Amidst the bustle of talk and announcements on stage, there is a surprise at Shaheen Bagh. A young, slim girl student in ankle length boots, dark pants and shirt is invited to take the podium. She begins her speech by saying that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has put her in a dilemma. She studies in Jharkhand where many of her close friends are Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members. Their opinions matter to her personally. At the same time, when she comes to Shaheen Bagh she is gripped by the dangers and stakes involved in the CAA.
Beginning this week, we are starting a column which will appear every Thursday. The name of this column, ‘Parapolitics’, is meant to indicate something that happens all the time, outside the formally designated sphere of politics, or what is sometimes called ‘the political’ by political theorists. As a matter of fact, most of such politics – parapolitics – takes place everyday and is deeply tied to our everyday lives. It is also what we may call ‘existential politics’: the dalit boys flogged by upper caste men inside a police station in Una, the woman of Unnao, whose family is decimated by the rapist’s henchmen, the mob-lynching to which Muslims are subjected on a daily basis, the farmer or the unemployed who commits suicide, the displaced adivasis or the workers who fight back – all these are instances of things deeply political but occurring away from or beneath the ‘proper’ domain of politics. The ‘proper domain of politics’ – that of state/government, parties, elections, alliances and so on – has repeatedly historically revealed its fundamental disconnect with such existential politics. Indeed, whenever faced by mass protests, the first response by the political class is to reduce it to the purported machinations of ‘opposition parties’. It cannot think of people, ordinary people, coming out in autonomous action. We might recall the response of the UPA government, at the height of the anti-corruption movement, challenging the locus standi of the protesters with the questions: ‘who are you?’ or ‘who has authorized you?’ etc Parapolitics is that unauthorized politics of everyday life, which often bursts out into the open but may also simply go on under the surface without any necessary public manifestation.
The most striking aspect of the present upsurge of popular anger around the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as has been widely noticed, is the way defiant young women have become the face of the struggle. I am not referring here only to the women whose iconic images are circulating everywhere today, but also to the sheer number in which they have come out and the power with which they have been speaking their mind before the media. And they belong to all communities.
Joint Statement by Feminists Urging the President of India
to Commute Death Sentence to Life Imprisonment
As individuals and groups who have been engaged in the struggles for women’s rights, safety and justice, it is often presumed that we would support the demand for death penalty for sexual assault. But for decades, even as we have consistently fought to make the world safer for women through changes in policy and law, and social awareness by breaking the silence on these heinous crimes, we have consistently argued against the death penalty for sexual assault, as well as, all other crimes.
This article that explores the enjoyment of violence, epsecially in the social media world, in the wake of the brutal violence perpetrated by the Yogi Adityanath regime in Uttar Pradesh. It should be read as a sequel to Jaya Sharma’s earlier article published in Kafila in June last year.
‘Maza aa gaya Yogiji maza…Lathi aisi lagi ki maza aa gaya…’
Maza is a word used often in tweets in response to police attacks on CAA-NRC protestors in UP. Unlike it’s staid, sanskritized counterpart anand, maza has a charge, a buzz and could translate into English as ‘thrill’. ‘Thrilling Yogiji thrilling’… ‘The way the lathi struck…thrilling’. I’ll return to such tweets to explore the following questions.
Might it be that there is an erotic charge to political violence? Might it be that the erotic charge is not limited to those who perform the violence but also animates the millions who hear, see or read that such violence has been meted out? Well beyond “not caring”, might it be that they “get off” on such violence? Can the proactive, enthusiastic support for political violence be understood only in terms of “ordinary folk” being corrupted by evil leaders? Might we also need to see what within the collective psyche could be pushing them towards a terrible kind of enjoyment of such violence? Continue reading The Yogi and the Erotics of Violence: Jaya Sharma→
It was difficult to miss the smugness with which the Home Minister of India (HM) addressed a TV show he had orchestrated through one of the infamous godi (lapdog) media after the central cabinet had approved Rs 39.41 billion for updating the National Population Register (NPR) and Rs 85 billion for Census 2021 operations.The show was meant to dispel the misgivings about the link between NPR and the nationwide NRC—National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC). In meetings across the country and within the Parliament, the HM had been proclaiming or rather threatening to carry out NRIC. However, his enigmatic statements did nothing to allay the grave fears people across India have about NPR, given the government’s obsession and resolve to identify what they call illegal residents. There is no doubt that instead of pressing concerns such as unemployment, alarming fall in per capita consumption and an extraordinary economic slump, of late the single-minded focus of the regime is on dividing the Indian people into different categories, branding, imprisoning and even throwing some out of India. Continue reading Nationwide NRC -The Devil at the Heart of India’s Draconian Digitalization: CP Geevan→
With the central government denying three states’ – Bengal, Kerala and Maharashtra – tableaux proposals for Republic Day, politics has reached a new low. There is no doubt that the current struggles against the CAA/NRC and the confrontational stance of the Centre with these governments has a lot to do with this denial. The following is a petition that was started by Not in My Name Bangalore but it is a broad appeal to all chief ministers, minister and legislators, to boycott this farcical celebration of the Republic while destroying its very spirit.
We, citizens of India, have watched with horror and no little terror the political developments since 2014, and especially since the elections of 2019. There has been a steady attack on, and erosion of, our constitutional rights in this time.
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), in conjunction with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and its precursor, the National Population Register (NPR), is a big blow to the Constitution of India. It is as disastrous and it is unconstitutional, and officially rings in the establishment of a Hindu Rashtra.
There has been staunch resistance to the CAA, most powerfully from student communities across the country. We wholeheartedly support them, in our words and on the streets. What was equally heartening was the pushback from the political establishment in a number of states – in varying degrees, it is true, but still truly a cause for hope. Continue reading Citizens Ask States to Boycott Republic Day Parade→
On Saturday (21st Dec), a crowd of around one hundred Indians residing in Munich and surrounding assembled at Geschwister Scholl Platz, a square in front of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register for Citizens (NRC). This place was chosen for its historical significance as it was from here that the White Rose resistance movement against the Nazi regime had started.