The centre-Left in India is more concerned with dirty politics: Philosopher Aakash Rathore

15 December 2019
Courtesy Aakash Singh Rathore
Courtesy Aakash Singh Rathore

Aakash Singh Rathore is a philosopher whose work spans Indian political thought, the philosophy of jurisprudence, human rights and Dalit feminist theory, among others. He has taught at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, the University of Delhi, the University of Berlin, and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Rathore is currently a fellow at Ethos, a think tank affiliated to the Luiss University in Rome, Italy. He is the series editor of Rethinking India—a collection of 14 volumes that aims to bring together contributors from a wide range of backgrounds to clarify and consolidate the values of the progressive Left. The series will explore concepts and practices of caste, economics, gender, institutions, rights and minorities. The first volume, to be released soon, is titled, Vision for a Nation: Paths and Perspectives, and has been edited by Rathore in collaboration with Ashis Nandy, a political psychologist and social theorist.

In an interview with Tushar Dhara, a reporting fellow at The Caravan, Rathore spoke about the failure of the Left and how India is at the forefront of a global rightward turn. According to Rathore, articulation of the ideals of the Left, drawn from the Indian constitution, is needed to present a counter to the Right.

Tushar Dhara: Why gather 130 contributors across 14 volumes at this point? Is it a re-articulation of progressive ideals?
Aakash Singh Rathore: The contributors come from a range of backgrounds, from the Left to centrists to progressives. I, personally, am an Ambedkarite. But all the contributors are more or less people who subscribe to the values in the preamble of the Constitution, which really represents what India should be. We invite anyone to cooperate who realises that we have a problem today, in these majoritarian times. Right now, it’s one section of people who are bearing the brunt. Minorities, including those who have been historically disadvantaged—Dalit-Bahujan, Adivasis—or now religiously targeted, such as Muslims and Christians, or marginalised geographically and politically—the northeast—are bearing the brunt of majoritarian ideology today. But this ideology gets realised through violence, loss of rights, loss of life and livelihood, lynching and mob mentality. As these latter practices are unleashed and flourish, they come back upon the majority too. Suffocating minority liberties and rights means suffocating rights as such. No one will come out safer or stronger, all will suffer the consequences. This reality will hit us all, majorities included, hard in the medium term when all of our rights and security is at risk of capricious whim and cynical political calculation. If we continue at this pace, who is going to remain free?

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    Tushar Dhara is a reporting fellow with The Caravan. He has previously worked with Bloomberg News, Indian Express and Firstpost and as a mazdoor with the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan in Rajasthan.

    Keywords: Aakash Singh Rathore Ashis Nandy Narendra Modi left politics right wing