#Essential Reads | Partitions of the Heart: Unmasking The Idea of India

Editor | Non-fiction

Are some Indians more equal than others?

Harsh Mander’s ‘Partitions of the Heart: Unmasking the Idea of India’ provides deep insight about India being unmade as hatred and bigotry become the new normal.

There was one partition of the land in 1947. Harsh Mander believes that another partition is under way in our hearts and minds.

How much of this culpability lies with ordinary people? What are the responsibilities of a secular government, of a civil society and of a progressive majority? In Partitions of the Heart, human rights and peace worker Harsh Mander takes stock of whether the republic has upheld the values it set out to achieve, and o­ffers painful, unsparing insight into the contours of violence. Through vivid stories from his own work, Mander shows that hate speech, communal propaganda and vigilante violence are mounting a fearsome climate of dread, that targeted crime is systematically fracturing our community, and that the damage to the country’s social fabric may be irreparable. At the same time, he argues that hatred can indeed be fought, but only with solidarity, reconciliation and love, and when all of these are founded on fairness.

Ultimately, this meticulously researched social critique is a rallying cry for public compassion, conscience and justice, and a paean to the resilience of humanity.

Nayantara Sahgal told Arrackistan: “Mander works among the survivors of mass violence and his karwans visit the grieving kin of murdered Indians, making him heir to Gandhi who was one with the suffering of others.”

Gopalkrishna Gandhi commented that Mander’s is the voice of Kabir come alive in our violent times.

Saeed Akhtar Mirza said Mander holds a mirror for all of us to reflect upon and, hopefully, regain our humanity.

About the Author: Harsh Mander, writer, human rights and peace worker, columnist, researcher and teacher, works with survivors of mass violence and hunger, homeless persons and street children. He writes columns for the Indian Express, the Telegraph, Scroll and the Wire. He also coordinates the production of the annual Indian Exclusion Report.

His real-life stories have been adapted for films such as Shyam Benegal’s Samar, and for Mallika Sarabhai’s dance drama Unsuni. He is associated with social causes and movements for communal harmony and justice, minority rights, the right to information, the right to food, health rights, bonded labour, as well as the rights of tribals, Dalits, children, the homeless and the disabled. He recently organized Karwan-e-Mohabbat (A Caravan of Love), a journey of solidarity and conscience for families a­ffected by hate violence across India.

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