Globalisation – i.e., the time-space compression of the past twenty to twenty five years – is dialectical. A new phase of capitalism has given birth to contradictory tensions that have long been pregnant and kicking. Globalisation is an interplay of forces demanding the future and forces heralding the past. It straddles both static and motion. I’m with motion.
The globalising space of twenty-first century India occupies several centuries at once. Urbanisation and capitalist development, the mass entry of women into the workforce, and the expansion of information and communications technology, have generated city spaces and conditions of existence where a head-on collision between an old, feudalistic, religious and patriarchal India is violently clashing with an aspiring, new generation India. On the one hand, the ruling party of the BJP, and its student wing ABVP and fascistic ally Shiv Sena, indicate the flourishing of a deeply unpleasant, reactionary and dangerous, religious fundamentalism that is both fuelled and affronted by globalisation. On the other hand, from the protests triggered by the 16th December 2012 Delhi gang rape, to gay rights’ activists protesting in response to the Supreme Court’s recriminalisation of homosexuality in December 2013 (by reinstating the 1860 British colonial penal code of Section 377 that was decriminalised in 2009), to the “Kiss of Love” protests of late October to November 2014 against moral policing of public affection, a layer of urban, young, educated, socially mobile men and women, straight and gay, are demanding rights and freedoms over their bodies, their sexualities, their genders, and their cities. They are courageously taking on the State and religious fundamentalists in a struggle over the meaning of Indian culture. It’s an extraordinary chapter in the history of India. What’s more, the Indian diaspora should take note, for it has more in common with static than with motion – the kernel of India’s globalising, urbanising cities, and the generation born from it, is where the fight is coming.
Delhi, 22nd December 2012: Police use tear gas and water cannons in an attempt to disperse the huge crowd of protesters in response to the gang rape of a female student on a bus on the night of 16th December (Reuters Images):
Protesters chant anti-police slogans (Getty Images):
Delhi and Bombay, 15th and 16th December 2013. Gay rights’ activists protest against Section 377 (Reuters and First Post Images):
Hyderabad, 2nd November 2014. Students’ “Kiss of Love” protest at Central University:
Delhi, 9th November 2014. Indian police attempt to stop “Kiss of Love” protesters from marching to the Hindu right-wing, nationalist RSS headquarters (AFP and PTI Images):
Both straight and gay activists have been brought together in the “Kiss of Love” protests against moral policing (AP Images):
See also, my podcast: “Lessons from India: towards a global analysis of sexual violence”