The Urgency of Secularism: Amartya Sen and Yogendra Yadav

The Urgency of Secularism: Amartya Sen and Yogendra Yadav
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everybody this is a very special evening that the South Asia center welcomes you to when we are mu Kalika Banerjee I'll be playing the role of moderator only when absolutely required mainly to make sure that we get as many of the complexities of this topic discussed this evening both our speakers today are people with a lot of ideas on on the urgency of secularism so I'm going to try and keep it moving along the way we thought we would arrange this conversation between Professor artisan and yogi in Riyadh of is to have perhaps a first 40 to 45 minute period when yogi Andhra and almost so that will be in conversation and then we will take questions from the flow and then tell me more to say obviously in response to your questions as you can imagine the topic of this evenings discussion has been carefully thought through while we chose it we may talk about the need for secularism a crisis of circular is a secularism certainly in the Indian context it has been an issue that we have thought about it's in the fiber of the imagining of the nation and it has been through a crisis and discussion for many decades and arguably perhaps to some and not arguably to others there is a real urgency to that crisis now in the contemporary political climate and so we need to think about the intellectual trajectories genealogies of this idea in India but also more comparatively and where India stands in this discussion on secularism we have professor killed bill Romney here from Colombia who is of course written about this extensively it's it's a delight that you're here sir so I'm going to invite first you gain drew to who as many of you know is a trained political theorist political scientists apologist commentator on television many of you have seen him but also now in his current priorities a political activist so there are issues of secularism on the ground that that need to be addressed which I will invite you gain drew to talk about professor almost ashamed of course as we all know in this room without exception has written about secularism secularism and its discontents many years ago but about a wide range of topics and and I'm going to invite almost that to really reflect on those initial those writings and where his thinking is on these issues now and I'm hoping that yogi Andres been tasked with challenging some of those ideas so we can have not too much agreement on stage otherwise we can all citizen yeah play and you have your job cut out for you so you need to challenge over to there and also that I should say wanted to be challenged he was not going to give a lecture today and he wanted somebody to challenge him so I'm delighted that you gained her who be very grateful to the Ralph Miliband program at LSE who invited him to deliver the Ralph Miliband lecture last night whose several of you were there at and he could stay on and and do this for us so over to you Uganda to make your opening remarks Thank You Malika thanks to the South Asia center at LSE for this opportunity who wouldn't want to share stage with a mortise am so delighted honored that he thought of me as the interlocutor for some reason Mallika informed me that he wanted me to be the interlocutor I'm honoured little intrigued why he wanted a political activist to perform this role the choice of the Tropic urgency of secularism urgency reminds us of a certain immediacy time swiftness urgency also carries with it something else a sense of priority a sense of significance and I guess it's both that we are talking of a matada might speak of the larger context because he can i would confine much of what i have to say about india that's the only place i understand somewhat urgency of secularism in a sense i understand in a sense i don't understand urgency of what exactly secularism could mean for different things and i thought it may be an interesting way to start thinking so let me make some cryptic provocative statements to open this conversation and to live up to Malika's challenge secularism could mean secular principle which is a constitutional principle which is of course a foundational principle I can only put it in one sentence in the context of India I say that without any hesitation we either have a secular India or we have no India at all there is no third way it's that deep it's that foundational a principle that we are talking about so of course what is the challenge then the challenge is to reaffirm that principle and especially in the context of what has been happening in the country for the last 40 years this is really something that demands every ounce of political and intellectual energy something that might demand some lives to be completely devoted to this this is so at the moment in India we are facing a challenge to the very foundations of Republic and that is so from urgency of secularism I could understand urgency of recovering that principle reaffirming that principle which is at the very core of the idea of India but secularism could mean other things as well secularism could mean a set of policies state policies what is it what has been our record when I look at state policies I'm on this unsure of what we have exactly practiced secular policies have been if secular principle is foundational secular policies are deeply flawed on the one hand we have had policies which seemed to favor one community I mean have we been symmetrical in treating all communities as secularism would require the answer is maybe not sometimes favoring one community at least its elite let me be more specific and more provocative what we have done in the name of secular policies is appeasement of the minority clarity and a complete neglect of minority citizens so what does it mean what does urgency of secularism mean in this context to my mind urgency of Consular ISM in the context of policy would mean repair we need to repair these policies secularism could be in politics secular politics at least in the domain of electoral politics a certain set of political parties and movements carry the description secular what has been the record if secularism as a principle is foundational if secularism as policies have been flawed I say without hesitation secularism as politics has been fraudulent its fraudulent because what we have practiced in the name of secularism is actually politics of keeping minorities hostage specifically Muslim minorities have been kept hostage by parties that claim to be secular so what is our challenge today our challenge is to completely redesign that politics what is secular about politics that calls itself secular very little and finally secularism could mean shall we say pedagogy just to continue with bees or secularism could mean a set a set of intellectual practices and there again my sense is that record has been very dismal secular intellectual practice has been has been very in consistent what we have in the name of secularism are two kinds of things one complete ignorance about religion at least in India for the last 50 60 70 years we have cultivated illiteracy about religions we call it secularism I don't know why or we have cultivated in the recent 20 years or so not just indifference a certain kind of hostility let me be specific and continue with my promise of being provocative I think we've turned Hindu bashing into a fashion an intellectual fashion in the last 25 30 years or so which has had very serious costs and so what we are witnessing today where that absolute foundational principle of the idea of India is being shaken the easiest thing in this room would be to say it is by these forces and you know what we are talking about BJP RSS and what they have been up to that dangerous propaganda that spreading of lies poison toggery that's going on in the country today but I think in this room we would be doing injustice to ourselves to the challenge unless we recognized some of the deep flaws in the practice of secularism so I hope this conversation about urgency of secularism would be both about urgency of affirming the secular principle but also about recasting the secular practice that's all I would say to begin with thank you good he stuck to his five he's had seven minutes I gave him seven I know you will check so I'm giving you seven you can have a plate and an island an economist who stopped them in the motorway at the time when the speed limit was been reduced be sixty and actually speed limit will reduce to 55 ah this was there was a great relief in America that you reduce accident and save the environment which of course Iraq and do not think about anymore but at that time today and see there was often and they have said you know how far she were going and I said no and he said were you going 70 he said the speed limit is here 50 so you must not exceed 67 me as a teacher there is a Trinity so I think I'll begin with them since actually Metallica entirely with some earlier thoughts which are very much encouraged by yogin those comments and who are which excellent comments indeed and with which I'm very much in agreement this way disappointed he was trying to disagree but then you don't succeed already so we get that okay but one of them is that they're two centers of secularism and I think there is a kind of division between a Western and in for the want of a better term Indian we are looking at basically when you discuss something as secular here it tend to be nothing to do with something that avoids being contaminated by religion and such and so is it secular no and it's not sexual because some real interesting is involved and the other is the idea that secularism is being equidistance to the different religions and they're the two ways of doing it either all religions that exist or religion that your own populations happen to have it's to my mind though I know that I've been this has been disputed by friends like Rango in my case that I think this idea really goes back to Agua namely that what you're trying to do is that issue you cannot treat one group of being a favorite and of course to another but that doesn't mean that you couldn't protect someone's right to religious liberty for example you may be the state may do something to to prevent the violation of religious liberty in a way that John Stuart Mill would have been happy to hear and and the example that I when I was doing it any particularly interesting context it took first 1,000 years in the Muslim aedra calendar that's when he is doing it at the end of the 16th century and but the example he gives of that kind I mean he gets August Russell gets was the one person who's keeping track of what we're saying I think it's interesting why wait laughs why is it that I felt I was in many ways similar in terms of tolerance doesn't quite have that perspective his argument is much more foundational that you should listen to other even if killing this you don't agree and if you disrespect other people's out when you weaken your own faith not God advancing a political argument and its political constitutionalism it exactly fits into which in your first category and on the political category to which you go it meant something and I think it's a it's a big difference I remember one occasion when I was getting my only and only degree in Dhaka in Bangladesh I asked my I asked the vice-chancellor I said them he's just going to be secular ceremony or religious one and he told no no strictly secular so the function began and we had two minutes of readings of the Quran then we had two minutes awaiting from the bhagavad-gita not a good choice by the way we have to go by the Hindu scripture in fact one of the more boy expendable I think partly cuz it's an argument it's not clear that Krishna winds down when either Gita and then there were two minutes of reading from the Bible and then two minutes already zombie from the ship attack from the Buddhist scriptures as well in what sense is it secular well because they didn't discriminate between them and it won't be seen a secular in the European context actually will be seen and what religious and I think that sense is quite important in India and it's important the mother country for if you think in a very different way sitting Gandhiji mother Gandhi I don't think I mean I think it is wrong doing and and his religious thing pretty much every day on the other hand I don't think there is a case where in the political meeting of the Congress he would favor Hinduism in any way indeed in 1931 when he comes here and he's being described by the his with his host as being a Hindu leader then he said that I have not a Hindu leader and so I think that same important thing and it's true in slightly different ways to offer with us also partly because to go was not a political guy but of course he was religious no question about that Yates and as we found between them may have exaggerated it beyond belief on the other hand he had no religious thought Cernik and yet that would not hold him prisoner and when it comes to describing in some way back in his Hobart lecture which which is on the man ladis Carson what am I and he describes himself before the exact wording that I'm actually a product of three civilization Hindu Muslim in the Western and the truth together 3 together make me what I am I think that sense is extremely important for the reason that awkward recognize why why did not what go into it I mean he is very early in the Volvo and finds you saying I mean his his grandfather had established Empire even though he spent most of his time missing the area that he came from where it is easy to get good juicy melons in a way that you couldn't get in heret deli so that was his big complaint bubbles complained of that bhava had a lot of other interesting so true and well those who claim to be a little far saw facade and he said like it country right he was worried that his military was being disheartened by someone saying you lose this long and he said you know I can show that you're wrong because I can ask you to predict something and about whether you continue to live or not and I can kill you and that you cannot be such a caring person and then of course I was dad lost Empire pretty much with first out by the by the photon and then the cauchy reestablishes agua so I think he barely had a chance to settle down and he already doing what sacred affected like having a say munching as a as a commander of the army at the same time also doing these things about device was the duty of a king or the duty of the state to take namely that if somebody's religious freedom is going violated you have to protect it and I think that become creaming the England for him now I don't know whether it is the case that the present government actually does a lot to make the life of Muslims more precarious and miserable reform it does but even those who don't among them life it's not adequate to say they are not doing it it's some stray elements in her assessments on the fact is that you ought to do something what are you doing to protect what are you doing to protect the guy who was allegedly has brief in this refrigerator and that's a complete failure in a way that toddler was that recognized I believe that day that the confluent assembly takes note of that a great deal not coughing it often enough but I think there was a thing wrong with lung goes wrong in in taking the view that Agra didn't have that role in the in the in in the wake of the Indian Constitution can I hold you there yeah and on the contemporary yes because tempting as it is to get into the intellectual genealogy and the point of view the distinction about between Ashoka and Akbar is actually something I would have liked to you know proceed but but you know it's your contemporary reference that invites me to you know focus on that because the overall given the overall context and also the fact that in a sense there would be a lot of agreement here probably amongst many of us sitting here that while the word secularism makes to our Constitution much later the the foundational values of our Constitution are secular but even before that the freedom struggle has come to that consensus and they are drawing upon something which is much prior to that so secularism is not something that suddenly makes its presence entrance in the Constitution of India we're dealing with something which has much deeper lineage but I wouldn't get much into that you know you made a quick reference to what's happening right now in the country and that's what I wanted to draw your attention to you know in 1996 you wrote that essay on secularism and it's discontent which in essence systematically deals with many misconceptions about secularism in India as a political activist when I travel in the country today I find minorities feel very insecure and I understand why they feel very insecure among Muslims there is clearly a sense of having been relegated to a second grade citizenship in the country I read someone like Julius Ribeiro and when I read what he in this super cop hero of India I mean it just breaks my heart to read what he's writing this is the car for a guy no Julius Ribeiro who was the police chief in Punjab of an area who I mean he don't last week to say look I'm prepared to be a second-rate citizen of this country but don't call me aunty nationals it just breaks my heart but interesting strange thing interesting strange weird thing is when I speak to ordinary Hindus I find them insecure as well you know where does that that is a deep anxiety an ordinary Hindu on the street and when it when the Muslim carries that anxiety I can easily understand I just have to read the newspaper headlines and I know why they feel insecure I meet others I understand that but when I speak to a set of Hindus in Gurgaon last month about that the namaz dispute that took place I find a certain they all carry a certain and xiety where does that anxiety come from do you want to do is it all completely flimsy what is it yeah let me make one first point before I come to that about a burner you see I've had no political no religious campaign priority also clearly dead in fact but for soap Buddhism would not when spread across the world and so you know country after country from the beginning with Sri Lanka but there's lots of hidden evidence that that's true of Thailand and so on where he sent invoice and he wanted to set up I had didn't have any such program I mean he he remained the Muslim and claim that this is this is where he talked about why he thought that is the fast of reasoning that cotton death is not as he is not a Muslim but that he was not obliged to be a Muslim because it comes from a Muslim family he had to choose still and he chose that way and in fact they the the the head feast of Delhi when outfit art said that well we disagreed a lot but I have to say that in terms of his life he had led a life which could describe him as really being was chosen by him but I think he was also arranging that was his personal thing but he is arranging these discussions with you know in in fátima strictly and they say laughing tradition they're in little little television indicating that one of those Sufi and and bhakti inspired leaders da do about the not kuvira's less what dado who actually I think it's a that focus whole story that I'm verifying we spent 40 days chatting with him on that but but he's curious in curious and he is also interested in reason fading out so I think that I up with contrast arises from the fact that were having no religious program in a way that did but they coming through the present day thing I agree loving into feel insecure and there's not to feel insecure about in India from economic anxiety from social anxiety from related violence anxiety but they don't feel that I got it precisely because Hindus in a way that the Muslim had reason to feel in today's world in India because they may feel that you know you are sprayed into a communal strife between two cargo but that's not recover you're a Hindu well difficulty because you belong to one car school rather another it's a kind of social background of the romeo giulia kind of type of a of the others of that kind of hostility but i think they the sense of vulnerability of being a muslim and in some cases in a christian to have been quite strong in the in the present context so are you saying the anxiety of Hindu anxiety is different from Muslim anxiety well Hindu anxiety is different from Muslim Khalif into a glassy and glassy of people who happen to be Hindu I'm saying is not a Hindu exactly in a way the anxiety of many people who are Muslim could Rafina they mostly like black because their problem arises precisely because everything's I understand what you're saying but what I see on the ground is something slightly different looking from outside if you look at the data or statistics if you look at objective reality yes what you are saying should be the case in the case of Muslims there is every reason for them to be anxious about given what's happening in the country I mean they just have to pick up the newspaper and see what's happening in the country but when I speak to Hindus there is a Hindu related anxiety not the other ones economic anxiety caste anxiety those are different things look I am a Hindu god everywhere insecure for that reason how is it I mean this is something I encountered for the first time in Gujarat after 2002 I traveled and if you were to go by what the hint ordinary Hindus on the street who were telling you Muslims were probably 40 50 % of Gujarat's population they were controlling everything in Gujarat Muslims were very an in fact that's exactly how my conversation ended in Google you know I was I was there leading a delegation in Gurgaon next to Delhi a month ago there was this controversy about Muslims being able to offer prayer namaz the fried enemas in public and because a certain RSS organisation said you know they bent around they created a lot of tension around that question so some of us went there to you know to speak to ordinary Hindus other than the aggressive ones and what I noticed was actually that many of them were saying they they were actually feeling anxious about the anxious about the presence of so many Muslims I said how many Muslims do we haven't go down I know the place I was born there I said how many Muslims do you have there there are too many I said but how many you know there are two men how much is too many where do you notice I said you know really honestly are you telling me that you know on the street you feel it threat from the presence of Muslims I said look I I've known this space don't tell me you've you know on the streets you feel insecure so so as they is the only reason I'm pushing this point is to bring back to what I had said initially we could simply say false consciousness this is not reality don't know where they get these notions from these are weird notions forget about it all we could try and understand what this perception is all about has something gone wrong in the secular practice to create these kinds of many things including the Red Lobster from secularism you know for allegedly secular program and Congress is pretty guilty of that but I can't you know you say false consciousness the complicated story about objectively Lucien there may be something of that there but this paranoia dare to have yourself record to say I feel very afraid because there lots of people other communities here there's not a normal human thought I mean clearly found no exhaust because it's a normal state of any society other than very I don't know if you are living in a Viking have you never met anyone other than inviting and you may feel very wise if you find three or four non liking flying uh walking around but I I think it's not a very natural thing to feel worried about the presence of other community in the case of Muslim they were in a cemetery is that something has been done to people precisely because they're Muslim and I think there's an activity maybe we'll come back to that phone because I I said that two point I was going to make I made one okay so other gays being and here there is more to learn so much romance amongst all of me from both but so much more namely that we live in a world which is more than our country also called in that sense and internationalist in a way that ratio of Indian Kings where we take great pride in in not having established an empire but that's not quite true either whenever they could they did in in Indochina and Indonesia and so on but the M and that's not only Hindu by the way the Indonesian Islamic conversion that the logical team country in the world well finally moved by Gujarati Muslims that's where the Bugatti Muslims had played a major part and I talked with Muslim scholars in Indonesia who find out which particular way you could discriminate between the version of Islam that came from Indonesia from India and from Gujarat in particular so what happened is but generally people haven't tried to you know run the world when children fall back discusses for example that's almost a thousand years Sanskrit was the lingua franca of the world that wasn't enforced it's just that it was that influenced by Hindus but strongly Buddhist in many ways I had to read Sanskrit to learn the literature in the same way Latin became anything even when people were not trying to read only the Bible so I think the in the secularism that is where you open to traditions without asking where is this too different from that incident I think it will fall into your category of the last one the intellectual secularism I think there is an enormous urgency of that to prevent us from being the kind of the Sanskrit word Cooperman Duke that is the fog in the world I don't know a visually I know that goodbye the Reverend Father day in their fall in the well it's as a worldview but the worldview is based on what it can see inside the world and so there is a danger of a worldview which give us confined and sacred lesson is one of the ways of living you know liberating ourselves and if there is great pride reason for fight that India did have at least in theory through history a kind of receptive thing interested in the Jews who came to India in the first century shortly after the fall of Jerusalem the Christians came and from the third century Saint Thomas the Apostle is supposed to have come earlier than that but we don't know they would kill the fut of our back to keep your city also about their Lewis friends and the parties curiosity about Islam also even before the conquest through the Muslim traders going back all the way to the behind and India did not generate the behind that was Iran but on the other hand is a curiosity about it and they're mobilizing India than anywhere else in the world it's like 20 times more so I think there is they that openness and they also some lovely story one which I like is st. Thomas the Apostle is charmed by this completely apocryphal no truth in this at all but completely charmed by a beautiful singing coming as it lands in India and this is the Jewish girl sitting on a song of the of the sea singing his song so I like this idea of this Christian apostle arriving and we come by in the singing a song I think it captures you know which aspect of that aspect of India which is also through which there and I wish there was a third point I would say that by denying secularism the the to the extent that Hindus do it of course most Hindus don't and we are to remember when we say that Hindu this is not a declaration of an earthquake coming or nothing so I think we miss out something of which one could kind of be in very involved I think there was not alone in that I mean that was and any kind of intellectual civilizations which have survived and and and first has add that feature of their being secular acceptability yeah when Iraqis kala would spend as a Muslim American scholar spend some time whether what our Indians most fouled off and these discussions whether I forgot the name of the guy but it's in my voke argumentative Indian whether it's chess or the decimal system which are Indians must spelled out when you're discussing that there is a expand similarly al biruni the Muslim scholar from Iran who were seen only in havoc he produces I think the I think the best book on India at last it was written in 1012 ad so I think have happened to incident but feelings it's called tight economy at I recall him that is the history of India and that's when he discusses second what enormous among the debates routines of mathematicians he is never a mathematician but a discusses and then he also discusses the debates within from Augusta who was here causing towns only a better magician than her God but didn't have the courage of Iowa no they nor the innovativeness and he take Rome also to talk saying why did he join others in announcing our evidence for going against the scriptures about the about the eclipses of the moon and the eclipses of the Sun and the earth going around the rotating on its axis and so on and there's a lovely fastest way and this is also in a caracal in that if I I would if I met him today what would I ask Norma booster I have to acknowledge that he is the rationalist rotation I know even better than I about however I have to ask him though he is dead 400 years I had to ask him if you really think so badly of our gods and criticize it in order to flees those whom you thought think you ought to sleep why is it that when it comes to predicting the eclipses you follow our hearts method rather than following those whose scriptural statements you you back so I think they say this is a time when they the colombians civilization extending all the way to the to the Atlantic was you know and it already caused over insane and so on had that magnanimity which also allowed them to translate Plato and Aristotle so much so that when they had to revive first when I was talking they couldn't find it initially they couldn't find the father laughing translation so that – we translate the Arabic translation of Latin text into into Latin again so I think if I could drag you to film things that have happened since al-biruni ohana and I find this fascinating your definition of secularism as being open to traditions without asking which tradition I should follow I mean that that really gives a new way of thinking about it but in order to do so you have to have some literacy have we not destroyed that literacy completely I look at you you are above all agree with no no we will I mean this is something really bothers me I mean when I look at you personally you above all I see is a Bengali intellectual you're rooted in Bengali you write with some Felicity with Sanskrit you are familiar with these things so if someone says here is Adi resonated best night intellectual that would certainly be untrue but would that not be a correct good characterization of much of the modern intellectuals that we have produced post-independence India to me it's a very serious question in thinking about secularism our vivre and when I say we it means post-independence Indian elite are we not guilty of creating a cultural vacuum in which mr. if you think's to begin with word as is I think reasonably well known we do not have a translation of the word secularism a decent translation of this word terminal page sign Hindi is as bad as it can get and most of the Hindi scholars I use the word secular just to get so so there's a world this is a problem of language which is most of the secular discourse takes place not in the languages in which 99 percent of people in this country opera in India operate but primarily in English language there is the problem not just of language but also of metaphors of the worldview I'll just give you one instance this tiny story I can tell my stories but that tiny story is of 6 December 1992 like all like many secular fools I believe that nothing would happen that day that this was one of the little dramas BJP was enacting remind people about 6 6 December 1996 December 1992 is when Babri mosque I should not have presumed which is a major is a watershed moment in the history of contemporary India RSS carries a RSS BJP care is a nationwide campaign for almost 2 years which constantly says we are about to demolish this mosque we are about to demolish this mosque on 6 December 2000 1992 they once again said we are about to do it and people like me said one more thing they are not going to do it and it happened it happened in front of the whole world I thought my whole world had collapsed honestly that day I thought was I mean I I personally thought this was the beginning of the end of India as I had known it I didn't and I those days I used to teach any University lived just outside Chandigarh was fed up with gender as a city used to live in a working-class colony there and there was a little very gentle Indian style curfew which is to say you could go out but not quite into the city so I went out and met all my neighbors and wanted to discuss with them this person who was a fruit seller this person next door who used to keep pigs the person who wanted who used you would play Ganga I went and met all of them and spoke to them and said something very bad has happened in this country do you know about it they said what professors up so I told them what I thought was this terrible thing that has happened and they said professors are rom-com under A&E to England Moomin Ibaka will we have Ram temple in England if not here in Ayodhya my language of liberalism constitutionality Supreme Court orders had zero purchase next morning Prabhas Joshi wrote an article in Jan SATA in Hindi which was in Sue's front-page editorial which said maryada purushottama Gangnam purple onk this is a blot on the name of Lord Rama who is maryada purushottama that gave me a language to speak to those very people I've never forgotten that day and how completely incapacitated I felt all my learning all my training all my wisdom was of no consequence I needed to learn a new language but I now look at this is 25 years old how many of us have learned that language today once again we find ourselves in the same situation these forgive me for saying tugs are around tugs use a language of tradition of Hinduism and those who want to defend the civilization do not have a language most of the intellectuals most of the modern educated Indians are illiterate about their own traditions I don't speak of one tradition I don't want everyone to be educated in Gita but something about those traditions we have created generations after generations of illiterates there is a deep cultural vacuum and it is in that cultural vacuum that RSS BJP makes an intervention are not just RSS media P EE also does it lot of Muslim organizations do it she Romani Gurdwara problem the committee the other day says we shall have our own censor board everyone keeps quiet I combined velocity can I just take less photos then absolutely we will I'm not so I mean I I find your addition a little elitist there yeah I don't mean elitist in the way the term is used now it's just unbelievable and it is a thoughtful and your when I'm completely illiterate military coup happens and then they think they are now going to carry out for this reason in favor of the elite now these chaps can't even spell unbelievable but you re being elitist in the big sense that it has to have a vague idea I don't think Indian circular ISM the glory of it has been in in the big victories actually even in terms of what I was coating up and I hope we don't think of them that way elementary theory that you know this is a country Windows Muslim and then another sand as a king I want to protect all of them and why well there could be many reasons so if somebody were to say this is the same in the name of Rama and you know in Ramah well it's an argument that shouldn't have feels to you I think on the other hand you can see it as a means of communication this is a big subject and in fact the big debate within Gandhiji and and in the Octagon about the vol score it was on that I Gandhi he was using a language which could communicate results against untouchability when take all thoughts I will completely unacceptable but you see I think the secularism in India has survived not on elitist so forth I think it is remarkable that there never been in the history of India a big right which begins in a rural area they always begin in some urban area then spread through the hinterland of that and there is a kind of understanding of illiteracy even of exploitation this is story with you earlier on asking me this afternoon it was my grandfather who also had a book on Hinduism of a very different kind so the one that movie was a fool but it's his one of his you need one of his necks as he is reconnecting his elder brother who were in Albany Mahorn he was he lived in the same village in in become fluent in darker area and one of his close friend was the the the the Muslim frees a copy of that area so he would go there every evening every evening to have hookah you have smoke so he's discursive rather the content that the two of us were having a good smoke when there was the Hindu feel super fluffy and my hostess is the Muslim faith said why come and join Ashley having great to a cause I think a great who cafe from here and to which they say look I really can't join you because you know you are Muslim free and I agree I am a Hindu feel our beliefs are different I believe your beliefs are all wrong and it's not possible for me as a Hindu free to join you in this other now Kitty won't sell my grandfather's elder brother Haneen I have said the which this Muslim belief said you know if you will exaggerate are different as a Hindu priest your job is to make money and lead a good life by diluting the illiterate in the population and it's my job is to make money and lead a good life by deceiving the illiterate Muslim population so we have exactly the same profession now that argument is not an elitist argument but I think it had played a very big part in a sense of symmetry which is what is driving here and I think the big protection from the lateral area had been that central symmetry rather than any grand idea but we can discuss it and I don't think he won't throw us to discuss it just at the half now to take some questions so let's start with the young lady here I'll take a couple of questions at a time is that okay okay and you both don't have to answer every question please take care yeah thank you for the engaging discussion I'm Manish NACHA and I'm actually and all kinds of disability with age and I also had some treatment from some stage cancer which has affected I can count walk away easily no can I hear me easily so can you just shout it wouldn't be yeah well that may be overdoing we're depending on how much so I'm a student here in the Department of International Development mr. Yadav you mentioned this distinction between the extremist aggressive Hindus who are associated with what we call the Sangh Parivar and then the Hindus who do not associate with that kind of etiology how has how half those minority Hindus not just legitimized their position in terms of electoral victories but also managed to appropriate the entire idea of being a Hindu how have they managed to do that okay let's take one more question that back yeah hi my name is Arjun Charla I'm a graduate student international relations here at the RSC thank you for an enriching talk my questions for the panel is if you could discuss a little bit more about how you how you would see an explanation for the fragility of secularism because the urgency of secularism in the indian project has been spoken about and has been in discourse and multiple occasion and yet we stand here today what the panel talks about Hindus and Muslims as homogeneous entities and almost as clash of civilizations Samuel Huntington sort of way as if though he losing Muslims of India are in any way homogeneous entities right so how have we come here into where we're again discussing individuals reducing them to their immediate identity on the basis of religion when the whole idea of our nation state is one that's based on complex and complementary identities thank you and we take one more down here Thank You professor Yadav spoke of the anxiety of Hindus around the existence of Muslims professor Yadav spoke of the anxiety of Hindus around the existence of Muslims in India that anxiety also exists in countries like Germany Hungary the United States amongst quite articulate and well-read people coming back to the discussion on India I just like to ask your views on how much that anxiety is fueled by the fact that you have Pakistan along one side of India and Bangladesh on the other and what do the geopolitics of the region fuel further the anxieties faced country it's not just India there are other countries where majorities have this anxiety Hungary is a good example that's one so is it in the anxiety of Hindus different the second is how much of the anxiety in India is about being flanked by Pakistan and Bangladesh as two Muslim countries so do you want to go first or it is true that the you know what you would call extremist Hindus who hold very strong views some of them could be bloodthirsty some of them could take pleasures in you know all kinds of things being done to Muslims that's a microscopic minority a very large overwhelming majority of Hindus would fall in the category of those who are like all ordinary people subject to some prejudices some little misgivings and vulnerable to propaganda but they are not bloodthirsty the trouble is and I really I mean is it easiest thing for me in a hall like this would be to say RSS did this BJP did this of course they've been up to it that's their job that's what they have been up to that's what they're doing for the last 90 years but in a hole like this to go and get away with it is lazy I want to talk about what we did not do and to my mind one of the biggest failure of secular politics has been inability to sustain a conversation with at ordinary Hindu you know you need to you know Gandhiji I mean just remember at the time height of partition these partition refugees are coming to Delhi just just think of what their mental state must be every evening they confront the Mahatma they would give all kinds of galleys yet that man sustains a conversation with I think over the last 70 years we've forgotten to can sustain that conversation it's a difficult conversation but not as difficult as it must have been during partition I think there's a sense of complacency in secular politics we have a good Constitution we have Supreme Court we have laws and we rule this country this arrogance has led the secular liberal elite into not even trying a serious conversation RSS has had preached erics how many preacher acts has secular politics had in the last 70 years RSS has worked for 90 years can we say that secular politics has worked for 90 months in this country to sustain and read you know make serious effort I'm not being flippant you know communists in the 50s made effort socialists in the 60s made efforts but put together would it amount to 90 months of serious sustained effort at sustaining the foundations of this Republic that's missing on the fragility of secularism that's the innocence the point I'm making I think it's not merely that secularism faces an onslaught which it does the biggest onslaught ever this is the nightmare of Neru of Gandhi it's also the nightmare of Vivekananda that we are facing today but it's also a fragility with him inability to do to strengthen ideas like secularism have to be reinvented every 20 years every 20 years you have to give it a new vocabulary a new proverb in new way in new you have to give it a fresh life we haven't done that why are we so surprised if this is happening on the anxiety the only one thing that I I completely take the point that this is not only happening in India this is happening many parts of the world and we should put that in a broader perspective majority is behaving like minorities is quite a global syndrome and they so sometimes there is something on global political economy that's taking place I'm not too sure about Bangladesh and Pakistan though the geopolitics point I think both Bangladesh and Pakistan that more than their existence in reality it's the existence here that matters the anxieties about the anxieties are are manufactured anxieties on Bangladesh that the anxiety has to do with flow of population which is somewhat real question in the case of Pakistan the whole thing is about propaganda that's happening so I'm not sure if geopolitical challenge or threat I'm if there is any serious real threat out there but it's it's what's being created through a lot of propaganda that's the case thing you said I think the issue of us hungry and other is very very common and some research the the big problem for me right now is more Hungary Poland and not easily then then in there Edge's fight all everything together even though I say that with a tight central relief because it doesn't it means the trend of the recent election to indicate that we are not looking at them volcanic eruption that would take the whole country and I think there's evidence that that's not the case rather than hungering for London and North Italy and to some extent in parts of in the chung basin in the United States there is a real knowledge which missing which is them to be very worried about I'm certainly not saying that our formula was the biggest one but I don't know that you know to me to be for Bangladesh or Pakistan to be a kind of real cause of militarism I'd say it's not a majoritarianism because video eto Hindus have never supported the RSS photo so I think to call it majoritarianism is to give them too much credit it's minority realism of especially in our kind the I don't really know that I mean given the isometric Pakistan might be more concerned about India than India is concerned about Pakistan that was certainly decade before before the nuclear bomb thing and when you think about they what to happen in a clear bomb India had nuclear bomb it down in the 1970s some people were sitting quietly in a position of superiority and then of course it's a day overwhelming majority with conventional forces lucky son always wanted to do some military nuclear tests but it seemed very difficult for fuckathon to do it without alienating the world so India then created a wonderful situation by blasting some bombs and then gave strategy we've lasted five Pakistan taught us a lesson in in arithmetic namely the smallest whole number larger than 5 which is 6 and they've lasted six months that's it so and that process in a state of symmetry which was really created by an early video free government and if there was some move calculated to neutralize in their severity that was it now I don't want India so where's it's all done and I don't like nuclear wrong but on the other hand and avoid that itself severity has gone on the other hand I don't really think I mean there's an element of paranoia in this tool and I think that's an area could be laid up and I don't doubt that in the election it will be played up when other carts are failing that card will be played I I think you related to severe on people not having conversation with ordinary Hindu for 90 years now that I'm eighty four and a half ninety doesn't look that long but it is a bloody long time I have a sense that I mean it's very easy to look thing where did we go wrong and I would look for those things where every said one thing I did another I mean the problem was with the first calamity was done by Congress and not why not by the by the video feed and I would look there and you know I think with a little bit of condescension I'm not accusing you of that in saying we don't talk with the ordinary people we extraordinary people don't so I really I don't entirely vile some people quite enjoy that and I'm not accusing you of that but have a sense that we are not doing enough for the common people and being bringing them into the way I don't take the view that common people have great wisdom but unlike a secularism enthroned I think there's very little to be to blame the common thief all about I think they it came from the leadership it came from people in whose name various universities are being constructed these days and they had very very sophisticated view partly of their own partly learned from your fear sectarian like fascism and copying them into in the Hindu context so you know I think I think the common people have done pretty well without our health example might be at the moment in in the age of social media where a certain kind of troll language of trolling anything that is seen to be the sounds smells of liberal ideas there is an army recently we had a photograph of the president of the BJP with the media team as it's called euphemistically which is basically the troll army now where is the liberal troll army could be a question you know how come we don't have right-wing views being trolled by more liberal views we could have you know that might have been one kind of repost a strategy a real thinking there's obviously a taking for granted nurse oh yeah a second of all they spend their time doing these thing yeah I mean not all of them may be as smart as the Russians have been in America it appears but on the other hand they're pretty smart field I get attack so much by them and I often have to admire their ability to commit really inventing which is you know one man says what could I have said and then ultimately decide said nothing that if the sources will simply attribute it it's like the end of the election when this Muslim woman was the decoy was succeed and said attributed to her that I celebrate this victory in the name of Islam it said nothing of the kind people don't invent things that matter you have to be pretty of extraordinary we think of that they soul battle is a battle of I think demented partners let's take another final round of question that I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to take everybody's questions so let's start with the second row here hi my name is Rosa I am a third year law student at the Elysee my question actually builds on some of the conversations we've had about the cultural vacuum specifically by Uganda and you mentioned the inability to sustain a conversation with the ordinary Hindu and it's a very introspective point looking at looking at the hoarding blame in some sense and just past actions but looking forward who is going to lead this conversation in face of the real politic which is the RSS and the BJP hi my name is shells and I'm an international politics students act so ass so my question is since we are sitting here in London how does how does the question or the language of secularism convert in the diaspora communities because when I like you talk to people here it's even more difficult to have the conversation about Modi and his regime in India even more difficult to tell them that there is a certain kind of propaganda so that idea of secularism converging with traditions which are frozen converts in a very different manner as compared to the Indian population so if you have any comment on that hello my name is Manish I work at the International Center here at LSE basically I am stationed in Patna I am here for my training my question is to dr. Sen like you mentioned that we live in a world which is more than our country now when we talk about secularism how do you define secular like do you define secularism within the boundaries of a country or it should be it should be more than a kind like more than the boundaries of a country thank you my name is graduate of the LSE we've touched upon in various during various paths this conversation around ordinary Hindus not being able to sustain conversation with Hindus not being able to of feeling insecure acting like minorities my question is we work with a lot of young Indian people who come here to study to work etc and they almost do not want the idea of secular India they it's almost as though in this group we understand the urgency of secular secularism whereas they are almost indifferent to the idea of secular to the point of not wanting the secular India or that's what they seem to say and I'm not sure they fully understand the implications of what they're saying that's an observation we've had particularly in the Indian students who come here in the Indian young professionals who come here is that something of singing on the ground and what are your thoughts on this well let me then comment on two of these points because they're too many and and you were going to take well yeah I think the see I think the idea of secular if you're going to put it like that it came very late in the century use it in India if you could describe it as coming late but you can only describe everything is coming the earliest in the world in terms of equal distance and I think there I know that I'm often taught to revise towards agua but I think I would say that which actually could be awful fun with all that I know that that came pretty early but it's not a natural called secular there are different religions and you treat them the same as I said quite complicated but there are things that we do namely treat all human beings what's the same don't create artificial barriers and the clean here in the context of governance of Agra is that it is an artificial barrier among my citizens so who mind responsible they may be somewhere in do so many Muslim but there isn't it's okay it's nothing it's not a real barrier very in mind this is the time when Giordano Bruno is being burnt up and we're not making pronouncement it's a no Bruno invented the state in Rome in cansada fury for apostasy so there is a fascination some earliness of the salt but ultimate I feel there is a governance that as someone whose mantra for law and order I must treat them the same it's an extraordinarily important thing because the failure that we see today in India is precisely about government much more than anything else you may say quite rightly that the destruction of the Babri mosque it wasn't but you know to me I think the terrorizing of actual Hindus actual Muslims as opposed to destroying a mosque which is not renewed for a while as a mosque if you know what terrible things have happened but in terms of failure of governance one they went without much more than the other and I think the I would I wasn't there I'm not certain that I fully understood the four hundred to the extent I understood it I wasn't why that people don't instantly say that I identify with secular was like a complicated idea and you know it's like sort of doing multiplication with table of 1919 times and not like two or three or four five and so I'm not worried about the failure of rising today to being declaring ourselves the secular but and there are people who do he does that we not that we make an underdog that was also people do that but they it's a failure I'm ready to tolerate in a way that making of it just generally making of it's very distinction they're not treating something and a car system another and we are talking about this led to Muslims from the activists Hindus but the track today to the lower-cost have been absolutely vicious over thousands of years twenty-five hundred years ago Gautam Buddha was going down Ling about that grumbling also about lack of education very grounding about that health yeah the three events that white him which made him go away one was people dying of illness they are suffering from illness you know dying off illness and and the medina all failures of a very basic time and I would say the second version as this I suppose the title idea to effective it is very important I wouldn't I mean they didn't reach for some politics there and I well I agree with her with him that slightly differently that I think the failure of the sacred like cancel win not to do enough on secularism as such I think we've got so worried about terms like pseudo secularism which is absolutely when you think about it if there is no secularism there wouldn't be any through the second either so I think I think we lost the battle in that time but the fact that people are not constantly repeating secularism it doesn't like me in a way that they're treating people to be intrinsically unequal and having an equal life does like me okay all right no then I just give up there but you see something about Dysport I don't understand the dashboard I think very good need to see that I mean all I can say is I can hear what you're saying what has struck me but 25 years of teaching students who've grown up here Indians to Indians who've grown up here is this tradition of secular thought whether it is out by rather a shock whether it is pulling out this historical knowledge and this idea of India's it's about history that is almost an unknown territory to Indians who are growing up in Britain so when we talk about the the chauvinism of the Hindu outside India it is one of and these are these are conversations difficult conversations that one has had where there is a sense of complete and utter surprise that India has this history so you know it's it's fantastic to have your account over to that but that is the account that needs to be made much more organic to the imagination of India as children are learning about it and that is precisely what is being reversed through the managing of the history curriculum that the contents of the textbooks I think one of the a great example is the way the ethic which is which will you know we have a radio All India inheritance has been captured by one do yeah and and then it doesn't help of course that the wrong every the figure in in in a while though there's plenty of criticism of mom in Ramayana itself and I'm so far when I was doing for Sheldon for lack I did the introduction to the Ramana translation in the in the case and good library but it's a people don't know how much there is discussion there is about you know with around with doing the right thing like going to rage of a little throughout that similarly whether long is doing the right thing in putting Sita through all kinds of terrible testing and so on and I think there's a need for innovative departures yeah and and I think we're failing I agree with that it's not so much we are not carrying the ordinary Indian tell me nervously that's the one remain one disagree when we range I think I'm I think I'm quite happy with all the very Indian but they should not be led into extraordinary direction by Northey and faults of organda I think their ordinary English is their big protection and I hope they will continue to have that want to make a quick point or quick question but very quickly because we're really short of time can you please bring the microphone sorry I can't this is a killed will gummi professor of philosophy and in Columbia Jurgen this challenge to you Amartya is not really so much about ordinary people but how secularism hasn't really found a conceptual vernacular to make its point part of the public imagination confetti or vernacular not a natural language vernacular but a conceptual vernacular it's you know articulated in a vocabulary and in a set of frameworks which are not really from a vernacular conceptual idiom I don't mean natural language vernacular and that is a really deep and interesting thing that he's raised though on the other hand you again it when you say somebody like Gandhi kept the conversation going in a way that others haven't the fact is that Gandhi never kept the conversation going on behalf of seculars see what he was tapping was an ancient and long-standing Indian unselfconscious pluralism but he never ever saw that as a secularism and he wasn't in any way formulating a conceptual vernacular to keep a conversation going with ordinary people for secularism it was something else so so and so that's a challenge to you I think starting with what you said that's my experience to see the problem is that at an ordinary person young or old secularism is not your natural instinct it's a difficult thought it's not the most you know stereotypes are natural a bit of suspicion of others is something that happens quite naturally but to be able to say no I should not participate in it need something else it could come from personal experience my father saw his own father being murdered when he was 8 year old in a communal riot when he was 17 he saw the other thing he saw Muslims being massacred in and around his village he understands what his secular is you know when he reads something in newspaper buzz I can see in his eye he has only one eye I can see that in his eye you know he's something he goes stiff with a na he knows what his secret is he knows the price the trouble is that for this generation we don't know the price I began by saying something I said either we have secular India or we have no India at all now this could be a nice sentence this could this look like a glib formulation but I mean every every I mean every sense of it the trouble is that this simple one-sentence is something we are unable to translate to millions of young people today we need to do that school textbooks are school textbooks they can be wonderful your bad textbooks can make it very bad but good textbooks do not necessarily make you secular something else needs to take place that something else is missing and that is politics politics is at the heart of modern India it is the Yuga Dharma this is the central activity around which at least for the last hundred years and possibly for the next fifty I cannot you know use all these loose formulations here the sex and the society would revolve and it is political education which is needed that is missing I would take process Saints reprimand very seriously it's not reprimand but I take it as that I would think hard about it but for me this is not a question of causal analysis of past something is happening in my country this is this is going this somebody is ripping the foundations of my country in front of my eyes I need to do something I cannot just blame him I cannot say he's doing it he's a bad guy these are rascal these are thugs yes they are Rascals yes they are thugs but that doesn't absolve me of my responsibility what am i doing and to me the answer is also the answer to the other question who is going to do it who is going to lead this conversation I'm serious about this platonic business RSS has Prasanna recharge RSS has had preached Eric's either through India yes one of them is the Prime Minister of India yes and the important I mean I think we have seriously miss understand ur estimated the extent of influence these things have had in our country when I was growing up I knew I knew some of these RSS activists they were laughed at they were completely normal took them seriously but they were at it at it completely someone has to do this this might look like political propaganda but what do I do I mean it absolutely seriously the country needs political siddhu's we need 5000 sadhus who would each of them would say and and I mean these are not weird things Gandhiji used to do that he would assign someone and say for the next rest of your life you shall stay in this district and do this work for the rest of your life you shall promote Hindi for the rest of your life you'll just simply settle in move up and ensure that Muslims who have come back to me back are resettled properly we need something of that kind yes I share Processing's growing optimism about 2019 elections yes for the last ten days I've had better sleep but 2019 is not an answer no matter what the result unless we develop that capacity to do to cultivate that ordinary people's sense the idea that every single Indian is a minority that's a message that has to be taken someone has to take that message and maybe I'm not 84 unless wise have seen less of the world but I do feel very anxious about it and this is a task cut out for our generation and for your generation and I think this is something that brings me here I think ultimately if there's a if there's a difficulty that I have I think the remedy of a bad moment on one side is not a bad argument on the other side there really do is it's a good argument in a sense the remedy is that everyone should have a reminder I don't think we need Fattah I don't think we need close we do need resistant to troll suddenly and that could be done and I think the real difficulty with taking the view of the photographer view as a contra you know fight back and this way it's not that I don't think that there's any situation where fighting would be a bad thing to do it often a very good thing to do but the general approach of saying that they have done something which we haven't done and we think this epic thing of the history thing that no critic are saying if the history is distorted the right answer is to present undistorted history not counter distorted history but someone has to do that job no I agree with that who's not really [Laughter] [Applause] I think it only remains formally for me to I think we've heard a very important conversation this evening I thank you all for being a terrific audience apologies to those who didn't get your questions in and I really hope we can find the passion of your generous activism and commitment to doing politics not just talking about it to over to there's knowledge I don't know many people who could write about talk about secularism who could make an offhand remark about how the bhagavad-gita is not the best text to know but that is being done not in a dismissive way but one from deep familiarity and knowledge and that's the kind of position we aspire to so I think this conversation has been a rare and a very valuable one and collective thanks from all of us [Applause]

Could the administrator please upload the transcript of the above conversation.Prof.Sen is not very clearly heard(may be because of the quality of the recording or may be of his old age).A transcript would be much appreciated.Thank you

This guy Amritya Sen is just vomiting lies after lies without any citations for primary sources to buttress his point of assertion , typical of leftist to build castle of lies without any facts but just by their rhetoric .

amritya sen missed yogendra yadav 's point , that we need political sadhus or pracharaks.
noam chomsky has said the only solution to problems we are facing is organising , that is bringing people together. protseting , and communicating to the so called other whoever he is wherever he may be, laying a common ground ,

political pracharaks is one way of doing it.
any intellectual who is not involved in activism is not a real intellectual in my opinion.

Nobody wants to talk about the reason why according To Yogendra causes Hindu anxiety or anxiety of hindus. Let me put them out here 1) fear of muslim taking over 2) fear of imposition of sharia law if that happens 3) same thing happening to hindus what happened to kashmiri pandits . The world is seeing what happens when muslims start dominating for eg in the UK and france and belgium and germany and sweden and denmark No one is even trying go answer these questions. Yogendra tried but could not get an answer. I have grappled with these questions for a long time and i dont have an answer and i dont see any discussion on These points between our parties. They are qyick to take quick jabs at each other to get brownie points but not deal with the cause of the angst in the hindus. How can i, as a individual, reconcile with what is going on in the world and our push for becoming and reinforcing secularism in India.

Very good civilised Debate unlike Indian TV channels who are full of shit I would like to thank the person who has organised this debate and the person who has uploaded this video on YouTube thank you. very much. JOY BANGLA!

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