Online Classes :- Current Affairs Part-3

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Protect stone to keep flesh and blood safe

Iconoclasts see themselves as revolutionaries, bringing down the old order, and, with it, the symbols of the ancien régime. Worshippers of these icons see them as mindless destroyers, unable to let differences of opinion exist in any form. Idle onlookers see this literally ‘materialist’ dialectic of veneration and scorn more dispassionately as an oscillating set of actionsreactions. The bringing down of two statues of communist icon Lenin in Tripura, one would then think, is just another casualty in the real estate development of ‘victor’s history’.

But then, “simple” acts of bust-busting can transcend stone, especially with blood rushing to hot heads. Which is why the Prime Minister is right to quickly condemn the acts of vandalism — attacks on Jan Sangh founder Shyama Prasad Mukherjee’s and Dravidian movement founder E V Ramasamy ‘Periyar’s statues in Kolkata and Vellore respectively — following the overthrow of the Russian revolutionary in Agartala.

Acts of iconoclasm are politically surcharged. The tearing down of the tsar’s statue in Moscow during the Russian Revolution in 1917; the destruction of busts of ‘heroes’ of the Bengal Renaissance, including Rabindranath Tagore, by Naxal agitators in the late-1960s in Calcutta; the toppling of statues of communist leaders across the dismantled Soviet Union and eastern Europe in the early 1990s; the demolition the 16th-century Babri mosque in 1992; the dynamiting of 6th-century Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001; the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad in 2013 — as in all these cases, the real spate of violence occurs as a by-product of such symbolic acts of ‘past-killing’. But it is not the ritualistic destruction of old signs by the ‘victors’ that is the real concern. It is the potential of violence scaling up from attacks on stone to harming flesh and bone that needs to be bulldozed in the bud.

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