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The Second Gujarat Catastrophe

Upendra Baxi
Economic and Political Weekly
Vol. 37, No. 34 (Aug. 24-30, 2002), pp. 3519-3531
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4412519
Page Count: 13
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The Second Gujarat Catastrophe
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Abstract

The second act of the catastrophe in Gujarat was carried out within parliamentary portals, in the course of the debate on the Gujarat violence which exposed the hypocrisy that while political discourse might concern itself with people's anguish, it is in reality driven by aspects of competitive politics. Even as extraordinary violence was perpetrated on Indian women, it was women's bodies that provided the necessary domain for the assertion of competitive party politics - a fact reflected in the arguments and counter-arguments offered during the debate. As this essay suggests, the ominous final message that seeps through is that constitutional governance can achieve little except normalise violence, almost as a social cost of democratic politics, in which even structured practices of governance are established that deny as well silence women's sufferings. The task for the 'active citizen' thus is to frame imaginative patterns of social action that would not merely empower victims but also adequately present the voices of suffering, giving voice to the anguish - a task that could effectively challenge the newly instituted narratives of 'pride' and 'honour'.

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