Posts Tagged ‘Shiv Sena’

The Saffron Swastika – Fascism’s India moment

In Political on November 24, 2012 at 10:36 am

Bal Thackeray, the leader of Shiv Sena died due to illness on the 17th November, 2012.  He was 86.  The political leaders of the country, along with the corporate honchos, filmdom’s Bollywood super stars and a large swath of urban Mumbai population paid rich tribute to this man.  State honors were provided as he was laid to rest in Shivaji Park.  He was wrapped in the Indian national flag, as a tearful Mumbai was artfully covered by a media that blared obsequious peans of it’s own.

In a quickly staged media event, a deferential following paying last rites to the elder Thackeray  was concocted as lending legitimacy to a leader’s factious legacy.

Most calling him Hindu Hriday Samrat or the emperor of Hindu hearts.  In a compelling The Hindu op-ed titled An Authentic Indian Fascism, Praveen Swami wrote about the abundance of tributes flowing in:

It is tempting to attribute this nauseous chorus to fear or obsequiousness. Yet, there is a deeper pathology at work. In 1967, Thackeray told the newspaper Navakal: “It is a Hitler that is needed in India today”. This is the legacy India’s reliably anti-republican elite has joined in mourning.

Swami goes on to argue that the Shiv Sena represents an authentic Indian fascism, created by the accommodations that India’s liberal democracy sought with communalism.  His litmus test of fascism has been Gramsci’s understanding that fascism is the excrement of a dysfunctional polity. He is correct in his observation that it was a dysfunctional polity that gave rise to the Shiv Sena.  But, was it fascism?

I apply a different definition and test this authentic Indian fascism.  Swami is right in his opinion that there are many fundamental building blocks within Shiv Sena that approached a classic fascism model.  I take Michael Mann’s construction instead, of classic fascism and apply it here to the Shiv Sena model.  Same subject, different angle.  According to Mann:

The pursuit of a transcendent and cleansing Nation-Statism through para-militarism. 

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M F Husain – the changing titles of a storyline

In Arts on July 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I stumbled upon a great interview of MF Husain.  He had already passed away a Qatari citizen.  It made me wonder, what lead him to abandon his India and become a Qatari citizen.  Let us start with India:

‘Tanjore Paintings of Balaji with Gold leaf and Semi precious stones’

proclaimed the craft store in the neighborhood.  This summarizes to me the middle class understanding of art.  At least it does in good old South India.  The leap from this middle class sensibility to that of an art aficionado is a mighty one and fraught with many misinterpretations.

Often times class gets confused with crass in the eyes of the beholder. The gold leaf and semi precious stones dictates fine taste.  That which had a price has value.  Not the other way around as value simply cannot be judged.  No bragging rights if you cannot convince your audience that the item you posses is of immense value.

MF Husain painted on a very different canvas using strange colors and brush strokes to manifest a new grammar for a new language. His subjects depicted the vibrancy of Indian life.  None of them wore gold leaves or semi precious stones, most wore nothing at all.  The artist himself was a shabby barefoot painter of thoughts.

He loved being barefoot for a couple of reasons.  He mentioned once that he wanted to be assessed for his works and not by the footwear he dons.  He was making a statement by being barefoot. The characters in his artwork were naked for the same reason. They were making a statement and he never once wanted to gild them with gold leaves and lose the message.  Know them not for their heavily ornamented and stylized calendar art depictions.

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