Friday, October 24, 2008

Jaffrelot, Christophe, “Composite Culture is not Multiculturalism: A Study of the Indian Constituent Assembly Debates”

Jaffrelot, Christophe, “Composite Culture is not Multiculturalism: A Study of the Indian Constituent Assembly Debates” in India and the Politics of Developing Countries ed. Ashutosh Varshney (London: SAGE Publications, 2004), 126-149.

Summary: Essay looks at the debates and compromises for multiculturalism in the framing of the Indian Constitution, by examining the Constituent Assembly debates and other political arguments. The Universalists and Hindu traditionalists joined forces for different motives, but both helped push out Muslim culture from the state self-image.

126- For Michael Weiner 1989, the “American pattern of multiculturalism…partly relies on affirmative action programmes which may help ‘minorities’ to become ‘ethnics’.” and these generally “emphasized the need of officially granting protections to underprivileged groups”; another method is “the consociational way” that is used in Netherlands and Lebanon before the 1980s.

-French national identity ignores “multiculturalist recipes and its implications in terms of affirmative action”, though there is increasing debate w/ increasing number of immigrants; but overall they use the idea of integration republicaine—people should give up cultural identity (including religious identity, eg the hijab issue); (127) based on the idea of the “Republican utopia of a secularized individualism and the post-1789 discourse on equality” as well as the “Jacobin notion of a strong, centralized State that is in charge of building a united nation”

127-For jaffrelot, Indian national identity combines both “the multicultural one and the Jacobin one” w/ its (post-Independence) positive discrimination for Scheduled Castes and Tribes, but not for religious minorities which is a choice by the government to prevent potential “divisive” consequences and a desire for national unity

-“The place of the minorities in the Indian nation, as formulated by the Constituent Assembly also reflects long term ideological trends”

-“The Indian Nationalist movement, embodied since 1885 by the Indian National Congress, rapidly split into two currents” by the end of the 19th ce, (128) the moderates had a universalist perspective, “free from any reference to ethnicity”; the Extremists “lay claim to a prime status for the Hindu community”

128-in the 1920s, the Moderates branched further, w/ Gandhi promoting multicultural equality and Nehru epitomized the progressive intelligentsia which downplayed religion, advocating the individual as “the basic unit of the nation”—a view shared by representatives of the lower castes

-the Hindus separated into the Nationalists and the Traditionalists, then the Muslims in 1906 established the Muslim League and they acquired a “separate electorate for the Muslims in 1909.” Its leader, M. A. Jinnah said the Muslims and Hindus constituted “Two nations”—and w/ this theory the League demanded Pakistan in 1940; (129) independence and partition were concurrent in 1947

129-The Constituent Assembly was elected in 1946 under British rule and debates continued about that fact until the creation of “one of the longest Constitutions in the world on 26 January 1950.”

-“Gandhian influence declined to a large extent after the death of the Mahatma in January 1948.”

-the main players were people for universalist nationalism and Hindu traditionalists—though both groups said national unity was more important than cultural diversity

130-says that French universalist and German ethnic nationalisms are often seen as 2 opposite poles (cf Nationalsim: The Nature and Evolution 1973), “they can be regarded as two versions of the same phenomenon, primarily b/c of their emphasis on unity. Traditional-type social bonds have no real place in ethnic value of modernity…” b/c ethnic unity often tries to rule out hierarchical orders

131-though both groups still opposed “each other on a number of issues”, they were still responsible for emphasis on national unity in the Constitution

-The Universalist, modern discourse of the Congress “saw intermediary [ethnic/religious] bodies as weakening national cohesion” (eg G. B. Pant, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1947 who said that explicitly, and wanted “dissolution of the religious communities”)

-but a uniform nation requires a uniform culture

132-in 1962, future president S. Radhakrishnan suggested giving 10 more years for minority representation in the government and then eliminating those representatives (a move primarily aimed at Muslims though)

-many Congress members have attributed the “two-nation theory” “to the introduction of separate electorates by the British”, and the Congress tried to abolish it, though Muslims resisted b/c they felt they deserved that political protection for not leaving to Pakistan; (133) so they wanted either that or reserved seats in the government—though the Congress replied by urging them to forget their religious identity (eg K. M. Munshi, and Sardar Patel) and their demands were not put in the Constitution draft

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