Building a Manifesto – Part Two

The name of this site is a reference to the ‘no true Scotsman’ logical fallacy. My understanding of the fallacy goes something like this: In a debate, one person might say “No Scotsman dislikes kilts”. A second might respond saying, “Well, I know John and he’s a Scotsman and he hates kilts”. The first person retorts, “Well, no true Scotsman dislikes kilts”.

The first speaker retains his confidence in his original hypothesis by playing with definitions, specifically by coming up with a definition that ensures he is right. It’s that simple. Step One: Make an assertion. Step Two: Be shown an observation (or set of observations) that doesn’t fit with your assertion. Step Three: Proceed to redraw your definitions to exclude them.

My personal experience with this fallacy began with many conversations and hours of agonized introspection around being an English-speaking writer in India. These conversations tended to devolve into arguments around authenticity and its elusiveness when it comes to the privileged pens of elites. While describing that angst-filled saga exceeds the ambit of today’s post, I did spend a lot of time thinking about the Indian identity and came to realize how problematic the project of drawing boundaries around it was.

This project of formalizing the Indian identity, of strictly etching out contours of what classifies as “true Indian” behaviour, has become the primary concern of the Hindu right led by the RSS and the BJP. They seek to narrow and reduce the fantastic breadth and multiplicity of the Indian identity down to some kind of tepid Brahmin-lite. All for the sake of political power or economic growth. I think that’s a poor trade-off.

So this blog will seek to be a space for stories that expand the concept of an Indian identity. This might be done by engaging with art, culture and histories of people that aren’t a part of the impoverished Hindutva idea of an Indian. But this will also be about breaking a personal self-censorship around topics, styles and genres that I find myself deeming ‘un-Indian’.

Such a broad formulations basically means that I can write about anything. The only difference will be that I’ll be writing about everything from this place and with this point of view.