Second U R Ananthamurthy Annual Memorial Lecture
11 Dec 2018
Department of Languages, Jain (Deemed-to-be University) along with Rujuvathu Trust organized Second U R Ananthamurthy Memorial Annual Lecture on 8 December 2018.
Dr. Sandeep Shastri, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Jain (Deemed-to-be University) delivered the welcome address and recalled his pleasant and precious encounters with Prof. U R Ananthamurthy. It was followed by Prof. N Manu Chakravarthy, National Award-winning film critic contextualizing Prof. Nandy as a public intellectual.
Dr. Ashis Nandy, a political psychologist, Social Theorist and Public Intellectual graced the event by presenting a talk on the topic “Liberation for those who do not speak the Language of Liberation”. The gathering witnessed the presence of eminent dignitaries like Mrs. Ester Ananthamurthy, Dr. Sharath Ananathmurthy, Dr. Sandeep Shastri, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Jain (Deemed-to-be University) and other inquisitive literature professionals. Dr. Ashis Nandy began his talk on the opinion of the illegitimacy of nationality that the ‘floating mob’ is heavily influenced by television. He quoted D R Nagaraj and his idea of ‘technicide’ where the middle class must be compelled to cultivate an aversion towards technology. Quoting Arnold Toynbee, a historian, he mentioned that Toynbee’s obituary of Gandhi befits the present boiling times – “that henceforth humankind will ask its prophets, are you willing to live in the slum of politics?”.
Recollecting poignant memories with U R Ananthamurthy, he emphasized on how Ananthamurthy was a social democrat and as someone who stood firm with his ideologies. However, he also recalled being a witness to the diminishing sharpness of ideologies in Ananthamurthy in his later years. This was primarily because of the ‘Indian democratic’ slowly becoming ‘psephocratic’, meaning a government dependent on elections, in its manner of political conduct.
The passive audience, he said, have in a way become potential traitors or terrorists for they invariably have a tendency to bypass, and remain invisible and silent. The upliftment of people is in mobilizing them towards development, but the political parties aim only at the floating mob. The definition of populism has changed, and we are now living in ‘post-normal’ times where the writers, thinkers, intellectuals and activists can do nothing for the people because psephology is at work and the political parties have the sanction of people.
The flaw is in the very structure of understanding liberation. All theories of liberation presume inexorable stages and aim at humanism at large. But, liberation always demands experts, or national leaders, or someone who can set guidelines. This flaw widens the gap between mankind and civilization, creating a newer but fascistic attitude towards nation and nationhood, negating the crisis related to the future of mankind, population and environment. Dr. Nandy marked that the floating mob or the floating proletariat remain powerless until an exposition on liberation occurs. The authoritarian structures market their ideas precisely acting on the ‘fear of the mob’, this enables them to take slower but effective steps for the benefit of the elite; while the masses are left to linger in an illusion of a better life, of a better world.