A whiff of evil

People all seek to know what they do not know yet;
they ought rather seek to know what they know already 
Zhuangzi (369-286 BCE)


Napoleon famously dispersed an insurgent crowd in 1795 with a 'whiff of grapeshot' - the phrase was probably never used by him, but the event did occur. A more recent use of 'whiff' reminded me of that; and it also connects with the climate of politicised militarism.


An insightful comment on contemporary Indian politics contains the following sentence: Second, he has fully grasped the potential of a dangerous idea in democracy: That even evil that has a whiff of a larger cause about it has the power to move - more than civility that is tainted with pettiness. Read the full article here. Nowadays some top political leaders are speaking of love. So it is appropriate that the author remembered evil, because communal hatred is evil. Legal terms do not suffice here.

Evil isn’t hard to comprehend, 
it is nothing
But unhappiness 
In its most successful disguise - Franz Wright

The president of Swaraj India recently stated that 'the Congress must die.' Actually the Congress died in 1984 - what survived was a bleeding ghost. State-enabled genocide in India's capital, bloodthirsty slogans on national TV; neutralisation of the police, sabotage of criminal justice; bias in the judiciary, denunciation of those seeking justice as anti-national; elevation of murder to the status of patriotism; and an election in a murderous climate: all these things were visible in 1984.

In 2014, Mukul Kesavan wrote a perceptive essay about the illusory reliance of global leftists upon the Soviet bloc - a.k.a. 'actually existing socialism'. He compared it to Indian liberal reliance upon the Congress as a bulwark against the BJP - 'actually existing secularism'. In a curious way, the collapse of the Soviet bloc cleared the decks for a straightforward social-democratic politics - no longer could the 'Free world' blame the communist menace for its own tyrannical practices. The same goes for the current situation in India. The RSS/BJP and corporates (and lets not forget the higher judiciary) - may freely embrace each other. We can watch money and piety mating in the odour of nation-worship.

MadhuLimaye describes What RSS is

The Congress still can't own up to what it did; and the steady criminalisation of India's polity is a direct consequence; though we could go back further. Here's a research essay on the Calcutta Killing of 1946. Mahatma Gandhi fought for India's freedom for 32 years, but free India did not permit him to live 32 weeks. Here's some evidence on the matter


Honest reflection upon India's history of mass violence is one thing we will not do.
Nor do we examine communalism, except through a communal lens. Selective deafness has become an ingrained habit. Opponents of Hindutva fail to notice Islamo-fascism; those who denounce Muslim communalism and jehadi terror are allergic to criticism of Hindutva. One faction raises the bogey of  'Islamo-phobia' in response to criticisms of Muslim conservatism; the other insists that criticism of Hindutva involvement in violence is 'Hindu-phobia': an insult to all Hindus. For them, Hindus by definition can do no wrong. One says 'what about 1984', the other says 'what about 2002'. It looks like they need each other, doesn't it

Few can tolerate the assertion that 1984 was a communal massacre; accompanied by vicious communal hatred in elite and middle class circles. Khushwant Singh was quite clear about it though.

It's curious how the Sangh Parivar keeps producing  moderates. Narendra Modi has suddenly made conciliatory statements about 'minorities'. So should we forget his filthy accusations against the then Chief Election Commissioner James Lyngdoh in 2002 - as if being Christian was proof enough of his treacherous character? Was Amit Shah joking when he described immigrants as termites? The latest angel of mercy is L K Advani. Here is a recapitulation of his role in bringing us to where we are now.

Ashutosh Varshney: Transfiguring India

Commanders of media-driven opinion often sneer at secular liberals for double standards, doing nothing about 1984 etc. This kind of what-aboutery exploded after 2002, and one can still hear the sniggering. Here's some information about a civil society campaign for justice.

Seven decades after Independence, the communal partition remains a live issue. Here's what Modi said about it in 2014; and what B R Ambedkar said about it in 1940. This is the position on Pakistan taken by the Communist Party of India in 1942. (Somewhat different from what its offshoot, the CP of Pakistan had to say in 1948).

The Hindi word for 'patriot' is deshbhakt. Bhakti is religious devotion. Can nation-worshippers be termed religious? Why should the Creator of the Universe bother about a speck of dust called Earth, let alone any fragment of it? Nation-worship is atheism. And whatever happened to idealism?


Yes, Nathuram Godse was a patriot. So were Naxalite founders Charu Mazumdar and Kanu Sanyal.  It should make us question patriotism. Hindutva is the Maoism of the elite

 The Abolition of truth (on the 'parivar's celebration of Gandhis murder)

On May 14, members of  a BJP rally in Kolkata allegedly vandalised a bust of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar. This took me back 50 years, to the time when Naxalite comrades were vandalising busts of Gandhi, Rammohun Roy, Vidyasagar, etc., as part of the 'cultural revolution'. Two years ago I recollected those deeds. Sadhvi Pragya's contempt for the Mahatma is matched by that of proponents of Maoist revolution today. (Here's what the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution  meant in China)

Is the revolution still unfolding, or has some other one replaced it? And is not violence the ground shared by enemies? May we ask our ruling class whether they are opposed to violence and lawlessness in principle or only the Naxalite version of it? And while they debate the hot topic of the day, "the idea of India", could someone please ask them about their idea of murder?

Here's some advice I gave the comrades on the 50th anniversary of Naxalbari:
Naxalites should lay down their arms and challenge the ruling class to abide by the Constitution

I will add to these comments as ideas come to mind. But the word whiff is mild. There's a stench of hatred, deceit and hypocrisy in the air. What someone calls political climate change.

speak the truth
stop the killing

see also:
Peace as a punctuation mark in eternal war
A Brief History of the Sampradayikta Virodhi Andolan (SVA)
SVA Press Statement dtd 24 October 1990, following the arrest of LK Advani
Political Resolution of the Annual Convention of the SVA, Delhi, March 1992
Rethinking Secularism by Bhagwan Josh, Dilip Simeon & Purushottam Agrawal

The Almond Trees by Albert Camus
Thedeath of neoliberalism and the crisis in western politics

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