Sunday 14 July 2024

News Analysed, Opinions Expressed

Mind Speak

Other side of Secularism-Communalism divide


It is for us to de-colonize our minds from the slavery of the discourse unleashed by Secularism-Communalism divide and view corruption and exploitation in its face and vote with freedom to free our country from the chains of unfreedoms and corruption imposed on us by the power elite.

Translatology as an academic field has acquired remarkable momentum in our days. Humans are existentially translative beings. Translation is a political process. It is a process of being in the world. Translation often becomes the maid servant of imperialism. Imperial culture often enters the subdued locales cloaked in diverse modes of translation. Within this dynamic field, it is important to discern non-textual and non-linguistic translative approach that is greeted as cultural translation. Tejawini Niranjana in her book, Siting translation: History, Post-structuralism and the colonial context makes use of the term translation to drive home the colonial power-play between the British rulers and Indian Subjects.  Gayatri Spivak teaches that translation is the most intimate act of reading.  This means often translations are not merely freest translations but also freeing translations. Yet within this framework one must be attentive to the untranslatable dimension of reality as well as to the fact that every form of translation does not just reveal but also conceals and even transforms important aspects of reality. Hence, the end result of a process of translation emerges as different from the original.  This is especially true in the context of translation of culture. Following R. Jacobson, we can view translation as an inter-semiotic process. It involves the transmutation of one sign system into another sign system. Culture being a sign system depends on translation in this sense for its dynamism, coherence, resistance and innovation. 

With this translative dynamism of our society, we can discern how the notions of Secularism and Communalism have emerged as binary opposites of each other.  The translation of Secularism as an opposite notion of Communalism is uncritically accepted and thought to be natural and normal. This translative process that is juxtaposing Communalism and Secularism as antinomies or opposites of each other and has almost held our entire Society captive and that the translation of Secularism as opposite of Communalism is only a construct remains unthought and forgotten. Hence, it is both relevant and urgent to interrogate, dismantle and deconstruct the semiotic process that legitimates the political discourse that remains encaged within its narrow logic.  The clash of Secularism and Communalism in our political discourse only produces a mirage that prevents corruption, modes of development, crass capitalism, poverty eradication, human rights, swaraj etc., from becoming central to the political discourse. It appears that the major political parties are craftily hiding their corrupt face under the binary of Secularism and Communalism.   The continuous polarization  that is drawn on the basis of the binary of Secularism and Communalism appeals to the instincts of human survival and successfully  forecloses attention to other vital issues of greater importance while keeping us chained to the fear of losing a ideal ‘free’ future. 


There is an emancipatory potential to the scrutiny of the translative process that we have already begun here. It provides us an insight into manner and mechanisms of the amnesia/ forgetting of real issues that is manufactured by a discourse that instills an abnormal fear of the future and the other.  The binary of Communalism and Secularism artfully paints a future as a land of ‘unfreedom’ and the other (chiefly the religious other or the caste other) as an embodiment of oppression and exploitation.  Hence, holding on to ones Community interest across all Religions is often viewed as progress. This juxtaposing of the Secular as the opposite of Communalism has undermined the authentic secular ideals enshrined in our constitution.  Indeed, in this process authentic Secularism transmutes and metamorphizes into a hidden Communalism. As result of this social engineering, vote banks are formed based on the Communal divide and we are left with nothing but the majoritarian Communalism and a reactive and survival-centric minoritarian Communalism. Come an election, our Society becomes victim to Communalisms manufactured by the major political parties and is blinded to corrupt other side of the Political System in our Country.  This other side remains invisible under the mirage of Secularism-Communalism divide.

The complex dynamism of Secularism-Communalism discourse becomes cultural capital, which is milked for votes and notes by the mainstream political parties based on Caste, Creed, Language, Ethnicity, etc. Hence, the dismantling of this discursive space becomes a counter-hegemonic discourse that will bring to light and render visible the concealed corrupt face of our political system and will become an effective site of resistance to all forms of Socio-political evils.  The seduction of the Secularism-Communalism discourse can be deconstructed by the interrogation of the assumption that Communalism is opposite of Secularism. Such an interrogation can de-rail the hegemony of Secularism-Communalism discourse and will certainly become an anti-dote to its political consequences. Indeed, the insight into these veiled and secretive strategies under the cover of Secularism-Communalism divide employed by the mainstream political parties can reveal their oppressive and corrupt agenda. It is for us to de-colonize our minds from the slavery of the discourse unleashed by Secularism-Communalism divide and view corruption and exploitation in its face and vote with freedom to free our country from the chains of unfreedoms and corruption imposed on us by the power elite.  

That is why there is an utter need to raise the level of political discourse in our Country and Goa in particular. Our intelligentsia and respectable religious as well as civil leaders have the imperative to contribute in this regard. Often some of us can get trapped in narrow and petty concerns rather than help bring a change in the Political Culture of our Country. This requires us to break the shackles and chains that constrain our Political thought that reduce it to nothing but mere communal interests riddled with fear mongering and paranoia and make space for more substantive issues like corruption, equitable, transparent and participatory Governance. Otherwise we will get trapped into the discourse of the vociferous Neo-conservatives and Neo-liberals. Unfortunately, the Political discourse in India and Goa at the moment is reduced to appealing to our crass feelings of insecurity and xenophobia (fear of the other) marked by age-old suspicion, mistrust and paranoia. We seem to be stuck in this historical rut with no apparent attempts at real Communion (Engagement, Dialogue and Integration). Hence, it is important that we realize before it is too late that a party can be Secular and yet survive on Communal hinges and a party may appear Non-communal and yet fail to be Secular.  It is vital therefore, for every discerning Indian to decipher the other side of this deceptive Secularism-Communalism divide.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

Kudos to Fr Victor Ferrao for the excellent article. If we only had more enlightened Priests in the Church and in Goa like Fr Ferrao ! This article should be an eye opener for all Leaders, whether political or religious including the Goa and Indian Bishops and communal priests like Fr Meverick and Fr Eremitho of CJSP. As per our conversations in London through our sources in Goa, the above Church social cell is a tool in the hands of manipulative Congress and Goa politicians like Vijai Sardesai and heavily politicised filled with people like the discredited Mr Soter, a known BJP hater. It is a pity that the Church organ is politicised and the Bishop is taken for a ride by these priests and people who have a political agenda. By this the Church has lost its credibility as it is not a neutral organisation. Even though it said that it is not for any particular party, ignorant and communal Priests like Fr Meverick, Fr Eremitho and others went about telling people to vote for Congress and vote against BJP. Isn't this hypocrisy of the Church ? If they had the guts why they didn't tell the people openly ? With this election the Church has proved who are Communal and lost all Credibility. The Bishop, if he has any honour left, should boot out discredited priests like Fr Meverick and Fr Eremitho and give the reigns to people of the caliber of Fr Ferrao and others to save its face.

Francis Braganza |

It Is Better To Have Only One Honest Christian In The Church Than To Have Hundred Corrupt & Communal Christians In The Church. Goa Church Should Immediately Excommunicate Them And Set Example For Others.

Jose Rod |

Excellent analysis of the subject. I request Fr. Victor Ferrao to guide our politicians and their intelligentsia cohorts so that the political discourse is not muddied further. If we see present discourse we find either the people are ignorant about the dictionary meaning or a deliberate mischief is played by self serving politicians and their intellectual doodles.

Madhav Bastodker |

Nice to see a Christian priest talking about real philosophy and not get carried away by the dictum of the church in Goa.

Vanoridini |

Blogger's Profile


Fr Victor Ferrao

Fr. Victor Ferrao is a Dean of Philosophy and teaches at Rachol Seminary in Salcete taluka of Goa. He has done his Phd in Philosophy of Science. He writes often on socio-political scenario.


Previous Post