Grammar of Anarchy

Lessons from another Maharashtrian

Those who take to the streets often invoke Mahatma Gandhi. Like Raj Thackeray. Surely, if the Mahatma could break the law, then it’s perfectly kosher for lesser mortals to do so?

Not quite.

Because once the Constitution of India came into force in 1950, the rules of the game changed. In one of his last speeches to the Constituent Assembly, on 25th November 1949, Dr B R Ambedkar said:

If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact, what must we do? The first thing in my judgement we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us. [Archives of the Parliament of India]

That manoos from Maharashtra got it right: political violence—and non-violence outside the constitutional route—are the grammar of anarchy. So don’t let the invocation of Gandhi be a fig leaf for practices that have no place in a democracy.

37 thoughts on “Grammar of Anarchy”

  1. Prasanna,

    In general, non-violent struggle itself is not illegal (although violence always is). The issue is not about legality vs illegality of non-violence; rather about appropriateness. Ambedkar says that political action should take the constitutional route: take recourse to elections, parliamentary debate and the judiciary. The argument holds even if we don’t like what the constitution says: strive for amendment or challenge laws/amendments in court. It’s the only civilised way to conduct our affairs.

    (Btw, Mr Thackeray’s actions don’t qualify as Gandhigiri at all!)

  2. What about the right of Raj Thackeray to say that non-Marathis in Maharashtra should behave properly or else get out? No, I’m not justifying the violence. But Raj Thackeray has every right to campaign against people from UP and Bihar who in his opinion are usurping the legitimate opportunities of Marathis. And are not even grateful about it.

    Several laws in our constitution especially those relating to the vague ‘inciting mobs and causing disturbances’ criteria are utterly violative of free-speech. I doubt Raj Thackeray could be arrested on a flimsy charge of “inciting mobs” in any other civilized country of the world.

    The media and the self-declared ‘good-people’ who blog on this subject are guilty of intolerance towards very legitimate opinions on the federal nature of this country. The same people who complain about Bangladeshi immigrants would say nothing against Bihari migrants to other parts of the country. Afterall, for an average-joe on the street India’s partition is as ephemeral as the Bihar’s association with Maharashtra.

    The Idea of India as one country is despicable if it is at the cost of destroying the cultural identity of India’s historical nation states. This intolerance towards safeguarding local culture and livelihood is enshrined in the constitution. To bring about a re-think on this subject, people have to attack the constitution itself.

  3. The discussion on free speech was last week.

    Now whatever one might think about what our free speech laws might be, whether or not to follow current laws is not a matter of choice. And I’ll say that those who do work for change in a law-abiding manner have little moral standing when it comes to saying what the law ought to be. For surely, there will be others who will violate the changed laws because they disagree with it. Grammar of anarchy.

    (I disagree with your justification for a xenophobic version of “local” interests, but that’s off-topic.)

  4. Balaji- The idea of ‘preserving culture’ is something we have to let go of. Cultures are not meant to be preserved in a historical time warp. They are meant to grow and adapt as the times dictate. India IS a free country. We can all go anywhere we choose within the country for whatever reason we choose to. That’s what it means to belong to a country. Isolating communities is not progressive. In fact, it’s what the Brits used to keep a hold on India for 200 years. They called it ‘divide and rule’.

  5. Nitin,

    >> whether or not to follow current laws is not a matter of choice.

    wow! i thought India was a democratic republic. a leader of a political party cannot espouse a legitimate cause? [again i’m not justifying violence]

    >> for a xenophobic version of “local” interests

    this is what I called intolerance.


    well, i think its a common misconception that people who protest against bhaiyyas (i’m not using this as deregatory) are asking them to leave their current workplace. be it Maharashtra, Bangalore, Assam, the problem arises when the immigration is so high that locals become marginalised in their own place. a little honesty from the media and the politicians in calling a spade, a spade would be helpful. it might be a trivial example, but see what happens to the movie industry in Marathi and Kannada, when the local culture is threatened by outsiders.

    as someone said, “we should leave future generations with a glimse of the world as it was in the past”. no, not the non-sense like caste system. but the good stuff like language, religion, festivals etc. the paranoid mindset of the nationalists that anything that might suggest difference between Indians needs to destroyed is a recipe for disaster. anyway, this is off-topic now. i just want to finish with, preserving India’s cultural diversity must be one of our national endeavors. and when the law doesn’t help in this process, its the law that needs to be changed.

  6. Dear Balaji,

    There’s a difference between majority and mob rule. The difference is called rule of law. (Mob rule: Let’s say the majority decides by democratic means to annihilate the minority. That’s why constitutionalism and rule of law is important).

    So any political leader, blogger or commenter can raise any grievance—legitimate or otherwise. Other leaders, bloggers and commenters can oppose it. That comes from freedom of speech. It’s an entirely different matter to want the freedom of speech (a gift of rule of law) but reject the other tenets of the rule of law.

    As for intolerance of xenophobia. You can call it that. Intolerance of intolerance is a good thing. But that’s entirely my opinion. But I will not condone going to the streets or using violence to impose this.

  7. intolerance of xenophobia? nice! we both once disagreed on the 2-india theory as well. i said India’s economic disparity is now effectively Hindi vs non-Hindi states. you said such a characterization was abominable.

    for a moment, doesn’t your grammar of anarchy sound like chinese ‘communism’ and soviet ‘socialism’. “hushsh… shut up … you are unraveling the fragile country we call as India by simply talking!”. then what is the difference between Mao/Stalin dictats and our constitution?

    what i see here is an attempt to shove this rather important issue under the carpet. Vir Sanghvi, rather surprisingly is among the very few in the media who are willing to address the problems posed by UP/Bihar to the rest of the country. the ‘nationalist’ BJP, the ‘liberal’ Congress and the ‘proletarian’ left may also not find any reason to address this issue and ‘sully’ their image. the judiciary ofcourse never tires of grand standing and would dish out constitutional polemics on everyone who tries to agitate about anything. this seems like a very dangerous trend.

    imagine if all the political parties give honest opinions on what should be done to discourage UP/Bihari immigration to other parts of the country. it would no longer be Raj Thackeray vs the rest. besides, the ‘washing my hands’ solution of “anyone can work anywhere” is not going to get us anywhere.

    the ‘discovery’ that outsiders now effectively decide some 60 seats in MH assembly has spurred this political activity in Mumbai. how long before hindi-speakers are identified with BJP in Assam, mamata scenting a bangla dimension, deve gowda ‘discovering’ that outsider haven Bangalore sends nearly 10% of the mlas. unless people become deaf and can no longer discern between Hindi and the local lingo, this issue will continue to be raised. lets address now!

    even arguing from the immigrant point of few, should it not be a concern that nearly 2% of the countries population is living in hostile environments? so far the only political solution we seem to have found is, if you attack our men there, we’ll show your people here their place!

  8. Balaji,

    Don’t get carried away. The point of this post is that you must take a constitutional, law-abiding route if you want to take up something as a political agenda. That’s all.

  9. well, I was just saying that the intolerance shown by the media/civil society to such views is the reason why such agitations turn violent eventually. a mere mention of immigrant behavior generates responses like “xenophobia”, “unconstitutional” etc. if the media will listen only when someone is killed, then thats what the protesters will do.

    when Raj Thackeray merely mentioned that ‘Bhaiyyas’ should try to adapt to local culture, the media made a monster out of him. and its the average bhaiyya on the street who is bearing the repercussions now.

  10. “when Raj Thackeray merely mentioned that ‘Bhaiyyas’ should try to adapt to local culture, the media made a monster out of him. and its the average bhaiyya on the street who is bearing the repercussions now.”

    Whether you wrote it intentionally or not, the tacit implication of this line is that, since the “Bhaiyaas” didn’t listen to Raj Thackeray, its okay to randomly pick them out of the street and beat them. And what exactly is adopting to the local culture, should everyone who goes to Mumbai start celebrating Ganpati festival, and if someone doesn’t do so, then he/she will be beaten up and their shops and taxis vandalized? Should one start eating Vada Pav and trying to eat any other cuisine will be taken as not “respecting” local culture. Not being able to speak Marathi might result in a Mob descending on your doorstep and throwing you out?

    The biggest problem is not the goons and good for nothing Raj Thackeray, but its the so called middle class, which is supposed to be law abiding, who justifies the mob as long as he is safe from it. It happened in 92 in Mumbai, 2002 in Gujrat and now again in Mumbai, only difference is that the victims were different. So as long as one is not the target is okay to support the mob?

  11. Am an outsider in a metro city here, dependent on Nitin’s view winning over Balaji’s but at the core of it there are points of agreement with Balaji. This maybe because when I play the situation in reverse, I expect ‘outsiders’ to assimilate to ‘my’ culture to some degree, or try, or at least show themselves trying. This could be the problem- if so I am as much a part of it as the ‘local’.

    Immigrants often show as great a degree of separation from the ‘local’ culture as the ‘locals’ do from theirs. Its a two-way street. I agree that there is a problem when

    …when the immigration is so high that locals become marginalised in their own place….

    since there are some pockets here where the ‘local’ language is a foreign language and even shopkeepers / sales assistants (dependent on walk-in custom) coolly profess ignorance of it. This sends locals a powerful message of how insignificant they have become, that they better learn some other languages now to cope in this that was once their own neighborhood. I cant quite imagine this happening smoothly, agreeably and peacefully anywhere least of all in my home or native place. I therefore dont expect it to be any different anywhere else.

    This doesn’t mean that this goondaism is justifiable. It means that everybody is into identity blocs zoning themselves in and others out, and resentment can build up within locals especially if they are reduced to minority status. If it rises high enough we immigrants get hit with the backlash. If violence starts the bloc-ism will get worse.

    Immigrants like me would do well to spread out, and respect and adapt to the local ways – IMHO. Maybe we dont need to *legally* but its only decent and the way things are going may soon not be a choice.


  12. Comrade Balaji,

    >>wow! i thought India was a democratic republic. a leader of a political party cannot espouse a legitimate cause?

    You are ignorant about the “legitimacy” of Raj Thackeray’s cause. Article #19 of the Constitution confers this fundamental right on citizens:

    “All citizens shall have the right … to move freely throughout the territory of India … to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India”

    Read before you write.

    >>be it Maharashtra, Bangalore, Assam, the problem arises when the immigration is so high that locals become marginalised in their own place

    Nonsense. Nobody is marginalized in Bombay or in Bangalore because of “immigrants”. In Bangalore for example, despite heavy influx of people from Orissa, Bihar and even West Bengal, there’s a critical shortage of labour (unskilled!) in the construction industry.

    >>the paranoid mindset of the nationalists that anything that might suggest difference between Indians needs to destroyed is a recipe for disaster

    These migrants wouldn’t have left the places they came from, if only their lousy governments had assured them means of basic livelihood. And their “leaders” survive without delivering governance by exploiting differences between people (caste primarily) to electoral advantage. The real disaster, comrade, is that the Lalus who are responsible for the migration of these poor folk continue to thrive by playing up differences, just as Raj Thackeray does.

  13. pawan,

    no one expected ‘bhaiyyas’ to learn Marathi in say two days and come prove it. i’m talking about the intolerance shown by the media/politicians towards the anxieties of the locals. as for immigrants themselves, except for few ultra-rich immigrants like Amitabh Bachchan, others cannot contribute in correcting the situation unless they are assisted by the civil society.


    >> Article #19

    well, if you haven’t noticed, i’m criticizing this very same attitude of throwing the constitution in the face of legitimate stakeholders. if law cannot help in this situation, then that law is an ass. constitution should not be used bully our own people. have you heard of the recent fracas about socialism in the preamble?

    Bengalooru, i guess you have never heard of KRV or the recent railway recruitment controversy or the past anti-Tamil riots there. have you heard of ULFA in Assam?

    >> if only their lousy governments

    precisely. thats what we should be addressing. how to put some sense into the admins in the UP/Bihar before the Bhaiyyas are thrashed everywhere. ever wondered how UP and Bihar are performing in the abominable NREG scheme? but instead the media is cheering when lalu comes and calls kannadigas, “dirty people” or when amar singh shows his macho self in mumbai.

  14. Balaji,

    That Bihar and U.P need to get their house in order is indisputable and I have written about it.

    Nevertheless, the right to migration is an inalienable right of every citizen of India; how can your provincialism, bigotry, and son-of-soil feelings ride roughshod over the constitution of India. It is only in India such displays of provincialism hegemony are tolerated and indeed are supposed to be even understood. Imagine the mayor of New York saying that about migrants from India who don’t have a natural right to be in NYC and all hell would break loose.

    Its a pity that a blog which has spoken so strongly and consistently for national interest is disgraced by commentators like you.

  15. Dear Balaji,

    I see that you dislike the “very same attitude of throwing the constitution in the face of legitimate stakeholders”. Since “legitimate” is debatable (and much of democracy is about deciding what is legitimate and what is not) how do you propose resolving differences? So Mr Thackeray has a legitimate grievance and takes to the streets, Mr Azmi disagrees and takes to the streets, Mr Chatterjee—who too has a view on the matter—takes to the street, so do Mr Yadav, Mr Singh, Mr Deshmukh, Mr Gonsalves and all their hundreds of supporters. Even if they are peaceful, you have a traffic jam.

    But “peacefulness” is again optional, insisted by those who throw the constitution in the face of legitimate stakeholders. So then they descend into violent conflict. Police shouldn’t intervene, because they are constitutional authorities. (Or they should, unrestrained by constitutional authority? ). Grammar for anarchy.

    Since you don’t think the constitution should be flung on their faces, do enlighten us how else you prevent every grievance from becoming a bloodbath.

  16. Being one of the “immigrants”(the quotes because i have lived on and off for six out of the past eight years but not planning to settle down here) in Mumbai, I feel the Govt of Maharastra and Mumbai police have opened a Pandora’s box by not taking timely action against MNS(as opposed to Raj Thackeray). Raj Thackeray can shout and spew venom as much as he can. Though Indian constitution has given the freedom of speech with riders, I am willing to grant him full freedom of speech.

    But MNS and its cadre have violated the law by destroying property, both private and public and caused bodily harm to individuals, whom the police are supposed to protect. If these activities are allowed to go unpunished, we might as well break up the nation.

    Most of my formative years were spent in Hyderabad. In Hyderabad, any shop keeper generally learns two languages, Telegu and Hyderabadi Hindi. He does not learn Telegu because he is Andhra Pradesh. He learns it because it helps his business. If it makes sense (generally economic) for a Bihari to learn Marathi, he will learn it.

    Raj Thackeray came in support of those who were photographed molesting a woman in Bandra. If that is part of “Marathi/Maharastrian culture”, I for sure don’t want the migrants to integrate in to it.

  17. Rohit,

    Thanks. The whole point I was making was to explain how people use utterly disproportionate responses to suppress legitimate voices. You have exemplified this very succinctly. This political correctness or status-quoism is gonna cost lots of lives. That much is certain.


    First, I’m certainly not justifying violence on the streets by MNS activists. But this violence for the most part was encouraged by the media which attacked Raj Thackeray for saying things which are blatantly obvious to anyone who observes the country’s demographics. If we are gonna identify mob-behavior with opinions, thats poor journalism.

    For instance in this country, mobs attack neighborhoods when a matinée idol (Raj Kumar) dies a natural death!! This caricature of Raj Thackeray in the Narendra Modi mold is being done precisely to encourage him to adapt that path. Imagine, even Pramod Mahajan once called on Bhaiyyas to stop dadagiri in Mumbai. Sheila Dikshit says as much in Delhi.

    Ok what could be done? Was the media aware of the national churning when it decided to slam Raj Thackeray? If we can have a ministry for overseas Indians why not for immigrants within the country? If the SC court finds the Tamilnadu legislation on ‘Tamil as compulsory subject’, does it not ring a bell that there may be grey areas in the constitution? (Pankaj Vora finds fault even with that legislation!) Will a Bhojpuri state in the Purvanchal give a sense of belonging to Bhaiyyas?

    Is it not true that in the last 10 years or so, there has been an enormous assault on the federal nature of this country? I’m listing several instances where the issues dismissed as parochialism are infact pointing to a huge chasm in the understanding of our nationhood.

    1. TN has 69% reservation for backward castes. What will happen to this number if the immigration levels in Chennai become as alarming as in Mumbai or Bengalooru?
    2. What is the percentage of lok sabha seats that are being decided by the hindi speaking populace of this country? If vast number of seats in Mumbai and Bengalooru are to be decided by outsiders, doesn’t it make a mockery of the decision to freeze Lok Sabha seats at 1971 levels?
    3. What is the level of influence exercised by the political parties in the Bhaiyya land (women’s reservation for example)? Why is Mayavati in perpetual election mode across the counrty, squandering an enormous opportunity to put UP in order? Why are our laws giving national party status to dubious entities like BSP not being criticized. Isn’t it obvious that only regional parties from the Bhaiyya land can achieve this status?
    4. Why was Kuldip Nayyar left all alone pleading for the domicile requirement in the Rajya Sabha? Imagine the number of electile dysfuntional leaders (including Manmohan Singh) from the north that are being forced on linguistic states by the congress party.
    5. In a country where Railways are a gigantic scandal machine, why do we still have semi-regional zones? Why not give a zone for each state when afterall the planning commission urges rich states to pay for the projects themselves and on the other hand lets Lalu to build a rail line to link every village in his clan? Wonder why biharis have to wash latrines at the Yashwantpur station when they can do it at Rabri’s village!
    6. How is the Indian government asking for Hindi to be made a language of the United Nations when in half-a-dozen states there is so much anger against Hindi and Hindi-speakers that locals are ready to kill them?
    7. What about the status of Tribals when they immigrate. Why does no politician or editor in this country has the honesty to tell Gurjars that their demand fo ST status is not justified. Why let BJP and Congress pass the buck between them and let Gurjars kill and get killed in the street? Did you see the nude photographs of that tribal girl in Guwahati recently?

    The media and the self-styled moralists will never address these questions but will dish out morality lessons on nationalism. That is intellectual dishonesty in my opinion.

  18. And one more, if Jharkhand can ask Mittal Steel plant to be based in the state because Iron Ore belongs there, should it not logically follow that Car manufacturing plants should also be required to be based in Jharkhand? I’m sure Jharkhandis won’t mind if they get a slice of the nation’s 30% automobile industry currently located in Chennai alone!

  19. “But this violence for the most part was encouraged by the media which attacked Raj Thackeray for saying things which are blatantly obvious to anyone who observes the country’s demographics. If we are gonna identify mob-behavior with opinions, thats poor journalism. ”

    See thats the biggest problem with your attitude/mind/argument, trying to justify violence in any manner. “I don’t support violence but…..” thats exactly the argument used by Al-Queda sympathizers, or any other terror/violence apologetics. The stance taken by Raj & Co. or for that Mr. Bajaji over here should worry any white collar or blue collar professional working outside his/her home district in India.

    Isn’t it really sickening that someone is justifying violence on Biharis/UPiet just because Mayawati or Laloo are screwed up leaders, is it really hard to get it into your brain that not everyone in these states supports these people, in fact not even the majority there supports them.

    We Indians are the biggest hypocrites, Karunanidhi talks about Tamil people being mistreated in Sri-Lanka and Malayasia, but his supporters over here are ready to dish out worst deal to their own countrymen, either people just plain stupid that they can’t see the hypocrisy, or they are just blinded by hate.

  20. Good Lord. I am thankful I dont have to share any space other than blog space with Balaji. I regret that I tried to get at least peripherally where he was coming from.

    How do you say “I dont support violence…” and then come to “it will cost lots of lives” in the very next sentence.

    To reframe Balaji’s questions in other contexts:

    – if Muslims dont “behave properly” they should be forced to leave. If such voices are silenced, lots of lives will be lost, and it will be the fault of those who silenced this opinion.

    – if women dont “behave properly” they should be forced to remain indoors at all times. If this opinion is not respected, lots of women may get raped / killed. Those who didnt listen are as responsible as the perpetrators.

    – if Dalits dont “behave properly” they should be put in their place…. etc.

    I could continue but I think its sufficiently clear.


  21. Dear Balaji,

    Replying to you would make sense only if you could do the following,

    a) stop being all over the place. Nitin’s post was about undesirability of using violence for making political points. Even if for argument’s sake it is conceded that Thackeray’s arguments make sense, his goondaism cannot be condoned by anyone who has any belief in the constitutional process. Apparently that is lost on you so you make ridiculous statements like Thackeray was provoked by the media. Even Narendra Modi, no favorite of the media has not yet claimed the need for violence because the media does not actually treat him with kid gloves.

    While you are at it, please also propose a constitutional amendment which would make migration impossible. Should Karunanidhi need a visa to come to Delhi? Should Manmohan Singh require one while using Madras or Bangalore? Such idiocy has never been practiced in any democratic country. Oh, I forgot, you seem to have a low respect for democracy. And before you tell me how popular Thackeray is, please check his performance in the last elections.

    And yes, if the culture you purportedly represent is so weak that it would vanish by the mere presence of outsiders, then your argument is no different from those of shiv sainiks who protest Valentine day’s. Oh wait, you apparently have ideologic affinity with this bunch of goons.

    Amusing of course is that fact that the success of cities like Bnagalore is based on outsourcing–a by product of globalization. I wonder if those who run Infosys and Wipro share your thoughts. Or for that matter since you have appointed your self the spokesperson for six states (no less!), perhaps you could confirm to us that no one from these states has never migrated!

    Second, acquire some political knowledge. Assault on federal system in the last ten years! Every argument must be placed in a proper context or it is meaningless. If the rise of regional parties has had any benefit, it lies in making the federal structure stronger. How many state governments have been dismissed in the last 10 years? Contrast that to what used to happen during the time of Indira Gandhi where state governments were dismissed merely for belonging to the wrong party.

    By al means, India’s federal structure needs to be further strengthened and Nitin’s suggestion of making Rajya Sabha a truly representative one is welcome. However, in no federal structure, the rights of a citizen to freely move across his country can be curbed. Neither can it condone violence on hapless people in the name of protecting culture. If your culture requires such protections, I would be the first to wish that India gets rid of it.

  22. Rohit,

    I don’t think you are understanding my points. Each one of them above describes a constitutional provision that would be affected by macabre immigration. And I don’t think this is off-topic. It looks ridiculous to throw the constitution at the very people who (however inarticulate) are exposing the grey areas in the constitution that cause havoc to our federal structure. And I’m also debunking the myth that Raj Thackeray is indulging in anything unconstitutional or bigoted.

  23. Com. Balaji,

    >>i’m criticizing this very same attitude of throwing the constitution in the face of legitimate stakeholders

    I don’t like parts of the Constitution either. For example, I don’t like the changes Indira Gandhi (another exploiter of differences) introduced during the dark night of Emergency, without debate, proclaiming ourselves “socialist” and “secular”. I don’t like the “freedom to propagate religion” clause in Art #25. This has been much abused by proselytizing dirtbags like Graham Staines. (I don’t justify the violence done to him, by the way). Coupling the misuse of this provision with a vicious, contrived, high voltage rhetoric of “dalit liberation”, foreign-funded proselytizers have supplanted an alien culture among those very dalit populations, dividing them and triggering precisely the kind of reaction you spoke about.

    However, your and my dislikes notwithstanding, there is no alternative for all of us to living by the constitution. Let me give you an analogy to help you understand this point. People in housing societies have to live by the bye-laws of the societies. You don’t like the parking rules, your neighbor doesn’t like the gym rules and yet another one is loathe to paying his share of the cost of maintenance which he feels is too high. Suppose each one goes his own way, and ignores bye-laws? Anarchy will result, and your day-to-day living will become hell. Lawlessness will become the new rule. Hence, even when you don’t like the society’s laws, you have to live by them. You have the freedom to try and move an amendment to a law you don’t like, and get it passed in GBM. Till it is passed, there’s no alternative to living by the existing law. The moral of the story is that for harmonious co-existence all of us have to submit to a higher authority. For citizens of India, this authority is the Constitution.

    Hence, the constitution WILL be thrown at those who insist on making their own rules.

    >>constitution should not be used bully our own people

    See above. That’s like claiming that your housing society rules are “bullying” you.

    >>how to put some sense into the admins in the UP/Bihar before the Bhaiyyas are thrashed everywhere

    Actually, if the “bhaiyyas” are thrashed everywhere, the Lalus of the world will thrive even better. Think about it.

    Concerns about local culture getting eroded by the influence of the outsider are valid. Solution is not to thrash the bhaiyya everywhere but to put in measures that help him appreciate and respect local sensitivities.

  24. @Oldtimer, @Rohit, @Pawan, @Nitin etc,

    I’m a regular reader of this blog, and I enjoy the intelligent debtate although I don’t comment. All I can say is this chap Balaji is nuts, and engaging him in an intelligent debate is useless. You should not have bothered to explain or reason it with him at all. I’ve seen his comments on another blog, and the pattern is the same. Don’t take this guy seriously!

  25. Nitin,
    I don’t know if this debate is still going on, but here are my comments.

    Zeroth, I agree that Raj Thackeray’s behaviour has nothing to do with Gandhigiri. It’s cynical farce.

    First, a small point, your comment: “In general, non-violent struggle itself is not illegal (although violence always is)”. I understand the issue is not violence vs. non-violence, nor the illegality, but in my opinion it’s seriously muddled to say this statement in the context of Gandhi. If we’re talking about the right of an occupied people to violently resist (only against an occupying army), that’s in fact enshrined in international law (see point 14 in the resolution on terrorism). So the comparison with Gandhi is just muddled and not very helpful. As a side remark it’s interesting to note which 2 countries voted against the resolution, as they explained, because of the exact same passage).

    Second, you might have your opinion that agitation must take constitutional forms. That’s not at all clear. Going back in history, we can observe a split in popular movements, some taking constitutional forms, some not. And many of the important changes in history took radical unconstitutional forms, or were carried out in such a general context.

    To make it clear, any decent and rational person is opposed to terror and violence, in part because the State has a huge monopoly on violence.

    Civil disobedience was and remains one of the very effective methods to challenge the State. Of course, if you break the law, you must be prepared to spend time in jail. But that’s not an argument against the act per se.

  26. Anand,

    First—the bit about what the international law says about occupied people having the right to resist is irrelevant in this case. We’re talking about India. Far from muddled, that’s indeed the whole point Ambedkar makes in his speech. The days of fighting for freedom are over; it’s now about a system to work out differences among the free.

    Second—because something happened in history doesn’t make it right now. The objective conditions are different now.

    As for very effective methods to challenge the state, the most effective, arguably, is armed rebellion and terrorism. Of course, if you do this, you must be prepared to spend time in jail. But dear Anand, will you also say “that’s not an argument against the act per se”?

  27. First point (which I said was a small one) – We seem to be talking about different things. I was responding to the “Gandhigiri” issue. Gandhi was indeed struggling under occupation. Anyway, as you rightly note, it’s quite an irrelevant point.

    Second: I fail to see the point of any of the arguments you put forth.

    I did not advocate civil disobedience based on historical judgements. As I claimed, I quote myself, “Civil disobedience was and remains…” – you can disagree with that claim, but it should be discussed rationally.

    Also, I did not advocate it on ONLY the grounds of it’s effectiveness. Your example of armed uprising is perverse. More than perverse, it’s wrong on two points, which I explicitly made clear. Again I quote myself:

    To make it clear, any decent and rational person is opposed to terror and violence, in part because the State has a huge monopoly on violence.

    a) It’s NOT effective, in my opinion. My view on this is that States pray for violence so that they can retaliate with brutality. As noted, you can’t really win with the State with guns, partly because the State has tanks and bombs and all sort of things.
    b) Rational and decent human beings are opposed to violence against innocent people.

    Civil disobedience is not equal to armed uprising against the state. In fact, the mainstream, and imho, the most effective one is non-violent civil disobedience (for example satyagraha in Gandhi’s terms).

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