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Good Governance Day or yet another Political Symbolism Day? When Christ and Atalji share the same birthdate

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By Kedar Uttam [ Published Date: December 27, 2014 ]

Having attended RSS ‘shakha’ in my school days, I know how uncomfortable it feels to eventually see the Hindutva bug make an approach towards you. It is an embarrassment, and I have felt the same in certain other context too, particularly when people knock my door to inquire about my religion and present their holy book. Such awkwardness is even more in these days whilst reading how a WhatsApp message created tension in a cinema theatre in Puttur. On top of that, another embarrassment is the Good Governance Day. First, because it deliberately attempts to sabotage a major festival of the country, and it is callous, as The Hindu Editorial reports, “particularly in its show of insensitivity to the sentiments of minorities”. Perhaps this deliberate attempt is another shade of saffronisation, the ‘saffronisation of red days’. As for the government servants, Christmas day no longer remains a red day or a public holiday. Second, it begs the question concerning “who” should decide whether or not Atalji signifies good governance. Is it a form of BJP’s self-certification? Moreover, was the governance led by Atalji good in comparison to the weak governance that existed prior to his regime or did it represent the qualities of strong governance in itself?  My intention here is not to debate the governance of Atalji; I am rather interested in an analysis of the BJP’s political action of declaring his birth date to be Good Governance Day. 

As Gwilym Croucher writes “some political actions are merely symbolic - they have little lasting value”, Good Governance Day too seems to be another political symbolism of the BJP (in addition to the cleanliness drive). However, it causes worry for two reasons – it falls on the day when we are supposed to celebrate Christmas irrespective of religion (enjoy city lights, go to a cake exhibition – the holiday has its own agenda), and second, it may not ultimately have large positive impact. In terms of the first reason, given that the ideology of BJP is built on “virulent nationalism” (as Siddhartha Deb points out) primarily maintained by the advocates of Hindutva, the political action shows no respect for diversity. In this case, the diversity implies that we are a country who celebrate and enjoy public holidays during festivities observed by more than three or four religions. When the fundamental goal of Hindutva proponents is to unite all Hindus and promote Hindu supremacy, political action linked to it detains from appreciating anything that is perceived to be not based on Hindu culture. Not withstanding such standpoint, it draws inspiration from other premises. One such premise is described in Vijay Prashad’s book ‘Namaste Sharon: Hindutva and Sharonism under U.S. Hegemony’. The central argument in the book is that Hindutva partners with and functions as a sub-contractor for the “messianic imperialism of the United States”. Dr Hiren Gohain puts the point in the Economic and Political Weekly in this way - “it is usually believed by exponents of Hindutva that theirs is a bold revolt against western hegemony, but in fact it is an imperfect and slavish imitation of that hegemonic system, a caricature”

Perhaps the most elaborate explanation for understanding why political actions like this may not render much positive effect can be found in the work of Murray Edelman, whose book‘The Symbolic Uses of Politics’examines politics as a symbolic form. In terms of Good Governance Day, the political action might have been created so that it nourishes the political party.The true purpose of observing the day may not be to promote good governance at all, instead it might serve as “a powerful means of expression” (in Edelman’s words) for the public with the intention of symbolising what the public needs to believe. For the BJP, this expression might be quintessential as there are hopes more than ever before. However, the impact of such symbolism is clear in Lowell Dittmer’s analysis of Edelman’s book. Dittmer’s paper explains the significance of Edelman’s work that indicates how political symbolism contributes to public inaction by feeding the unconscious needs of citizens with appropriate symbolic reassurances while not delivering significant changes or development. Moreover, associate professor Henrik B., who has written widely about Hindu nationalism, notes that much of the work undertaken by the Hindu nationalist movement (with its political wing –the BJP) does not truly intend changes on a political level, but instead for a more general change in the mind-set of the Hindu community.

It is time to demand for real changes if we truly believe that BJP can deliver it, but this does not imply that we avoid inquiring BJP’s inclination towards political actions that are symbolic in nature. Such critical inquiry is relevant as it might suggest us some factors that could further help public evaluation of BJP-led governance (and certainly not a self-certified one!). It could help us track where the ruling party is heading in terms of meeting people’s expectations. Unfortunately, these days, most of the critical articles on BJP attract a long list of ‘ad hominem’comments, whereby the commentators start questioning the personal association of the author rather than commenting on the argument presented. The questions to be posed are not why priests discuss politics or when will secularists stop targeting the BJP, but rather should be focused on the diagnosis of the ways in which the democratically elected government addresses society’s issues.

       Kedar Uttam

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A. S. Mathew, USA :

Without any apology, I am telling that, whosoever played this dirty trick to berate the importance of the Christmas, and to mistreat the Christian minority of India will be regretting for his or her totally callous behavior.

See the writing at the U.N. Building:

"He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many people. They will beat their spears into pruning hooks. Nations will not take up swords against nation, nor will they train for war anymore"
Isiah 2:4.

"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the Government will rest upon HIS shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty GOD, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace" Isiah 9:16.

His birth is clearly recorded in the New Testament, in Koran and in the holy book of the Bahai faith. All these three religions are telling affirmatively that JESUS will come back to establish HIS Kingdom of peace.

"Good governance day" "Vajpayee's birth day"
"school assignment"; thus deliberately berating the Birth day of the Prince of Peace from the largest democracy in the world? I am glad that Sri. Vajpayee was born on that day, he is a specially respected person may be due to his birth on that day, respected by all political parties.

The great movie star Aamir Khan is so particular to release his big movies on Christmas Day because he said that it is a special lucky day, he has waited even months to release his movies on the Christmas day.

It is sad that Christmas is celebrated as a commerce in many parts of the world; however, its great spiritual gravity, as the biggest religious celebration in the world can't be dishonored by any nation in the world.

Mr. Kedar Uttam, your great article is highly commendable and greatly appreciated.
Elias, India :
I agree with good Governance day if all these good people sweep the roads next day of Diwali.
Drona, India :
Oh! Kedar Uttam. I thought it was Ram Punyani. In other words, I am speaking to the converted.
Total Comments: 3   Showing: 1-3

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