A remark on a remark
Thanks to Amardeep for linking to my blog. There he has the following observation: "Reading this debate reminds me that sometimes you really do need social/political theory -- if only to find ways to move past the kind of debates one can have about a complex issue in the newspaper." While I agree with him in principle, I thought I should add a qualifying remark.
I can certainly see the need to move past the debates which are more of a word-play, bordering on personal attacks, than any serious discussion on the main issue. But I hope Amardeep does not imply that the discussions need to move from "newspapers" to "highbrow journals". I feel there is a dire necessity to have more and more serious discussions on themes related to communalism and secularism in our newspapers and magazines. And what is important is common sense, clarity of thought, and logic. If social/political theory helps to this end, excellent. But the theory is neither necessary nor sufficient to be just and correct. No amount of theory can possibly replace social conscience and conviction. "If your politics is clear, if you had your ear to the ground, you wouldn't, you couldn't possibly, miss your mark", in Arundhati Roy's words. Incidentally, one thing that I found objectionable in Chaudhuri's essays is the political vacuousness and the "highbrow" mentality.
I must also remark that I do appreciate research at a higher level not intended for publication in newspapers. As somebody who aspires to have a career in academics, I can also appreciate "hierarchies and affiliations, [peer reviewed] publications, papers, conferences, university chairs, and committee appointments"! (cf. Chaudhuri, The Telegraph, July 25, 2004).