The Many ‘Vices’ of Chitralekha

Chitralekha, a dalit woman from Payyanur, Kannur, has been in the news since 2005, for her open challenge to the CITU in that left bastion. An autorickshaw driver, she had protested at the CITU’s constant interference at work and the intensely male hostility against her presence in an almost exclusively male line of work. Braving ‘character-assault’ from the CITU which called her a ‘loose woman’, a ‘regular drunk’ and so on, she continued working until,in December 2005, her autorickshaw was burned down. She fought, however, and was supported by various Dalit, Feminists and Citizen’s initiatives. In June 2008, she procured a new autorickshaw with their support. This did not mean that she was now acceptable to the CITU . Now recently, she complained that the CITU had seized a chance encounter to beat her and her husband, and the police, who arrived on the scene, took them to the police station and unleashed even worse violence. Her complaints have been ignored or treated with hostility by the mainstream media in Kerala. Activists and concerned persons in and outside Kerala, however, have rallied to her support.

I have been deeply perturbed not by the media (such pallid response is just what we should expect, perhaps!)but also by the reactions of many activists and ex-activists — whose have had long experience in fighting for democracy — which echo these responses. I was quite shocked when a respected activist from Chitralekha’s town, told me just the other day that she lacked ‘ethics’ . I don’t want to list the complaints he made — but he made her look like a shady character who couldn’t be trusted on financial matters. And therefore we should not ‘waste’ much time on ‘her’.

I do not know whether all this is true, but even if it is true, I think it does not affect our efforts.

My recent research into self-help groups in Kerala does reveal that there are thousands of women in Kerala who do not repay their loans, have to be pressurised into making prompt repayments, and indeed use whatever little influence they have to get away. Now, this often hurts the group which has women poorer than this borrower. However, in a society like Kerala where the mad rush for upward mobility and the hegemony of consumer-citizenship is too evident to be missed, how can a thinking person so readily attribute such behaviour to the individual’s personal ‘character’ failing? True, it is indeed a problem for activists that increasingly people in Kerala are resembling the rational agent of neoclassical economics — but does that justify our silence when an underprivileged person ( who may be behaving so) makes a complaint about harassment?

And I was also rather surprised by the manner in which the campaign was understood as ‘helping Chitralekha’. This smacks of the older style of social reformism in Kerala in which the Reformer-Man built a certain relationship of non-coercive influence with women he intended to reform (as part of the Reformer’s Burden) and therefore would reject those women who disobeyed. I was part of the campaign to raise resources for her rickshaw, but I always thought that this was not so much ‘helping’ her, as making a point to the dominant powers! I don’t think any of us can ‘save’ anyone  or that we should try to– and in any case if at any point one feels that the victim is making unreasonable demands or demands that are beyond our strength, one can always state that clearly and take a stand.

But I’m not surprised if the ‘victims’ make such demands either! One of the shifts we have seen in the 90s is towards a kind of activism closely enmeshed with the thrust towards global governmentality.The kind of relationship between activism and the groups she/he tried to reach out to was often close to that of a caregiver — and the very same power relationship that exists between caregivers and receivers is reproduced here too. I often think about why the many new groups that appeared in Kerala’s political fields did not grow into strong and thriving movements — many have fallen back into invisibility. There are many reasons, including shifts in global funding and so on, but the non-sustainability of the above relations looks like a key one to me. If this is the case, we ought to engage in self-reflexive thinking — on why is it that, in these times, when we try to get together a group of women in Kerala for any issue, we are besieged by women asking what aanukoolyam (benefit) is on offer — rather than blame the poor.

Another ex-activist told me, shockingly, that there was nothing anti-Dalit about this! He was citing ‘drunkenness’ as a reason to ignore the incident. Now, I have seen events in which leading Malayalee intellectuals came dead drunk but that did not affect their minds at all — but I have also seen unbelievable nonsense being spewed by such characters and indeed demonstrate utterly abusive behaviour. But in the latter occasions, they were always quietly — almost gracefully — removed from the scene. And this is not just my experience — a friend was recently sharing memories of how, during the 1980s, when public poetry readings were common all over rural Kerala, there used to be requests made over the mic that ‘all the poets sitting in the toddy shop may kindly come over to the stage’! Mind you, it isn’t that such events were always superior cultural events! So how come it looks ok to react violently when an underprivileged woman gets drunk and gets rough? And there being nothing anti-Dalit! I asked this person if a daughter or wife (i.e suitably inserted in a familial role) of a powerful Nambiar feudal family of the area got drunk and created a fuss, will she be treated similarly? She would be removed from the scene and maybe beaten at home, but would she be beaten on the road and dragged into a police station? No, he had to admit.

A particularly interesting reaction was about the people trying to support her: they are ‘outsiders’, apparently, not located within Kerala and therefore suspect. Well, maybe those who voiced this fear haven’t noticed that Kerala, since the 1970s (and actually much earlier) has not been contained between Gokarnam and Kanyakumari, and that we are now a diaspora. It is despicable to argue that Malayalees who live outside the State should not intervene in what goes on here. We aren’t so bothered, it appears, about predatory forays of big-moneyed expats whose ‘interventions’ are radically altering the very geography of Kerala, turning every bit of land into nothing but real estate to be readied for their insatiable consumerist appetites! But it isn’t as though all expats are thus. In fact if there is any way to strengthen the women’s movement in Kerala, which is truly feeble these days, it is by getting rid of the Gokaranam-tol-Kanyakumari image and building networks between anti-patriarchal forces here and people who have fled Kerala’s secularised brahmanical patriarchy and taken refuge in other parts of India and in other countries!

But the worst was the way in which this ex-activist quipped, almost casually, that Chitralekha was ‘out of her mind’. So what should we do, I asked him, shut her up in an asylum? Get her out of your eye-shot? Oh, no, he said, recommending yet another dose of ‘help’ and ‘care’. Maybe he was right. Chitralekha has a lot to gain through being the CITU’s good girl. The Kerala government has approved of fifty percent reservation of seats for women in local governance and soon there is going to be a hunt for candidates, especially Dalit women candidates. Maybe only women out of their mind will tangle with them now! Ah, my friend, if that is the case, there are a few more of us who should be out of your eye-shot, shut up in mental asylums!

25 thoughts on “The Many ‘Vices’ of Chitralekha”

  1. dear are trying to support an oblivious chitralekha who was trying very hard to deny on screen she had alcohol…. now call her an agent of patriarchal forces who is not enough ‘feministised”. ..You are spot on about kerala’s secularized brahmnical patriarchy…. kindly comment also on urbanised brahminical matriarchy (under watchful eyes of ‘alternate” secu-patriarchal idols of yore …) trying very hard to look like pro-dalit feminism on their occassional outings like haley’s comet….?Maybe what chitra wants and what acti’wish”ts want are different things. much different things… if someone can get these rogue ‘CITU fellows” to smoke a kattan beedi each time they hear CDS Fellows say ‘governmentality”, ‘consumer citizenship” etcetra, this problem will have solved
    itself long back…Lavalin will have been very happy to build the cancer hospital in payyannur….

    comradely yours in spirit,manu and smriti once again angry as always.


  2. You said it all in ‘Kerala’s secularised brahmanical patriarchy’. Those who ‘fled’ Keralam are the only out of it except a few liberated minds still reside here.(In my case I am not one among them as I am still in Keralam and in my social position should be enjoying the benefits of ‘Kerala’s secularized brahmanical patriarchy’ and hence not fleeing).Even though we all cannot ask for consideration as victims of situation as a right, increasing the number of liberated minds one by one ( and of course ensuring that it is not decreased as the prospect of going back conventional is beneficial in the milieu), of course with the help of the open minded who reside outside Keralam is I think one way for the emancipation of the victims of ‘Kerala’s secularised brahmanical patriarchy’. The issue like Chitralekha’s and the text by Devika are significant for such an augmentation process as it gives a new outlook to get rid of ourselves of the bondages of circumstance of being one in ‘Kerala’s secularised brahmanical patriarchy’.


  3. love to clarify for the rest of the world that ‘brahminica” in kerala include nairs syrian xians exalists and to a lesser extent UGC muslim…. and one more fencesitter group namely post retirement mimicry marxists… we love some of the post marxists but post-retirement marxists…!?!??

    we are ready to clarify and explain on any issue we raised…. if some one is interested….but we dont think it will be necessary, from past experience…..


  4. I agree with Devka on all points except her use of ‘activist’ and ‘ex-activist’ to refere to her unknown ‘friends’. As she herself shows in this mail, nobody is 100% activist or 100% nonactivist.Thus calling somebody ‘ex-activist’stands only when we hold on to some rigid notion of activism.

    Devika enumerates two or three ‘responses’ in this mail. I have sent a personal/public mail to 44 friends on Januray 26th in which the ending part refreerd to a Chithralekha issue.Let me quote that part in this ‘public’ forum as I feel this indicates a ‘fourth response’ complicating the picture.

    “A campaign is on supporting Chithralekha, a Dalit auto driver, who has been harassed by the CITU and the police in Payyanur , Kerala .Some concerned academics and professionals in Delhi are taking initiative for the campaign. .Rekha Raj has been active in Dalit politics in Kerala for two decades and is one of the founding members of Panchami, a Dalit feminist organization. She started getting frequent phone calls from friends in Delhi at first urging her, then almost demanding her visiting Chithralekha immediately. In fact Rekha did have contact with Chithralekha and was in touch with her and confused and feeling helplessness as to what could be done. Theses phone calls irritated her to such an extent that she was provoked to ask them “Why don’t you visit first? Its easier to reach Payyannur from Delhi than from Kottayam”

    One friend urged her to form a “Dalit Bahujan Women’s Organization”to which she retorted : “ Sorry, I have been investing my whole being in dalit struggles for some decades. Now I also would like to complete my PhD , leave Kerala and teach in a college like you ”

    In a campaign material supporting Chithralekha, signed by Chithralekha Solidarity Group, Delhi, I came across the following sentence.
    “Though there have been various attempts to contact many women and other groups, by people outside Kerala, so far not a single concerned person in Kerala has visited her or found out what is happening to her”

    As Rekha’s replies shows, this is a false dichotomy viz: concerned person in Kerala/ people outside Kerala. Everybody shares equal responsibility is responding to such a situation where fascist attempts are made in order to silence a Dalit woman. The implicit hierarchy in the sentence above interpellates certain agents as lacking political subjectivity. They are called upon to ‘prove their credentials’. The reasons for the delay in somebody from Delhi coming to Payyanur is perceived as “ practical’ whereas the same in case of those residing within Kerala as ‘criminal’.( Isn’t it fascist to seek response from a limited number of agents all the time on all the issues as if they are superwo/men? )

    I feel this has to be questioned publicly in order to establish solidarity among those who stand by Chithralekha. It is not factual that nobody is in contact with Chithralekha. What is lacking is a plan of action and imagination. There is no need for everybody visiting Chithralekha at once. What some committed people from Delhi are doing on this issue is
    very effective in bridging this gap, irrespective of their physical presence in Payyannur.
    I could see some initiatives emerging from the State as well by way of empowering her .Hope such multiple initiates will result in resisting the frequent attempts at irritating the daily life ( one of the tested strategies of Fascism) of Chithralekha.”


  5. No thanks, Manusmriti I don’t need your clarification and please proffer your wisdom at the RSS shibirams or wherever else, manu speaking for smriti. And I’m not going to respond to your characteristic sneering, dripping with Bangalorian hindutva wisdom!


    1. I would like to add something to the earlier comment . Some friends points out that the particular statement I have criticised in it is being removed from the campaign material thereafter.My worry was basically about a “Delhi Solidarity Group” condemining people in “Kerala”, reinforcing such false divides. By now there are many intiatives supporting Chitralekha from within and outside Kerala.
      A national level team comprising of eminent intellectuals is visiting Chitralekha on 7th this month. Another state level convention supporting Chitralekha is being rganised on 13th at Trivandrum as a prelude to national level get-together in Payyannur.I would rather withdraw my earlier crticism against this background as that may reinforce Delhi/Kerala divide which is effectively erased in practice by now.


    2. very confusing comment Dileep, we are worried it is not very convincing…… when internal competition threatens an industry itself, it is better to compromise we understand…….. some people take two days to learn this simple fact…… but we are glad the spectacle spilled over………. many people accidentally stepped on the truth about ‘the practice” of ‘anti (Aunty?) activism” in Kerala…… quite a sight it is when the slug and the butterfly in mutual jealousy can not quite make out who is what……


  6. The utterances of the activist and ex-activist, Devika quotes, are very much contextualized when devika in the same article says. “One of the shifts we have seen in the 90s is towards a kind of activism closely enmeshed with the thrust towards global governmentality. The kind of relationship between activism and the groups she/he tried to reach out to was often close to that of a caregiver — and the very same power relationship that exists between caregivers and receivers is reproduced here too”.

    The point raised by Deviaks as above prompts us to ask few questions about the civil society that was active in Kerala during the 90s.

    Specifically about the power relations Devika speaks in this article, were the civil society groups in Kerala working in terms of a civilizing mission mode with the “beneficiaries” it was championing?

    Was the politically struggle waged at Chenagara, a distinctive break from this tradition of champion-care givers and receivers?

    In case of chengara struggle also, many civil society active groups turned “mediators” between govt and the agitations. The hue and cry was that why the govt. was not intervening to settle the issue. Some activist failing to get entry to the agitation site and diabled from proximity to agitation leader, Laha Gopalan and to evlove parelle “lobbying’ ciurcuit had to stage all their activist angst elsewhere.

    Coming to Chitralekha, is there any discomfort for the activists aligned with many civil society groups to engage with the issues raised/ faced by Chitralekha?

    It is not the issues per se that perhaps disable activist’s engagement but perhaps Chitralekha herself becomes the issue. How come Chitralekha becomes a character who cannot be trusted?

    Is the issue also related to exhaustion of civil society politics Kerala has witnessed? For example, let us take the infamous ice cream sex scandal. The “victim” in this case was perhaps a person difficult to be handled by the concerned civil society group, which had taken up the issue. The utterances of the victim were never in unison with the concerned civil group. Did the concerned group or groups thought that the “victim’ in this case was a person not to be trusted?

    One major struggle championed by the civil society activism was that of pe usha’s sruggle for dignity. The issue pe usha rasied was in several ways related to civil society decency. Perhaps for this reason several actors with different political inclinations aligned together in this issue.

    Are the ‘activists” failing to find a “commonality” in engaging with Chitralekha which they had while aligning with usha’s struggle?

    In movements like Chaliyar river pollution issue and even Adivasi struggle, the activist could anchor themselves in the idea of a “civil society” activsism while garnering the “politically correct” middle class support.

    Is the extend of civil society activism as we saw in the movements like Usha’s struggle for dignity (gender rights and govt intervention like forming of gender committees), Anti-grasim agitation ( environmental), Adivasi (aboriginal rights) limited when it comes to issues and people who emerge outside the boundaries of civil society. Is there any “discomfort” for the civil society movements and groups in engaging with new issues and “untrust worthy” sort of people on political board?

    Does this also speak about the end of the civil society activism and its politics which certainly has shaped the mobilization in the last decades that Kerala has witnessed?


  7. Design by Dilip Raj to theorize and use certain notions to his gain like – “1. As Rekha’s replies shows, this is a false dichotomy viz: concerned person in Kerala/ people outside Kerala.2. The implicit hierarchy in the sentence above interpellates certain agents as lacking political subjectivity.3. They are called upon to ‘prove their credentials’” – is a pity. It is a symptom of a theoretically malnourished mindset. All this long-windedness just to censure an innocuous sentence he “came across in a campaign material supporting Chithralekha ” shows his good intentions clear. But by quoting the utterances of his friend in some phone calls (on provocation?) in public and theorizing it defectively, the effect is just the opposite.
    He later on states that his worry was basically about a ‘ “Delhi Solidarity Group” condemining people in “Kerala”, reinforcing such false divides’.
    Then he proceeds victorious on achieving his goal of demolishing the group and snatching the control to announce various programs on this issue… (One of the tested strategies of Fascism… eh?)


  8. Madhyamam daily has a news report wherein the Drivers Unions including BMS and INTUC have welcomed any type of enquiry. They add that this is an attempt to malign the auto drivers.


  9. @manusmriti
    I am one who believe solidarities are stronger when agents aligning around particular issues speak in different voices ( publicly) instead of feigning hypocritical ‘unity’. But one cruicial difference is, that debate (however heated it might be), will remain sympathetic to the cause ,running parallel to combined efforts in practice. Sorry to disappoint you!
    I look at everybody as activists and intellectuals, with differences in degree. Ten years ago, i would call myself 60%activist and today, 5% .. this writing by Devika could fare as activism.Compared to me, she is more of an activist , I would say ( in two days this comparison might give different results). Thus I found her caling somebody as activist and exactivist problematic. If I am to describe K.Ajitha as ex-naxalite in a particular polemical context , will that be an innocent act? The iolence is being done not to the past, but to the present, denying ambiguities and fuzziness to certain subjects. Why dont we leave that margin for self definition to people being ‘described’?


  10. @Dilip Raj,

    I agree to your point that by way of ex-ing some one, the violence is done to their present not to the past. But in case of “post-ing” nomenclatures like describing some one as post-naxalite or post-marxist etc etc, what would that act mean?

    In this case is the violence done to their past ,present or future?

    secondly, you say describing some one as hacktivist and ex-hacktivist is problematic. This is bcoz, as you, subjectivity eludes such descriptions.

    However, what is perhaps elusive in a descriptive language is captured in statistical denotation when you say about yourself as 60% hacktivist 10years ago and 5% now.

    Is statistical denotation more accurate in overcoming ambiguities and resolve fuzziness?


  11. @prasad: Prasad may be right in his postulation of existence of such an untouchability…


  12. @ Dilip Raj:I didn’t get the arithmetic? 10 years ago: 60% activist; today 5% and will continue
    as activist even on diminution to 0% ?


  13. @nagarjuna,’george john’
    To my ‘malnourished mindset’, political subjectivity is something which gets formed and transformed through practice, not something intrinsic to agents.Thus ‘post’ in post-marxist, post-naxalite etc, used in a descriptive sense refres to an act of naming done by the agents themselves, thus involving zero violence to present, future or past.
    Yes, it is in order to capture what cannot be captured in terms of ‘probability’ that fuzzy logic emerged.In my limited undersatnding it is an alternative to difital- black & white methods.While bringing in statistics, the richenss and exactness wil be lost.I would dream of a 0 degree (non) violent nonactivist position, but it is very hard to travel through infinite possibilities between 1 and 0.

    I would go by Nagarjuna ( of past!) on the nature of subjectivity. To quote from an unpublished paper by Dr.Nizar( “Ontology, Morality and The Possibility of Moral Philosophy:Some Reflections on The Possibility of Sunyavada”),

    “Of the terms employed by Nagarjuna ‘bhava’ seems to be the least problematic. This carries the bare minimum sense of existence, understood as the value of a bound variable. Nagarjuna obviously does not mean, when he says that everything is void, that the world is void in this sense. He also does not deny that whatever exists exists in some manner, i.e., each has a ‘bhaava’. Bhaava therefore means being–thus, i.e. specific determination of being. What he denies to each bhava, or being, is that its being-thus is not something it owns, i.e. being-thus is not an intrinsic being-thus (svabhaava) of something. This absence of intrinsic being-thus is called ‘voidness’ (Suunyata). So suunyata is to be strictly understood as the non-intrinsic being-thus (bhaavaa nihsvabhaavaa iti).

    “If things were intrinsically being thus, (if they are self-determined) then they will be without the aggregate of causes and conditions. But they are not. Therefore they are non-intrinsically being-thus, due to their non-intrinsic being-thus, they are said to be empty.”

    “If one understands Nagarjuna correctly, bhaava is predicated on bhava, and svabhaava is predicated on bhaava. He only denies the latter. His reason for denying svabhaava to any thing is that its being-thus is relatively arisen together (with that of other things). “


  14. @@dileep
    plenty of issues…. firstly we dont understand the difference between a ‘single voice couple” and another…. our comments are not published but dileeps comments as a lawyer are…. ‘margin of self definition” where the couple becomes an individual….if manu-smriti change their names, will it be better????????

    and of course the self statistics………… so dileep you see yourself as 95% intellectual now…. and ‘Compared to me, she (devika) is more of an activist ” …… so in other words, when compared to you she is LESS of an intellectual….. if that is so, why cant you just forgive her innocent epistemic violence????? we will pray for her to mature soon into a full blown intellectual with only 5% standard error…..

    also, exalite sounds much better than ex naxalite..,,….
    -Mr manu and Ms Smriti writing together respectig each others margin of self definition…..


  15. @Dileep Raj
    Oh! my goodness. Consecrating one-self yet again with Dr.Nizar!!.

    Neverthless, I cannot stop myself from complimenting you for a different sort of Max Bord-ian effort!!

    the coordinates can extent to negative positions. it will transcend ‘zero” and perhaps will freeze at ‘anti-activism”… ….


  16. Chitralekha was trying to step out of the space restricted by the secularized brahmanical patriarchy of feudal Kannur or rather Keralam to earn a living which is most fundamental a right. The activists (of what percentage I don’t know) or ex-activists have been proscribing her, well and truly stated by devika in her text. Prasad was broadening the debate with his hypothesis of untouchability i,e, ‘discomfort for the activists aligned with many civil society groups to engage with the issues raised/ faced by Chitralekha?’. And in comes Dilip Raj with his wily ‘interpellations’ in the guise of ‘establishing solidarity among those who stand by Chithralekha’. Fulfillment of ulterior motives by digression is his intention. Spitting undigested jargons is his technique and that is the upshot of a theoretically malnourished mindset due to poverty of philosophy.


  17. i have one doubt. Why cant this rekha speak up for herself? I think she is a well educated dalit woman capable of articulating herself. why need a Dileep to speak on behalf of her? cant she make her point without an intermediator?
    or is it just like dileep raj(once again) trying to re-wrte Nalini Jameela’s autobiography? history repeating???


  18. allow me to make some references on ‘the question of reference’ after “spitting undigested jargons’ on the issue of ‘political subjectivity”.

    The following are some of the interesting ‘descriptions’ found in Devika’s post.
    “a respected activist from Chitralekha’s town”
    “Another ex-activist”
    “A particularly interesting reaction”
    She is naming no one, but nobody here questions the authenticity of reference as Devika is an established author, and most of the partcicpants in this discussion shares her criticisms of the comensensical views reported therein.
    I too agreed with her on those points.I didn’t question the veracity of those ‘quotations’. Now take a look at three more ‘descriptions’ of which the referents are not clear appearing in the ‘withdrawn’ statement by ‘Solidarity Group, Delhi ‘( Who wrote it and who is withdrawing for what reason etc are myteries , though irrelevant, even now)

    “many women and other groups”, “people outside Kerala”, “not a single concerned person in Kerala”
    The single crime I have committed was to bring out a counter example to this statement.
    Instead of following the ‘decent’, safe and accepted custom ( seen in the abovementioned descriptions) of reference (i.e: “a well educated dalit woman capable of articulating herself”), I quoted ‘RekhaRaj” (with her approval)

    When I sent this mail to some friends , the response was interesting. None of them said that this is a nonissue. But they advised me that this is not the ‘time’ or ‘forum’ to raise it . Then came this image of ‘traitor’(“ fulfillment of ulterior motives by digression is his intention”)which in a way is a compliment as I find myself in league with the greats like Ambedkar, who unfailingly was portrayed as a ‘traitor’ , for questioning the priorities and ethos of the offical leadership of anti imperialist struggle.
    “Can’t Rekha speak up for herself?”asks Ram sparkmotor, before proceeding to the predictable question “why need a Dileep to speak on behalf of her?”. When Dileep quotes Rekha, that is inauthentic reference, kept under constant suspicion. Unlike wellestablished ‘authors’,nobody deserve the right to quote. Rekha is in fact speaking, (if we could accept that there are many modalities of speaking)but her agency is celebrated just in order to silence her. I need only to quote the very next sentences in Sparkmotor’s response to corroborate this. “or is it just like dileep raj(once again) trying to re-wrte Nalini Jameela’s autobiography? history repeating???” See what sort of agency is being ascribed to Nalini!! She clearly ‘speaks’ in the introduction of her autobiography, the reasons for her re-writing. But are Sparkmotors ready to listen?
    I find an ‘interesting’ double rejection in some of these responses above. First they apparently asserts Rekha’s agency to question Dileep’s right to quote. Then Rekha’s eligibility to be quoted is questioned by alleging that Dileep is speaking on behalf of her.

    Thus Nagarjuna’s compliment( “I cannot stop myself from complimenting you for a different sort of Max Bord-ian effort!!”) becomes another instance of this double rejection, denying Dr.Nizar the status of an author who could be quoted. Also, an implicit denial of any sort of agency to Dileep. I am not speaking on behalf of anybody or writing ‘expositions” on somebody else’s thoughts. I am criticizing your positions expressed here, drawing on theoretical positions which I find acceptable.

    The meta-reading by George john who summarizes the whole discussion in this thread in a breathtaking manner is very very interesting;particularly so in emerging with a continuous narrative where solidarities are woven among certain ‘authors’ who need not prove their credentials on Chitralekha issue. If you have that magical power to find out others’ mysterious ulterior motives , why encourage through engaging than simply neglecting it?

    @ manusmrithi,
    comparison is not between Devika and Dileep regarding activist and intellectual ‘abilities’, implying a binary, activist vs intellectual. The whole point is about
    the nature of political subjectivity. Why should the statement that somebody is 5% activist be read as equivalent to saying s/he is 95% intellectual? Is this world so boring as to offer only such determined and limited options (political, aesthetic and professional) for selfcreation?
    @ ‘george john’
    To be frank, I am not ‘wellfed’ theoretically so as to master certain capabilities like identifying bodies behind names and arriving at their intentions (ulterior or otherwise). Thus though quite unsure as to the intensions behind your post, let me humbly point out that the ‘anti-intellectualism’ masquerading as ‘pro-activism’ in your response is something historically proven as capable of killing the spirit of democracy and nourishing the very forces suppressing Chitralekha in Kannur. I think ‘wily interpretations’, ‘diversions’ etc are inevitable in a democratic forum. The impulse to silence interpretations and directions one doesn’t like is intolerance, emerging out of self-righteousness. I still remain critical of selfrighteos statements and attitudes found not merely in others but my/’self’ (among friends)as well.


  19. According to chitra ( madhyamam interview), overall about 5 lakh rupees was collected by the GLOBAL/virtual civil society, but she didn’t get any money other than the auto whic she got two yrs back . Chitra will be alone soon, the groupies and the mouse missionaries will soon lose interest (possibly after the last roud of a slaughter tapping ), the signals anyways are on. They will soon have more ‘dynamic’ issues, where lines are more clearly drawn. What will happen to this woman?


  20. I’m coming in after a long gap in which I didn’t check mail. Just a clarification:

    My ‘activist’ and ‘ex-activist’ will remain anonymous whatever anyone things of the political correctness to keeping them anonymous. I don’t see what political mileage is being gained through naming; in fact I’d argue, perhaps, just the reverse. And I’d have really liked it if Rekha would’ve spoken up herself.

    I don’t think I was wrong in calling one of the people I talked with an ‘ex-activist’: there is a whole generation of people who identified themselves as ‘activists’ in the sense trying to intervene in social matters with a view of furthering justice, who have, for various reasons withdrawn to many degrees, but would cast their eyes on the present with a certain oh-i-know-all-of-this air. The person I referred to belongs to this group who now views such interventions from the outside and claims the wisdom to interpret it from the richness (they claim) of their experience. I wouldn’t stretch the term ‘activist’ to include all and sundry from people who sigh at bad news from Orissa to Maoist sympathisers. I suppose we can differ there.

    I really don’t think Dilip’s long quote from the group email is relevant here and would request him to keep me out of such email groups henceforth.


  21. if all traitors start quoting Ambedkar, it wil be like all those “thieves” becoming freedom fighters.. so better to use some other methods to boost oneself. The question of agency cannot only be reduced to narrow/rigid ways of dileep. let us not get into it now. altogether nice perfomanace. but the whole episode was indicative of the status of movemnts in the land of born-activists. just shows the need for all of us to grow up !


  22. The admins have been feeling for a while now that the debate had moved away from Chitralekha and the issues rasied by her experience, into a sort of self-absorbed wrangling among the commentators. The author of the post Devika, was out of town and unable to access mail and kafila for some time. Now that she is back, in consultation with her, we have decided to close comments on this post.


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