On Mander-Guha Debate-1

July 31, 2018

Rohit Dhankar

There was a long debate in the pages of Indian Express stared by Harsh Mander’s article “Sonia, sadly”on 24th March 2018 and concluded with Mander’s another article “Our threatened humanity”. The debate was actually sparked by Ramachandra Guha’s aptly titled response “Liberals, sadly” to Mander.  I missed the debate almost completely when it was actually raging, due to some preoccupations. After it ended, collected all the articles with help of a friend and read them recently. About 20 well known public intellectuals, virtually all media celebrities, of our country participated in it. Mander thinks of the debate as “rich and textured”, “thoughtful” and that it has established “a benchmark for public discourse”. (“Our threatened humanity”, 10th April 2018, Indian Express).

Sure, the debate brings to the public notice many important issues concerning Muslims in Indian politics. And still, I strongly feel that it is a debate between more or less likeminded people for the benefit of themselves and their confirmed followers. For someone who does not think on the lines already drawn—by the same public intellectuals—for Indian political discourse, it leaves too many questions unanswered and too many arguments only half explored. I have made this comment with some hesitation, as the collective weight of the participants in the debate is rather overwhelming for an ordinary mortal like me. Also, I have no proper credentials to question opinions of such well recognised people.

The debate, as mentioned, is on current position of Muslims in the Indian political action and discourse; more accurately on marginalisation and even exclusion of Muslim community. I am not a historian, nor a political scientist, nor a sociologist, nor even a politician or civil rights activist. As a result, have no standing to be writing on this sensitive issue. The only ground I can advance to defend my audacious action is that I am an Indian citizen, and happen to think, even if not very well. I also interact extensively with ordinary Indians in daily course of life, not as a researcher or as their saviour, but as ordinary an Indian as they themselves are. And sometimes express my thoughts.

My primary reason for writing this piece is, as mentioned above, that this debate does raise important issues, but leaves the general public where it was. It is a debate in a self-contained group. The second point, is that the debate completely ignores the role religious dogma/beliefs may play in creating socio-political situations, in spite of Guha’s attempt to draw attention in this direction. When history is taken into view it seems to be recounting events and intentions of parties/individuals without ever touching the “why?” of those events and intentions. It takes history as a kind of mysterious force, unfathomable. Actually, I will argue further down in this article that the gravest sin of Ram Guha was that he tried to explain “why” in a certain manner that did not go well with liberal intellectuals. It just scratches the surface of history of communal disharmony and divergent political directions Hindus and Muslims took.

I will try to raise some questions to substantiate what I have claimed in the above paragraph. A complete and in-depth analysis of these issues is beyond my competence; therefore, raising questions and justifying a need for further analysis is all I am attempting here.

Harsh Mander’s article “Sonia, sadly” is rightly referred to as a lament by Mukul Keshwani, Abdul Khaliq and Gazala Jamil; for that is exactly what it is. However, a lament can be justified, informative and a powerful cry for attracting attention to some dangerous situation. Mander’s article does all that. Even if his opening line is not entirely justified, he does point out the increasing suspicion and intolerance for Muslims in politics and public space. His claim “Muslims are today’s castaways, political orphans with no home, for virtually every political party” is obviously exaggerate if one keeps in mind Mamata Banerji’s TMC, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s SP, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD, and of course Nehru-Gandhi family’s Congress. The real problem with Mander’s article is not its exaggeration however, as exaggeration might be arguable in certain crisis situations. His real problem is one-eyed vision. He blames only BJP and RSS for this sorry situation, and is completely unwilling to notice, or even pose as a question, if there could have been something in the Muslim politics itself that brought about this predicament. He writes “It appears, at least for the present, that the BJP has succeeded in a toxic majoritarian reordering of the rules of India’s political game” and that “The poisons released by the RSS into the veins of Indian social life are powerful, addictive and heady.” Thus making the BJP and RSS the sole source of the poison and indicating that the majority Hindu public is either gullible enough or is bigoted enough to have eagerly lapped this poison up, never stopping to think what actual or perceived reasons this population might have had to fall prey to BJP and RSS. Other parties are simply forced into sunning Muslims because of the fear of misguided or bigoted Hindu majority. This makes Hindus responsible for this Muslim plight (in the concluding article the blame is on secular political parties and secular civil society), and gives a clean chit to the Muslim politics. I have absolutely no intention of defending BJP and RSS, and am fully aware that they have unleashed a hate campaign that is harming India, and in the process are destroying Hindu community. But when one is analysing a political situation, leaving the responsibility of Muslim politics out is a gross mistake and actually an endorsement of the communal line it has been taking right from the early 19th century.

His defence for painting this one side picture is interesting. In his own words “There are, no doubt, “medievalist”, misogynist and regressive elements within the Indian Muslim community. But so also there is no dearth of similar elements among Hindus, and indeed, other socio-religious communities in India. His motive “The debate that I wished to help raise was about what I see squarely as the culpability and the responsibility of secular political parties, and indeed secular civil society, for the unprecedented predicament in which Muslim peoples find themselves in India today.” I will try to discuss in this article below that the nature of Muslim politics in India cannot be compared with presence of obscurantist elements in other communities. Muslim politics in pre-independence India was based on certain principles allegedly derived from Islam and those principles are visible, even if not overtly argued for, in the present day Muslim politics in the issues it revolves around.




This attitude of liberal intellectuals—‘yes, there may be problems with Muslim politics but others are squarely responsible’—leaves common people completely baffled. And they pay no further attention to their arguments, as it sounds unfair and biased to them.

Guha tried to respond to this serious lacuna through his article “Liberals, sadly” and made a mistake right in the beginning. He compared burka and trishul, found both objectionable; and claimed that the political leader who advised Muslims to come to rallies without scull-caps and burkas may have motivated by progressive ideals of not flaunting one’s identity in politics and act more like an individual citizen of India. Putting burka and trishul on equal footing was clearly a mistake (which Guha graciously accepted), and excited the liberal intellectual mind so much that much of the debate is focussed on this. One does not need to go into details of this mistake and its criticism, it is flogged enough in all articles.

What is more important is that Guha makes an attempt to see the issues within Muslim politics which may have contributed in bringing about predicament of the Muslim community, which is so eloquently articulated in Mander’s article. To my mind that is more substantial part of Guha’s article; however, that part is either ignored or responded to in a completely unsatisfactory manner throughout the debate.

Guha quotes Dalwai to make a few points. One, that Mulims have a communal leadership. Two, that Muslims need a class of liberal intellectuals. Three, that Hindu-Muslim communalisms feed on each other. Four, that Hindus do have a liberal intellectual class among them which constantly attacks Hindu obscurantism. Five, that unless all liberals—Hindus, Muslims, and other faiths—combine to fight with all kinds of communalisms, they will not succeed. He cautions that if Muslim community does not develop a liberal intellectual class among themselves even the Hindu liberals will lose their ground and will be taken over by the Hindu communal elements. It has actually happed.

Further down in this analysis I will argue that Guha is basically right, in spite of most of the articles attacking his position.

(To be continued …..)


31st July 2018

Religion in public schools

July 29, 2018

Rohit Dhankar

“I teach in a government senior secondary school in Faridabad Haryana. Last session we had only 2 muslim students in a total strength of 100. This year school’s strength has gone up to 600. Muslim students are about 10 now. Last friday two muslim students came to me with a request for half day leave for offering namaz at a nearby mosque. This incident started a heated discussion among staff members. The point was – should students be allowed to practice/showcase their religious beliefs?”

This was written by Mr. Sanjay Sharma as a comment on my blog-post titled “An interaction with students”. I find his question important enough to merit a separate blog post. Rather than answering directly I would like to narrate three short episodes in a school, then give justifications for final decisions in those episodes and then answer Mr. Sharma’s question as per my thinking. Those who do not want to read all this can go directly to the last section of this piece. 😊

I actively taught in a voluntary agency ran school called Digantar for 15 years and am part of this organisation, established in 1978. The three episodes I am going to narrate are of this school. The episodes are nothing extra ordinary and if you get bored in reading them then I would request your indulgence, as they illustrate secular outlook in a school, even if there is nothing special about them.

Episode 1

Digantar has shelf-space allotted to students in the classrooms, something like open lockers. In these spaces students keep their learning material including books and stationary and whatever other little interesting things they usually collect. The school had a practice of big cleaning every Saturday in which children cleaned and decorated their own individual spaces as well. On one such Saturday a student affixed a picture of Shiva at the back wall of his own space. Teachers saw and smiled.

In those days Digantar campus had a thick jungle of berry-shrubs (called “jhad-beri” in Hindi). During the 40-minute lunch break children eagerly ran to the shrubbery and collected berries (simply “ber” in Hindi). The boy who put the Shiva picture in his space started offering a few bers to Shiva, offering simply meaning putting the bers in front of the picture. Teachers saw and smiled.

In a day or two some other children started offering bers to the Lord Shiva. Teachers saw and smiled. In a few days the boy who established Shiva started objecting to other children if they were passing in front of his space with their shoes on. This time, teachers saw and asked him to take his Shiva home, if he did not want it to be thrown in the dustbin.

Episode 2

Digantar always had Muslim children in majority, as it was situated in a Muslim majority area. In the local community children learn to read Quran—actually learn to recite without understanding and learning to read Arabic. When a part of Quran—I think called ‘Sipara’—is completed there is a minor celebration. Once 6-7 girls in Digantar finished a particular part of Quran and started offering Namaz 5 times a day. When they came to school they wanted to offer Namaz at a particular time and wanted the school timetable changed accordingly. It so happened that I taught mathematics at the time they wanted to offer their Namaz. Children were in the habit of talking to either Reena or me when they wanted something of this nature. This time since I was the teacher at the time in question they came to me as a group. I listened to them. Then told them that the school has got nothing to do with Allah or Bhagwaan, and time table cannot be changed for this reason. However, school has no objection if they want to offer their Namaz in some of the vacant spaces in the school, without disturbing anyone else and without designating that space as some kind of Namaz space. They have to choose between Allah and mathematics.

The girls started offering Namaz at the appointed time. There was no change in the school timetable, mathematics moved in its own way. No one paid any attention to their devotional activity. In about a week the attraction of mathematics proved to be stronger than Allah and the Namaz stopped on its own.

Episode 3

Digantar had a tradition of monthly meetings of all teachers and other functionaries. In one of such meetings a teacher raised the issue of going for Friday Namaz in the nearby Mosque. The time table was such that the lunch break did not coincide with his Namaz time. There was a thorough debate on the issue and the teacher was not allowed. In case he wanted to go he was suggested to take half-day leave every Friday.

The school was in a Muslim majority area, about 80% children were also Muslims. Next Friday the teacher talked to some community members after the Namaz and complained that Digantar did not allow him to offer Namaz. We had very clear and good relations with the community. No one believed him that Dignatar objects to his Namaz per se. When he told them that the school does not change the timetable to facilitate his Namaz nor does allow him to be absent for that time, the community was with Digantar and they saw the reason why it cannot be done.

Why did Digantar took this attitude to religion?

The people associated with this school had made a clear decision that it is a secular school in every respect. We had no religious prayer in the morning, no Saraswati pictures blessing the walls, no religious quotes. We also had no problem with religion as a private matter. But if someone wanted to discuss religious views or beliefs in the school they were discussed exactly in the same manner as magnetism or big-bang theory or any political ideology. No special considerations of showing any extra respect for religious figures (including Allah and Ishwar) or doctrines.

Our view of secularism was not of “equal respect to all religions”. In any case, I personally find it impossible to have equal respect to all beliefs, if one takes religion only as a system of belief (religion is more than that); as one has to make epistemic and moral judgments regarding beliefs. Beliefs can be true or false, and it is very difficult for a thinking person to “respect” the belief that the earth is resting on a tortoise or the world was created by a bored God in seven days. They are plainly wrong to me. But we did have a strict policy of equal respects for rights of all people, irrespective of their belief systems. This way our definition of secularism was not of “equal respect to all religions” but of “equal respect to all people”. This gave us room to have a discussion with all with complete candidness and telling him/her in clear words that we do not share his views—political as well as religious, as the case may be. However, as person we recognise his/her rights exactly equal to our own.

Government school to my mind ought to be secular if we adhere to our constitution. And the definition of secularism should not be “equal respect for all religions”, but “equal distance from all religions”. But if we do that then the morning prayer (the devotional prayer songs) will have to go and all the Saraswatis and Gayatri Mantras have to be removed from the school walls.

We should understand that Saraswatis, gayatri mantras and celebrating religious festivals in the schools invite demands for Namaz and tomorrow will demand aaratis in schools. Therefore, in my view: no change in the timetable to facilitate Namaz.

Mr. Sharma’s case

But the students in this case are not asking to change the timetable or anything else from the school. All they are asking is half day leave. It seems to me one cannot stop a student from taking leave. However, the schools may have policies regarding attendance; for example, any one below 70% attendance does not qualify for participating in the examination.  No leniency should be shown for religious reasons in the requirement of attendance.

Mr. Sharma also asks: “should students be allowed to practice/showcase their religious beliefs?” Actually, practice and showcasing are two different issues. Indian constitution gives its citizens right to practice as well as preach their beliefs, faiths. And that is one of the strengths of this constitution. Therefore, one cannot stop anyone from either practicing or preaching their religious belief; unless they contradict other peoples’ rights.

But schools are not places of religious practice or preaching; therefore, ought not to allow religious practices and preaching in the schools.

“Showcasing” might mean many things: including using burka, a cross or aum in a locket, a tilak or a scull-cap. If students come wearing these symbols naturally, there seems to be nothing wrong, nor can one stop this in India. But if students from a particular community start making it a point to flaunt these symbols some action depending on the situation may have to be taken.

In the particular case of taking half day leave I don’t think school has the right to deny. However, it is a case of opening a dialogue with the community and students regarding sanctity of school practices. It could be rationally argued that students should not be absent for religious reasons. The issue is of a dialogue and not of a rule, it seems to me. I also feel that the schools have the duty to make students understand that in a pluralistic society public institutions cannot accommodate religion, and by bunking classes every day they are harming their own studies. It is a failure of education system and society in general if we cannot make this point to a community. But, as I said, it can be made only through a dialogue, and not through a rule.


29th July 2018

An interaction with Students

July 28, 2018

Rohit Dhankar

For last about 8 years I have been out of touch with the government schools in rural India. Had somehow started feeling that my feet are no more on the ground and my imagination of real educational action had started to become rather dated, if not hazy. (I say this because I consider the “real education action” is in the school classrooms. Explanation of this, some other time). So I visited two government schools yesterday. One Senior Higher Secondary in a block headquarters and second an upper primary in a very remote village.

Both the schools have beautiful and adequate campuses. The Upper Primary School (UPS) is rather stunningly beautiful, green well managed and very serene environment. I don’t think any private school can match that.

The Senior Higher Secondary (SHS) has 48 classrooms, well maintained building with about 1700 students. All the classes were running, teachers were present. However, in many classes number of students exceeds 100 and in two three classes some students were sitting outside the doors, listening intently and taking notes. The Principal told me he has all the needed furniture for students but cannot use it as that will limit the classroom capacity to around 50 students. Students sit on durries, teachers have a small table and a chair. Also the science laboratories are inadequate.

The Principal interacts with children in assembly every week, and emphasises moral development in which harmonious living with all Indians and getting rid of ahankara (ego) seems to be his focus.

This is a block headquarters town, and the old town had Muslim majority. Now after several new colonies around the old town population ratio is about 35-40% Muslims and 65-70% Hindus. The town has faced three serious religious riots between 1992 (Babari issue) and 2005. According to a friend working in education in this area now both the communities have suspicion of each other, though there is peace on the surface.

The Principal said there used to be Hindu-Muslim brawls between the students in the school, which thankfully are no more. But then now there are only about 150-200 Muslim students in the school with strength of 1700, in a town having 35-40% Muslim population. It seems the Muslims of this town are very aware educationally, there are many students studying abroad, high percentage in government jobs and traditionally having large land holdings. So why so few Muslim students in this well running school? The Principal thinks that recently the Muslim community has opened their own senior secondary school and the government has opened another secondary school with Urdu medium. One wonder why these two development were needed?

Principal tells inspirational stories from the literature of both religions in his talks with students. However, has a Saraswati statue and two large Saraswati pictures in his large and beautiful office. There is nothing indicating Islam in the office or the school, or at least I did not notice it.

Principal narrated two inspirational stories he used with students in his sermons to get rid of ego, ahankara. One about a Muslim saint and his pupil. In this one the Muslim saint argues that those who have big ego are to be pitied rather than being angry with them, because their soul is ill. In the other Vashishtha gives the title of Brahm-Rishi to Vishwamitra only when the later leans to bow, jhukana seekhata hai. After narrating the stories on Gurupoornimas (27th July this year) he asked the students can you give example of some big Indian leaders who have learnt to shed their ego (examples of jhukana), students gave two examples: Abdul Kalam and Narengra Modi. Modi as he touched the parliament steps as he entered there for the first time. The Principal thinks Rahul Gandhi provided another example recently in the parliament when he hugged Modi.

The Principal kindly allowed me to interact with 12th standard student who study political science, history and geography. The interaction was in Hindi, I am trying to reproduce it from memory.

The Principal took me to the class. A teacher was teaching there. The principal introduced me to the students (did say nothing to the teacher) saying “aap bahar se aaye hai, aap logon se baat karenge, theek hai?” Students stood up and there was some murmur which seemed like “theek hai” or something. Then the Principal and the teacher both left. I sked students to sit down. It was about 25X20 room with about 60 students, roughly about 20 girls and 40 boys. Girls sat clustered together.

Me: Mera naam Rohit hai. Main bachochon ko padhata raha hun pahali kaksha se koi 12vi tak. Aaj kal university men padhata hun. Aap log 12vin men hain?

Some students: Han.

Me: aap men se kuchh to 12vin ke liye bahut chhote lag rahe hain. Hamare jamane men to 12vin me kuchh bade bachche hote the. Aap log kuchh jaldi to nahin aa gaye is class men?

Many students: Nahin. (An emphatic nahin with smiles)

Me: tum men se kuchh ko koi pareshaani to nahin 12vin men jald aane se?

Many students: Nahin. (An emphatic nahin again with smiles)

Me: achchha, kaya-kya padhte ho school men?

Many students: political, history, geography, Hindi, English.

Me: political? Political kya?

Students: political (one voice: rajaneeti shatra)

Me: achchha, political science?

Students: haan.

Me: theek hai. Batao tum men se kisi ne koi aisi kitaab padhi hai pichchhale 2 saal men jo tumhare course men nahin ho? (I had to repeat this)

(Only one boy in the front row raised his hand)

Me: kitab ka naam bata sakate ho?

Student: (stud up)

Me: baithe baithe bhi bata sakate ho.

Student: (sat down) Inspirational Talks. 

Me: ohh, kisne likhi hai?

Student: Swami Vivekananda.

(I have not read the book and knew nothing about it. On internet search I found a book of Vivekananda’s talks, it is titled “Inspired Talks”, maybe I heard the student wrong as saying “Inspirational Talks” or he may have remembered the name wrong.)

Me: (to the class) achchha. Inspirational mane kya? Inspiration kya hota hai?

Some students: (several words) motivation, utsahit karna, prerana, ….

Me: achchha, theek hai utsahit karna aur prerana maan lete hain.

Me: (to the student who had read the book) ye kitab angreji men hai?

Student: Angreji men bhi hai aur hindi men bhi.

Me: tumene kaunsi bhasha men padhi?

Student: dono men.  

Me: (with some surprise in voice, but below the level of indicating disbelief) ohh, dono men? Pahale kaunsi bhasha men padhi?

Student: Hindi men.

Me: are, Hindi men padh li thi to fir angreji men fir se kyon?

Student: achchhi lagi is liye.

Me: achchha. To us kitrab men kya likha hai? Kuchh bata sakate ho?

Student: apani shanskriti aur rashtradharm ka samman karna chaahiye.

Me: (saw the opportunity for which I was looking 😊 Wanted to write “sanskriti” and “rashtra-dharm” on the black board which was of reasonable quality and clean. Looked for chalk, there was none.) achchha chalk to hai hii nahin, main do cheejen board par likhana chaahata tha.

One student: main office se lata hun.

Me: theek hai, do hii lana.

Me: (to all students) achchha yeh rashtra-dharm kya cheej hoti hai? Jisne kitab ka naam bataya use hii akele batane ki jimmedarii nahin hai. Koi bhi bata sakata hai: rashtra-dharm kya hota hai?

(Answers started coming…By this time the student who went to get chalk came back with two good quality chalk sticks. I started writing on the board, the board and chalk both were good quality to write clearly and easily. I wrote “rashtra-dharm” on the board, underlined it and again asked “ye kya hota hai?”)

Students: (many)

  • Rashtra ka samman karna
  • Rashtra ke prati apane kartavya pure karna
  • Rashtra men samanvaya banana
  • jaruratmandon ki madad karna
  • rashtra dhvaj aur rashtra-gaan ka samman karna
  • rashtra ki sampatii ki raksha karna
  • ektaa kii raksha karna ….

Me: wah, kaafi hain. Achchha, yah aur batado ki ye “rashtra” kya hota hai.

Students: (sannata)

Me: rashtra kya hota hai? Jamiin, nadi-nale? Pahad?

Students: (many) haan, jamiin. Desh.

Me: theek hai, man lo ham saare hindustaniyon ko kisi tarah chand par lejaayen. Kuchh mushkil to hoga, par sab ko lejaayen, ek bhii bakii nahin bache. To bhii bharat desh yahin raha jaayega kya?

Students: (a few voices) haan. (Overwhelmiong majority) nahin.

Me: badhiya. To rashtra logon ke bina nahin hota. Log to uske jaruri hissa hain hii.

Student: (one) rashtra nagarikon se banata hai.

Me: theek. To rastra ke prati kartavya ka matlab uske nagarikon ke prati kartavya? Rashtra ka samman mane uske nagarikon ka samaan? Rashtra ki ekata mane uske nagarikon ki ekata? Main theek kaha raha hun kya?

Students: (many voices) haan.

Me: theek hai. To thoda yah aur batado ki rashtra ke prati kartavya kya kya hai hamare?

Students: (many)

  • Rashtra-dvaj ka samman.
  • Sab se samanata ka vyavahar
  • Bhedbhav nahin karna
  • Samanvaya banana …..

Me: theek hai. Tumne mool kartavyon ke baare men suna hai kya? Fundamental duties ke baare men?

Students: (a few) han, (started repeating the same thing as above)

Me: theek hai. Ek aur duty hai: vaigyanik chintan (scientific temper) ka vikas aur vaigyanik tarike se jaanch karna. Yah suna hai?

Students: (sannata)

Me: theek hai. Chalo to maan len ki rashtra-dharm ka samman karne ka matlab:

  • Rashtra ke logon ka samman
  • Logon men samanvaya banana
  • Sab ko saman samajhna
  • Bhedbhav nahin karna
  • Jarurat ho to madad karna

Students: (many) haan.

(Here I wrote “sanskriti” on the board.)

Me: achchha, inhone bataya ki Inspirational Talks men swami Vivekananda apani sanskriti ke samman kii bhii seekh dete hain. Yah “sanskriti” kya hoti hai?

Students: (many voices)

  • Bhasha
  • Sahitya
  • Khan-paan
  • Vesh-bhusha
  • Riti-rivaj
  • Rahan-sahan
  • ….

Me: are wah, to ye sab sanskriti hoti hai. Theek.

To ye batao hamari sanskriti men ye cheejen hain kya:

  • Jaati-pati?
  • Chhua-chhoot?
  • Auraton ko kam haq?

Students: (many) haan hain.

Me: aur vivekanand ji kahate hain ki hamen apani sanskriti ka samman karna chaahiye. To matlab hamne jaati-paati, chhooachuut aur auraton ko kam manana chaahiye, apani sanskriti ke samman ke liye?

Students: (sannata)

Me: aur vivekanand ji yeh bhi kahate hain ki rashtra-dharm ka samman karna chahiye. Rsahtra-dharm ka samaan mane uske nagarikon ka samman, unko barabar maanana, bhed-bhav nahin karna, yah aap logon ne bataya. To dono cheejen kaise Karen? Chhua-chhoot, jaati-paati, auraton ko man bhi manen aur unko saman bhi mane, bhed-bhav na Karen? Yeh to Vivekanand ji se poochhana padega? Kya Karen?

Students: (kuchh der sannata. Then one voice…) sanskriti samay ke saath badalti hai.

Me: achha, sab manate hain kya sanskriti samay ke saath badalti hai?

Students: (many voices) haan, badalti hai.

Me: theek hai, to rashtra-dharm ka samman kane ke liye sankriti se jaati-paati, chhua-chhot aur auraton ko kam haq ki baaten hatanii padengi. Yah theek hai?

Students: (many voices) haan.

Me: to maan len ki rashtra-dharm aur sanskriti men virodh ho, takarahat ho, to sanskriti ko rashtra-dharm ke anusaar badal lena chaahiye?

Students: (many) haan.  

Me: tum sab manate ho kya yah? Sab sanskriti ko rashtra-dharm ke anusar badalne ko taiyaar ho kya? Chua-chhoot nahin manate? Auraton ko barabar maananete ho? Sab ka barabar samman karte ho?

Students: (almost all) haan.

Me: (with a smile) tum speedometer janate ho? Jo motorcycles aur gaadiyon men laga hoita hai.

Students: (with surprise) haan.

Me: usmen speed dadhatii hai to suii aise ghumatii hai na? (I indicated by moving my finger and then drawing on the board)

Students: haan.

Me: (with a smile) mere dimaag men ek ‘jhootho-meter’ laga hai. Uski suii bhi jhooth badhane par aise hii ghoomati hai. Jab tum sab ne sab ko saman maanane ki, sab ke riti-rivajon ko samaan samman dene kii baat kii aur khaka ki tum aisa karne ko taiyaar ho to vah suii bahgut ghoom gai.

Students: (general giggles, amiles. Some spoke) nahin.

Me: suii to ghumi. Mera jhootho-meter galat hai ya aap logon ki baat?

Students: (laughing. Many) aap ka jhootho-meter galat hai.

Me: theek hai. Maan lete hain.

Me: (after thinking for a few seconds, and moving about in the classroom to buy some time) ok. Maanalo ki main apane ghar men ek parti dena chaahata hun aur usmen kuchh doston ko invite bhi karta hun. Main parti men beef bhi parosna chaahata hun. Tum beef janate ho kya? kya hotii hai?

One student: han.

Another student: gau-maans.

Me: haan to main gau-maan bhi parosana chaahata hun. Kuchh logon ko pata chal gaya. Ve mujhe maarane aa rahe hain. Tum logon ko bhi pata chal gaya. Tum kya karoge?

Students: (sannata) (ek dheemi aadhi majak men aawaz) marenge. (general laughter)

Me: (smiling) batao, tum kya karoge? Lagata hai ek ne to sach bola hai.

Students: (sannata.)

Me: tum mujhe yeh gau-maans wali parti karne doge ya nahin?

Students: (majority) nahin.

Me: kyon? Tum political science ke vidhyarthi ho, nagarikon ke mool adhikaron ke baare men padha hoga. Bharat ke sab nagarikon ko apane khan-paan, riti-rowaz aur vishwason ki swatanhtrata mool adhikaar hai. Tum mera mool adhikaar kyon cheenana chaahate ho?

One student: kisi dharm men nahin likha ki gau-maans khana chaahiye.

[I knew Quran recommends it: “And remember when Moses said to his people: ‘Allah commands you to slaughter a cow,’ they said: ‘Dost thou make a jest of us?’ He said: ‘I seek refuge with Allah from being one of the ignorant.’ (2:68, The Holy Quran, Translated by Maulvi Sher Ali, published by Islam International Publications Limited, 2004). But wanted to make the point that this kind of argument cannot be accepted, therefore, rather than going into what is written or not written, took a different direction.]

Me: kisi dharm men to yeh bhi nahin likha ki moog ki daal khaani chaahiye. To kya yah bhi na khaane den?

Students: (sannata)

Me: sawal yah nahin hai ki kisi dharm men likha hai ya nahin. Sawal yah hai ki kuchh log khana chaahate hain. To samanata aur swatantrata ke naate un ko haq hai ya nahin?

Another student: gau-badh ki kanoon men manaii hai. To aap gair-kanooni kaam kar rahe hain.

[Here I had two choices: either take the point that even if it is against the law, who should enforce the law? Crowed or the state/police? You complain to the police if you think it is unlawful, why hurt me? But I took another direction.]

Me: gau-badh adhiktar rajyon men mana hai, par sab rajyon men nahin. Jaise Rajasthan men mana hai par Mizoram men nahin. Aur mana “gau-badh” nahin kar raha, gau-maans khana kahin bhi mana ya gair kanooni nahin hai. Rajasthan men bhi mana nahin hai. To maan lo main gau-maan Mizoram se laya hun ya America se laya hun, sirf parti yahan de raha hai. Gaubadh yahan nahin kar raha.

Students: (uneasy, but sannata) (one voice) aap kisi ki dharmik bhavanaon ko aahat nahin kar sakate.

Me: main apane ghar men party de raha hun. Kisi ko khaane ke liye nahin kah raha, kisi ke ghar nahin jaa raha. Bhavanayen kaise aahat hui, main kuchh khata hun ya nahin khata hun se?

One student: aap logon ko invite kar rahe hain.

Me: Unko kar raha hun jo khate hain ya main samajhta hun ki khate hain. Nahin aana chaahate meri parti men to mana kardo. Marte kyon ho? Mujhe rokte kyon ho?

Students: (fir chup)

[I had taken a lot of time, so wanted to end the integration.]

Me: abhi bharat men ek badii rassa-kasi chal rahi hai. Ek taraf kuchh logon ke vichaar se Hindu-sanskriti hai, ek taraf kuchh aur logon ke vichar se Muslim personal law hai aur ek taraf Bharatiiya Samvidhaan hai, jise aaj tum logon ne rashtra-dharm kaha hai. Ye rassa-kasi ham logon ne shuru kii hai, meri peedhi walon ne. 10 varsh men tum bade ho jaaoge, kai mahatvapoorna nirnay kar rahe hoge. 10 varsh men yah rassa-kasi khatm nahin hogi. Tum logon ko is ke nateeje bhugatne padenge. In tikadi par sochana.

[I drew a triangle on the board with “Kathit Hindu sanskriti”, “kathit Muslim Personal law” and “rashtra-dharm/samvidhaan” as three vertices.]

Me: achchha maine bahut sawal pooch liye. Tum kuchh poochana chaahate ho?

One student: aap kahan rahate hain?

Me: mahane men ek saptah Jaipur aur teen sapatah Bangalore.

Another student: mausam Jaipur ka achchha hai ya Bangalore ka?

Me: log kahate hain ki banagklore ka achchha hai, vahan sardi-garmi ka kasht nahin hota, mausam kuchh beech ka sa hii rahata hai. Par main to Rajasthani hun. Mujhe to yahan ki sardi-garmi ki yaad bhi aatii hai.

Another student: aap kya padhate hain?

Me: maine primary men aur upper primary men to sabhi Vishay padhaaye hain. Par aajkal university men shiksha-dharshan padhata hun.

Another student: haan mujhe aisa hii laga tha?

Me: matlab? Kya laga tha?

Student: ki aisi baate darshanik hii karte hain.

Me: (smile) matlab falatu baaten darshanik hii karte hain?

Students: (general smile) (the same student) nahin, itane share sawal.

Me: (smiling) achchha abhi mujhe jaana hai. Tum logon ne shuru men socha hoga ki chalo aaj padhai se chhutii mili kuchh der, vo bhi ab bore hogaye honge.

Students: (general smile, some giggles) (many voices) nahin, bore nahin hue.

Me: namate, dhanyavaad.

Students: (stand up) (many voices) dhanya vaad.

This dialogue raises many questions in my mind. Student seem to generally understand the constitutional spirit of equality, justice, respect for all, etc. They also seem to have a general idea that what is called sanskriti may need critical look and may need to change. And that when the constitution and so called sanskriti come in conflict one has to weed out unconstitutional part of that sanskriti. But when it comes to particular beliefs and issue they care about, their loyalty to the constitution seems to falter and they want to interpret constitutional value of equality etc. according to their own belief systems. This problem cannot be address simply by reading books. Something more is needed. One of those things could be the kind of dialogue/interaction given above.

But who should conduct such dialogues? Where? When? What kind of preparation would it require of teachers if they are supposed to conduct such dialogues?


28th July 2018

देशप्रेम और शिक्षा-२

July 24, 2018

रोहित धनकर

अपनी पिछली फेसबुक पोस्ट में मैंने अपनी स्वयं की सामान्य समझ के आधार पर निचे लिखे प्रश्नों पर विचार किए लिए आम-जनों को आमंत्रित किया था. वह पोस्ट ये थी:

“देशप्रेम और शिक्षा-१

आज कल देशप्रेम, देशभक्ति, राष्ट्र और राष्ट्रीयता को लेकर बहुत विचारोत्तेजक समझे जाने वाले संवाद चल रहे हैं. उन्हें पढ़े से लगता है कि लोग बड़ी सिद्दत से और कुछ उत्तेजना के साथ बात कर रहे हैं. पर शायद संवाद में शामिल लोगों के मन में देशप्रेम आदि कि अवधारणाएं बहुत अलग अलग हैं.

  • आप के विचार से “देशप्रेम” का क्या अर्थ है?
  • देशभक्ति का क्या अर्थ है?
  • दोनों में क्या फर्क है? (यदि है तो?)”

कुछ लोगों ने अपने विचार रखे. कोई इन में समन्यध्वनी देखना चाहे तो मेरी समझ से वह कुछ इस प्रकार अभिव्यक्त की जा सकती है:

  • देशप्रेम अपने देश से, उसके लोगों से प्रेम करने का नाम है. इस में उसकी कमियों और खामियों को देखने कि गुंजाईश है. देश से प्रेम तो इसमें है, पर इसे सर्वश्रेष्ट और सब तरह से निष्कलंक और संपूर्ण मानने कि भावना नहीं है. सुधर कि गुंजाईश देशप्रेमी देख सकता है और सुधार कि कोशिश करना भी अपना कर्त्तव्य मानता है.
  • देशभक्ति देश के सामने नतमस्तक होने कि भावना है, जिसमें उसे सर्वश्रेष्ट और सब तरह से उत्तम और संपूर्ण मानने कि भावना भी है.

बहुत से लोग देश-प्रेम में कुछ भी आपतीजनक नहीं देखते पर देशभक्ति में कुछ आपत्ती जनक देखते हैं.

इन विचारों को मैं अपनी तरह से स्पष्ट करना और सुलझाना चाहूँ तो पहले देश और प्रेम की धारणाओं पर विचार करना चाहूँगा. देश शब्द का उपयोग कई बार मात्र स्थान विशेष या भूभाग विशेष को इंगित करने के लिए किया जाता है. जैसे “मानव देश-कालबद्ध प्राणी है”. पर जिस अर्थ में हम यहाँ देश शब्द का उपयोग कर रहे हैं वह केवल स्थान या भूभाग को इंगित नहीं करता. उसमें और भी बहुत कुछ है. यह ठीक है कि देश कि धारणा में एक निश्चित भूभाग लाजिमी तौर पर शामिल है. जैसे हम लोग कुछ अधुरा और त्रुटिपूर्ण संकेत “कश्मीर से कन्याकुमारी” तक कह कर देते हैं. हमारा संविधान इस भूभाग को अधिक स्पष्ट और सटीक तरीके से परिभाषित करता है. भूभाग के अलावा देश कि धारण में उसके लोग भी आते हैं. अपनी भाषा, संस्कृति, चिंतन्धराओं के साथ. संपूर्ण सचेत स्वायत्त व्यक्तियों के रूप में. साथ ही इस भूभाग में प्रचलित सामाजिक व्यवस्था और स्थापित राजनैतिक व्यवस्था भी देश कि धारण का अनिवार्य हिस्सा है.

तो फिर देश का अर्थ होगा: एक भूभाग में रहने वाले लोग. उस भूभाग की संपूर्ण प्राकृतिक सम्पदा, लोगों की सामजिक-सांस्कृतिक मान्यताएं, उन की भाषाएँ, उनकी विचार-धाराएँ और वो राजनैतिक व्यवस्था जिस में वे अपने आप को शासित करते हैं.

अब प्रेम की धारणा पर कुछ विचार करते हैं. यहाँ हम किसी व्यक्ति (इंसान) से प्रेम की बात नहीं कर रहे. बल्कि एक संश्लिष्ट अमूर्त सत्ता (entity) से प्रेम की बात कर रहे हैं. प्रेम अपने आप में एक बहुत जटिल, अस्पष्ट और व्यक्तिपरक भाव है. फिर भी शायद सार्वजनिक संवाद के लिए इस जटिल धारणा के कुछ तंतुओं को हम चिन्हित कर सकते हैं. मुझे लगता है प्रेम में एक भावना जिस सत्ता से प्रेम करते हैं उस के लिए शुभ-चिंता या उसके भले की सोचना या उसकी वेलबीइंग (welbeing) की फिक्र करना या होना होता है. यह फिक्र सिर्फ भाव के स्तर पर नहीं हो सकता, इसमें यदि देश के लिए कुछ अवांछनीय है तो उसे दूर करने की प्रतिबद्धता भी होनी चाहिए. अर्थात हम कह सकते हैं कि प्रेम में दूसरा भाव भले के लिए कुछ करने का संकल्प या प्रतिबद्धता भी होती है. तीसरा भाव, जिस सत्ता से प्रेम हो उसके सानिध्य में सुख, सुकून महसूस करने का होता है. यह सुख सुकून किसी प्राप्ति का नहीं बस सानिध्य में होने भर का होता है. शायद चौथा भाव—विशेष रूप से देश-प्रेम के सन्दर्भ में—अपनेपन का, बेलोंगिनग्नेस (belongingness) का होता है. कि यह देश मेरा है और मैं इस का हिस्सा हूँ.

यदि हम देश प्रेम की यह धारणा लें तो कह सकते हैं कि किसी देश का हिस्सा होने कि भावना, उसके लोगों के भले कि परवाह करना, उस में लोगों के जीवन को बेहतर बनाने के लिए प्रतिबद्धता, इस की सामाजिक, सांस्कृतिक, राजनैतिक व्यवस्था में कुछ पसंद करना, उस की उपलब्धियों में गर्व महसूस करना, आदि देश-प्रेम कि भावना के हिस्से है. क्या इस का यह अर्थ है कि उसकी कमजोरियों, खामियों और गलतियों को न देखना भी देशप्रेम का हिस्सा है? मुझे ऐसा नहीं लगता. किसी भी चीज को सर्वांग-शुभ समझना बेवकूफी के आलावा कुछ नहीं हो सकता. हर सामाजिक व्यवस्था में, राजनैतिक व्यवस्था में, सांस्कृतिक मान्यताओं में बहुत कुछ गलत, सड़ाहुआ और बहुत बुरा तक होता है. मानव समाज अपने आप को बेहतर बनाने की कोशिश कर रहा है, हजारों सालों से. इस कोशिश में उसने बहुत कुछ किया है जो अन्याय पूर्ण है, भद्दा है, गलत है, बुरा है. वह हमारे विकास की राह का हिस्सा है. उसे देखना, उसको बुरा कहना, उसकी आलोचना करना और उस से लड़ना, मिटाने के लिए, देशप्रेम की भावना के विरूद्ध नहीं, बल्कि देशप्रेम की भावना की आवश्यक शर्त है.

देश एक व्यक्ति से नहीं बनता. और लोग देश का सबसे महत्त्वपूर्ण हिस्सा होते हैं. उन में सहमतियाँ, असहमतियां दोनों होती है. देशप्रेम की यह आवश्यक शर्त है कि आप उनलोगों की इज्जत करें, उनके भले कि कोशिश करें. उन की भी जो आप से असहमत हों, जिन की भले की परिभाषा भी आप से बहुत भिन्न हो, उनको भी अपने सामान देश का नागरिक मानें. यदि आप किसी को गलत समझते हैं, तो उस से बन्दुत्व की भावना के साथ संवाद करें—साझे हित के लिए. पर उसे नकारना, उस को हीन मानना, उसको बल से दबाना, उसे मारना देशप्रेम की भावना के विरूद्ध है; क्यों कि देश के सब लोगों के हित की, भले की परवाह और उसके प्रति प्रतिबद्धता देशप्रेम का आवश्यक हिस्सा है.

अभी तक हमने अपने सहज बोध से देशप्रेम की कुछ आरंभिक बात की. अब थोड़ा यह भी देखलें कि क्या यह कोई ऎसी बात है को देशप्रेम की अन्य लोगों की धरना से एकदम अलग या विपरीत है.

जो लोग आम नागरिक के तौर पर देशप्रेम को इतना समझना चाहते हैं उनके लिए स्टैनफोर्ड इनसाइक्लोपीडिया ऑफ़ फिलोसोफी में पट्रीओटीज्म (partiotism) नाम से एक अच्छा लेख है. यह दार्शनिक दृष्टि से देशप्रेम कि धारणा, उस में वैविध्य, हर प्रकार के देशप्रेम की नैतिक हैसियत, उस की राजनैतिक जरुरत आदि पर विचार करता है. यह शायद उन विद्वानों के लिए नहीं  है जो इस धारणा की समग्र बौद्धिक विवेचना करना चाहते हैं. पर, एक, जो अपने लिए कोई सुविचारित निर्णय लेना चाहें, और दो, बोद्धिक होने का नाटक करने वाले लोगों के अधकचरे विचारों की थोड़ी विवेक सम्मत जांच करना चाहें, उनके लिए अच्छा लेख है. मैं इस लेख से पूरी तरह सहमत न होते हुए भी इस की विवेचना को बहुत उपयोगी पाता हूँ. यह लेख स्टेफेन नाथानसन के हवाले से देशप्रेम (patriotism) की एक परिभाषा देता है:

“देशप्रेम में निम्न चीजें होती हैं:

  1. Special affection for one’s own country (अपने देश के प्रति विशेष स्नेह)
  2. A sense of personal identification with the country (देश के साथ एक व्यक्तिगत पहचान)
  3. Special concern for the well-being of the country (देश के भले के लिए विशेष चिंता)
  4. Willingness to sacrifice to promote the country’s good (देश के भले के लिए त्याग करने इच्छा)”

यहाँ अनुवाद कुछ जल्दी में किया और भोंथरा सा है, पर शायद यहाँ के लिए काम करेगा.

सेकेंडरी एजुकेशन कमीशन रिपोर्ट में देशप्रेम (patriotism) के बारे में कहा है: “True patriotism involves three things–a sincere appreciation of the social and cultural achievements of one’s country, a readiness to recognize its weaknesses frankly and to work for their eradication and an earnest resolve to serve it to the best of one’s ability, harmonizing and subordinating individual interests to broader national interests.” अर्थात: “सच्चे देशप्रेम में तीन चीजें होती हैं: अपने देश की सामाजिक सांस्कृतिक उपलब्धियों की सच्ची सराहना (शायद सच्ची/ऑब्जेक्टिव पहचान?), इस की कमियों को स्वीकारने को तैयार हिओना और उनको दूर करने के लिए काम करना, तथा, एक प्रतिबध्धता इस की बेहतरी के लिए यथा शक्ति काम करने की. व्यक्तिगत हितों का व्यापक राष्ट्रीय हितों के साथ सामंजस्य बनाना और जरुरत हो तो उन्हें व्यापक राष्ट्रीय हितों के अधीन स्वीकारना.”

इन दोनों परिभाषाओं के ऊपर हमारी विवेचना से तुलना करके देखना उपयोगी हो सकता है. इन की समालोचना करने की जरुरत है. जो आगे भी चलती रहेगी.

पर यहाँ अगले चरण में जाने की भी जरुरत है. यदि हम देशप्रेम की ये परिभाषा या इन में से कोई परिभाषा स्वीकार करें तो कुछ सवाल उठाते हैं.

  • क्या देशप्रेम सार्वभौम मानवीय नैतिकता के साथ सांगत है या मानवीय नैतिकता से इस की कहीं टकराहट होने की संभावना है? (आज कल बहुत लोग मानते हैं कि देशप्रेम व्यापक मानवीय नैतिकता से संगत नहीं है. उन में बहुत से बड़े नाम भी हैं, जैसे टॉलस्टॉय. क्या ये लोग देशप्रेम की आलोचना में न्यायसंगत (justified) हैं?)
  • क्या देशप्रेम एक नागरिक के लिए नैतिक आवश्यकता है?
  • क्या देशप्रेम शिक्षा का एक अनिवार्य उद्देश्य होना चाहिए?

इन सवालों पर आज कि स्थिति में साफ़ विचार करने की जरुरत है. आप सब के विचार इस लेख पर और विशेषरूप से अंत में लिखे सवालों पर आग्रह के साथ आमंत्रित हैं. क्यों कि उन्ही से अगले लेख की दिशा तह होगी.


२४ जुलाई २०१८

Dialogue: Concepts-1

July 1, 2018


I am interested in peoples own thinking regarding concept formation. Not in theories they might have learnt and not in received wisdom. But completely their own thinking, presently. That thinking and beliefs about concept formation may be a result of their experience, reflection or extensive study in psychology, epistemology or whatsoever. The issue here is what are their own views on the question written below, and not what theories they can mention in this regard.

I invite you to express your views on the question below, try to express in less than 200 words please, but if you find necessary write as much as you can. This is the first question in a series. Hope you will participate in the whole series.

Concepts-1: What are the necessary conditions for, say X, to form concept of a tree? (Considering X as a human being.)

अवधारणाएं-१: किसी मानव के लिए पेड़ कि अवधारणा बना पाने कि क्या आवश्यक शर्तें होंगी?