From EPW to Nitish Kumar: Is helplessness lingering all around?

They are all left/liberal intellectuals situated in leading universities and research centers of the country. Noam Chomsky lauds them; Amartya Sen encourages them; and Marxist/ Subaltern/ Feminist/Ambedkarite/Postcolonial theorists belong to their camp. And we used to trust them. Their intellectual honesty, fearlessness and courage to cope with unbearable political pressure-we all took for granted. Yes this seems to be the reason why for the last fifty years the Economic and Political Weekly has occupied the consciousness of the intelligent mind.

Its trustees and board members, because of their high profile academic status and political correctness, gave us the hope that the EPW would continue to reveal the ideological facade of the alliance of corporate bourgeoisie and aggressive perpetrators of cultural nationalism. Yes for quite sometime, Oxford University Press, Routledge, Polity press and Permanent Black have been publishing their radical texts. Hence, we trusted them. Yet, as the recent controversy indicated, a legal notice from the lawyer of a leading corporate house led these board members to withdraw the articles which were critical of the corporate -politician nexus. The editor had to resign and the board members – a leading historian, a famous sociologist and a critical political theorist – told us that the articles had to be withdrawn because they were not “research based.” The question remains:why were these articles published at the first place? We know that the EPW is intellectually sophisticated, and takes sufficient care before it decides to publish an article. Why is it that only after a legal notice the board members are questioning the research quality of these articles? Or is it that the reason lies somewhere else? The revenue has to be generated, and subaltern radicalism should not cross the boundaries of London School of Economics and IIC conference halls?All these questions puzzle us, and we are lost. If the EPW cannot bear the pressure, it would demoralize many alternative voices and lead to a crisis of hope, trust and new possibility.

Amidst this darkness, the other day we witnessed the enactment of a carefully scripted play – the media simulated conflict of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav, the resignation of Nitish Kumar on the “moral ground” ,Prime Minister’s instant tweet, the support of the BJP and once again the formation of Nitish Kumar-BJP alliance and a new government.

When you see this play, you feel that we are indeed living in the world of Post-Truth. There is no solid political foundation, no stable ethical principle, and no solidity of ideological conviction.

In the age of instantaneity, everything is for immediate convenience, for utility and profit. There could be many reasons for Nitish Kumar to feel dissatisfied with Lalu Prasad Yadav – the rise of his two ambitious sons. However, this does by no means justify his alliance with the BJP. Morality becomes pretentious, politics becomes a theatrical play; greed for power becomes the driving force, and we are lost once again.

Are these two events – EPW controversy and Bihar politics – related? It seems so because in both these cases we see the narcissistic victory of the status quo, the all-powerful politico- economic lobby. In both these cases, we see the defeat of moral principles. Possibly this helplessness or fear is in the air. The environment becomes toxic. We all become passive and cynical observers of this war in which ironically, the satanic forces negate all sane voices. However, civilization is alive because of innumerable unknown practices of truth, simplicity and honesty by ordinary people. They may not be celebrities, scholars or mega political leaders.
The New Leam believes that the real educative task is to see beyond the pages of acclaimed journals or the hyper reality of the political drama, and communicate with a school teacher who teaches honestly, a mother who fills her daughter’s mind with the spirit of light and love, a grassroot activist managing from local resources to run a school for tribal children, or a poet struggling, yet not submitting before the lure of big publications,awards, prizes and glossy literature festivals.

Even if by a single step at a time, the struggle must go on.


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