The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India

By Thomas Blom Hansen | Go to book overview

6
Communal Identities at the Heart
of the Nation

The Normal and the Pathological

Canguilheim argued with respect to the human body that pathologies are known as deviations from notions of normality that in themselves are always/already products of contestation and historical change. Medical thought is marked by two alternating conceptions of the pathological—one locating the cause of pathology in disturbances caused by factors external to the healthy organism, another locating the cause in internal imbalances transforming an otherwise healthy function into a state of excess that damages the body. In the first case the “evil” is constructed as extrinsic, as something to be expunged, in the other case it is intrinsic, as an excess to be suppressed or controlled by other intrinsic forces (Canguilheim 1994, 321–25). Similar models of causality are at work within the social sciences, especially in debates on violence, civil strife, and xenophobias. In the classical modernization teleology of development, politics, and public life, postcolonial societies were often depicted as “incomplete.” These realms were marked by traces of (abnormal) irrationality and incoherence because they were suffused with a ªtradition” originating outside the edifice of the modern state and public sphere, and therefore unstable and prone to recurrent pathologies of violence and strife.

Within colonial epistemologies, communalism and sectarian violence were regarded as exaggerations of the “pathologies” of the Eastthe uncontrollable, deeply rooted religious sentiments that made the Orient oriental. However, communalism seemed to apply more to the “masses” than it did to the reasonable “educated sections.” During the serious Hindu—Muslim riots in Bombay in August 1893, the Times of India observed “a disturbing and most dangerous element in the riots—that the millhands responded in large and apparently well organized gangs” (14 August 1893). On the same day the daily Bombay Samachar observed “the authorities will find it difficult to deal with the millhands now that they have learnt to act in concert with each other.” (14 August 1893). The Bombay Gazette reported on the same day, how-

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The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • The Saffron Wave *
  • Introduction - Hindu Nationalism and Democracy in India 3
  • 1 - Modernity, Nation, and Democracy in India 16
  • 2 - Imagining the Hindu Nation 60
  • 3 - Organizing the Hindu Nation 90
  • 4 - Democracy, Populism, and Governance in India in the 1980s 134
  • 5 - The Saffron Wave 154
  • 6 - Communal Identities at the Heart of the Nation 200
  • 7 - Hindu Nationalism, Democracy, and Globalization 218
  • Notes 239
  • Glossary 269
  • Bibliography 273
  • Index 289
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