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Philosophy vs Erotica: What Manish Tewari Can Learn from Literature Before Pointing Out ‘Grey’ in Article 370 Next Time

Tewari said that spying on its own citizens is not new for the BJP.

Tewari said that spying on its own citizens is not new for the BJP.

Congress leader Manish Tewari stroked controversy when he referred to a popular novel, 'Fifty Shades of Grey', in order to explain his party's stance on the controversial law that revokes Article 370.

New Delhi: While articulating his party’s stand on the repeal of Article 370 in Kashmir, Congress leader Manish Tewari on Tuesday gave a long speech in the Lok Sabha highlighting the state’s history, and also made a reference to ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, a blockbuster erotic novel.

As expected, he received flak for "trivialising the issue".

While the Congress leader quoted popular erotica, an academician made the same point by quoting a classic -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s tragic play Faust, in which a songwriter sold his soul to the devil in exchange for 10 years of youth and success.

Professor Ramaswamy Sudarshan, dean, executive director, Centre for Global Governance and Policy, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy, highlighted the Kashmir issue in an email which is now being circulated in the academic circles.

The email, addressed to Sudarshan’s fellow colleagues as part of an internal communication, laments the ‘end of constitutionalism’ with the revocation of Article 370.

It refers to Goethe’s Faust, and to the ‘Owl of Minerva’ in Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. The ‘Owl of Minerva’ makes its appearance in the preface of the book and is associated with wisdom in the Roman mythology.

The arguments made in the email can give Tewari and others a peek into how to aptly make a point about the ‘grey’ in political matters.

Quoting from the Philosophy of Right, Sudarshan says: “When philosophy paints its grey on grey, then has a shape of life grown old. By philosophy’s grey on grey it cannot be rejuvenated but only understood. The Owl of Minerva spreads its wings only at the falling of the dusk.”

By quoting Hegel, the professor tried to point out the larger meaning intended by the 19th century philosopher that it is only at the end of the history that human beings are able to make sense of the logic behind the developments.

In Faust, which is a German work of literature, the devil Mephistopheles says: “All theory, dear friend is gray, but the golden tree of life springs green.”

In an email to News 18, Sudarshan said, “Understanding, insight, wisdom arise when the object to be understood has played itself out, when it has actualised and thus exhausted its potentialities. We cannot conclude now that the government has made history already in Jammu and Kashmir. There is much to come and much of it seems to be ominous.”

The professor termed the present situation in Jammu and Kashmir as the “beginning of the end of constitutionalism.”

He said the bold move is similar to Indira Gandhi’s bold move to abolish Privy Purses, constitutionally guaranteed to those who acceded their territories to the Indian Union, by an Executive Order. “Constitutionalism means a proper form of rule, with its own proprieties,” he said.

He added, “Relying on technicalities (an appointed Governor of J&K speaks for the state of J&K; or a President who must ‘recognise’ Rulers eligible for Privy Purse must also be able to ‘de-recognise’ them) is a travesty of the spirit of the Constitution,” he wrote.”

In Sudarshan’s opinion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken a leaf out of the book of former PM Indira Gandhi. “De facto, there is a state of internal emergency in the Kashmir valley. Political leaders have been arrested. Under what charges, one may wonder.”

A constitutional guarantee of special status to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, which is related to the terms of the Instrument of Accession, ought to be altered only by following proper means. “Political expediency ought not to trample over respect for constitutionalism, which necessarily places limits on the exercise of political power,” Sudarshan said in the email.