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The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India

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... The credit for the first well known graphic image of Bharat Mata is given to Abanindranath Tagore for his 1905 portrait of the same name. In keeping with this Bengal connection we find that Abanindranath Tagore's portrait known as Bharat Mata (Fig. 2) was originally called Banga Mata (Mother Bengal) (Ramaswamy 2010). This image of a pale and ethereal mother had little of the fury and passion associated with Bankim's Mother India. ...
... Within the realm of graphic images, pictorial depictions of Mother India follow a particular trope: they show the mother superimposed on a map of India (for instance see Fig. 1 above). In fact, in most depictions the map and the mother become one, 'her body is conspicuously carto-graphed to approximate the scientifically mapped shape of India' (Ramaswamy 2010). As Manu Goswami notes, 'Bharat Mata marks the historically significant reconstitution of colonial spatiality into national property ' (2004). ...
... [I]t was through the mass media that the mapped image of the nation was rendered familiar to the average citizen as it travelled-albeit in a highly condensed and even caricatured form-across the subcontinent and was incorporated into newspaper mastheads and cartoons, merchandise labels and advertisements, god posters and calendars, and the like. (Ramaswamy 2010) In addition to this, the fluidity of the image allows Bharat Mata to appropriate areas of the Indian sub-continent that remain extraneous to the Indian state. Before independence, the image included all of Pakistan and Bangladesh. ...
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Psychoanalytic jurisprudence attempts to understand the images used by law to attract and capture the subject. In keeping with the larger psychoanalytic tradition, such theories tend to overemphasise the paternal principle. The image of law is said to be the image of the paterfamilias—the biological father, the sovereign, or God. In contrast to such theories, I would like to introduce the image of the mother and analyse its impact on the subject’s relation to law. For this purpose, I examine the history and use of the figure of Bharat Mata or Mother India and how it influences the Indian subject’s relation to law. When the subject is torn between his loyalties to the lawmaker–as–father and the nation–as–mother, who does he side with? Eschewing Greek myths and the Oedipus complex, I focus instead on Hindu mythology and the notion of an oedipal alliance to understand legal subjectivity in India. Lastly, I analyse a defining Indian political trial, the Gandhi murder trial, in which all these notions come to play and the accused justifies his decision to murder the father of the nation in the name of the motherland.
... These recruitments of privileged intermediaries linked to Kermit Roosevelt expose more precisely a pyramid of advancements from the tent boy to the Saïs, passing through the various inalienable individualized carrier posts of the long hunting caravans on their travels 80 . The Saïs remain the cornerstone of the Roosevelt's hunting practices in that they guide the white hunters to their prey (Ramaswamy, 2009 ...
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The practice of sport hunting in colonized areas presents a set of knowledge and techniques indispensable to self-control and the domination of territories elsewhere by colonial empires, by their leaders and, more generally, by the political elites of the Northern states . During his scientific mission to English Equatorial Africa in 1909, Theodore Roosevelt responded to a double commission from the Smithsonian Institute and the American Museum in Washington. In this African mission, he brought and trained his youngest son Kermit, aged 20, in an initiatory journey. This article proposes to study this ritual of passage and the practice of sport hunting in the English colonial space as a revelation of the socio-racial hierarchies at work in the territories dominated by the English Empire.
... The rate of growth for Muslim Indians was 24%, down from 29%, but higher than the national average of 18% (Ghosh and Singh, 2015;Jain, 2015). These differences are most likely the result of economic disparity and complex social factors, but are often read pulled into nationalist political discourses (for discusion of these differences and their polticization see Dharmalingam and Morgan, 2004;Iyer, 2002aIyer, , 2002bJeffrey, 2002;Jeffrey et al., 2005) These numbers and the idea of a Love Jihad, however, are used as part of a larger set of Hindu nationalist discourses of demographic decline and territorial loss going back decades (Hendre, 1971), echoing partition's logic of bodies conflated with territory (Das, 1995;Ramaswamy, 2010). This is of course only one among many cases revealing the dangerous logic of creating, maintaining, or disturbing the ethnic composition of territory through the use of sexual violence (Allen, 1996;Korac, 2004;Mayer, 2004;Morokvasic-Müller, 2004). ...
Article
Despite the persistence of Malthusian arguments that human population will grow to outstrip the Earth’s capacity and resources, current demography actually foretells the impending end of growth in the next half century. We are approaching a global baby bust. What does this mean for global political labor economies, regional resource economics, and local struggles over gender and power? This paper concludes, through a survey of current research, that geographers already have the conceptual equipment to answer these enormously important questions. We further argue that the fundamental underpinnings of much contemporary economic and social theory, having been developed in times of rapid population growth and labor surplus, must be reconsidered as we enter a period of different material conditions. Reviewing recent developments in population geography and feminist geopolitics, global geographies of labor and aging, and emerging patterns of resource intensification and disintensification, we suggest that – if infused with an explicit political economy – attending to the baby bust can show the way forward to help revitalize our understanding of bodies and materiality in critical and human geography.
... 93 Sumathi Ramaswamy has extended this, appealing to historians to 'work with pictures in all their denseness and resistant otherness, and fight the urge to immediately translate them into the recognisable certitudes of a (textual) history'. 94 Partha Chatterjee has contended that 'it is too early to pronounce on Pinney's specific hypotheses', but he has emphasised that the visual must constitute an 'appropriate source for the study of popular politics, especially in a country where most people do not read'. 95 In Part I of this book, I draw attention to the importance of imagery in revolutionary strategy, and in Part II, I extend this by applying Pinney's hypothesis-using the images as evidence-by allowing them to both lead and corroborate written and spoken narratives. ...
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This book draws on new evidence to deliver a fresh perspective on the ambitions, ideologies and practices of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association or Army (HSRA), the revolutionary party formed by Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh, inspired by transnational anti-imperial dissent. The book offers an account of the activities of the north Indian revolutionaries who advocated the use of political violence against the British; and considers the impact of their actions on the mainstream nationalism of the Indian National Congress. The book contends that the presence of these revolutionaries on the political landscape during this crucial interwar period pressured Congress politics and tested the policy of non-violence. The book makes methodological contributions, analyzing images, memoirs, oral history accounts and rumours alongside colonial archives and recently declassified government files, to elaborate on the complex relationships between the Congress and the HSRA, which are far less antagonistic than is frequently imagined.
... the imperative to explore the promise and potentiality of image-driven historical analysis. I have proposed elsewhere that the act of ranging between the "sayable" and the "seeable" constitutes the essence of pictorial history (Ramaswamy 2010 for this project might be characterized as "heavy"-they are singular, very expensive, one-of-a-kind artifacts found only in the collections of the best-known museums or the hands of private collectors. The act of digitizing them makes them more available and more visible, but they nevertheless remain in a tightly curated and controlled environment. ...
... But this implication was vested on the majoritarian scale mainly rooted in the socioreligious discourse, distancing women from other minority classes and religions as the invisible other. Several scholars including Chatterjee (1989;1996), Sinha (2000), Mondal (2002), Thapar (2006, Ramaswamy (2010), Banerjee (2005; and Bose (2017) have explicated these socio-political imprints behind the muscular nationalism, which was strictly encoded within the Hindu elitism, empirically distancing people from other castes, religions and classes. Thus, the socio-political and even the literary contributions of the rural, low caste and other religious groups, during and after independence, were erased from the grand narratives of nationalism (Chakravarti 1989;, Sinha 2000, Bose 2017). ...
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The grand narratives of Mother India posit women’s emancipation as the central concern, insisting on her public participation in the educational and economic sectors. The relegation of the archetypal motherhood to the national periphery is strictly rooted in the Hindu traditional culture. The schisms of caste, class, and religion in contemporary society are normalised whilst the gendered undercurrents of domestic violence, chauvinism and religious sensibilities are ignored. Such polished idealisms are, in fact, far from the living reality of most women and girls across all spheres in the country. By reviewing notable texts from past and present, this research problematises the position of Muslim women in India, specifically during the nationalistic discourse and post-independent era. The national freedom struggle movement assured a democratic constitution, which primed Mother India as the figurative Indian woman encrypting ideologies from socio-religious discourses. The grand narratives often become instrumental in politicising the vested interest of the hegemonic class. The struggles of Muslim women were foregrounded not only in the gendered disparity of the religious domain but also in the socio-cultural disparities which excluded them from the domain of Indian womanhood. Mainstream history, literature and even women development organisations deliberately typified Muslim women along with the religious discourse. Briefly, in this paper, we infer that Muslim women were rendered invisible in the limelight of the archetypal Mother India, denying their social, political, cultural and literary participation. They were thus subjected to constitutional othering by the mainstream socio-political entities (who subjected them) at the onset of nationalism, which continues to exist in post-colonial discourses where women are expected to constantly negotiate their religious identity over their national identity.
... studies that seek to track the complex contours of power in the making of sociality. India-related scholarship has produced a rich body of work relating to topics as diverse as women as repositories of Indian traditions (Chatterjee 1993;Mani 1993;Sunder Rajan 1993), the nation as goddess (Ramaswamy 2010), televisual femininity (Mankekar 1999;Munshi 2010), women and Hindu nationalism (Bacchetta 2004;Chakravarty 1998;Sarkar and Butalia 1995), and women and new middle-class identities (Donner 2011). ...
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Media discourses—both independent journalism and advertisements—during the 2014 general election in India articulated a gendered focus on a significant aspect of Narendra Modi’s public representation relating to his forceful masculinity. His election campaign—as well as popular discourse that surrounded his pre-prime ministerial persona—significantly focused upon his “manly” leadership style: efficient, dynamic, potent, and capable of removing all policy-roadblocks through sheer force of personality. In this, he is implicitly counterpoised to Manmohan Singh, his “impotent” predecessor, and more generally against an “effeminate” Indian type who is unable to strike hard at both external enemies (Pakistan and China, say) and internal threats (“Muslim terrorists,” most obviously). His “56-inch chest”—able and willing to bear the harshest burdens in the service of “Mother India”—was a frequently invoked metaphor in the election. This article suggests that Modi-masculinity is a reformulation of older versions of Indian masculinist discourse in a time of consumerist modernity and that the media has played a significant role in the re-making. The discussion suggests that Modi-masculinity stands at the juncture of new consumerist aspirations, the politics of “Indian traditions” and gender, and the re-fashioning of masculine identities.
... This epithet has a historical legacy reminiscent of the nationalist struggle for independence, when sons of the motherland were called upon to serve the deified Bharat Mata, often depicted as a version of the Hindu goddess Durga. In other avatars, she was a woman in a white sari, waiting to be freed by her sons, with her shackles depicting colonial rule (see, e.g., Ramaswamy 2010). Bharat Mata also echoes the exclusionary lexical repertoire utilized by the Hindu right wing in addressing the nation, which delegitimizes other terms like Hindustan or India and simultaneously revives the metaphor of citizens as devotees of the motherland. ...
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Studies on populism have been devoted not only to conceptual debates but also to the place occupied by this phenomenon within liberal repre- sentative democracies. After all, most countries in today’s world adhere to this political regime, one that has recently found itself under pres- sure in the wake of political actors that are deemed populist. Populism has been studied from a plethora of approaches, some more concerned with political institutions and others more sociological, but most of them acknowledge the central role played by discourse in its consti- tution, something that we can also term the communicative aspect of populism. Importantly, communication is a crucial aspect of democratic politics, be it conceived as an electoral competition among candidates for the preferences of voters or as a product of a complex and sociall
... This epithet has a historical legacy reminiscent of the nationalist struggle for independence, when sons of the motherland were called upon to serve the deified Bharat Mata, often depicted as a version of the Hindu goddess Durga. In other avatars, she was a woman in a white sari, waiting to be freed by her sons, with her shackles depicting colonial rule (see, e.g., Ramaswamy 2010). Bharat Mata also echoes the exclusionary lexical repertoire utilized by the Hindu right wing in addressing the nation, which delegitimizes other terms like Hindustan or India and simultaneously revives the metaphor of citizens as devotees of the motherland. ...
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Where it has been dealt with systematically, populism as a concept has found little agreement surrounding it. Paul A. Taggart, Populism In this chapter, we intend to examine the appropriateness of under- standing the current surge of a strong right-wing political movement in Brazil centered around the persona of Jair Bolsonaro (president since January 1, 2019) through the lens of the concept of populism. We test major tenets of the concept against the case in hand, and contend that grasping his communication strategy is crucial to understanding the Bolsonaro phenomenon. After surveying key contributions to the conceptual debate on populism and to the study of populism in Brazil
... This epithet has a historical legacy reminiscent of the nationalist struggle for independence, when sons of the motherland were called upon to serve the deified Bharat Mata, often depicted as a version of the Hindu goddess Durga. In other avatars, she was a woman in a white sari, waiting to be freed by her sons, with her shackles depicting colonial rule (see, e.g., Ramaswamy 2010). Bharat Mata also echoes the exclusionary lexical repertoire utilized by the Hindu right wing in addressing the nation, which delegitimizes other terms like Hindustan or India and simultaneously revives the metaphor of citizens as devotees of the motherland. ...
... For instance, my analysis on the masculinist tendencies of the state is based on the insights pioneered by feminist scholars in the discipline (Tickner 1992;Enloe 2014). More recently, however, there has been pioneering work that combines postcolonial perspectives with gender in order to critique hegemonic conceptions of India's nationhood and their impact on "peripheries" such as Jammu and Kashmir (Krishna 1994;Kabir 2009;Ramaswamy 2009;Kaul 2018). This paper contributes to the existing scholarship by showing how gendered idea of nationhood among the masses is not a later development-rather, it dates right back to India's independence, if not further. ...
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How do the masses shape foreign policy? This question has been examined through various conceptual lenses-national identity, public opinion, and popular culture. At the core of all these approaches is an argument that "taken for granted" ideas matter because they constitute a society's mass common sense, in turn influencing assorted political possibilities. What remains to be theorized is how and why such influence occurs. This paper argues that mass common sense sets the limits of legitimacy within societal discourse, thus shaping all political and policy discourses, including foreign policy. The paper evaluates this argument in the case of India's decision to militarily intervene in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1947. This is done in two steps. The first is to reconstruct India's common sense circa 1947, and this is done from popular Hindi-Urdu language sources such as children's literature and films. The second is to trace possible ways through which commonsensical notions of gender, beauty, and honor influenced the Nehru government toward intervention. The study's conclusions have relevance for interpretivist theories of foreign policy as well as for Indian foreign policy, specifically the persistence of India's tendency to prioritize certain "regions" over others-and the Kashmir Valley and Jammu above all-over most if not all other foreign policy issue areas. ¿De qué manera las masas determinan la política exterior? Esta pregunta se ha analizado a través de varias perspectivas con-ceptuales: la identidad nacional, la opinión pública y la cultura popular. En el centro de todos estos enfoques, se sitúa el argumento de que las ideas "dadas por sentadas" importan, ya que constituyen el sentido común de las masas de una so-ciedad y, a su vez, influyen en las variadas posibilidades políticas. Lo que aún debe teorizarse es cómo y por qué se produce tal influencia. Este artículo sostiene que el sentido común de las masas establece los límites de la legitimidad en el discurso social y, de este modo, determina todos los discursos políticos y de políticas, incluida la política exterior. El artículo evalúa este argumento en el caso de la decisión de la India de intervenir militarmente en el principado de Jammu y Cachemira en 1947. Esto se lleva a cabo en dos pasos. El primero consiste en reconstruir el sentido común de la India alrededor de 1947, y esto se realiza a partir de fuentes populares en el idioma hindi-urdu, como la literatura y las películas infantiles. El segundo se basa en identificar las formas posibles a través de las cuales las nociones del sentido común en torno al género, la belleza y el honor influyeron en el gobierno de Nehru respecto de la intervención. Las conclusiones del estudio son relevantes para las teorías interpretativistas de la política exterior, así como para la política exterior india, específicamente la persistencia de la tendencia de la India a priorizar determinadas "regiones" sobre otras, principalmente el valle de Cachemira y Jammu, frente a la mayoría (si no todas) de las otras áreas temáticas de la política exterior. Comment les masses influencent-elles la politique étrangère? Cette question a été examinée par divers prismes conceptuels: identité nationale, opinion publique et culture populaire. Un argument selon lequel les idées « considérées comme acquises » comptent car elles constituent un sens commun de la société de masse qui influence à son tour les possibilités politiques associées est au coeur de toutes ces approches. Ce qui reste à théoriser est la manière dont, et la raison pour laquelle une telle influence intervient. Cet article soutient que le sens commun des masses définit les limites de légitimité au sein du discours sociétal, façonnant ainsi tous les discours politiques et stratégiques, notamment en politique étrangère. Cet argument a été évalué en deux étapes en se basant sur le cas de l'Inde qui a décidé d'intervenir militairement dans l'État princier du Jammu-et-Cachemire en 1947. La première étape a consisté à reconstituer le sens commun de l'Inde de 1947 à partir de sources populaires en hindi et en ourdou, telles que la littérature et les films pour enfants. La seconde a consisté à retracer les manières potentielles par lesquelles les notions de sens commun de genre, de beauté et d'honneur ont influencé le gouvernement Nehru pour l'intervention. Les conclusions de cette étude sont pertinentes pour les théories interprétativistes de la politique étrangère ainsi que pour la politique étrangère indienne, en particulier pour la persistance de la tendance de l'Inde à prioriser certaines « régions » par rapport à d'autres-surtout la vallée du Cachemire et Jammu-pour la plupart, si ce n'est tous les autres domaines de politique étrangère.
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This paper examines the aesthetics of remixing history at the heart of the neoliberal project of India’s image makeover as the ‘land of limitless opportunity’ for global tourists and investors. I argue that the project of remixing India’s history is predicated upon the ontological fault line of how to retain and erase the original simultaneously while shaping the new in the contemporary global. Taking the Incredible India campaign as an example, I show how the original essence of India is revealed and authenticated in the very moment of its disappearance as it is morphed in the aesthetics of the contemporary global. The post-exotic self, I further argue, is not produced by effacing the exotic past, but by condensing, accelerating and fast-forwarding it into a timeless, infinite global present. And in doing so, it also reveals the blueprint of the ongoing visual rearrangement of nation’s civilisational past in the making of new India.
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This paper re-evaluates certain core understandings of Hindu nationalism in Britain through the analysis of a disputed 2006 art exhibition in London. It considers the two main protagonists objecting to the M. F. Husain show: the representative umbrella organisation, the Hindu Forum of Britain, and the web- and protest-based group, Hindu Human Rights. In particular, the paper considers the relationship between these groups, the government, and the Hindu nationalist movement in India. The central role played by performative tropes of outrage and offence in the public representation of Hinduism is explored. It is argued that a reconceptualisation of diasporic Hindutva is required. Firstly, whilst still connected to India in various ways, Hindu nationalism in Britain has outgrown the institutional and ideological boundaries of the Sangh Parivar. It is proposed that these idiosyncratic inflections of transnational Hindutva might be termed ‘neo-Hindutva’. Secondly, it is suggested that the M. F. Husain protests, and subsequent activities of the Hindu Forum, indicate that Hindutva has become mainstreamed and normalised in the UK. Whilst elements of this narrative are distinctly domestic, we must also understand the transnational context which is intrinsically linked, discursively and practically, to India.
Article
The concept of exile remains overwhelmingly influenced by the writings of Edward Said, particularly in his development of the ‘contrapuntal’ as a key method in understanding how exile life is lived between the ‘homeland’ and the space of ‘exile’. However, by drawing on feminist work which has critiqued the notion of ‘home’ in Said’s work, together with work on subaltern geographies and the politics of friendship, this article argues for a conception of exile that works in between dichotomies of ‘exile’ and ‘home’. In order to make this case, the article draws empirically on the example of the ‘exile’ of a number of Indian anti-colonial revolutionaries in the French-Indian enclave of Pondicherry, India between c.1908 and c.1918, focussing particularly on Subramania Bharati, a Tamil poet and anti-colonial nationalist. Whilst in exile, in his own ‘homeland’ Bharati drew upon, translated and reshaped existing discourses from both ‘Western modernity’ and South Asian culture to create his own particular arguments for a future independent India. This subaltern geography opens up ground for alternative spaces of exile to emerge that challenge dichotomies of home/exile.
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As a phobic response, patriarchal discourse often images the mother as monstrous, especially any deviance from the culturally prescribed norms of motherhood. Advocating birth control as mother right, Margaret Sanger characterized the maternal body as a ‘breeding machine’. Technology and reproduction have always had an ambivalent and conflicted relationship. While radical feminists have seen technology-assisted reproduction as a liberating solution from the bondage of motherhood, Rosi Braidotti, in ‘Mothers, Monsters and Machines’, critiques the erasure of mothers by the ‘high-tech affair’ of the New Reproductive Technologies. In India, these technologies are often less about female choice than about male control, especially when manipulated to ensure male heirs. Then again, there is the ‘yummy mummy’, who uses any intervention, from surgery to surrogacy, to mutate her body to technologically perfected dimensions. Is she a prototype of the posthuman mother, and what are the feminist responses to this phenomenon? Shifting from the ‘experience’ to ‘image’ of mothering, the Indian mass and social media has widely circulated the image of the ‘supermom’ a mutated, mythic, multiple-armed, multitasking being who is effortlessly capable, with a little help from an assemblage of machine servants, of negotiating parallel universes of home, self and work. How is this domestic goddess related to the cyberfeminism of Donna Haraway, who declared she would rather be a cyborg than a goddess? How do ‘real’ mothers respond: with hope, conformity, mimicry, anxiety or resistance? Can she choose to be a supermom, or is the futuristic image coercive?
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The introduction to the Report of the Committee on Amendments to Criminal Law 23 January 2013, set up in the wake of the country-wide protest against the gang-rape of a young woman inside a Delhi bus in December 2012, recalls the pledge of the Constitution India adopted in 1949. The Report seized its moment to gesture at the point that the making of the state or the nation is inseparable from questions of gender. It is futile to try and seal off a political sphere from the civil society or from cultural practices. The notion of a nation always already in the making is reliant on the fugitive character of culture. The ideas of jati (nation), and rashtra (state) are, in the long run, dependent on what the desh (country) and samaja (society/community) make of the concept of lokatantra (republic/democracy). If the legal structure of the state enjoins a certain idea of nationhood there are bound to be contesting claims from intersecting fields, including those that involve seeing the nation as ‘gendered’. The current situation is more about the majoritarian understanding of what makes for the ‘modern feminine in India’ than idolatrous iconography or of the new patriarchy that had since the late nineteenth century sought a fragile truce with the project of ‘improving’ the lot of women along Western lines. Conversely, if the state – as sought to be reinvented by the current leaders of India – wishes to visibly display its secular credentials, the ruling majority will less than subtly alter the concept of Hindutva (or ‘Hindu-ness’) to identify with the nation and with ‘Indianness’. The Report of the Verma Committee attempts to recover the foundational tenets of the Indian Union which offered equal rights to citizens irrespective of gender. In the wake of popular protests against the ghastly incident that occasioned its appointment, it alluded to the fact that questions of gender justice and safety were inseparable from those of women’s equity, empowerment and capability. In the current situation it might be useful to recall Rabindranath Tagore’s suspicions about the imagined ‘nation’ held together more by chains of servitude than bonds of belonging. Tagore guessed – as his mature fiction clearly demonstrates – that there was no way of skirting issues of gender when speaking of the ‘modern’ idea of the nation. Tagore promises more than Reports of government Committees.
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The paper covers the origin and functioning of ‘Mother India’ (Bharat Mata) – the goddess, who joined the ancient and vast Hindu pantheon only in the beginning of the XX century. ‘Mother India’ emerged as the embodiment of national territory, and the universal symbol of the country’s diverse communities. Paraded in various media, the new goddess swiftly changed her names (from the Spirit of Motherland through Banga Mata on to Bharat Mata) and appearances, incorporating the map shape of the subcontinent into the portrait of the original four-handed young woman.The new image reflected the nation’s patriotic trend of collective self-identification with Indian territory and the desire to surrender lives for its freedom. Exploiting the mutual entanglement of the cartographic and anthropomorphic images, Mother India is distinguished from from the other members of Hindu pantheon, which guarantees her unique status as the only embodiment and symbol of the national territory. The graphic integration of the woman and the map brought into existence the new phenomenon of ‘Geo-body’ to become yet another symbol of the Indian struggle for independence together with the saffron-white-green flag and ‘VandeMataram’ song. In addition to the traditional forms of devotion (statues and temples) across India, the image of Bharat Mata spread through mass media and became the first envoy of Hindu gods abroad.
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The world is experiencing one of the largest movements of people in history with 65 million people displaced by conflict in 2015, the majority of which were from Asia. This book brings a deep engagement with individuals whose lives are shaped by encounters with borders by telling the stories of a poor Bangladeshi women who regularly crosses the India border to visit family, of Muslims from India living in Gulf countries for work, and the harrowing journey of a young Afghan man as he sets off on foot to Germany. The international and interdisciplinary work in this book contributes to this moment by analyzing how borders are experienced by migrants and borderlanders in South Asia, how mobility and diaspora are engaged in literature and media, and how the lives of migrants are transformed during their journey to new homes in South Asia, the Middle East, North America, and Europe.
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This article attempts to explore the cult of the ‘Bharat Mata’ that was born out of the patriotic fervour of Indian nationalist leaders who transformed their nationalist passion into an image of the nation as mother, and the widely promoted idea of Queen Victoria as a mother to her subjects in the nineteenth-century Bengal. The image of ‘Bharat Mata’ was conceived with the rising tide of nationalism in the nineteenth century, the impetus provided by the Bengali novelist Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay’s novel Anandamath (1882). The image of Queen Victoria as a mother to her Indian subjects found its most emphatic projection in Bengali texts like Raja Sir Sourindro Mohun Tagore’s poem Srimad-Victoria-Mahatmyam, The Greatness of the Empress Victoria: A Sanskrit Poem, Set to Music with English Translation (1897). Composed on the occasion of the completion of 60 years of Queen Victoria’s reign, the poem was a ‘humble offering of loyalty’ to the Queen-Empress, whose reign over India was glorified and regarded auspicious. The article looks into the apparently contradictory nature of the worship of the feminine form as the ‘mother’ in a pre-independent nineteenth-century Bengal, through a consideration of texts like Anandamath, Srimad-Victoria-Mahatmyam and Girishchandra Ghosh’s play Hirak Jubilee (1897), among others. In this context, the article also takes into account the theoretical perspective of the cultural ‘Other’, inherent in a study involving the dynamics of colonial relations.
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The Routledge International Handbook of Charisma provides an unprecedented multidimensional and multidisciplinary comparative analysis of the phenomenon of charisma – first defined by Max Weber as the irrational bond between deified leader and submissive follower. It includes broad overviews of foundational theories and experiences of charisma and of associated key issues and themes. Contributors include 45 influential international scholars who approach the topic from different disciplinary perspectives and utilize examples from an array of historical and cultural settings. The Handbook presents up-to-date, concise, thought-provoking, innovative, and informative perspectives on charisma as it has been expressed in the past and as it continues to be manifested in the contemporary world by leaders ranging from shamans to presidents. It is designed to be essential reading for all students, researchers, and general readers interested in achieving a comprehensive understanding of the power and potential of charismatic authority in all its varieties, subtleties, dynamics, and current and potential directions.
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This article focuses on the political deification of a so-called demon Mahishasur in hegemonic Hindu myths. The Mahishasur movement is a social movement for caste equality headed by indigenous and oppressed-caste groups against the hegemonic upper caste Hindu storyworlds which dominate Indian politics, society, and culture. In this article, I use data collected through participant observation and long interviews to focus on the way political organisers select and create icons for this movement, how the participants in the movement behave around these icons, and finally what terms do they use to understand their own practices. I use three related aspects of the movement – icons, rituals, and discourse – to bring out the emic concepts and practices around political deification used in the Mahishasur movement.
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On October 25, 2006, in a country already thronging with all manner of divinities and sacred personages, a new goddess put in a spectacular appearance at a gathering of academics, intellectuals, and other celebrities in New Delhi, India. Her formal name is “English the Dalit Goddess,”3 and she is the product of a collaboration between the New Delhi-based Dalit intellectual, activist, and journalist Chandrabhan Prasad4 and artist Shanti Swaroop Baudh, also the proprietor of a Delhi-based Dalit publishing house called Samyak Prakashan.
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