Keep Calm and Carry On: Dealing with Patriarchal Carpet Bombing in Kerala

For all women in India, what is happening in Kerala should be an eye-opener.  This is how Indian society rewards you for reaching the top, aspiring seriously to be on top, and actually asking questions to authorities about why they keep drawing on women’s energies and resources while simultaneously undermining the very ground on which they survive. In Kerala, two things are going on: there is on the one hand, a vicious gang led by Rahul Easwar which is openly threatening women who would dare to enter Sabarimala with the worst kinds of violence, on the other, the horrid misogyny of the press was revealed at the press conference held by the Women in Cinema Collective who expressed their deep disquiet at the way in which the organization of cinema actors, AMMA, and its president Mohanlal, were eager to protect oppressors and ignore survivors. Also, even male intellectuals who have been very supportive of feminist and gender justices causes have been named in the MeToo campaign among journalists in Kerala.

Kerala is a society where, in the past twenty years, we have seen women come up everywhere — in journalism, literature, academics, cinema, architecture, engineering, art, management, sports, trade unionism, activism. Women in Kerala have been the force of social democratizing as evident from the struggles ranging from the Munnar tea garden workers’ struggle to the brave nuns protesting against sexual violence. For sure, a very large number of women in Kerala are ultra-conservative, and that is apparent both in their presence in the muck that Easwar and his gang are raking up in Kerala, as well as in the shameless way in which some of them were emboldened to hurl caste insults at the Chief Minister of Kerala. This is therefore reminiscent not so much of the Battle of Britain in World War II, but for the Battle of Stalingrad — which was heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe, even as there was hand-to-hand combat on the ground for control of the tiniest slices of the city, and where the city residents were often subject to the terrors of both the Nazi and the Soviet sides alike.

If you want to see male hubris overflowing, please take a look at this video, of https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FWomeninCinemaCollectiveOfficial%2Fvideos%2F249328929064857%2F&show_text=0&width=267“>the press conference held by the Women in Cinema collective. All I can tell us all is, Keep Calm and Carry on. After all, unlike in the World War II, the ammunition of these creeps need not hurt us at all; it can make it only more powerful.

 

 

 

സ്ത്രീവാശിയുടെ ആവശ്യകത :ശബരിമലപ്രശ്നം, സ്ത്രീകൾ, സാമൂഹ്യജനാധിപത്യം

അഭിനവ അച്ചിയാകാൻ എനിക്കു സമ്മതമില്ല. അതുകൊണ്ട് രാഹുൽ ഈശ്വറെ എന്തുവില കൊടുത്തും ഞാൻ എതിർത്തു തോൽപ്പിക്കും.

കുറേ സ്ത്രീകളെ തെരുവിൽ കൊണ്ടുവന്ന് ആചാരസംരക്ഷണത്തിൻറെ പേരിൽ സ്വന്തം താത്പര്യങ്ങൾക്കെതിരെ സംസാരിപ്പിക്കുക, അവരുടെ പൊതുജീവിതപരിചയമില്ലായ്മയുടെ ഫലങ്ങൾ കൊയ്തെടുക്കുക (പിണറായിയെ ജാതിത്തെറി വിളിച്ച ആ വിഡ്ഢിസ്ത്രീ തന്നെ ഉദാഹരണം), ബ്രാഹ്മണമൂല്യങ്ങൾ തങ്ങൾക്കു സമ്മാനിക്കുന്ന അപമാനഭാരത്തെ ആത്മീയസായൂജ്യമായി എണ്ണുന്ന അഭിനവ അച്ചി-സ്ഥാനത്തെ ഉത്തമസ്ത്രീത്വമായി ചിത്രീകരിക്കുക –ഇതൊക്കെയാണ് ശബരിമലപ്രശ്നത്തിൽ കേരളത്തിലെ ഹിന്ദുത്വശക്തികൾ ചെയ്തുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നത്. Continue reading “സ്ത്രീവാശിയുടെ ആവശ്യകത :ശബരിമലപ്രശ്നം, സ്ത്രീകൾ, സാമൂഹ്യജനാധിപത്യം”

നായർസമുദായാഭിമാനികളോട്: ശബരിമലപ്രശ്നം ഉയർത്തുന്ന ചില ചോദ്യങ്ങൾ

നായർ സർവീസ് സൊസൈറ്റി ശബരിമലപ്രശ്നത്തിൽ പുനഃപരിശോധനാഹർജി സമർപ്പിച്ച സ്ഥിതിയ്ക്ക് ആ പ്രസ്ഥാനത്തോട് നായർസമുദായത്തിൽ ജനിക്കാനിടയായ ഒരു സ്ത്രീയെന്ന നിലയ്ക്ക് എനിക്ക് ചില ചോദ്യങ്ങളുന്നയിക്കാനുണ്ട്. Continue reading “നായർസമുദായാഭിമാനികളോട്: ശബരിമലപ്രശ്നം ഉയർത്തുന്ന ചില ചോദ്യങ്ങൾ”

The BabriMasjid/Ayodhya Judgement of 2010 – Some questions for today

 


Babri Masjid before its demolition. It was still a mosque in 1992 when Hindutva mobs demolished it, and namaz was offered there until 1949 when under growing pressure from Hindutva forces, it was locked and made out of bounds for the public. However, Hindu puja was permitted there once a year.

This post is an analysis of the Allahabad High Court judgement of September 2010, on the BabriMasjid /Ayodhya issue. The final judgment ruled that the disputed land would be divided into three parts, one third going to the Hindu Maha Sabha which represented Ram Lalla, one third to Sunni Waqf Board and the rest to Nirmohi Akhada including Ram Chabutara and Sitaki Rasoi.

This essay was written at the time, and published in Economic and Political Weekly. Two of the key issues of this case arose in two of the recent judgments of the Supreme Court on other matters.

One, the status of ‘Next Friend’, which is central to the Ayodhya case, was brought up in the judgement on the Bhima- Koregaon Five. Regarding  the PIL filed by historian Romila Thapar and four other eminent persons challenging the alleged-unlawful arrest of these five activists,

the court assumed that the writ petition has now been pursued by the accused themselves and was of the opinion that the petition, at the instance of the next friend of the accused for an independent probe or a court-monitored investigation cannot be countenanced, much less as a PIL as the petitioners cannot be heard to ask for the reliefs which otherwise cannot be granted to the accused themselves.

Two, the status of the deity as a person in law came up centrally in the judgement on Sabarimala.

Apologies for posting this long piece, which is not a blog post but an analytical essay closely examining the 2010 judgement by Allahabad High Court. I have not updated it in any way, as that is the judgement that currently stands. The  case is currently in the Supreme Court.

The Ayodhya judgement: what next?

 Published in Economic and Political Weekly Vol 46 No. 31 July 30 – August 05, 2011

Since the Allahabad High Court judgement on the Ayodhya dispute was delivered on September 30, 2010, a substantial body of reflection upon it has emerged. Historians, political commentators, legal scholars and lawyers have all produced serious and engaged critiques of the judgement, pointing out flaws in reasoning and flaws in law. In an engagement with the debate so far, particularly with the critical voices, of which I am one, I hope here to develop a composite picture of the problems with the judgement, currently under appeal in the Supreme Court. And to ask, what are its weakest links?

Continue reading “The BabriMasjid/Ayodhya Judgement of 2010 – Some questions for today”

The Impossible Gandhian Project and its Limits – Remembering the Mahatma Today

Gandhi, Nehru and Azad, Wardha 1935, image courtesy Governance Now

Majboori ka naam Mahatma Gandhi (Roughly: Compulsion thy name is Mahatma Gandhi)

I have grown up hearing this expression and have often wondered about its meaning and at the almost proverbial status acquired by it. Whose majboori or compulsion was Gandhi really? Well, at one level, everybody’s, for practically every current within the anti-colonial struggle was uncomfortable with his presence and his leadership. Jawaharlal Nehru had even remarked once that after independence, his fads would have to be kept in check. All nationalists who fought for independence from colonial rule (as opposed to the pseudo-nationalists who tried to convert it into a cow-protection movement) had their gaze fixed on the state. They wanted control of that coveted instrument – that was the crux of their anticolonial struggle. There were others like BR Ambedkar, who too invested a lot in the state but realized that the state in the hands of the nationalists would be a disaster for his people. But no one among them (poet-thinkers like Tagore apart) was prepared to look beyond the state. And Gandhi’s disavowal of the state – and of politics as such – was something that no one could digest. More than anything else, that was what made him a majboori for this set of people who could only lay their hands on their object of desire as long as Gandhi was in the leadership – for he alone could move millions like no one among his contemporaries could.

But my hunch is that these were not the people who coined this expression. Gandhi was a bigger majboori for another set of people who were, ironically, equally disinterested in the state and its ‘capture’ – at least till recently. Yes, these were the different currents of the Hindutva Brigade (VD Savarkar of the Hindu Mahasabha and his followers and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). They had to tolerate Gandhi – that is exactly what their majboori meant – till they could finally eliminate him. And it was one Nathuram Godse, with connections to both Savarkar and the RSS, who eventually killed him. There were earlier attempts too on Gandhi’s life – all from upper caste Hindus (one lot being Chitpavan Brahmins). Continue reading “The Impossible Gandhian Project and its Limits – Remembering the Mahatma Today”

Do Not Ride the Tiger of Hindtuva: Sabarimala Entry and Hindutva Women

The Supreme Court judgment on women’s entry into Sabarimala has got Hindutva women in Kerala into a hand-wringing, hair-tearing frenzy, and that is to put it lightly. I say ‘Hindutva women’ deliberately, to refer to a sub-set of Hindu women, who (1) believe, like the RSS chief, that the Hindu(tva) lion is under threat from dogs (guess who the dogs are in this case) (2) identify craven submission to Hindutva commonsense about gender as ‘Indian tradition’ (3) are willing to sacrifice all public decency for the sake of upholding that common sense. Continue reading “Do Not Ride the Tiger of Hindtuva: Sabarimala Entry and Hindutva Women”