Archive for May 25th, 2009

Diversities: tamed and untamed

May 25, 2009

Ashish Nandy in Tehelka (link via Swarup):

In our society, we live with radical diversities — diversity that is not based on tamed forms of difference. The US is a perfect example of tamed diversity. You get every kind of food and dress and cultural activity in America. You think you are very cosmopolitan if you can distinguish Huaiyang food from Schezwan food, or South Korean ballet from Beijing opera, or Ming dynasty china from Han dynasty china in a museum. This is diversity that is permissible, legitimate, tamed.

Radical diversity is when you tolerate and live with people who challenge some of the very basic axioms of your political life. Like most of South Asia, Indians have an old capacity to live with such diversity. A powerful example is Sajjad Lone contesting the election this year. Nobody objected that a secessionist wants to take an oath of allegiance to the Constitution. Everyone spoke of it glowingly. I consider that a tolerance for radical diversity. In such a society, all excesses are ultimately checkmated.

A great read (though I am not sure how much of it is correct — it is one thing to think that negative campaign did not work and that arrogance was not forgiven by the Indian electorate, but it is entirely another if it was really so — though, it does feel really, really good to think so).