Notes from Critical Crossroads event

The Critical Crossroads discussion, co-organised by Indian Labour Solidarity, the LSE Ambedkar Society, and the SOAS Ambedkar Society featured crucial discourse on the political realities of contemporary India. The panel leading the conversation consisted of academics, journalists, and ILS co-founder Praveen Kolluguri. The chair, Sagar Abraham-Gonsalves started the discussion with a pertinent reminder that there is an ignorant narrative of history being constructed, highlighting it as the need for conversations such as this one.

The theme of reconstruction appeared throughout the discussion albeit in the varied forms it takes. One aspect of this reconstruction is social, emphasised by Abhishek Bhosale. We need to remember that this social reconstruction is a long process undertaken by the RSS since its inception and that it is inherently violent against oppressed castes and religious minorities. Abhishek reiterated examples of their violence such as the attack on the staff and students at the Film and TV Institute of India (FTII) and the Lalit Kala Kendra. The events preceding, during, and post January 22nd are not exceptional. Rather, they are products of a long-drawn process. A process of dehumanisation. Dr. Laila Kadiwal rightly noted that along with dehumanisation, genocide is a process that by its nature must be stopped before it reaches its zenith. Recognising that physical reconstruction is about demography and space, the removal of oppressed castes and religious minorities, symbolically and structurally in tandem with their ghettoisation are clear examples. The reconstructions, whether historical, social, or physical, occur in the diaspora in addition to India, often in the incorrect guise of decolonisation. This should not be surprising given the fact that the diaspora has largely been key in propagating Hindu nationalist narratives internationally. Ritu Kochar succinctly explained the role of the diaspora in repackaging Hindutva, especially in countries akin to the UK and the USA. Ritu additionally brought to the fore the idea that caste is washed away in the minds of Savarnas in the diaspora.

A poster of the event Critical Crossroads - it has two images at the top, one with an empty street with saffron banners that read Jai Shri Ram and another one of charred church building with Ram written in hindi on the wall. The poster reads CRITICAL CROSSROADS  A DISCUSSION CONFRONTING POST RAM TEMPLE  INAUGURATION (JAN 22ND) REALITIES  19th Feb 2024 -5:30PM - 7:15PM  Room 4 - 188 Tottenham Court Road UCL - WIT 7PH  Panel  Abhishek Bhosale • Researcher, President, SOAS Ambedkar Society  Dr Laila Kadiwal - Lecturer, Education and international Development - UCL  Praveen Kolluguri - Co-founder, India Labour Solidarity  Ritu Kochar • President, LSE Ambedkar Society  Shireen Azam - Doctoral researcher, uni Of Oxford  Video contributions  Eisha Hussain - independent Journalist  Nikhil Wagle - Independent Journalist  Chaired by Sagar Abraham-Gonsalves  and has logos of three groups organising it, India Labour Solidarity, SOAS Ambedkar Society and LSE Ambedkar Society

While reconstruction is the aim of the Hindu Nationalist Project, one that they have been achieving for the past 10 years, it begs the question of “What do we do” for those who refuse to give in to this politics of oppression. It begins with identifying the forms through which the violence and its ideology proliferate. The media is one of the most prominent ways in which, in Chomsky’s terms, consent is manufactured. Eisha Hussain explained not only how media channels such as the news are utilised by state machinery but alternative forms of media such as Instagram, clubhouse, and apps such as Bulli Bai and Sulli deals are utilised to dehumanise and harass religious minorities and dissidents, especially women from these communities. However, those who are oppressed can not and should not bear the brunt of fighting Hindutva. Those from Savarna communities must participate and organise against the current fascist government and Hindutva ideology.

International and workers' solidarity is another response we can undertake, as Praveen proposed. Taking inspiration from actions that historically have worked such as Boycott, Disinvestment, and Sanctions (BDS), in addition to contemporary movements like BLM and Palestinian Nationalism. Praveen accurately presented the notion that by creating links of solidarity, all movements benefit. Dr. Kadiwal pushed for solidarity between causes within India as well and viewing Islamophobia as being rooted in casteism is key in understanding the need for solidarity. Ultimately, we must discontinue the emphasis on shock value and the “death of democracy” as those appeals have failed to convince the right. Shireen Azam spoke on this failure and proposed a “language of resilience”, one that provides hope and strategy against fascism. Hindutva as a political project has always been reactionary towards anti-caste politics. The onus now goes beyond oppressed communities, for everyone to rally behind movements that are anti-caste and anti-capitalist. In the vein of a “language of resilience and strategy”, we must remember the words of Dr. Ambedkar  “Educate, Agitate, Organise!”. 


How you can help: Pass our model motion calling for the suspension of UK-India Free Trade Talks in your local trade union, organisation and political party branches.