Almost all democratic politics is identity politics. In India, this translates to dominant and marginal identities: the nationalist upper-caste, the liberal (also leftist) pan-religious upper-caste, Muslim (AIMIM, IUML), Sikh (SAD) and so on.

However, the label of identity politics gets applied mainly to Dalit-Bahujan and minority politics. This is because both the Hindu identity and the liberal ‘Indian’ identity assume that they are pan-Indian identities. In other words, the identity politics of the dominant communities is projected as normative politics. …


Why none of us are secular at the individual level

Secularism can only be applicable at scale, not at the level of the individual. Why? Because there's a difference between secularism and identity. You can't be secular if you have an identity, how much ever tolerant you are to other identities. You are not a state to treat everyone the same way. You are likely to give more preference to your immediate family -- your mother, father, spouse, child and so on.

At the level of the state too, we need to differentiate between secularism and godless religions. …


Liberty and equality are fuzzy words as is the case with so many sociological terms and phrases. If we want to have a realistic understanding of the society around us, we need to ask what kind of actions a society makes possible or not possible for its people? What are the things we do and do not do (some of which illustrate our privilege)? What is it that we cannot do (some of which represent actions that are illegal and in other cases, one’s lack of privilege)? What sorts of actions are possible for some communities that are not possible…


I die slow

I lie low

I lie low

I prefer to drift with the flow

I die slow

I die slow

After me an afterglow


Left-wing critiques of neo-liberalism sometimes tend to confuse a vicious technocratic ideology with the very idea of private enterprise. It’s just unfortunate that in India, traders primarily belonged to the so-called merchant castes restricting other castes from indulging in trade. Otherwise, there’s nothing to be scornful of trading as a profession. This preference that some leftists have for the intellectual class (which again had a caste in India) is also one reason why they limit their conversations with the productive classes to interviews and surveys. …


The kind of attention that COVID-19 has been getting globally indeed is because it has also (or rather mainly) affected the rich and powerful. From Sophie Trudeau, the wife of Candian President, to Hollywood actor Tom Hanks; from UK health Minister Nadine Dorries to Iranian deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi.

And it is true that deaths caused by malnutrition (responsible for 69% of deaths of children below 5 years in India) or hunger (which causes 9 million deaths worldwide annually) or even a curable condition like TB (which results in 1.5 million deaths every year globally) far outnumber deaths from…


What makes most of us sit up and notice the current MeToo movement? Without a doubt, it’s to do with the names of the harassers who are (or were) men in influential positions like M J Akbar and Suhel Seth. It’s to do with the women who have mustered the courage to call out the aggressors. Women who have the power of words and the ability to recount in detail what happened, when and where. As a consequence, the men in media and corporations are likely to behave a little better until the momentum is kept up. However, what is…


I don’t believe in God, but I feel uncomfortable with certain types of atheists, Richard Dawkins for one.

There are several atheists on the extreme right in India as well. Savarkar was one. Hindutva, for this lot, is not rooted in any lived religious practices, customs or traditions; it is a modernized ideological position of ethnicity and race. It defines who has the first right to this land. Savarkar makes this position explicit in his most influential text, Hindutva: “Dharma of a Hindu being so identified with the land of the Hindus, this land to him is not only a…


What is the core idea of Hindu nationalism? That Hinduism is “A” way of life, and that it is the only way for India. It should look and feel the same. It has to be consistent. Standardised

What is the core idea of globalisation? That cultural and economic integration is the ONLY way by which societies can progress. It should look and feel the same (management books, economics textbooks, The Economist). It has to be consistent. Standardised. …

Anil Mammen

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