In Conversation: Dipesh Chakrabarty and Alapan Bandyopadhyay, with an introduction by Milinda Banerjee. Translation by Milinda Banerjee and Sreyoshi Bose.
For Muslims to become worthy of any empathy and solidarity, whether in the west or in staunchly anti-Muslim India, what must first be shed is our very religiosity. Islam is to be tolerated only when reduced to culture in which the dominant-caste or white friend can joyously celebrate Muslim festivities, visit Muslim friends and restaurants for biryani in Toronto or Delhi, or post Sufi songs on their social media. Those are the parameters set around reception of a Muslim sans Islam.
The Hindu nationalist project is out-and-out an Orientalist one. It is not indigenous. It is inspired almost entirely within a colonial, Orientalist framework of knowledge.
I believe the recognition that wisdom and love go hand in hand cannot simply be abstracted as some general and vague love for the world and its persons. It is, in fact, a general and abstract love that often becomes complicit in ways of death.
Indian citizens stepping up to save as many lives as they could embody what the Kingdom of God is about: collective self-care, mutual aid, without a king, while also holding earthly kings accountable for not attending to the needs of their public whether or not there is a crisis.
In May 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to the riverside holy city of Varanasi to worship mother goddess Ganges in gratitude for his victory in the national elections. This grand self-promotional gesture by a prominent Hindu nationalist politician illustrates how religion and politics remain enmeshed in India. Even though the democratic constitution of the nation-state has been modeled on western varieties of secularism, everyday politics is infused with religious iconographies.
Federal elections in the world’s largest democracy have recently led to a significant change of leadership in India. There are two crucial domains of concern for anyone looking at the future of India after these elections: on the one hand, concerns about the rights and dignity of minority communities, which is saturated with an ideological component; on the other hand, the project of growth and development, which is the language Prime Minister Modi now speaks.
This is a book about India and China. It is about the ways in which these nation-forms, and the nationalist understandings of religion that have thereby developed, have been transformed by Western imperial modernity.
August 28th 2013, reminded us of the power of the spoken word as the world commemorated the 50th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech. What was celebrated was the moral power of words to transform history – this despite the risk and tragedy of empty rhetoric which has inundated it.