee are important points of entry into Bhagat’s writing – whether analyses of his audiences (as in Devangshu Dutta’s designation of his reading public as ‘the generation of post-call center readers’), the content of his work (the title of his second novel is One Night at the Call Center), or the language of his novels (one critic has claimed that his ‘English [is] as unpretentious as a callcenter cubicle’).16 The question of language is of course particularly pertinent to my line of inquiry in this book, and it is Bhagat’s clever manipulation of a kind of call center English as the representative Indian national tongue that makes his work of special interest to this project. In other words, I will show that it is through the engineering of a nationally viable, cyber-savvy, managerially endorsed English that Bhagat restructures the relations of force between peripheral and metropolitan linguistic powers and makes his work representative of what I am calling the new Hindu India. Such a demonstration must begin with the fact that whether condemning the Bhagat-phenomenon or not, every observer agrees that stylistically he is at best a mediocre writer. Alongside these observations, the author himself has tried to isolate his novels from almost any manner of linguistic attention and nowhere is this more evident than when he draws analysts to the ‘content’ rather than the ‘form’ of his works. Declaring quite brashly that the key to his success ‘[couldn’t] be just the language, as it is simply the common language of the people’, Bhagat has also pointed out that despite arguments to the contrary, ‘It is more about what is being said and communicated that strikes a chord.’17 Leaving for later discussion what exactly is being ‘said’ and ‘communicated’ in Bhagat’s writing, and therefore, what exactly ‘strikes a chord’, let us stay for the moment with the author’s celebration of ‘the common language of the people’ and try to understand why he insists that the language of his novels is fundamentally external to the matter of their success. For this purpose, it is necessary to ask: who exactly are the people Bhagat speaks of in the above quote and what makes a certain kind of language so commonsensically appropriate to them that it is outside the scope of cultural analysis? Bhagat’s, we are told somewhat glibly by some analysts, is a ‘homegrown’ variety of English – a distinctive tongue suited to idiomatic particularities on the subcontinent – but still embedded in the structural logistics of

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multinational corporations.18 The metaphorical relationship between Bhagat’s style and the unpretentious world of the call center would no doubt make the latter part of such reflections largely true, but I still call the diagnosis of Bhagat’s style as homegrown ‘somewhat glib’, because the abrogation of Standard English as cultural capital is not, in itself, a new phenomenon. More importantly, it is in no way unique to the popularity in national space of what I am calling this third phase of Indian writing in English. For instance, the globally recognizable Indo-Anglian novelists of the 1980s and 90s had already very famously brought into intimate proximity metropolitan languages and the national (and regional) vernaculars.19 The easy playfulness of this kind of Indian English was testimony, according to some critics, to the privileges of a class of Indians, secure in their nationally elite status and without any anxieties attached to provincializing English as one of many regional idioms.20 Indeed many of the novelists of the 1980s and 90s who abrogated Standard English in this playful way were metropolitan migrants, or at least, highly mobile figures who divided their time, cleanly, between India and the west. Implicated in what Gayatri Spivak has called ‘the hyperreal scramble for identity on the move,’ these were writers for whom the relationship to the vernacular constituted a ‘public declaration of ethnic identity in metropolitan space’ and the corresponding relationship to English constituted a statement of diasporic privilege in national-peripheral space.21 Such is not the case for the new generation of Indo-Anglian novelists who are based firmly in the Indian context and are ostensibly then not involved in the scramble for ethnic identification in multicultural metropolitan centers. This is why to merely say that someone like Chetan Bhagat writes English of a ‘homegrown’ variety is not enough. Indeed, more pertinent to an investigation of Bhagat’s novels and their popularity are analyses that interpret the standard of his style both from the point of view of the phenomenon of outsourcing as well as in terms of what one critic has called the ‘quick-fire campus English that young Indians use.’22 Hailed for opening up a brand new market segment of readers – the 18–25 reader of the Indian novel in English – it is no wonder that Chetan Bhagat’s style replicates the manner of speaking of young college-going Indians.23 These are Indians who, following Bhagat’s lead, are becoming more and more comfortable with the nation’s ‘shining aspect’ on the global stage. They find in Bhagat a ‘national’ youth icon who does not have to narrate the nation from afar and they feel secure enough in their global positioning to retreat into their own internal and internalized conversations, share their own private jokes and

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revel in what Suman Gupta has called a ‘non-regionalized sort of localism.’24 It is in this spirit that several analysts have pointed to the Indo-Anglian prose of Bhagat’s writing as a kind of idiom that does not need to be italicized, translated, or explained.25 This is, in short, a national prose narrated, produced and distributed in national space for national readers, who, uncoupled from the distinctiveness of their regional public cultures, have for the first time since independence come into their own as an unfractured whole. What was not achieved through the engineering of Hindi as the putative national tongue of the Young Republic is therefore now appearing on the horizon, pace the global feasibility of a call center-based Indian English. Remarkably self-conscious in its cultivation of a style for an almost exclusively ‘homegrown’ audience, armed with an emerging national arrogance, the new Indo-Anglian prose fashions for itself a buoyantly assertive rhetorical stance that is adamant, amongst other things, about the youthful character of the new India. No longer is this a nation of only sage and august gurus, no longer are Indian youth to be held back from progress by its ancient and venerable torpor, and no longer is this antique land to be celebrated only for its unchanging antiquity. After all, these stereotypes are associated with an older, antiquated ‘idea of India’ that needs to be displaced. Thus, if indeed the young nation is still sentimentally attached to the quasi-Vedic wisdoms and the ethno-traditional practices of the past, then such attachments can only manifest in the form of lifestyle practices suited to the young and successful. And so the youth of the nation aspire toward metropolitan landscapes dotted with hyper-modern gated communities named after ‘Vedic Villages’, for instance, and haute fashion, constituted by what has come to be known as ‘the ethnic look’. One could say in this regard, that Brand India has never been so brash – its mission accomplished in the world, it has turned its attention home, and at home, it has found a market (or a middle-class) in waiting. Native to the constitution of this market is the English language, and in its particular outsourced, call center-cubicle, campus form, this is the common language of the people Bhagat refers to. This is a people who need not worry about unequal access to the Queen’s tongue, for now that the language of privilege has gone native, as it were, and aspires to homogenize even the diverse varieties of regionalized localisms, it will, like Bhagat’s novels, ‘[affect] everybody, [touch] everybody’s life.’

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The Works of Chetan Bhagat in Hindu India Chetan Bhagat’s highly successful, second English-language Indian novel One Night at the Call Center (2005) concerns itself, in the somewhat polemical manner of most of his writing, with the phenomenon of offshoring and therefore, primarily, with India’s economic relation to the United States.26 With little effort to penetrate readerships in the United States or Britain, One Night at the Call Center was distributed solely for the Anglophone market in India, but precisely because of its concern with the economics and politics of outsourcing, it has had more of a presence than Bhagat’s other works with reading publics in the Anglo-American world.27 The novel is framed by a train journey from small-town Kanpur to metropolitan Delhi and unfolds predominantly at a call center in a satellite township of the capital. This township, Gurgaon, was once only an arid agricultural village, but now popularly termed ‘Millennium City’, it is known to be one of the most important offshoring centers in the world and the site of some of the most valuable real estate in the country. Dotted with dazzling high-rise shopping malls, the Indian corporate headquarters of international giants like CocaCola, IBM, Pepsi, Microsoft and American Express, and of course, a dense concentration of outsourcing call centers, Gurgaon is often showcased as the perfect illustration of a bold new India. But in Bhagat’s hands, it is more. Indeed, cyber city Gurgaon is in One night at the Call Center, the sacred site upon which God Himself descends, to intervene in the affairs of men. The novel begins, as I have already mentioned, with a framing train journey on which the author, Chetan Bhagat, meets a beautiful young woman who offers to tell him a story to pass the time. Her condition is that he must turn this story into his second novel, and so the narrative begins. It is a simple plotline – during the span of one night at a call center, all the six leading characters confront some aspect of themselves or their lives they would like to change. But the story takes a dramatic and decisive turn toward the very end, when in the clutches of a near-death experience, these characters receive a phone call from God. In his disembodied avatar on the cellular phone, God communicates in an idiom that is literally no different from the language that the characters speak – he says he is ‘checking in on them’, asks them ‘how its going’ and threatens to ‘hang up’ if they don’t believe he is in fact God. Finally, when He offers solutions to their inner problems as well as the immediate danger they face, He speaks to them almost like a self-help guidance counselor: Listen, let me make a deal with you. I will save your lives tonight,

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but in return you must give me something. Close your eyes for three minutes. Think about what you really want and what you need to change in your life to get it. Then, once you get out of here, act on those changes … the ‘four things a person needs for success’: ‘a medium amount of intelligence’; ‘a bit of imagination’; ‘selfconfidence’ and the experience of failure. Once you’ve tasted failure, you will have no more fear. You’ll be able to take risks more easily, you will no longer want to snuggle in your comfort zone, you will be ready to fly. And success is about flying not snuggling (Bhagat, 2005, 245–46; 249–51).

The management speak through which God talks to the central characters of One Night at the Call Center is consolidated in the coming together of a strong telematic network of exchanges and controls. Channels of information processing in the cyber city of Gurgaon combine with the global managerial intelligences of the business process outsourcing industry and these in turn attach to the increasing spread of mobile telecommunications, symbolized as they are through the presence of God in the medium of the cellular phone. Indeed, my contention is that it is the tempo associated with such a telematic assemblage that optimizes in the new millennium what we have identified as the memoryless journalistic style of metropolitan Hindutva. But more of this later. First, let us return to the unfolding plot of Bhagat’s One Night at the Call Center. To act on God’s onto-theology of self-help, the two young men in the novel, Shyam and Vroom, are propelled towards ‘taking risks’ through selfemployment and entrepreneurial innovation. The married woman, Radhika, is moved to fight for a divorce with the economic independence afforded her by her call center employment and the younger Esha, who aspires to a career in modeling, is able to freely admit to allowing herself to be sexually used by a man. Finally, Shyam’s love interest, Priyanka, is pushed to liberate herself from the demands of an arranged marriage, and like all good emancipated women, inspired to ‘marry for love’. In pointing to these shifts, my aim is by no means to argue that the youthful breaking with tradition, as it appears here, is inherently undesirable. However, in Bhagat’s world, this break from tradition, or this ability to take risks and to fly, rather than snuggle in one’s comfort zone, comes on the heels of the sort of swaggering confidence that God advises in the pages of One Night at the Call Center – a confidence that cannot and will not see how structures of domination persist, despite attempts toward liberation. For instance, it must be noted that at the end of the novel, while the now emancipated women move towards socially useful work like

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charity and teaching, it is the men who are given the responsibility of taking risks and becoming innovative. To gloss over this politics of gender as Bhagat seems to, is to share in a feeling of national coming of age that encourages the forgetting of the continuities between India’s tradition, her colonial past and her emerging technocratic present. In other words, this is a kind of nationalist sentiment that is a synonym for a globally recognizable amnesia that conceals the precarious complicities and fractures that define any narrative of national becoming. Such a sentiment is sealed in One Night at the Call Center when in the epilogue we find that the woman who had been narrating this tale to Chetan Bhagat is actually the God of the story. As the truth dawns on the author, he kneels before God and She lightly touches his head in a gesture of blessing before suddenly dematerializing. The message is clear. ‘God bless India’ indeed, but more importantly, ‘God bless Chetan Bhagat’ and the new India he represents. The appearance of God in his text aside, the question of the more insidious proximities between Hindutva in its present-day avatar and the style and concerns of Bhagat’s writing is a central matter of my investigation. It is in this context that the ‘woman question’, as it were, in One Night at the Call Center (and more broadly in Bhagat’s thinking) is an important matter, for it will elucidate the beginnings of what I have indicated is an emerging arrogance in the narrating of the new nation. As I have already noted, it is the two young women in One Night at the Call Center who are advised by God to adopt ‘human service’ professions like teaching and social work. These of course have traditionally been highly gendered, relying on a masculinist conceptualization of feminine care, and of course, the parallel reality of lower wages.28 In contrast to such a fate for Priyanka and Esha, the two young men in the novel must play the heroic knights who not only rescue the call center from complete dissolution, but also take upon themselves the much more complicated task of developing entrepreneurial skills to bring about economic reform within national space. The same is true of at least two other women in relation to the men of Bhagat’s novels – Neha Cherian of Five Point Someone and Vidya of The 3 Mistakes of my Life. In the former, Neha is the 18 year-old love interest of the primary narrator, Hari Kumar, and she pursues a degree in fashion designing, which once again, is a field indebted to the ostensibly intuitive aesthetics of women. In contrast, it is left to Hari and the other men in that novel to make their way through an elite course in mechanical engineering, questioning large academic structures that stultify their creativity, and thereby advancing the cause of educational remodeling in the nation. Similarly, in Bhagat’s third novel,

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The 3 Mistakes of my Life, while her brother and his friends are entrepreneurs in the sports industry, honing talent to perfect India’s already pre-eminent place in the high-stakes cricketing world, Vidya’s ambition is to be accredited in public relations. This, according to some studies, is an industry increasingly dominated by women, possibly because ‘men lack crucial sensitivity toward maintaining relationships with clients, journalists and target groups.’29 In showcasing these largely limpid women from the world of Bhagat’s novels, my point is not to suggest that the new India has no room for its women, or, that the new India has no room for its women unless they stay in their ‘place’. My point, instead, is to demonstrate the far more menacing reality that that ‘place’ itself has been only nominally transformed. Indian women are now expected to venture forth from the home, but only to find careers in traditionally feminine walks of life – fashion, interior design, modeling, charity, teaching, and in the world of business, only public relations, where they can play the role of event managers and clothes horses. Indeed, so committed is Bhagat to the emancipation of the nation’s women – but only in this restrictive sense – and so unaware that the discourse of the ‘place’ of women may have changed in kind, but not in substance, that there is a certain complacent high-handedness in his strictly moral address of the so-called ‘woman question’. Indeed, if the new India must have a permissive face rather than a conventional one associated with the antiquated customs of an ancient Hinduism, then what better way to achieve this than by creating a vision of the emancipated woman while still conserving and sustaining a traditional patrimonial structure? As the individualized, gender-equal, creatures who must participate in this ‘branding’, so to speak, of the new nation, Bhagat’s women could not be taken seriously if they were to stay home, bake the bread, care for the children, shy away from sex, or seem in any way stymied by what used to be understood as a traditional Indian setup. This idea appears most clearly in Bhagat’s newspaper columns that are also hosted on a regular basis on his website. The genre of the column not only ties his work to ideologues of Hindutva like Jay Dubashi, Swapan Dasgupta and Francois Gautier, but also brings to the forefront the journalistic tempo, in which, as we have seen via the theorizations of Sara Suleri, history is without memory, and thus perpetually new. It is worth remarking that of Bhagat’s archived journalistic columns starting in 2005, a notable number are invested in the ‘woman-question’ and increasingly so, in the years after 2012. These include ‘Home Truths on Career Wives’ (29 July 2012), ‘Five Things Women Need to Change about Themselves’ (10 March 2013), ‘Let’s Talk about Sex’ (24 March 2013), ‘Watching the Nautch-girls’

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(1 June 2013), ‘Item Girls of Politics’ (25 January 2014), ‘The New Vote Bank for Politicians: Aam Aurat or, “Common Woman”’ (9 February 2014) and ‘Wake up and Respect your Inner Queen’ (6 April 2014).30 In these columns, Bhagat in his signature not-so-gentle manner, guides Indian women toward the choices he believes are available to all women in the civilized world. He encourages them to live as full and free human beings (which means to be able to wear swimsuits on beaches), to embark on journeys of self-discovery, to share their homes with male room-mates and to have sexual, career and parenting free will. However, what is interesting about Bhagat’s motivational polemics in this regard is not that he thus infantilizes the ‘weaker sex’ – one can after all see those tendencies embedded rather clearly in his fictive world of women – but rather, that he has a well-defined programme for how they are to achieve such positive changes in their lives. Furthermore, he is also unabashedly lucid about the ‘national’ reasons for which they might want to do so. In ‘The New Vote Bank for Politicians’, Bhagat begins with the gimmicky claim that ‘women are the new Muslims’ in India.31 His only thinly veiled attack in this case is directed against ‘pseudo-secular’ politicians who, according to most contemporary Hindutva sympathizers, have for long numerically seized upon the figure of the Muslim citizen merely as an axis for the question of electoral balances. Now that Muslims have ‘figured out the political games played with them’, that vote bank is neither as ‘secure’ nor as ‘predictable’ as it once was.32 Especially given the recent spate of gender-related crimes, attention has turned to women voters who as a massified population have the power to swing any party’s fortunes. But Bhagat’s counsel for ‘the common woman’ voter is to not allow either political or legislative action to offer to change her condition, for politics can only be a game as we have seen in the case of the Muslim citizen. No number of schools for girls, movements to end female infanticide and reservations for women in parliament can affect a difference in cultural attitudes, and so, women must take it upon themselves to transform the ‘sexist’ attitudes that prevail amongst Indian men – ‘one guy at a time.’33 In short, empowerment is to be realized not in the alterations women could make to the violent history of their structural environments, but rather in the changes they ought to make to their own styles of being. This argument reaches its climax in ‘The New Vote Bank for Politicians’ with Bhagat exhorting ‘the ladies’ to ‘assert’ themselves, to not ‘back down’ and ‘be too eager to please the men’, and to never ‘accept inequality’. Platitudes as they are, the same guidelines had appeared in an earlier Bhagat-

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column paternalistically, and therefore aptly titled, ‘Five Things Women need to Change about Themselves’. In this column, writing in the epistolary form, Bhagat addresses his ‘dear ladies’ on the occasion of ‘Women’s day’. But because, as he puts it, ‘we men are prone to risk-taking’ he also attempts the unthinkable – the task of declaring, as a man, and on a day that purports to celebrate women, what women need to ‘change about themselves to make things better for their own kind.’34 However, when he asks their forgiveness for having dared to tell them what to do – ‘So forgive me, for I have dared’ – it is clear that the nerve ‘to dare’ is for Bhagat, the sign of a superior mettle, on par with the pioneering pluck rooted in what he has called the habitual ‘risktaking behavior of men’ (Bhagat, 2013). Indeed, the riskiness of his venture notwithstanding, Bhagat’s tone is carefully cultivated as balanced, poised, perfectly fair and in keeping with a specifically male air of objective justice. It is this air that Bhagat uses, to admit to the rigidly patriarchal character of the Indian male, while at the same time, never shying from slipping into a reference to ‘male-bashing’, a term habitually reserved for those fringe versions of ‘hysteric’ feminism without critical and rational equipoise. Similarly, it is also this air that he deploys when ruing the absence of a male corollary to ‘women’s day’, to ‘save’ him from the brickbats he may suffer at the hands of those who misunderstand the tenor of his column ( Bhagat, 2013). What is important here is not merely that Bhagat’s arguments are trite, but that the proverbially cocky air of the prose makes it seem as if his references are radically memoryless, coming without the burden of a history of unchanging stereotypes involving gender roles.

Post-political Hinduization and the Woman Question In recent years, several scholars like Paola Baccheta, Tanika Sarkar, Partha Chatterjee, Nivedita Menon, Radha Kumar, Janaki Nair, Urvashi Butalia and Kumkum Sangari have commented on the role of patriarchy and colonial society in the shaping of the Indian nationalist imaginary of women, the contemporary feminist movements peculiar to the Indian context and the role that women (ideologues) play both in consolidating and resisting Hindu nationalist movements.35 I will not repeat here these valuable and already established conversations. Instead, I will argue from a slightly different perspective that someone like Chetan Bhagat instrumentalizes the empowered figure of the woman – but of course only in the restricted sense I have described

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above – as primary evidence for a new kind of Hinduism that is suited to the global spread of quickly liberalizing economies. That is to say, it is the figure of Bhagat’s liberated lady – confident about her sexuality, assertive about her inalienable right to bare her flesh, to fight for a divorce and to travel the world without being chaperoned – who will shield against the notion that Hindus are trapped in an antiquated tradition and thus incapable of progressing in the modern world. It is this figure that will rescue the Hindu-Indian man from being seen as a parochially sexist creature unable to process the success of women in his world, and if deployed cleverly enough, it is also this figure that will blunt accusations of Human Rights violations leveled by international platforms against the contemporary Indian context. Most importantly, this icon of empowerment could be the most graphic way of demarking the Hindu from the Muslim, the timid taker of hijab from the swimsuit donning diva, and the oppressed female follower of Mohammad from the free-spirited devotee of Shiva. The growing pace and intensity of Bhagat’s self-righteousness on the question of the free Indian woman came hot on the heels of what was rightly publicized in India and across the world as one of the most heinous crimes against women in recent recorded history. In the face of severe national and international condemnation, after the fatal gang rape of a 23 year old physiotherapy intern who was traveling with her male friend on a public bus in New Delhi on the night of 16 December 2012, Bhagat and other defenders of a quickly liberalizing national space ran helter-skelter to rescue brand India both at home and abroad.36 It is with this context in mind that we should understand not only the increasing frequency during this time of Bhagat’s columns addressing gender issues, but also his advice to the Indian man to celebrate (working) women, ‘in the interest of the nation’.37 Such national interest would involve providing a pro-growth economic environment to domestic and foreign investors, but this desirable business environment would have to have, in turn, ‘security’, ‘democratic freedom’ and a ‘liberal culture’ as its globally recognizable principal features. It is precisely these features that are attached to the ‘woman question’ as it is developed by someone like Chetan Bhagat. Chetan Bhagat belongs to that strange ilk of self-fashioned raconteurs, who hope to function as public intellectuals without having to take into account the pressures inherent to traditional institutions of the public sphere. This is why just as his directions to women involve the idea that they isolate themselves from legislative and parliamentary promises in order to affect change on

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gender-related matters, so too Bhagat’s columns addressing ostensibly political issues are emptied – tonally – of what the author understands as divisive ideological content. Insofar as this is the case, the post-political and post-ideological tenor of Bhagat’s journalistic mantras is not unfamiliar. He has opined for instance that parliamentary politics should be about ‘managing’ the nation, rather than politically lording over it and in order to do so he has argued that it is time to stop treating India like a fractured polity and think in terms of that which provides Indians a common bond.38 He has also suggested, as I mention above, that in order to arrive at this common bond, India must concentrate on providing a market-driven, pro-business, progrowth landscape to global investors.39 Furthermore, since ‘the fashionably left, almost communist, intellectual mafia’ has (an unfair) absolute hegemony over representative public institutions in the country, Bhagat has contended that to be ‘anti-poor’ in India is to be right-wing with a dash of the communalist thrown in.40 And finally, according to Bhagat, secularism is a desirable commodity, but Muslims in India ought to develop a specifically Indian way of being Muslim and Hinduism should be practiced in a manner consonant with the aspirations of Indian youth in a globalized world.41 It is not entirely clear what the conceptual strength is behind Chetan Bhagat’s pithy dictums of millennial motivation, but it is indeed perfectly clear, as I will illustrate momentarily, that the ‘political’ content of some of these scattered wisdoms is more starkly visible in the ideology of metropolitan Hindutva rather than in the arguably post-ideological air of Bhagat’s thinking. In the course of his career as a special columnist, Chetan Bhagat has commented a number of times on the possible fate in contemporary India of the Hindu nationalist BJP, its politicians and its agenda of Hindutva. In a 2011 article titled ‘Five Steps to a Revitalized Brand BJP’, Bhagat strains against what he sees as the imminent irrelevance of the BJP if they do not develop poised, ‘aspirational, globalized Indian[s]’ to lead the party, leaving behind the ‘crass’, ‘regressive’ politicians who have no relationship to ‘modern thought.’42 One can hear resonating in this statement an ideologue like Swapan Dasgupta as he exhorts the BJP to cast aside its antiquated ‘ugly Hindu image’, or a commentator like Arun Shourie as he is showcased by Martha Nussbaum as the ‘classy’ face of contemporary Hindu nationalist politics.43 Indeed for Bhagat, a globalized Hindu nationalism of the twentyfirst century ought to be, for instance, about cleaning up the holiest of the Hindu temples – ‘infected with bad management and corrupt priests’ as well as unsanitary and unhygienic conditions – not about religious riots and

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fanaticisms. After all, the face of development can be productively advertised in the former and only irredeemably harmed by the latter.44 This is what Bhagat calls Positive Hinduism. ‘Modern, safe, scientific, free, liberal, and […] with good values.’45 This is therefore the kind of Hinduism that, to return to an earlier point, can address the fundamental issue of security – and, as we have seen, women’s security as the referent for national/territorial security – without encroaching on the (sexual) ‘freedom’ of youth. In short, Bhagat’s thinking in this regard, carries Hindutva into the new millennium – not only with a liberal, safe, scientific and free face but with a technologically viable aspect, as comfortable on platforms and portals like Twitter and Facebook, as it is with gods and goddesses, temples and priests. I write about Bhagat’s relationship as such to the symbols of Hindu nationalism even as the drama of the Indian parliamentary elections of 2014 has come to a close, and Narenda Modi, perhaps the most controversial and divisive Hindu politician since the time of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar is waiting in the wings as BJP Prime Minister of India. Still not held judicially accountable for his role in the Gujarat riots of 2002, with which Martha Nussbaum had begun her book, The Clash Within, ‘Namo’, as he is fondly referred to by his supporters on social media, received official endorsement from Chetan Bhagat on 21 April 2014. To emphasize Modi’s familiarity with a networking syntax popular with youth across the world, and potentially therefore his sympathy for the new technosavvy Hinduism, Bhagat posted his support of the then prime ministerial hopeful on his Facebook page, complete with social media idiomatic formats like the ‘hashtag’ and a selfie of himself and the Hindu leader: ‘Met #namo. You know a leader has the youth pulse when he can discuss job creation at length and is still up for a selfie!’ My claim in pointing to Bhagat’s advocacy on behalf of Narendra Modi is not to demonstrate that he is a follower of Hindutva or that he is a committed BJP-ite. Indeed, I am sure if asked, Bhagat, at least in his persona as a journalist (rather than his character on social media), would deny any partisan affiliations. However, as I have suggested before, it is no doubt the case that the emptiness of Bhagat’s motivational prose could be substantiated with political content from the writings of those ideologues of metropolitan Hindutva we have read in previous chapters. For instance, when he talks of a specifically ‘Indian way of being Muslim’, we can hear someone like Savarkar indicate, as he does in Essentials of Hindutva, that the (majoritarian) conception of a uniform culture could predicate a Hindu way of being Muslim. Similarly, when Bhagat refers to that singular essence that will provide Indians a common bond, we can

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recall the thinking of Swapan Dasgupta, who, in ‘The Notion of Dharma’ asserts that that bond is none other than the bond of (Hindu) dharma. And again, when our young self-help guru proposes that categories like ‘poverty’ and ‘the poor’ be isolated from political discourse, we are reminded of Jay Dubashi’s advocacy in Snakes and Ladders: The Development Game of exactly the same pogrom and Francois Gautier’s contention in ‘Are Brahmins the Dalits of Today?’ that upper and lower-castes are radically reversible categories in the complicated situation of present-day economic realities in India. Such dangerous convergences notwithstanding, it is Bhagat’s simultaneous elision of, and complicity with, the discourse of Hindutva, that I find most interesting for the purposes of understanding how he writes himself into a generalized prose of Hindu-Anglian being, flush with the arrogance of feeling at home in the world. In this context, it is worth remarking that Bhagat advises Hindu nationalist parties to employ what he calls just ‘the right amount of saffronness’ – a euphemism referring to the colours of the followers of Hindutva – even though there is nothing wrong, in his opinion, with using aggressive Hindu symbols like the ‘tilak’, the ‘sword’ and the ‘pagdi’ to wage one’s political campaign.46 In the same vein, he also writes that although ‘it is true that in the name of secularism, the Hindu voice is often subverted’, this ‘doesn’t mean that we criticize other communities for the same’ (emphasis mine), slipping almost unnoticeably from the third person adjective ‘Hindu’ to the first person pronoun ‘we’ to indicate either the shiftiness of his allegiances, or conversely, where these allegiances actually lie.47 Indeed, it is precisely such shiftiness that explains the vacuity of Bhagat’s political dictums, even though my contention is, that it is in turn this very post-political vacuity that serves as the optimum peak for the style of governance proper to metropolitan Hindutva in its latest millennial avatar. In his June 2013 column for The Times of India asking ‘Can Modi win in 2014’, Bhagat lays out what ought to be the BJP’s plan for those fence sitters who could still be won over by the campaign leading up to the parliamentary elections. His suggestions are actively apolitical, carefully isolated from the mechanisms of the public sphere and emphasizing at once both the place of ‘numbers’ in imagining a massified population of voters and the importance of one-on-one contact with each voter. They can’t be marketed to. They have to be persuaded on a oneon-one basis. An army of educated, not overtly political volunteers, say one lakh in total or 200 per constituency is required. They’d work one-on-one on no more than eight families, or about 20 votes

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a day. This would be the level of micro-campaigning required to convince people. ... Trust needs one-on-one interaction, not mass media advertising.48

Bhagat’s is a model that perfectly illustrates the simultaneous tendencies toward individualization and totalization that Michel Foucault had pointed to in his study of the intersection of disciplinary and regulatory instruments of power. To understand further this model that Bhagat offers in service of the BJP’s campaign, it would be worth taking into account not only Foucault’s theorizations but also the specificities of Bhagat’s own intellectual and professional formation.Coming from an elite educational background starting at the Army Public School in Delhi, Chetan Bhagat received a degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi and then went on to be certified by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, without doubt the premier center for management training in the country.49 In 2009, he abandoned an international career in investment banking and returned from Hong Kong to Mumbai to become a full-time writer and stay-at-home dad. The elitism of Bhagat’s background is not very different from that which shaped some of the more important Hindutva ideologues we have discussed so far. Arun Shourie was awarded a PhD in economics from Syracuse University before serving on the World Bank and then returning to India to become a journalist and politician. Jay Dubashi received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Mumbai and a doctoral degree from the London School of Economics before committing himself to the Indian political and economic scenario. Swapan Dasgupta was educated at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London before becoming a political analyst based in Delhi, and finally, Francois Gautier received his early education in various reputed boarding schools across Europe (as also an American business school in Paris) before settling in India in 1978 as a journalist associated specifically with Hindu politics. The similarities in the privileged training of these men are unmistakable as is their prescription for a regularized model of governmentality based on the marriage between free-market values and majoritarian, normative Hinduization. However, less evident is an important difference, which I will argue provides current-day Hindutva with a face it has sorely been in need of as it attempts, through the force of what I have called a telematic-journalistic enterprise, to consolidate the process of impelling India onto a premier place on the global stage. The distinction between a Chetan Bhagat and the likes of Arun Shourie, Jay Dubashi, Swapan Dasgupta and Francois Gautier is a generational one.

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What the older men can merely abstract when they gesture toward India’s ‘Second Republic’ and the need to overcome, through the formation of this new republic, the antiquated proto-socialist, dynastic, even quasi-feudal politics of the Congress party, Chetan Bhagat can literally embody in his status as a national youth icon who will be the harbinger of a new India. Without replacing or superseding in any way the ideological ground of their older forebears, these new heralds of Hindu India deploy the post-ideological air of the managerial classes to arrogantly streamline what was only beginning to emerge as a regulatory intelligence in the writings of the earlier ideologues. To look more closely at a particular configuration of ideas in these two generations of public commentators would help to understand the matter of their supplementarity further. Let me explain. Bhagat has several times suggested that he is interested in the idea that ‘commercializing creativity [is in itself ] a creative act’, and it is not difficult to see that his project to transform ‘creativity’ into the principle of commerce, and inventiveness and imagination into the matter of business, had its recognizable beginnings in the mission of Jay Dubashi’s Snakes and Ladders: The Development Game.50 In Dubashi’s conceptualization of what we might call an ‘absolutist’ development, the creative principal is a professional manager of business who can invest the contemporary Indian economy with the quasi-Vedic wisdom of a cycle of birth and rebirth. This, as we have seen, will then go on to generate a biopolitical continuum of Hinduized species life that is both enduring in time and planetary in scope. But if Dubashi imaginatively approximates this extreme form of development through the ancient, yet still widely recognizable, Hindu conceit of snakes and ladders, then someone like Bhagat proposes the same kind of schema in a slightly different version. That is to say, in Bhagat’s works, the traditional idioms of Hinduism are slickly tailored to the millennial aspect of urbanized Hindus through a syntax of campus and call center English, management-speak and the medium of social networking sites, all cleansed, ostensibly, of fractious political ideologies. It is thus that Bhagat provides contemporary Hindutva with a much needed apolitical face, resplendent in its upwardly mobile youthfulness and complete with the powerful language of instantaneity provided it by a telematic assemblage of networks of information processing, managerial controls, and mobile telecommunications. Despite Bhagat’s visibility specifically in a national landscape, it is perhaps significant that this aspect of his work circulates quite successfully in the global corridors of economic power.In this context, one could remark that even though his six block-buster novels did not receive much attention from

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the Anglo-American literary or academic establishments, Bhagat featured on the 2010 list of Time Magazine’s ‘100 most influential people in the world, as well as on Fast Company USA’s list of ‘the 100 most creative people in business’ – along with the likes of Jack Dorley and Sebastian Thrun of Twitter and Google X fame, respectively. Bhagat’s choice place in the emerging global financial market for younger and even younger celebrity entrepreneurs, is the function on one hand, of a kind of global talent ‘spotting’ phenomenon that is currently a principal factor in the world of business. On the other, it is the product of the flourishing of premier business schools and management education and research in the Indian context. That is to say, Bhagat is both a discovery for international platforms like Time Magazine and Fast Company USA as well as someone who is able to influence the protocols for that kind of discovery in national space. To put it differently, one could say that he is both himself globally recognizable as a young icon, as well as a galvanizing principle for the circulation of the concept of youth in the national management of political desires. His pioneering status notwithstanding, insofar as Chetan Bhagat is part of this larger picture, he is not alone, but rather part of a consolidating telematic formation that has, and will continue to further, the optimization of a new-age discourse of Hindutva.

Millennial Hindutva, Amish Tripathi-Style They are exactly the same age and their academic and professional training could be mapped onto each other in almost mathematically precise terms. Amish Tripathi, like Chetan Bhagat, was educated at the elite Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and gave up a fourteen year career in financial services to transform himself into what his website terms ‘a happy author’. His recently completed Shiva Trilogy (The Immortals of Meluha [2010], The Secret of the Nagas [2011] and The Oath of the Vayuputras (2013]), has sold two million copies in the Indian subcontinent since 2010, grossing over 500 million and making it the fastest selling book series in Indian publishing history. Like Bhagat, Tripathi too has been recognized by celebrity watchers and talent scouting platforms, albeit nationally rather than internationally. He featured on Forbes India’s Top 100 Celebrities List consecutively in 2012 and 2013, was selected for a ‘Young Achiever’s award for literature’ by Society Magazine in 2013 and in the same year was listed by the DNA Syndicate as one of ‘India’s New Icons’. Tripathi’s success, quickly on the heels of the ‘Chetan

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Bhagat Phenomenon’, has lent itself to the new technocracy I have described in the world of Indo-Anglian writing, prompting a rush of Indian business school graduates to invest in ‘the commerce of creativity’. The interest has been stoked by the fact that of the top ten books in the nominations for The Economist Crossword Book Award in October 2012 (instituted in 1998 by Indian book retailer ‘Crossword’), seven had come from writers who had a master’s degree in business administration (MBA), six of whom were alums of the IIM, from which both Tripathi and Bhagat had graduated. It was not surprising therefore that on 19 January 2013, when The Economic Times, India’s most respected English-language business daily, published the above figures in an analysis of ‘How Amish Tripathi’s success is prompting MBA grads to become novelists’, it also celebrated writers who were ‘leaning on b-schools for the business of writing’ and forwarded the corresponding narrative of ‘b-schoolers … [becoming] story-tellers.’51 The story of Tripathi’s success has all the elements of the classic fairy tale, and in that sense, it serves as a more telescoped, intensified and spectacular version of the Chetan Bhagat moment in the Indian-English publishing world. Rejected over a long period of two years by more than twenty publishers at home and abroad, Amish Tripathi came to the realize that his elite business administration degree had little purchase in the publishing world. In his own words, his kind had always been ‘unfairly’ and ‘unjustly’ thought of amongst the intelligentsia as ‘moneyed pests peddling low-brow alumni fiction of doubtful literary merit.’52 In the face of such condemnation, Tripathi resolved to publish the book himself, aided by his market training, as well as by his agent who had agreed to personally invest in the printing of The Immortals of Meluha. The unprecedented visibility of the manuscript started with Tripathi’s decision to print the first chapter and have it displayed at cash counters in local stores and to distribute it to customers free of cost. This innovative marketing plan, which Tripathi attributes to his outsider-status in the publishing industry, was followed by another winning promotional package which saw the author upload on Youtube a live-action trailer film on The Immortals of Meluha. The film came complete with music by the Indian classical musician Taufiq Qureishi, son of the legendary tabla maestro Ustaad Allah Rakha, and perhaps more recognizable outside India as the celebrated Ustaad Zakir Husain’s younger brother. Of course, Tripathi also aggressively advertised his book on social media like Facebook and Twitter, and himself played a part in the distribution of the book – making personal presentations to national retail chains, visiting smaller retailers in different cities and approaching local distributors directly

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and in person. The fairytale was becoming increasingly visible. The Immortals of Meluha began to feature on bestseller lists within only a week of its unique launch and in the course of the fortnight, it had reached the first place on most of those lists. This success story of Amish Tripathi, banker turned celebrity novelist, spurred a meteoric growth, not only in business graduates turning to fiction writing, but also in India’s emerging self-publishing industry. A network of young companies – NotionPress, Pothi, Cinnamon Teal and Zorba Publishers, to name a few – providing services ranging from editing and copyright registration to cover design and distribution began to attract writers who were unable to penetrate the traditional publishing world. Demand for turnkey services, according to many of the founders of these non-traditional publishers, doubled starting in 2013, and while the fillip to this industry and to the spirit of start-up entrepreneurship more broadly is undeniable, Tripathi himself believes that perhaps the most important contributions of selfpublishing to the business of writing is that it promotes and nurtures ‘freedom of expression’.53 We are back then to the casual circulation of that keyword ‘freedom’, which we have seen in the writings of many of the sympathizers of Hindutva – whether it be the freedom to liberate oneself from the antiquated clutches of a socialist economy, the casteist factionalisms of a fractured nation, the traditional sanction against swimwear on beaches and even the political imperative to think about a category like ‘poverty’. Tripathi only consolidates that facile fluency, in declaring with his signature self-confidence, that writerly freedom is about nothing other than an author being ‘the CEO of his [own] book’.54 The equivalence between the nature of freedom and the structure of business models apart, the matter of ‘freedom of expression’ is in Amish Tripathi’s case somewhat more sinister than in the case of someone like Chetan Bhagat. Tripathi is a self-professed devotee of the Hindu god Shiva, having returned to the faith after a decade of being an avowed atheist. Drawing his know-how of Hindu theology from his grandfather who was a Sanskrit pundit in Benares and from his deeply religious parents, Tripathi has on several occasions stressed that he thinks of himself not as a free agent, but as merely an instrument for the power of the divine. It is in this spirit that he attributes his success to ‘Lord Shiva’s unexplained kindness to [him]’ and promises to continue to narrate for the nation Hindu mythology and history.55 On 26 February 2013, when the third book of the Shiva Trilogy – The Oath of the Vayuputras – was launched at Crossword’s flagship retail outlet in Mumbai, the signs of how Tripathi’s faith was encouraging his audience to

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freely express itself were unmistakable. An hour before the late evening launch, fans were already collecting in large numbers outside the store chanting ‘Har Har Mahadev’ (a traditionally belligerent hailing of the Lord Shiva, destroyer of evil), some dressed as characters from the book and others queuing up for artists painting ‘Shiva body art’. On the one hand, as one reporter described it, this was ‘Indian publishing’s biggest party’ complete with what I have already described as the style statements associated with new-age Hinduism.56 On the other, Tripathi’s Hindu mythology ‘on steroids’ type-symbolism, his suggestion in his work that Hindu gods are like surgeons cleansing the society of evil and the presence of bouncers at the launch site of The Immortals smacked dangerously of a communally divided setting.57 Despite this volatile symbolic environment however, Tripathi has always insisted on the tolerant spirit of Hinduism, and on the fact that feedback for The Immortals of Meluha came not only from Hindus, but from Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Zoroastrians and Jews. Indeed, he has professed his own devotion not just to Lord Shiva, but also to the Muslim Kaaba, the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, Gautama Buddha and the Prophet Zarathustra. Yet, it is clear that in a political milieu defined exclusively by degrees of soft, moderate or hard bigotries, Tripathi’s implicit suggestion here that religion and liberalism go hand in hand, is strengthened not by the valorized civic virtue of tolerance that Hinduism is said to possess, but by a regularization of metropolitan life-style choices. In short, if one were to choose soft bigotry as one’s preferred version of Hinduism, one could, in Tripathi’s world, tailor it specifically to the desires of the globally aspirational Indian – in the form of five-star hotel parties where the guests drink milky ‘somrass’ (the nectar of the Hindu gods) and are given ‘thank-you’ souvenirs with the Pashupati seal (a steatite dating from 2600–1900 BCE, discovered at Mohenjodaro, and depicting a proto-Shiva figure) inscribed on them.58 ‘Freedom’ in this context is thus a dangerous literalization of what we have already seen Jay Dubashi propose in Snakes and Ladders: The Development Game – a function of the open market, synonymous with, and no doubt a precondition for, the freedom of man as species being. It is noteworthy that despite inhabiting and indeed cultivating a rich, albeit dangerous, field of significations – tilaks, pagdis, swords, religious chanting, Shiva’s evil-destroying trident, mythic devotions and ritualized practices – both Amish Tripathi and Chetan Bhagat have eschewed the place of language in their works. Like Bhagat, Tripathi is very firm on this matter. He contends specifically that insofar as English is a flexible language, it will undergo changes with geographical variations, but ‘whether a book is good or

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not should not be judged on its language. It should be judged on the thoughts and philosophies the book conveys’.59 But, despite what Tripathi contends, the English of The Immortals of Meluha is neither flexible, nor geographically and historically heterogeneous. Indeed, like God in Chetan Bhagat’s One Night at the Call Center, Tripathi’s Shiva speaks the campus English of young India, with exclamations like ‘goddammit’, ‘bloody hell’, ‘wow’, and ‘what a woman’ having pride of place in his vocabulary. In that sense, this God, who appears in the avatar of a half-Tibetan tribal dating from 1900 BCE, is indistinguishable from Bhagat’s call center employees in millennial Gurgaon. My point therefore is that with the historical and geographical variations in languages and idioms having been thus smoothened out, the nation can be narrated as a continuous unit beginning with Tripathi’s near-perfect empire of Meluha over which Lord Rama had sway in the second century BCE, to Bhagat’s sacred site of malls and high-rises upon which God descends in the twenty-first century. Thus, we have a different version in these writers of what Jay Dubashi in his 1985 collection Snakes and Ladders: The Development Game had imagined as memoryless bytes of mathematically constant time inhabited by managerially regularized expressive forms. It is precisely as an uninterrupted formation that the national imaginaries of Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi have been so appealing to new-age Hindi-language filmmakers, who take it upon themselves to put on display in one Bollywood spectacle after another the bold, new India, the India that is now secure in its national essence and the India that on the grounds of that unbroken, enduring essence can self-assuredly narrate its novel place in the world. Evidence for the interest of Bollywood production houses in the likes of Tripathi and Bhagat is available in some fairly uncomplicated numbers. Four of the latter’s six block-buster novels have so far been made into Hindilanguage motion pictures that have amassed good to excellent business for the Mumbai industry and at least two of those four films have fared remarkably well not just in India but also in the market for Hindi-language cinema overseas.60 Insofar as Tripathi is concerned, the story is much the same. The rights for The Immortals of Meluha have been bagged by Karan Johar, head of Dharma Productions House, which is most widely reputed for marrying in its films a new-age Hindu ideology with the free-market economic values of metropolitan India and Tripathi has also confirmed that the English-language rights of the same film have been sold to an undisclosed American producer. But while the smooth relationship between Bollywood films and authors like Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi is a noteworthy one for several reasons that

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are beyond the scope of this chapter, the question of the easy translatability of these authors does not end with their renditions on celluloid. Two of Amish Tripathi’s earlier novels in the Shiva Trilogy (The Immortals of Meluha and The Secret of the Nagas) are already available in several of the regional vernaculars including Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Assamese and Telegu, and while Bhagat is not quite as prolifically translated as his peer, his third novel, The 3 Mistakes of My Life has been rendered into Gujarati and Tamil and both Five Point Someone and One Night at the Call Center have been translated into Hindi. There can be no doubt that the success of these English-language novels with reading public across the country was in fact a galvanizing factor in the rush towards translation. But perhaps more notably, it is their use of a certain kind of non-regionalized local English as the most efficacious expression of the nation as a whole that makes Bhagat’s and Tripathi’s writing readily accessible to a wide range of regional public cultures. In other words,as I have suggested before, English is treated in these novels not only as one of many Indian vernaculars, but indeed the nationally recognizable language along-side Hindi. In this scenario then, the relay between Hindi and English is no longer a relay between nation and empire, just as the relay between a particular kind of campus, call center urban English and the many Indian vernaculars is no longer a relay between the nation and its fragments. Thus, what were not so long ago contentious relationships between national and imperial linguistic powers, or between national and regional vernacular cultures, are well on their way to being dissolved into an ostensibly homogeneous nationalcultural identity. Such an identity is particularly manifest in the uncoupling of English from its bitter imperial past, or in the unbroken continuity between Hindi and English as twin expressions of national being. The violence of this equation between former rivals is particularly palpable in an emerging and rather striking phenomenon in the publishing industry for Hindi language fiction, which is developing alongside and in consonance with the new phase of Indian writing in English. Writing for the ‘Deep Focus’ section of The Times of India, Shobita Dhar points us towards this phenomenon, arguing that in the post-liberalization Indian dispensation, a group of Hindi-language authors have quite successfully adopted some of the marketing and signifying practices of authors like Bhagat and Tripathi. One of the reasons they have done this, according to Dhar, is to bridge the long-standing divide in Hindi publishing between ‘literary giants like Premchand, Ajneya and Shivani and the later day writers of cheap paperbacks sold on footpaths and railway platforms’61 Emerging

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Hindi-language authors like Gaurav Solanki, Divya Prakash Dube and Nikhil Sachan, were like Bhagat and Tripathi, educated at elite technology or management institutes, or in the case of Sachan, both. In their writing, they deploy contemporary Hindi and ‘Hinglish’, and again like their Englishlanguage contemporaries, showcase characters who are ambitious, bold and tech-savvy; women who are freshly liberated and call center workers who are confident about their cleverness and wit. Moreover, the internet is the canvas for these writers and many of them move quite fluidly between blogging and fiction writing, often using their smartphones to key in short stories that are not as lingering as the more elaborate form of the novel. They actively promote their products on social media platforms and audio-visual portals and have been known to turn to the services offered by start-up publishing houses and online sellers to print and distribute their work.62 In other words, these Hindi fiction writers are following almost all the leads provided them by current avatars of Indo-Anglian writing, and in doing so, they are consolidating the new relationship that such Indo-English writing has introduced between national and imperial linguistic powers. That is to say, if for the second phase of the Indo-Anglian novel, English was provincialized as one of many Indian languages through a literal translation of the appropriate vernacular into the very thickness of its discursive practice, then in the third phase of Anglophone writing in the Indian context, it is the erstwhile national language that must move towards the signifying practices of a social-media-type, call center and youthful campus English idiom. Such an idiom has already been provincialized as the native expression of a new Indian people and is radically reversible in that sense with Hindi as the artificially engineered official language of the post-independence Republic. In a 2014 interview with Nirpal Dhaliwal of The Guardian, Chetan Bhagat, despite having long abjured the significance of language in his writing, makes what I understand to be a rather startling revelation in relation to this phenomenon by referring to his style as a particular kind of ‘broken English.’63 While admitting that his novels are more often than not set amongst the 20-something urban population as they make their way through a quickly liberalizing India, Bhagat stresses that his readers are actually not this young beau-monde. Rather, they are constables, drivers, low-brow security personnel at airports, even tribals in the Indian hinterlands – for whom traversing an otherwise quick-read Bhagat novel could take well upto a month. According to Bhagat, this reading-public uses his novels to actually learn the English language, and implicitly therefore, to make themselves in the image of a new,

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youthful, middle-class India, so as to fit into a ‘radically strange new land … in which [for the first time] they can tentatively mingle across boundaries of sex, religion, caste and region.’64 The inattentiveness of authors like Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi to the depth and diversity of regional public cultures is here presented in the guise of an emerging equality between sexes, castes, religions and regions, the vehicle for which is a digitally savvy English language. Not surprisingly, it is on the strength of such ostensibly democratic impulses that the new India is narrated as bigger, better, an all-round optimum version of the nation. Bhagat of course adopts a signature moral self-righteousness on the matter and this is why it is comforting rather than humiliating for him to hear one of his readers say of his work: ‘Your English is like Hindi. It doesn’t tax my brain.’65 Drawing upon the resources of Hindi rather than the appropriate vernacular to understand the syntax of Bhagat’s English prose, this is our author’s model reader, someone who not only consolidates the equivalence between Hindi and English, but also actually celebrates the lowbrow nature of Bhagat’s fictional universe. Whether the status of Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi’s works as ‘commercial fiction’ or ‘pulp fiction’, in contradistinction to the high literary products of India’s international belletrists, is laudable or not, the designation is perhaps useful for scholars attempting to come to terms with what many think is an unfortunate turn in the tenor of Indian writing in English. However, I would argue that it is in fact risky to relegate this phenomenon in Indo-Anglian fiction to the fringes of the literary establishment for the very same reasons as it was dangerous in the 1980s to consign Hindutva to the extreme peripheries of the Indian political situation. If the latter is now speaking, with an increasingly alarming alacrity, from the very center of representative parliamentary institutions, then the former too is becoming the principal narrative voice of a nation expected, along with China, to soon have the largest and strongest middle-class in the world. It is this voice, as it is expressed in the works of authors like Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi that I have argued optimizes the ideology of metropolitan Hindutva for the new millennium. It does so, as we have seen, through the fashioning of an environment of language whose foundational structure is the telematic tempo of channels of information processing, global managerial formations and quickly strengthening telecommunications spaces. Manifest in the idiom of text messages, managerial memos, social media platforms and information bytes, this language environment is the playground for a digitally-enabled young technocratic class that is to be the face of India on the global stage. The

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tempo of such an idiom is founded in a kind of presentist instantaneity that is very well suited to the imagination of time we have already encountered in the ideologues of metropolitan Hindutva who began putting the new discourse in place starting in the 1980s. But what is important is that in the millennial avatar of this discourse, as it appears in the figures of Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi, the temporal imaginary that I have tried to demonstrate as central to the political template of Hindutva is in fact presented as postpolitical and post-ideological. The emphasis for men like Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi is on technologies of communication and managerial mantras, which, they believe, are untainted by the fractiousness of politics and beyond the reach even of political analysis. This is precisely the kind of vacant technocratic impulse that provides millennial Hindutva an important image makeover, shifting the focus from its genocidal ideologies to its digital competencies and from its attacks against a long history of secularism to its championing of ahistorical practices of free-market management. In this latest version, Hindutva does not have to provide its sympathizers a developmental narrative of national unfolding. Instead, it offers static bytes of information that can be projected instantaneously over great distances and are managerially regulated toward the vision of a nation that has already arrived at its designated place on the world stage. Cleansed of partisan ideologies, fractious politics, historical contingencies, and asymmetrically related identities, this new national form marks what I call the after-life of the postcolonial condition – one in which nation writes itself into empire and self and other dissolve in a mass of undifferentiated biological life. To return to the terms with which I had started this book, one could say that in such a condition the sudden, epiphanic recognition of complicities between oppressor and oppressed is no longer terrifying, for such complicities have become normalized in tyrannically absolute terms. If for Sara Suleri’s analysis of colonial and postcolonial narratives, terror was accompanied by the possibility of love, in the discourse of Hindutva, terror is constituted precisely by the kind of absolutist environment in which love is not possible. In short, if the erstwhile shadowy convergences between colonizer and colonized have become normative, and if there are increasingly, no divisions between self and other, or, master and slave, then there can be no spur to love. The post-political milieu is just such a loveless milieu from which asymmetries and inequities have been cleansed, a milieu in which there is no outside to terror because there is no outside to the continuum on which it is generated. It is by putting under erasure the politics of style in their works that men

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like Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi have consolidated such a postpolitical milieu. As I have shown in the course of this book, it was through the development of certain environments of language that metropolitan Hindutva began to dangerously radicalize theories of state and sovereignty, reframe national imaginations of time and history and displace the idea of secularism vis-à-vis political negotiations of difference. To conceal the significance of these environments of language is to conceal not only such fundamental transformations, but also their violent repercussions. It is to frame a new idea of Hindu India in which the civic domain of absolutist majoritarianism is so well consolidated that it appears to have nothing at all to do with the politics of Hindutva. This is why such a domain is the perfect habitat for an ostensibly apolitical mass of biological life that must nonetheless be acted upon politically as it undergoes frequent cleansings to ensure its imperially ascendant species superiority. Drawing attention to the signifying practices of metropolitan Hinduization, as I have attempted to do in this book, and revealing the environment of language that results from such practices, is a vitally important entry point into understanding this ostensibly regularized continuum of biological species life. Only then can we go onto theorize what it is that introduces a fracture into the continuum – what causes a break in the regularity, what differentiates a seemingly undifferentiated mass of life, and how this massified homogeneity is politicized. This, in the final analysis, might help us resist the means whereby such a life is rendered at once murderous as well as suicidal.

1

2

3

4

Endnotes

I follow the leads of Gayatri Spivak, ‘How to Read a “Culturally Different” Book’; Aamir Mufti, ‘Orientalism and the Institution of World Literatures’ and John Mee, ‘After Midnight: The Novel in the 1980s and 1990s,’ in A History of Indian Literature in English, edited by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 318–36 amongst others, in order to elaborate this argument. See Gayatri Spivak, ‘How to Read a “Culturally Different” Book’.

Pinaki Roy, ‘The Seismic Shift: A Very Brief Review of Chetan Bhagat’s Oeuvre,’ The Atlantic Literary Review Quarterly 13, no. 2 (April-June 2012): 68–80; Beena Agarwal, Chetan Bhagat: A Voice of Seismic Shift in Indian Fiction in English (New Delhi: Yking Books, 2013) and Mini Anthikad-Chibber interviews Chetan Bhagat, ‘He’s Back,’ The Hindu (Saturday, 26 April 2008).

See Suman Gupta, ‘Indian ‘Commercial Fiction’ in English, the Publishing Industry, and Youth Culture,’ Economic and Political Weekly 47, no. 5 (4 February 2012): 46–

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53 for an argument about the polarization between commercial and literary Indian writing in English.

5 Randeep Ramesh, ‘Author’s Mass-market Success Upsets Indian Literati,’ The Guardian (8 October 2008) and Donald Greenlees, ‘An Investment Banker Finds Fame off the Books,’ The New York Times (26 March 2008). 6

7 8 9

In addition to the texts I mention in my discussion of Bhagat’s work in this chapter, I would like to point also toward Subir Dhar, ‘Inspiring India: The Fiction of Chetan Bhagat and the Discourse of Motivation,’ in Writing India Anew: IndianEnglish Fiction 2000-2010, edited by Krishna Sen and Rituparna Roy (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2013), 161-170. ‘The Writers Community on Chetan Bhagat,’ Forbes India Magazine (23 December 2009).

I follow Manuel Castell’s The Rise of the Network Society (Cambridge, Mass: Blackwell, 1996) in claiming that networks of information penetrate the banalities of everyday life. ‘The Writers Community on Chetan Bhagat’.

10 Ziya Us Salam, ‘It’s all about Numbers,’ The Hindu (23 November 2009). 11 Ziya Us Salam, ‘It’s all about Numbers.’ 12 Ziya Us Salam, ‘It’s all about Numbers.’ 13 Ziya Us Salam, ‘It’s all about Numbers.’

14 Extracts from the interview with Mrs V. Karthika, (now former) Managing Editor, Penguin India; Interviewers: Tapan Basu, Vaibhav Iype Parel and Akhil Katyal (November 2006), New Delhi, http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/ferguson-center/indianlit/documents/unpub-doc-interview-mrs-v-karthika.htm, last accessed on 28 August 2015. 15 Suman Gupta, ‘Indian ‘Commercial Fiction’ in English, the Publishing Industry, and Youth Culture.’ 16 Jyoti Thottam, ‘Techie Lit: India’s New Breed of Fiction,’ Time (30 October 2008). 17 Ziya Us Salam, ‘It’s all about Numbers’.

18 Suman Gupta, ‘Indian ‘Commercial Fiction’ in English, the Publishing Industry, and Youth Culture,’ 50. 19 Spivak, ‘How to Read a “Culturally Different” Book.’

20 See John Mee, ‘After Midnight: The Novel in the 1980s and 1990s,’ 321–22 for one instance of such criticism. Mee argues that ‘the abrogation of Standard English was the sign of a certain cultural weightlessness, the deracinated insouciance of elite college boys, or the alienation of those who have lost touch with the national community (if there is such a thing).’ 21 Spivak, ‘How to Read a “Culturally Different” Book,’ 240.

22 Robert McCrum, ‘Chetan Bhagat: The Paper-back King of India,’ The Observer (24 January 2010).

23 See ‘A Winning Plot,’ The Telegraph (18 October 2009), Calcutta, for an emphasis on Bhagat’s 18–25 reader.

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24 Suman Gupta, ‘Indian ‘Commercial Fiction’ in English, the Publishing Industry, and Youth Culture,’ 51.

25 See extracts from the interview with Mrs V. Karthika, (now former) Managing Editor, Penguin India, Interviewers: Tapan Basu, Vaibhav Iype Parel, and Akhil Katyal (November 2006), New Delhi, http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/ferguson-center/indianlit/documents/unpub-doc-interview-mrs-v-karthika.htm, last accessed on 28 August 2015. 26 Chetan Bhagat, One Night at the Call Center (New York: Ballantine Books, 2005).

27 See Suman Gupta, ‘Indian ‘Commercial Fiction’ in English, the Publishing Industry, and Youth Culture’. 28 See Margaret Gilbelman, ‘So How Far Have We Come: Pestilent and Persistent Gender Gap in Pay,’ Social Work 48, no. 1 ( January 2003), 22–32 for an elaboration of this claim, particularly in relation to social work, but also taking into consideration the gendering of other human service professions.

29 See Romy Frohlich and Sonja B. Peters, ‘PR Bunnies Caught in the Agency Ghetto: Gender Stereotypes, Organizational Factors, and Women’s Careers in PR Agencies,’ Journal of Public Relations Research 19, no. 3 (2007), 240. 30 As of 15 May 2014, Chetan Bhagat’s website lists him as the author of 114 articles for The Times of India and three articles for The Hindustan Times. The columns I list here all appeared in the former. 31 Chetan Bhagat, ‘The New Vote Bank for Politicians: Aam Aurat,’ The Times of India (9 February 2014). 32 Chetan Bhagat, ‘The New Vote Bank for Politicians’. 33 Chetan Bhagat, ‘The New Vote Bank for Politicians’.

34 Chetan Bhagat, ‘Five Things Women Need to Change about Themselves,’ The Times of India (10 March 2013).

35 See Paola Baccheta, ‘Hindu Nationalist Women as Ideologues,’ in Embodied Violence: Communalizing Women’s Sexuality in South Asia, edited by Kumari Jayawardena and Malathi de Alwis (London: Zed Books, 1996), 126–67; ‘Extraordinary Alliances in Crisis Situations: Women against Hindu Nationalism in India,’ in Feminism and Antiracism: International Struggles for Justice, edited by Kathleen M. Blee and France Winddance Twine (New York: New York University Press, 2001), 220–49 and Paola Bacchetta and Margaret Power eds., Right-Wing Women: From Conservatives to Extremists around the World (New York: Routledge, 2002); Partha Chatterjee, ‘The Nationalist Resolution of the Women’s Question,’ in Recasting Women: Essays in Colonial History, edited by Kumkum Sangari and Sudesh Vaid (New Delhi: Kali for Women, 1989), 233–53 and The Nation and its Fragments (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993); Nivedita Menon, ‘Embodying the Self: Feminism, Sexual Violence, and the Law,’ in Community, Gender and Violence. Subaltern Studies XI, edited by Partha Chatterjee and P. Jeganathan (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), 66–105; Radha Kumar, The History of Doing: An Illustrated Account of Movements for Women’s Rights and Feminism in India, 1800–1990 (New Delhi: Kali for Women, 1993); ‘Identity Politics and the Contemporary Indian Feminist Movement,’ in Identity Politics and Women: Cultural Reassertions and Feminisms in International

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Perspective, edited by Valentine Moghadam (Oxford: Westview Press, 1994), 274–92; Janaki Nair, ‘On the Question of Female Agency in Indian Feminist Historiography,’ Gender and History 6, no. 1 (April 1994), 82–100; Kumkum Sangari and SudeshVaid, eds., Recasting Women: Essays in Colonial History (New Delhi: Kali for Women, 1989); Tanika Sarkar and Urvashi Butalia eds.,Women and Right-Wing Movements: Indian Experiments (London: Zed Books, 1995).

36 See Andrew Buncombe, ‘“I Feel the Attack in my Heart”: India’s Shame at Brutal Rape,’ The Independent (20 December 2012); Anne F. Stenhammer, ‘UN Women Condemns Gang-rape of Delhi Student’, http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2012/12/ un-women-condemns-gang-rape-of-delhi-student/, last accessed on 28 August 2015; ‘Delhi Gang Rape: Protests go Viral Nation-wide, Unstoppable Public Outpouring as Gang rape Victim Dies,’ The Economic Times (29 December 2012) for a sense of the outrage in the face of this event. 37 Chetan Bhagat, ‘Wake up and Respect your Inner Queen,’ The Times of India (6 April 2014). 38 ‘Manage the Nation, but Don’t Try to Play King,’ The Times of India (19 October 2013). 39 ‘Can India’s back-ward polity ever provide a pro-growth economic environment?’ The Times of India (6 September 2013). 40 ‘Pro-poor or pro-poverty?’ The Times of India (12 July 2013).

41 ‘Being Hindu Indian or Muslim Indian,’ The Times of India (1 November 2013).

42 Chetan Bhagat, ‘Five Steps to a Revitalized Brand BJP,’ The Times of India (31 July 2011).

43 See Swapan Dasgupta, http://www.swapan55.com/2009/06/junking-ugly-hinduimage.html, last accessed on 28 August 2015 and Martha Nussbaum, The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India’s Future (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007). 44 Chetan Bhagat, ‘Can Modi Win in 2014?’ The Times of India (14 June 2013). 45 Chetan Bhagat, ‘Can Modi Win in 2014?’ 46 Chetan Bhagat, ‘Can Modi Win in 2014?’

47 Chetan Bhagat, ‘Five Steps to a Revitalized Brand BJP.’ 48 Chetan Bhagat, ‘Can Modi Win in 2014?’

49 It is noteworthy that the establishment of the Indian Institutes of Management (now numbering thirteen public, autonomous institutions of management education and research in the country) was initiated by the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, on the recommendation of the proto-socialist Planning Commission of the-then government. The irony in the situation lies in the fact that it is precisely a Nehruvian socialism that the most successful of current IIM graduates decries, and indeed, in his first Independence Day (15 August 2014) speech, the BJP Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose ideology can no doubt be aligned with the managerial class, announced in no uncertain terms the end of the life of the Planning Commission. 50 Subhash K. Jha interviews Chetan Bhagat, ‘Commercializing Creativity is Creative Act,’ Mid-Day (21 May 2011).

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51 Kala Vijayaraghavan, ‘How Amish Tripathi’s Success is Prompting MBA Grads to Become Novelists,’ The Economic Times (19 January 2013). 52 Amish Tripathi, ‘The MBA Writer,’ Open Magazine (18 September 2010).

53 Radhika P. Nair, ‘Self-Publishing: How Start-ups like NotionPress, Cinnamon Teal are Changing the Way Books are Created,’ The Economic Times (15 January 2014). 54 Rachel Lopez, ‘How Amish Tripathi Changed Indian Publishing,’ The Hindustan Times (26 April 2013). 55 Amish Tripathi, ‘The MBA Writer.’

56 Rachel Lopez, ‘How Amish Tripathi Changed Indian Publishing.’

57 Rashmi Bansal, Blurb for The Immortals of Meluha, available at http://www.authoramish. com/shiva_trilogy_reviews.html, last accessed on 28 August 2015. 58 Rachel Lopez, ‘How Amish Tripathi Changed Indian Publishing’.

59 Bidisha Mahanta, ‘Literature in Transition,’ The Hindu (23 January 2013).

60 A 2009 campus film directed by Rajkumar Hirani, 3 Idiots, was loosely based on Bhagat’s first novel, Five Point Someone—What not to do at IIT and went on to become a block-buster for the Hindi film industry both at home and abroad; the 2008 film Hello directed by Atul Agnihotri and based on One Night at the Call Center was also a hit, as was Kai Po Che (2013), directed by Abhishek Kapoor, and adapted from The 3 Mistakes of My Life. Most recently, Two States (2014) directed by Abhishek Varman (of Dharma Productions) and based on Bhagat’s novel of the same name was declared a super-hit for the Mumbai industry as well as overseas. It is on the back of successes such as these that Chetan Bhagat has become a not-so-rare feature in all things Bollywood.

61 Shobita Dhar, ‘Hindi Fiction Writes a New Story,’ The Times of India (19 January 2014). 62 See ShobitaDhar, ‘Hindi Fiction Writes a New Story.’

63 Nirpal Dhaliwal, ‘Chetan Bhagat: Bollywood’s Favourite Author,’ The Guardian (23 April2014). 64 Nirpal Dhaliwal, ‘Chetan Bhagat: Bollywood’s Favourite Author.’ 65 Nirpal Dhaliwal, ‘Chetan Bhagat: Bollywood’s Favourite Author.’

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The guiding philosopher of the BJP was a man named Deendayal Upadhyaya who, in Gandhian terms, visualized for India, a self-reliant economy with the village as the

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Index anatamo-politics, 80–81 Anglicism, 11–12, 161n11 Anglo-American, 26, 63n13, 138, 167, 173, 185 Anglophone, 11–18, 21, 23–25, 36, 38–39, 41, 134, 136–139, 143, 166–167, 173, 191 Anglo-Saxon, 122–123 anticolonial, 114, 134 anti-national, 4, 89 assimilation, 30n9, 166 autoethnography, 163n35 bigotry, 61, 188 binaries, 2, 26–27, 72, 83–84, 95n20, 97n35, 136 biopolitics, 22 bio-power, 22, 79–81, 84–92, 93n11, 124–126, 147 call center, 25, 168, 170–178, 184, 189–191 caste, 4, 41–42, 58, 93n13, 98n43, 104– 105, 116–117, 140, 144–146, 161n12, 182, 192 center, 1, 12, 17, 25, 44, 54, 58, 66n40, 89, 97n35, 105, 139–140, 144, 146, 154, 157, 159, 168, 171 colonial/ colonialism, 28, 42, 45, 47, 49, 51, 69–71, 83, 91, 92n3, 97n35, 103–105, 116–118, 126n2, 129n24, 131n40, 135, 153, 166, 175, 178, 193 communalism, 4, 9, 64n22, 65n30, 89, 130n29 conceit, 20–22, 60–61, 71–73, 75, 81, 85, 92, 95n20, 107, 109, 111–112, 124, 128n20, 170, 184 cybernetic, 15, 20 decolonization, 1

democracy, 140–144, 146, 161n17 development, 7, 10, 16, 61n3, 63n13, 67n49, 75–86 dharma, 14, 52–53, 55-56, 59, 66n38, 67n50, 139–144, 146, 161n17, 182 diaspora/diasporic, 63n13, 157, 171 Enlightenment, 4, 10, 28, 119, 134 epic, 43, 51–53, 55, 64n20, 66n38, 117– 121 ethno-nationalist, 116 Facebook, 168, 181, 186 free-market, 10, 75, 183, 189, 193 gender, 25, 41–42, 175–180 genealogy, 22, 25, 92 ghazal, 112–114, 128n19 globalization, 1, 3, 13–14, 24, 28, 41, 63n10, 64n20, 95n19, 97n31, 153, 157–158 governance, 19, 29n5, 46–47, 58, 73, 87, 105–106, 140–141, 182 Hindu-Anglian, 14, 16, 21, 25, 137, 139, 146, 182 history/historiography, 28, 69, 103–105, 107, 109–111, 119–120, 123, 134, 150, 164n36 holyland, 121–122, 124 humanism, 28, 119 ideologue, 3–4, 11–14, 16–17, 20, 22–23, 25–26, 33n40, 37, 39, 61, 63n13, 71, 82, 87–88, 90, 93n13, 97, 101, 107, 123, 129n21, 131n41, 133–134, 136–137, 139, 144, 146–147, 166–167, 176, 178, 180–181, 183–184, 193 imperial, 3, 9–12, 15, 17–19, 21, 23, 27, 38, 41, 43-44, 51, 54, 59–60, 70, 103,

216

INDEX

105–112, 114, 123, 136–138, 144–145, 147–148, 151, 153, 156–158, 190–191, 194 India, 4, 8–9, 11–24, 26–27, 29n5, 29n8, 32n28, 32n35, 35–36, 39–41, 45, 47–48, 51, 54, 59–60, 61n3, 62n4, 63n14, 67n46, 70–71, 75–76, 80, 87, 89–90, 93n10, 95n20, 98n42, 103–104, 107, 110, 116–117, 130n39, 135, 140, 143– 150, 152, 154, 161n14, 162n18, 168, 171–184, 186, 189, 191–192, 194 indigenous, 22, 102, 106, 108, 111, 123, 156 Indo-Anglian, 12, 134–137, 166–167, 171–172, 186, 191–192 Indo-English, 137, 147, 167, 191 inequality, 3, 5, 76, 79, 83, 85–88, 90, 99n46, 177 Internet, 15, 191 itihasa, 51–52, 54, 120, 130n34 journalistic, 19–20, 23, 25, 38, 44, 139, 145–146, 174, 176, 180, 183 karmic, 14, 20, 75, 95n21, 108–109, 111–112, 114 labour, 38, 71–72, 97n34, 168 left-liberal, 38–40, 146 love, 2, 10, 27, 52, 112, 149, 174–175 majoritarian, 3, 5, 12, 30n9, 54, 60, 88, 90, 102, 181, 183, 194 managerial, 16–17, 19–20, 25, 34n46, 83, 90–91, 141, 143, 168, 170, 174, 184, 189, 192–193, 197n49 margin, 1–2, 4, 41, 97n35, 137, 154 masculinity, 121, 159n4 memoryless, 79–84, 91, 125, 145–146, 174, 178, 189 metropolitan, 1, 13, 15–24, 26–28, 35–36, 38–39, 41, 44, 49–61, 63n8, 64n23, 68n53, 69–92, 93n13, 98n30, 101–102, 107, 118, 123, 131n41, 134, 136–147, 150, 154–159, 160n9, 166, 170–174, 180–182, 188–189, 192–194

middle-class, 4, 21, 25, 36, 38–39, 61, 98n43, 135, 166, 169, 172, 192 militarize, 101, 115, 131n40, 158 minorities, 4, 9, 35, 91 modernity, 1–2, 6, 11, 17, 41, 49, 51, 60, 72, 83, 96n29, 100n53, 118, 143, 157, 163n33, 164n42, 165n45 monotheism/s, 118, 121 mutiny, 103–105, 107, 110, 112 nationalism, 2, 4, 11–18, 26, 28, 36, 3941, 56, 62n5, 63n10, 63n14, 64n20, 65n29, 69–70, 87, 97n35, 101, 103, 105, 121, 127n7, 128n18, 129n24, 130n29, 130n33, 133–134, 141, 147, 180–181 neo-liberal, 22 Orientalism, 6–12, 18, 27, 118, 120, 161n11 otherness, 1, 3, 8, 89, 111, 123, 151, 153, 158 outsource, 16, 25, 172 patriarchy, 178 peripheral, 1, 12–13, 18, 58, 137, 154, 156, 158, 167, 170–171 philology, 6–11, 27, 30n10, 30n13 popular culture, 33n42, 166–167 postcolonial, 11–12, 15, 17–18, 24, 26–29, 31n27, 42, 44–45, 48, 59, 64n22, 83, 87, 89–90, 97n35, 136–137, 147–148, 150–159, 166, 193 post-ideological, 25, 180, 184, 193 postpolitical, 2, 193–194 poverty, 18, 69–72, 76, 81, 83–85, 93n13, 144, 182, 187 protectionist, 73, 91 public intellectual, 39, 139, 144, 179 public sphere, 17, 42, 179, 182 racial, 39, 42, 57, 129n21, 139 rationalist, 115, 119–120, 134, 141–142 rebirth, 20–22, 75, 77, 82, 91, 101–126, 143, 184 religious, 3–4, 7, 9, 21, 29n5, 30n9, 33n39, 38–42, 57–60, 66n40, 67n49, 87, 91,

INDEX

98n43, 115, 117, 129n21, 144, 150, 161n17, 164n38, 165n48, 180, 187–188 Revolt, 103–105, 107, 110, 112 right-wing, 35, 48, 63n16, 146, 180 Sanskrit, 5–9, 12–16, 21–23, 25, 31n24, 32n32, 51–52, 63n8, 120–121, 135–138, 159n4, 161n11, 163n27, 187 secularism, 3–4, 27-28, 29n7–8, 30n9, 33n39, 35, 38, 42–43, 45, 64n22, 64n23, 67n48, 87, 89–90, 94n14, 98n41, 180, 182, 193–194 sepoy, 107, 109–112 social media, 15, 25, 181, 186, 191–192 socialism, 29n4, 45, 74, 85–87, 95n19, 124, 197n49 species life, 72–73, 78, 81, 93n13, 124–125, 133, 147, 184, 194 statistics/statistical, 69–71, 80, 83, 125, 144–145

217

subaltern, 28, 104–105, 148–149, 158, 163n31 technocracy/technocratic, 3, 10, 18, 25, 36, 38, 41, 61, 91, 166, 175, 186, 192–193 telematic/s, 19–20, 25, 28, 33n42, 34n46, 38, 41, 174, 183, 185, 192 temporality, 19–20, 82–83, 109, 111, 128n17 terror, 2, 10, 27, 41, 158, 193 transnational, 15, 38, 46, 61 Twitter, 168, 181, 185–186 urban, 25, 36, 38, 41, 80, 83, 97n34, 143, 161n12, 184, 190–191 vernacular, 8–9, 12–13, 15, 19, 23, 25, 36, 41, 63n8, 66n41, 117, 134–139, 171, 190–192 world literature, 167