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11 March 2020

PEOPLE: Madhu Kishwar – A Chameleon Academic!

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By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Madhu Kishwar, well known feminist and editor of women’s magazine Manushi, is once again in the news for peddling communal material alleged to be fake news.

This time this pioneer scholar of women's studies in India has put up a video on her twitter handle alleged to be footage from Bangladesh where a group of Muslims wearing skull caps are indulging in act of violence against another group.

Kishwar, passes this video saying it is from the recent Delhi riots where Muslims are instigators of Violence.  

Madhu Kishwar, is currently employed as a chair Professor in the Indian Council of Social Science Research.

Well once I have been admirer of Madhu Kishwar, particular in the late 80s and early 90s when she was a secular and progressive writer and can be equated to Arunditi Roy of today’s India.

This was the time when there was no social media and Kishwar was taking cudgel against Hindutva protagonist Arun Shourie and Swapan Das Gupta who were spewing venom against Muslims in the English press.          
Madhu Kiswar through powerful writing in the dominant English press attracted many eyeballs as she opposed militant Hinduism. As she opposed Hindutva politics tooth and nail, she was a natural cynosure of many Indians like me.

It is a mystery best known to her why she did somersault and changed her colors to embrace the Hindutva ideology. I find such symptoms in Madhu Kishwar abnormal and bizarre. What prompted her take a U turn when she already had attended recognition as an academician and have gained considerable respect? It is certainly an enigma what prompted her to start championing the cause of Hindutva.

If we go Freudian theory of psychoanalysis, a human’s conviction settles by the time of adolescence or youthful stage of life and not when one gains maturity and has climbed the summit of name and fame.

Kishwar’s reputation has got considerably tarred, once she openly started writing in adulation of Hindutva. She is now being noted for her praise for Narendra Modi to the extent of comparing him with Mahatma Gandhi.

She had also written a book 'Modi, Muslims and Media: Voices from Narendra Modi's Gujarat' (Manushi Publications, 2014). This book absolves Modi, then Prime-Ministerial candidate of any involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots and effusively praised him as a non-communal politician.

I can understand politician doing the chameleon act, but what prompts academics to do such activity. Such a person is a shame, a slur on all those who are engaged in the noble cause of pursuing knowledge.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com]

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