Social Scientist. v 21, no. 242-43 (July-Aug 1993) p. 1.


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Introduction

The present number of Social Scientist is part of a continuing argument against the presumptive hegemonic role adopted by communalist forces through, among other things, Ayodhya. Aijaz Ahmad and K.N. Panikkar's interventions are sequels to their earlier articles (Social Scientist No. 238-39), while Javeed Alam's presentation also seeks to analyse the fascist character inherent in the incidents surrounding Ayodhya. All three are concerned with the communalist construction of this fascist ideology in our context and its dissemination. R.S. Sharma's article, while it basically deals with the problem of the appearance of the domesticated horse in the history of the Indian subcontinent, is not entirely unrelated to the others. Indirectly it provides a refutation of the simplistic and ahistorical account of the Aryan problem such as Hindu communalists seek to popularise these days. It reemphasizes the theory of Aryan migration and establishes, through archaeological evidence, how 'Indo-European culture assumed an eastern shape in Central Asia and underwent further alterations in Iran and the Indian sub-continent*.

The importance of 'public rituals' in the working out of the Ayodhya project, by the 'Hindutva* forces as pointed out by Aijaz, is discussed more elaborately in K.N. Panikkar's article. Both articles identify the invocation of unreason as an essential feature of such 'public rituals' and the same issue is raised in Javeed Alam's article which talks of the debasement of rhetoric and of 'deception' becoming 'constitutive' of the culture and discourse which informs the polities of the country today. The 'public rituals' are indeed a striking feature of the programme of 'Hindutva' and the mobilisation of 'mutts' and religious leaders ('mahants') adds to the spectacular quality. However, there can be no doubt that this religious symbolism is used as a powerful method of political mobilisation by the RSS and from time to time by the BJP as a whole. This thesis of Panikkar is taken a step further in Aijaz's basic argument that communalism is but the 'cutting edge' of a more comprehensive fascist project.

Both Javeed and Aijaz agree that in a country like ours, where religious minorities and socially oppressed castes and tribes constitute a substantial part of our population (where, I would add, a large number of linguistic communities are also there), it is difficult for this kind of political jugglery, perpetrated under the banner of nationalism and working through a programme of homogenisation, to succeed. There may be differences of opinion in predicting the extent to which state power may adopt the saffron line in its progress towards a more coercive form, or even the extent to which it may turn coercive. The logic of Aijaz's refusal to accept the argument that 'the very structure of cla^s

Social Scientist, Vol. 21, Nos. 7-8, July-August, 1993



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