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

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Dialogical Dreams

Political Discourse in India

Debating India: Essays on Indian Political Discourse by Bhikhu Parekh; New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015; pp 374, ₹895.

“Why do our ideas provoke such violence?” wonders the pacifist and stupendously charismatic opposition leader played by Yves Montand in the marvellous Costa–Gavras directed movie Z (Greek word “Zi” means “he who still lives.”) “Why don’t they like peace? Why don’t they attack other organisations? The answer is simple. The others are nationalists used by the government, and don’t upset our Judas allies who betray us.” The 1969 film is based on a thinly fictionalised account, authored by Vassilis Vassilikos, of the assassination of the Greek deputy Grigoris Lambrakis in 1963. In Gavras’s sure hands, the film mocks and parodies authoritarian regimes that slaughter democracy even as they mouth empty platitudes on freedom of expression. Meetings are allowed, but dissenters are made to bite the dust. The right to free speech is hypocritically espoused, but dissent is crushed through intimidation and murder. Rulers patronise goons, who in the name of “nationalism” empty out the political space, and crush “nonconformist” views and movements. Sounds familiar? Rightly so, the film could well have been made in and for contemporary India.

Multiple Traditions of Public Debate

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