ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Rustom BharuchaSubscribe to Rustom Bharucha

Concern for NMML

We, university teachers, research scholars, students and concerned academics who have used the resources of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML), commend the outgoing director Mahesh Rangarajan for his outstanding work at this institution over the last four years.

Muslims and Others: Anecdotes, Fragments and Uncertainties of Evidence

Against the intensified communalisation of civil society and the emergence of new modes of racism in contemporary India, this essay juxtaposes different histories of the Other through critical insights into the construction and demonisation of the Indian Muslim, along with subaltern performers and indigenous people, among other minorities. Working through anecdotes and fragments, bits and pieces of history, and the backstage life of theatre, this disjunctive discourse on the Other attempts to trouble liberal assumptions of cultural identity by calling attention to the uncertainties of evidence by which ethnic identities are politicised in diverse ways. While critiquing the exclusionary mode of 'othering' minorities, the essay also calls attention to more internalised modes of disidentification and the double-edged benefits of political identity for the underprivileged and dispossessed, whose own assertions of the self invariably complicate official identitarian constructions.

Between Truth and Reconciliation

Drawing on the discourse of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, this essay reflects on some experiments in truth and conflict resolution on the borders of theatre and public culture. By calling attention to the interstitial space between truth and reconciliation, it posits new points of departure in reflecting on the tensions of 'factual truth' and 'personal or narrative truth'; memory and evidence; victimhood and resistance; silence and articulation. Working through the non-verbal and gestural dimensions of different performances and testimonials relating to violence, the essay affirms the need for new languages in dealing with the historical traumas of the past. Questioning the validity of commemorating the pain of entire communities through memorial museums, it recontextualises the possibilities of reconciliation beyond the limited time-frame of Truth Commissions into a more dialogic confrontation of the unease underlying any struggle for 'transitional justice'.

Enigmas of Time

In the form of an intellectual journey at the end of the millennium, this essay traces the enigmas of time through the intersections of culture, history, and politics in the subcontinent. Through improvisations in traditional theatre, where times are at once fluid and interchangeable, and the ecology embedded in ritual cultural practices that ensures their continuity, the essay examines the anti-historical prejudice in colonialist readings of 'Indian time' in juxtaposition with fundamentalist readings of the 'Indian past'. Focusing on the social implications of the 'death of utopia' in the contexts of Kaliyuga and globalisation, the essay offers alternatives to the marketing of memory in Gandhi's affirmation of 'imaginary' villages, Krishnamurti's advocacy of the 'ending of time', and Lohia's envisioning of 'immediacy' in an 'interval during politics'. The essay suggests that a recognition of the mutations of time can begin only through a new alertness to its multiple enigmas.

Politics of Culturalisms in an Age of Globalisation

The intercultural, the multicultural and the global inhabit different yet overlapping narratives that should not be arbitrarily conflated. There is a crisis of practice in much philosophical and social scientist thinking on multiculturalism and an insufficient engagement of philosophers with emergent cultural practices. This article attempts to intersect political philosophy and cultural practice. While multiculturalism works within the cultural logic of multinational capital, interculturalism has the potential to work against this logic.

Politicians Grin, Not the Buddha s Smile

Rustom Bharucha The Buddha is not smiling. Let us remove that perverse wish-fulfilment from our minds and concentrate instead on the grins of our ruling politicians wallowing in a pseudo-mythological celebration of their assumed omnipotence and imminent self-destruction.

The Shifting Sites of Secularism-Cultural Politics and Activism in India Today

The Shifting Sites of Secularism Cultural Politics and Activism in India Today Rustom Bharucha There can be no one agenda for the secular struggle in India today, but several intersecting, colliding, overlapping agendas that converge and clash around the realities and pressures of communalism, multiculturalism and globalisation. Within the maelstrom of these forces, secularism is at once threatened and resistant, in the process of articulating new dimensions in its philosophy and practice but also struggling to survive in a state of profound instability. If secularism is in a state of crisis, it is also in the making.

When Eternal India Meets the YPO-Fifty Years of Dependence

When 'Eternal India' Meets the YPO Fifty Years of Dependence Rustom Bharucha Poverty refuses to disappear as a problem, thereby countering the wish-fulfilment of global moguls. Conversely capitalism as a narrative and practice continues to thrive, assuming increasingly invisible and chimerical manifestations, which would seem to reduce the earlier modes of capitalism to a state of speciality. These refusals to die - of poverty, capitalism and the Orient are the major concerns of this story. Through a description of a seemingly irrelevant cultural spectacle is exposed the contradictions of our SO years of dependence, more sharply than any other narrative in the seemingly unreal world of performance.

Utopia in Bollywood-Hum Aapke Hain Koun...!

Utopia in Bollywood 'Hum Aapke Hain Koun...!' Rustom Bharucha It is sad that we should be celebrating the century of cinema in India with a superhit so vacuous as 'Hum Aapke Hain Koun. !' a film devoid of any illusion worthy of the condition of the millions of people who are at once the primary patrons and victims of its vision. This is a film that is obviously in tune with the liberalisation' of our times, while being thoroughly grounded in the signs of a homogenised, upper class, upper caste Hindu constituency.

Dismantling Men-Crisis of Male Identity in Father, Son and Holy War

Besides situating the theme of hegemonic masculinity within the specific political atmosphere and organisation of the Hindu right in contemporary India, Anand Patwardhan's film moves out in different directions to illuminate the crisis of male identity in society at large.

In the Name of the Secular-Cultural Interactions and Interventions

The task today is not simply to set up secularism against communalism or fundamentalism; indeed one needs to break this dichotomy as far as possible, if only to realise the potentialities of secularism outside a rigid and essentially negative framework determined by the misuse of religion. More critically, one needs to subvert the growing tendency among communalist forces to speak as non-

On the Border of Fascism-Manafacture of Consent in Roja

On the Border of Fascism Manafacture of Consent in Roja Rustom Bharucha Within the emerging maelstrom of media forces in India, our thoughts are being thought for us in ways that would make the indoctrination of traditional authority figures almost mild in comparison. Market and the state (and their collusions), by a range of media representatives, constitute a form of cultural fascism which is liberal and even idealistic on the surface but dangerous in the hold it has on people's minds and votes. The film Roja needs to be seen in this overall context in order to grasp its subtle extension of the ' manafacture of consent' by which the crisis in Kashmir is being circumvented by the government THERE are many borders implied in this essay which covers a difficult and tricky ground, one that I cannot claim to have fully grasped because it is just beginning to emerge. It is a ground that covers the lure (and the lies) of nationalism but not in a directly political context Rather, it is mediated and disguised through layers of cultural expression which have been consolidated through a ' manafacture of consent'1 engineered by the agencies of the state in the market and the media. As the essay moves towards an elaboration of this 'consent', it also inscribes the difficulties involved in naming fascism in the Indian context. This is the subtext of the essay, an underlying leitmotif which does not always surface but which remains an unresolved problem that troubles me beyond the writing of this essay. Somewhere within and outside ourselves, we need to confront that dangerous border when nationalism becomes fascism, not by denouncing the other and subjecting ourselves to further aggression, but rather by questioning our own complicities in the legitimisation of violence around us. Tellingly, the provocation for this essay has not been sparked by a direct confrontation of the realpolitik or a re-reading of Gramsci but by something more immediate and seemingly trivial: the all-India box office hit Roja, a film that hovers between the genres of romance and a political thriller dealing ostensibly with 'terrorism' in Kashmir. Not only has this unprecedented commercial blockbuster received the implicit blessings and very direct support of the ministry of defence, it has also been awarded a prize for national integration from the government of India, whose authoritarian chief election commissioner has gone on record testifying the patriotic credentials of the film.2 Not to be outdone, it appears that the votaries of the Hindu right in the Bharatiya Janata Party, notably its leader L K Advani, have also endorsed the message of the film. And the general response not only in the mass media but among intellectuals and a great many activists as well has been largely positive, if not overly enthusiastic in a mindlessly jingoist manafacture of consent One could avoid writing about Roja altogether (even critiques are likely to contribute to its hype) were it not for the fact that the film has also been described by a minority of its dissenters as 'fascist'. Now fascism is a serious business, dangerous not only in the realpolitik but in the context of cinema, and any use of the term demands qualification and analysis. Fascism should not be assumed any more so than it needs to be glibly dismissed. The immediate


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