Babri Masjid, with 20 years of hindsight
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The development of a pan-Indian national consciousness, subsuming multiple local and other identities, was a product of our anti-colonial struggle. Any backsliding in the struggle against imperialism, such as what the bourgeoisie has been imposing on the country in the era of globalisation, entails a recession in this national consciousness, and the coming to the fore of multiple other forms of identity consciousness. And the same neo-liberal regime that undermines the overarching national consciousness and encourages multiple forms of identity consciousness, also makes these identity groups relate to each other in antagonistic ways, because of the rampant unemployment and deprivation it generates. This provides fertile ground for the growth of fascist tendencies, since it now becomes easy to tell a Maharashtrian worker that he is losing his job because a person from Bihar or south India is replacing him.
This fracturing also suits the interests of globalised finance capital, since it facilitates the snuffing out of resistance by the people by dividing them; it facilitates the enfeeblement of democracy despite the retention of formal democratic structures. If the anti-colonial struggle had meant a forward march of the Indian people, what we are witnessing today is a veritable counter-revolution that is seeking to undo in crucial ways the gains of that struggle.
But then the question may be asked: what does all this have to do with the demolition of the Babri Masjid? Where does that horrendous act of vandalism fit into this picture? The answer lies in the fact that that demolition was an extraordinarily significant milestone in this counter-revolution. To see that demolition as itself being caused somehow by the shift to neo-liberalism would be a simplistic argument; but the fact of that demolition which was carried out with impunity, and one of whose enthusiastic promoters, Bal Thackeray, is even being paid obeisance by the Indian state after his death, sent the signal that such acts were now permissible. It created the condition, in other words, for the proliferation of multiple fascist tendencies apart from itself. And imperialism which sniffs out faultlines within a society to further its hegemony was quick to harness the antagonisms generated by identity politics to further its agenda in a manner which we can clearly observe today.
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