Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yoginder Sikand on why he's giving up social activism

This confession is almost too good to be true:  please read in full, but here is a paragraph:

Imagining myself as crusading on behalf of the 'oppressed' and as being a key player in the 'struggle' for 'social justice' for a host of 'marginalised communities' turned me completely blind to every good thing in those whom I began to see as their 'oppressors' (in the Indian context, mainly 'upper' caste/class Hindus) and in what was termed, in the jargon of the 'progressives' whose ranks I so desperately wanted to join, the 'present oppressive system'. There was nothing at all good in Hindu traditions or in America or in Capitalist Modernity, for instance, I convinced myself, for I was hooked onto the 'progressive' and 'radical' rhetoric that 'upper' caste Hindus in general (including most of my own family!) and almost every single American was complicit in perpetuating 'oppression'. If you had to be counted as a 'social activist', you simply couldn't see or find anything worthy at all in 'upper' caste Hindus or in Americans, and, if you did, your sincerity and commitment were gravely suspect. So deep-rooted was this negative mentality among 'social activists' supposedly committed to the 'oppressed' that for a 'progressive' to discern anything positive about 'the present system' or Indic spirituality, for instance, was about the most serious anathema conceivable.

PS: Yoginder Sikand issued a clarification.  As far as I am concerned, I did not need it. I did not take Yoginder Sikand to be representative of all activists - only of a variety that includes Arundhati Roy.  There is all kinds of oppression in India, and even when it is not attributable to any group of people, there is still the oppression of poverty.  Nor do I equate the misbehavior of the relatively powerful and powerless, and so on.   There are two types of activists, those who act out of sympathy and those that act out of hatred.  It is the latter sort that are so amply exposed by Sikand's confession.