Friday, 23 March, 2018

Identity politics

05th January 2017, 05:30 Hrs
Take away religion, caste, race, community and language and what is left of the individual? Practically nothing. Yet, that is what the Supreme Court wants candidates to do. In a four-three split judgement, the court prohibited candidates from appealing on the basis of the above mentioned identity markers. While the intention behind the majority judgement is laudable, there are inherent difficulties in implementing it. For instance will a candidate be allowed to discuss the injustices suffered by a particular caste? In regional politics, political parties like Naga People’s Front, Mizo National Front or the DMK are closely identified with race and region. Political parties representing caste, religion and language have played pivotal roles in giving voices to the oppressed and forgotten. Political agitations led by the Jats in Haryana or the Patels in Gujarat are based on caste and the governments have engaged such leaders in the spirit of inclusion. The solutions might not be encouraging, but identity politics cannot be wished away by a legal ruling. Take away language and the basis for statehood will suffer a severe blow. While use of all these or even one of the identity markers to generate hate or provoke violence cannot be tolerated, stretching the argument to a point where the individual and community loses its identity could prove to be counterproductive. 

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