Saturday, January 04, 2014

Maya Tudor: Promise of Power: Review

A review of Maya Tudor's "The Promise of Power", by B. Surendra Rao.

The dynamics of Indian freedom movement under the Gandhian leadership emanated from its ability and willingness to connect with disparate constituencies in a bid to develop a programmatic unity, so that by 1947 “Congress had helped delimit an Indian nation, establish its egalitarian character, and broadly popularise nationalism in the consciousness in a broad swath of colonial Indian society…” The Muslim League as the ‘institutional incarnation of Pakistani nationalism’ was “anti-democratic in the sense that it rejected a defining process of democracy.” Its social and political alliances were weak, it had no economic programmes to project and was driven only by its anti-Hindu rhetoric and the Pied Piper charisma of Jinnah. If Congress was able to hammer out coherent coalitions with class groups with conflicting interests, the Muslim League merely cobbled together “a relatively incoherent distributive coalition” eschewing the need to build regional and local party organisations.

The jacket of the book carries two photographs: One, of the bare-headed Mahatma addressing a disparate but attentive crowd of khadi-clad women and men in the open, and the other of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, - imperious, cigarette between his lips and under a parasol held by a liveried servant, holding court. Together they offer a fine example of visual semiotics.