BY Harsimran Kaur ON Aug 31 , 2022 IN BOOK REVIEW, NEHRU AND THE SPIRIT OF INDIA BY MANASH FIRAQ BHATTACHARJEE-NON-FICTION
The rakish sprawling of vultures in the sky has always been an egregious sight!
What do they look for; their eyes inertly scavenging the desolate spirit of the breathless spine? If this solemn collapse of the body is a feast to devour on then the exactitude of vulturous proclivity has fumed the human mind for decades.
The burgeoning rear-guard of majoritarianism, exculpating fundamentalism, anfractuous secularism, cultural paradoxes and the glorified religiosity are like a distorted buckle through which the stentorious band of nationalism falters, for the inequities are a coup de grace to trudge the spirit of India; scavengers that nibble India of its equanimity of equality and justice.
The book “Nehru and the Spirit of India’ by Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee sums up the cultural idiosyncrasies and the ineluctable identity crisis that has become the idee fixe of a hollow structure only to process the preferential and the piffle-paffle. Nehru detested these obscurities; his political ambitions did not trespass his nationalistic agenda but the plague of religion and mysticism often made him wonder if modern India will bear the traces of cultural shocks and historical overload.
India has been quick to grasp the modern fermentation of ideas and opinions but the proliferation of atavistic melodrama is still in abundance. Modern profligacy saunters more like a whimsical pedigree. Wearing a ‘hijab’ becomes a pejorative symphony so intrusively played by the Muslims as fuelled by the Hindu fanatics, putting religious vendettas at the corner stone making ‘hijab’ a de rigueur scrapping off the factual religious identity.
So what modernity are we talking about?—may be the farce of colonial watchdog that has been the rack-&-pinion to manoeuvre the bourgeois to a chiselled identity that has made them a purveyor of miscalculated iconoclasm.
In the book ‘Discovery of India’ Nehru tries to break the camouflage of how India cannot be overridden by modernity completely.
“The modern man is wrapped in much more in these things external, and yet even he, in moments of crisis and mental trouble often turns to philosophy and metaphysical speculations.”
The author, Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee, too has extensively talked about Nehru’s predicament in mixing modernity with mysticism. The entire edifice of democracy too has become a charade where the carte blanche of pursuits is a matter of speculation and introspection. Secularism is now a raucous melody orchestrated by the state to denounce the religious tenants it does not believe in.
Nehru is adamant – his secularism is the voice of the conscience reverberating equality of all religions and is paramount for the state to keep religious skirmishes off the governance paddle; for deleterious insinuation of religious paradoxes are a rendition of incessant identity crisis.
The author is quick to bring forth the incendiary issue of the abrogation of Article 370 and the promulgation of NRC (National Register of Citizens), restricting Muslims to a part of the amendment, and thereby putting them on ripper’s edge. A pockmarked situation indeed! – Where political and religious scrutiny rubs off a minority community of its authenticity and a ‘big-fat’ question on its nationalistic tendencies. The throng of cow-vigilantes and vagaries of minority repression has taken India today back to the pre-independence era. The garb of modernity is a pinch in the butt from the back—a fair deal for majoritarianism to perish to which the minority hawks like a sledge hammer to retain its identity, often bludgeoned as communalism.
And, finally swaying the cradle to the ‘peripatetic culture’ and its ‘palimpsest savoury’ that Nehru professes is the most gifted treasury that India must retain and contemporaneously delve into traditions gallantly perched on a different tree. Such acceptance is an aggrandizement of secular tolerance.
In ‘Discovery of India’ Nehru gives importance to the synthesis between cultures, which have been well expounded in ‘Nehru and the Spirit of India.’
“The effect of Afghan conquest on India and Hinduism was twofold, each development contraindicating the other. A synthesis worked itself out: new styles of architecture arose; food and clothing changed; and life was affected and varied in many other ways. This synthesis was especially marked in music, which, following its old Indian classical pattern developed in many directions.”
Brilliantly researched and corroborated with Nehru’s ideological piquant.
‘Spirit of India’ is not just a philosophy but an inherent struggle with one-self to fight the demons that make India a cavalcade of fissiparous tendencies.
A book bound to arouse polemics around India’s indecisive policies to put religion and politics together.