WRITINGS OF BIPAN CHANDRA: The Making of Modern India: From Marx to Gandhi: Orient Blackswan Pvt. While they clarify and enrich our understanding of different aspects of India's struggle for freedom and its legacy in independent India, they also inform his sensibilities that hope for an un-fractured society where freedom and progress are available to all. His prolific writings have a kindly passion and conviction about them to which his students and readers are magnetically drawn.Some errors and/or insufficient details may remain in the main text as well as in the footnotes - I will try and remove them over time.
A state riven by crises of legitimacy can quite easily and naturally turn to communal institutions and movements to secure an authoritarian popular base.The partition of India and the long history of Hindu Rashtravad (Hindu Nationalism) express the formidable successes of this tradition.On the other hand, there is a historical (not merely historiographical) confusion between ‘nation’ and ‘community’, which underlies the evolution of the modern nation-state and the subjective reactions to the Industrial Revolution.He points out that Nehru was one of the first to have broken out of the shackles of Stalin-Marxism to realise that while there could be no true democracy without socialism, there could be no socialism without democracy either.Bipan Chandra was the first to emphasise the need to study colonialism as a ‘distinct social formation' or ‘colonial mode of production'.NB – this essay was written 26 years ago, in the aftermath of the 1984 carnage of Sikhs in New Delhi.It was my first attempt at arguing that communalism was India’s version of Nazism, and that it was a singular phenomenon with different religious (and mutually influential) expressions, rather than an arithmetic total of separately existing communalisms.I re-post the essay because despite the growth of historical knowledge and fresh theorizations of communalism, it marked (for me) a first attempt at understanding the single most intractable problem in South Asian political life.And as it happens, I stand by the main argument presented here, regarding the fascist nature of Indian communalism.When communalism achieves state-power, the distinction between community and nation seems to vanish, and the task of critical comprehension becomes even more difficult. Communal ideologues possess the gift of speaking with several tongues in a reasonably straight face.Thus, in the Nehru Report negotiations in the late 1920’s, Muslim politicians from the Punjab could base their demand for communal reservations on the apparently democratic principle of proportional representation in the absence of adult suffrage.