Monday, July 23, 2007

Resituating the context of Death-3

(Here becomes the notion of ‘right to life’ a problematic one which needs to be replaced by a concept less selfish and more realistic in terms of self-learning provided by history.) contd.

Indians are no exception to this need. They are as cosmopolitan as any other urban land today is. The destiny of this sub-continent is carrying same crisis and eventuality as many other developing and even developed countries are carrying today. The constitution of Independent India is, no doubt, a conceptual sub-set of this entire challenge or opportunity. Being an Indian, it becomes quite imperative to look up to it as a source of vision and strength. And at the time of independence, India was facing exactly the circumstances which were potent enough to develop a philosophy of the constitution which could go beyond the selfishness of human beings and uphold the national symbols both as universally valid and individually flexible platforms. There was needed a thinking which could define both national and individual praxis that could be operational even beyond the communal set-ups. India was just not going to be free rather it was about to tread the path of self-assurance both for its polity and individual praxis.“What happened finally and why” is the subject-matter for this introductory portion of this work. The reality that we face today has emerged out of the choices we made half-a-century back. Was this encapsulation of “We, the People of India” a philosophical milestone or only a legal innovation to an Indian mind?
The constitutions have tried to be a mix of charter of demands of people and expectations of the state from the people. Ours is a similar book of excellent wordsmanship. It was not simply a brainchild of constituent assembly rather it was a choice of a distinctive set of political ideologies that were ruling the universe those days. The construction of the highly debated document actually followed the choice which was almost without any question-mark. The essentiality of a nation-state necessitated the obliteration of any other thinking models whether gandhian, swadeshi or any non-modern and local one. After six decades of strengthening nation-state, it becomes quite relevant to ask whether that essentiality has really done its job that was expected of it. The actual history of the country presents such a wide variety of praxis totally out of tune with national/constitutional aspirations that is almost baffling. Constitutions are expected to be guide maps of human actions but the native land has come out with so different results that the politics of India today is governed less by any philosophy of constitution and more by a strange set of motivations. That is why a kind of theoretical format is needed to explain this unexpected transformation of the right to life. In academic circles, the notion of nation-state is being questioned radically and several of its limitations have been rightly pointed out by some intellectuals but a holistic explanation of the anatomy of praxis Indians chose, is still absent.
The preamble of the constitution, despite sounding like a sacred chant, proved somewhat ineffective in the civil life of the country. Human lust for life surpassed all constitutional limits and generated a series of genres of political action. The existence of this multi-genre praxis is a critical question before the theoreticians and policy-makers. The country has seen insurgencies in Kashmir, Punjab and North-East on the one hand and phenomenal growth in Metros and state capitals. There are world-ranking educational institutions as well as the hundreds of pockets of chronic illiteracy. The corporate India is fast churning out Fortune 500 companies whereas half of the India is still suffering from a capability poverty ratio of 60%. At one extreme, there are activists like Medha Patkar, Anna Hazaare, Baba Amte, Rajendra Singh who are developing indigenous systems of sustainable growth and at the other extreme, there are urban dystopias threatening the existence of life itself. These trends can be safely considered to be too diverse to deserve any explanation yet it won’t be wrong to say that civil aspirations of India(24X7) are not within the realm of available constitutional objectives. The grassroots are driven by a sense of action driven more by the natural right to life and less by any of its political branches but it is the unexplored plasticity of this right that has produced unbelievable results. The inorganic nature of constitutions has failed to keep pace with the moment-to-moment organic interface with every passing breath. People have kept on living at a level of control about which the state had never any clear idea. They responded to the civic life in a thoroughly pluralistic manner totally counter to the state-sponsored pluralism. This turnout can be broadly classified into the following forms of action.

I. Hacking (in form of terrorism, secessionism, political assassinations etc.)

II Conceit (forms of corruption, crisis of governance, vote-bank politics etc.)

III Passive obedience (the forms of a failing but sustainable state)

IV System-building (state-building, elitist goals and media circuits)

V Parallelism (alternative philosophies of ecological, cultural & social movements)

Such a kind of categorization of the contemporary praxis does seem disturbing but a brief overview of the course of events can easily prove the existence of all forms of these political actions. Any dependence upon the philosophy of constitution and civil society does not explain these contradictory forms of praxis. In some contexts, the right to life has been fully inverted while in others it has been subverted. Why this country generated what was beyond the imagination of statesmen and policy-makers. I think the answer cannot be found in terms of any single current ideological perspective.

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