All posts by J Devika

An Open Letter to the National Leadership of the AIDWA : Struggle in Unity for Equality, or Struggle in Unity against Impunity?

To the National Leadership which is currently participating in the 13th National Conference of the AIDWA in Thiruvananthapuram.

Dear sisters in struggle

I write to you from Kerala, where the CPM is currently in power for a second time, a rare achievement indeed, in a state where power changes hands usually in each election. I know that most of you hail from places where the CPM is very far from power. I know the difference that makes to activism.

Continue reading An Open Letter to the National Leadership of the AIDWA : Struggle in Unity for Equality, or Struggle in Unity against Impunity?

Police Violence against the Fisher People on the Kerala Coast: A People’s Account

Below, I share a write-up by Johnson Jament, an academic researcher from the coast of the Thiruvananthapuram district, where an intense struggle against the Adani Port Project has been unfolding. Arrayed on opposing sides are the fisher people who have inhabited the coast since the past 500 years (according to historical record) and more, whose livelihoods are at stake, and the Adani Port Project, supported by the combination of natural resource predators and the CPM-led government of Kerala. The leadership of the CPM (though not the ranks, or at least all of the ranks) can be quite fairly described as a ‘post-socialist oligarchy’, and hence their support of Adani Ports is pretty understandable. The battle has been equally one of wits too, with the Kerala government pulling out all their progressive aces, including the longtime literary-cultural acolytes of the CPM but also some of the (former) stars of Kerala’s oppositional civil society — notably, the poet and critic, K Satchidanandan! Questioned about his stance, this early teacher of Euro-Marxism of a whole generation claimed that the conflict was because of ‘binary thinking’ that supporters and opponents of the Port project both equally indulge in, forgetting notably, that something like ‘structural contradiction’ may be becoming evident in and through this struggle. Perceiving it, of course, is not indulging in binary thinking.

Continue reading Police Violence against the Fisher People on the Kerala Coast: A People’s Account

Who are these ‘Hindus’? The Tragedy of Vizhinjam and the Despicable Cruelty of the Majority

The struggle against the ecologically-fatal Adani seaport being built at the seaside village of Vizhinjam in south Kerala is probably the first large-scale instance of ‘accumulation by dispossession’ in the history of this state. The state — the ruling government, the police, and judiciary — hold hands now in their effort to dispossess the large population of fisher people whose home this coast has been since centuries, for the convenience of predatory capital. As usual, the port-building commenced after massive ‘opinion-building’ exercises by all the major political parties among their supporters in the port-affected villages, promising them golden futures (now that the resources of the sea, which they had depended on for centuries, were robbed, in the course of some seventy years since the 20th century, through the commercialization of fisheries). Doing fieldwork in those areas around 2013, I remember how hard it was to even broach the topic without provoking massive, sometimes, violent, disagreements — it has divided the people completely and left the major social force there, the Latin Catholic Church, quite confused. Now, after 2018, the ecological destruction wrought by this foolish act of greed is nakedly evident for all with eyes to see; and most residents of the sea coast are convinced that in just a few years, the sea will take everything, including the houses built with sweat and tears, labouring for years abroad, even.

Continue reading Who are these ‘Hindus’? The Tragedy of Vizhinjam and the Despicable Cruelty of the Majority

Stop the Slander: Solidarity Statement Against Attempts to Tarnish Activists in the Anti-Adani Seaport Struggle at Vizhinjam

The other day, the citizens of Kerala witnessed an extraordinary coming -together of CPM and BJP leaders in Thiruvananthapuram — in support of the Adani sea port, against the fisher community of the Thiruvananthapuram coast.

Continue reading Stop the Slander: Solidarity Statement Against Attempts to Tarnish Activists in the Anti-Adani Seaport Struggle at Vizhinjam

മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ — 5

ഉപസംഹാരം

ഫെമിനിസ്റ്റ് ദണ്ഡനീതി നിയമ ഉപകരണങ്ങൾ നിരോധിക്കണമെന്നോ അവ തീർത്തും അപ്രസക്തമാണെന്നോ അല്ല ഈ ലേഖനത്തിൽ ഞാൻ വാദിച്ചിട്ടുള്ളത്. നേരെ മറിച്ച് അവ ഉപയോഗിക്കുമ്പോൾ ജനാധിപത്യവും മനുഷ്യാവകാശങ്ങളും ലിംഗാനീതിയ്ക്കെതിരെയുള്ള പോരോട്ടങ്ങളുടെ സാധ്യതകൾ തന്നെയും അധികാരത്തിൻറെ മേൽ-കീഴറ്റങ്ങൾ കാണാനാകാത്തവിധം പിളർന്ന വായിലകപ്പെട്ടു പോകും വിധം അവരെ പുണരുന്നത് അങ്ങേയറ്റം അപകടകരമായിരിക്കും എന്ന മുന്നറിപ്പ് വായനക്കാരുടെ മുന്നിൽ വയ്ക്കാനാണ് എൻറെ ശ്രമം.

Continue reading മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ — 5

മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ –4

ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസവും നവബ്രാഹ്മണ പിതൃമേധാവിത്വവും

കേരളത്തിൽ ഇരുപതാം നൂറ്റാണ്ടിൽ രൂപമെടുത്ത ബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വത്തിന് സവിശേഷസ്വഭാവങ്ങളുണ്ടായിരുന്നു. ഇരുപതാം നൂറ്റാണ്ടിൽ ഉയർന്നുവന്ന നവവരേണ്യസമുദായങ്ങളെ — നവോത്ഥാന വ്യവഹാരത്തിൻറെ വാഹകങ്ങളെ — പണിതെടുത്ത അടിസ്ഥാന അധികാര-കൂടങ്ങളിൽ ഒന്നായിരുന്നു നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം.

Continue reading മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ –4

മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ –3

സംരക്ഷക-അന്നദാതാ ഭരണകൂടവും ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസവും

കേരളത്തിലിന്ന് രാഷ്ട്രീയരംഗത്തും ഭരണരംഗത്തും (ഉദ്യോഗസ്ഥകളല്ലാത്ത) സ്ത്രീകളുടെ പ്രാതിനിധ്യവും അധികാരവും ഇടതുഭരണത്തിനു കീഴിൽപോലും കുറവാണ്. ഇടതുരാഷ്ട്രീയക്കാരികൾക്കു പോലും സ്വന്തമായ രാഷ്ട്രീയസ്വാധീനവലയം ഉണ്ടാക്കാൻ അനുവാദം ഇല്ലെന്നതിന് തെളിവ് ഇപ്പോഴത്തെ സർക്കാർ തന്നെ തന്നിട്ടുമുണ്ട് — ശൈലജ ടീച്ചറെ മാറ്റി സർക്കാരിലെ ആൺ അധികാരികളെ തികച്ചും ആശ്രയിച്ചു മാത്രം നിലനില്പുള്ള മറ്റൊരു സ്ത്രീയെ അവരുടെ സ്ഥാനത്ത് പ്രതിഷ്ഠിച്ചതോടെ. പാർട്ടി അധികാരശ്രേണികളിൽ സ്ത്രീകൾ കുറയുകയും കീഴ്ത്തല-കാലാളുകളുടെ കൂട്ടത്തിൽ അവരുടെ സാന്നിദ്ധ്യം ഉയരുകയും ചെയ്യുന്നുണ്ട്. പൊതുവെ ഭരണനയതലത്തിൽ ഫെമിനിസ്റ്റ് സ്വാധീനം കുറഞ്ഞിട്ടുമുണ്ട് (മഹിളാ സമഖ്യയിലും കുടുംബശ്രീയിലും ഇതു പ്രകടമാണ്). എങ്കിലും സ്ത്രീശാക്തീകരണ സർക്കാരെന്ന പ്രതിച്ഛായ നിലനിർത്താൻ ഇപ്പോഴത്തെ സോഷ്യലിസ്റ്റ്- അനന്തര ദുഷ്പ്രഭുത്വത്തിൻറെ വാഹനമായ സിപിഎമ്മിനും അവർ നയിക്കുന്ന സർക്കാരിനും കഴിഞ്ഞിട്ടുണ്ട്.

Continue reading മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ –3

മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ — 2

മലയാളി ഫെമിനിസത്തിലെ ‘ദണ്ഡനീതിനിമിഷം’?

ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം (Carceral feminism) എന്ന സങ്കല്പനം ഇന്ന് ലോകഫെമിനിസ്റ്റ് ചർച്ചകളിൽ സുപരിചിതമാണ്. പോലീസ്, കോടതി, ശിക്ഷ, തടവ് മുതലാവയുൾപ്പെടുന്ന ഭരണകൂടശാഖയെ മുഖ്യമായും ആശ്രയിച്ചുകൊണ്ട് സ്ത്രീകൾക്കെതിരെയുള്ള എല്ലാത്തരം ഹിംസയും പരിഹരിക്കാമെന്ന വിശ്വാസത്തിൽ ഊന്നിനിൽക്കുന്ന ഫെമിനിസ്റ്റ് പ്രയോഗങ്ങളെയും ചിന്തയെയുമാണ് അത് സൂചിപ്പിക്കുന്നത്. പാശ്ചാത്യ ഫെമിനിസത്തിൽ ഏറെ പഴക്കമുണ്ടെങ്കിലും അത് 1980-90 ദശകങ്ങളിൽ അമേരിക്കൻ ഫെമിനിസത്തിലെ പ്രമുഖ ധാരയായി ഉയർന്നുവന്നു. ലൈംഗികത്തൊഴിലിനെപ്പറ്റിയുള്ള ചർച്ചകളിലാണ് സമീപകാലത്ത് അതിൻറെ പുനരുജ്ജീവിതരൂപം പ്രത്യക്ഷമായത്.

Continue reading മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ — 2

മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ — 1

സംശയത്തിൽ നിന്ന് സ്വീകാര്യതയിലേക്ക്

കേരളത്തിൽ ഫെമിനിസത്തിൻറെ രാഷ്ട്രീയപരിണാമത്തെ മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടത്തിൻറെ പശ്ചാത്തലത്തിൽ മനസ്സിലാക്കാനൊരു ശ്രമമാണ് ഈ എഴുത്ത്. ഫെമിനിസം എന്ന പേര് സ്വയം അവകാശപ്പെടുന്ന രാഷ്ട്രീയം ഇവിടെ 1980കളിലാണ് പൂർണമായ അർത്ഥത്തിൽ പ്രത്യക്ഷമാകുന്നത്.

Continue reading മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ — 1

When ‘With the Survivor ‘ Rings Hollow: Observations on the Rage over the Civic Chandran Case

The internet frenzy over the Civic Chandran case has reached a new zenith over the two highly problematic — deeply elitist, sexist, logically and empirically flawed — anticipatory bail orders issued to the accused by the Sessions Court. There was a strange silence about the first one which was stuffed with elitist statements, and an even stranger pause over the blatantly sexist and conservative order before the active condemnation of the latter began to be voiced over the internet. Even stranger, because there is far more tolerance of elitism among the internet woke-folk than of conservative sexist understandings of the appropriate clothing for women’s bodies in Kerala. The three-day break from expressions of outrage did not, and still does not make sense.

Continue reading When ‘With the Survivor ‘ Rings Hollow: Observations on the Rage over the Civic Chandran Case

Carceral Feminism and the Punitive State: Why I am not with the Mob — 3

 

 In the light of the above history it seems no surprise at all that mainstream feminists in Kerala do not seem to need a critique of the punitive state at all. Nor are they really troubled by the withdrawal of the welfare state or its perversion, even in matters that crucially affect women and children. Being moored in it, even the withdrawal of the welfare state from even support services to child-victims of sexual violence (citing ‘convenience’ which turned to be ‘convenience’ for the government alone), and the stuffing of crucial committees dealing with the welfare of and justice to women and children with dubious candidates with nepotistic connections – has rarely excited significant united protest from Kerala’s mainstream feminists.

Indeed, in a recent case of baby-abduction in which the infant born to Anupama Chandran, the daughter of a local CPM leader, in her relationship with Ajith, a dalit man, was trafficked with the active connivance of child welfare officials, this feminist mainstream was mostly silent; many prominent voices in it were rallied against the aggrieved mother; some of them even participated in the unspeakable cyber-lynching of the couple, spreading rumours and making unfounded accusations. Though the large numbers of young sexual violence victims belong to the oppressed castes, and though the Anupama-Ajith case was plainly one of caste hostility and violence, these features did not trigger animated responses from the feminist mainstream. These tepid or hostile responses are in sharp contrast to the manner in which sexual harassment campaigns are conducted. Continue reading Carceral Feminism and the Punitive State: Why I am not with the Mob — 3

Carceral Feminism and the Punitive State: Why I am Not With the Mob — 2

II

In the 1980s, when the first feminist articulations began to be heard in Kerala, left-leaning feminists often sought to maintain a critical distance from the state, emphasizing its inherently patriarchal nature. This was not surprising as feminists of that generation had radical-Marxist roots or strong connections with it. Radical Marxism in that generation was clearly suspicious of the state – quite unlike the mainstream left.

Continue reading Carceral Feminism and the Punitive State: Why I am Not With the Mob — 2

Carceral Feminism and the Punitive State: Why I am not with the Mob — 1

I have never been a carceral feminist anytime in my life. Right now, there is a massive tide of abuse and misrepresentation of non-carceral feminism in Kerala, so much so that any suggestion of solutions to the problem of sexual harassment outside the framework of the state is immediately dubbed anti-woman and anti-feminist. Carceral feminists are so warped, they seem to be totally unseeing of the fact that the debate has always been about the significance of the state and its instruments in the generally agreed-upon goal of gender justice, and not really about who is the true, or truer feminist. Indeed, this is strongly reminiscent of the mass attack on the sex worker activist Nalini Jameela years back and the anti-carceral feminists who were prepared to hear her out and stand with her. I remain a non-carceral feminist, rejecting the binary between carceral and anti-carceral feminism. I refuse the insistence that proportional punishment is irrelevant in dealing with sexual misconduct. I refuse to see ‘Men’ — I will not buy the idea that all male bodies share the same privilege and power and hence must be dealt with in the same way. I write the following in this spirit. If I am banished from the feminist mainstream for this, so be it.

Continue reading Carceral Feminism and the Punitive State: Why I am not with the Mob — 1

Help Us Fight ‘Progressive ‘ Cyberlynching: An Appeal from Kerala

The infamous infant-snatching case in Kerala has opened up too many harsh truths about this society. It is not easy to express the pain in acknowledging it. After all, for many of us who have stuck back here with the intention of participating in what was once a fairly vibrant political life, this monstrosity that looms over all aspects of life, private and public (as so terrifyingly evident in the experience of Anupama Chandran) is a daunting sight. Not that there weren’t glimmers of it earlier, but the full menace has become visible only now.

Continue reading Help Us Fight ‘Progressive ‘ Cyberlynching: An Appeal from Kerala

Here Comes Papa!! In Kidnappers’ Own Kerala

GR Santhosh Kumar captured the crux of the unbelievable denigration of democracy by the ruling CPM leadership who are out to defend their local level leaders guilty of the grossest patriarchy that rivals any khap panchayat misogyny. The context is the ongoing struggle by a couple, Anupama Chandran and Ajithkumar, to find their baby who was abducted by her parents, both influential local-level leaders of the CPM, last year and given away illegally for adoption. The story of Anupama’s experience of unspeakable death threats, physical violence, cheating, exposure to health risk, forced confinement, denial of vital information and means of communication, casteist insults, and on and on strips off the claims of women’s empowerment which the left in Kerala has claimed for so long. On social media, thousands of left supporters have literally rubbished women’s rights and the Indian Constitutional morality itself, even as the AIDWA in Kerala has been largely struck dumb.

The cartoon is a spoof on Raja Ravi Varma’ famous mother-and-child painting ‘Here Comes Papa’ in which an aristocratic woman dressed in a way identifiable as ‘traditional’ holds her baby and points to it the unseen ‘papa’ . Though the cartoon is captioned ‘Know the pain of the adopting mother’, an obvious reference to the cry by CPM sympathisers on social media that the child need not be returned, and that the adopting mother was fitter, and though the protagonists here are Pinarayi Vijayan and Anupama’s father, Peroorkkada Jayachandran, who he has been defending, it has layers. Ajithkumar’s dalit status and his earlier marriage has, in the eyes of CPM supporters, rendered him unfit for fatherhood — of a child by the daughter of an influential CPM family. Papa, then, and Papa’s coming, continues to be our favourite obsession.

How Could You Allow This to Happen? Urvashi Butalia Writes to the Kerala Chief Minister

Dear Chief Minister


Throughout the terrible times we have seen these last two years, it is the news from Kerala that has helped so many of us to keep faith in governance – that a state can be honest, open, participatory, concerned for its people, focused on health, and not play politics, all of these have been remarkable and many of us, Keralites and non-Keralites alike, have drawn valuable lessons from the Kerala experience.

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Rise Above Traditional and Conservative Misogyny — Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala: Kalpana Kannabiran

Today morning we woke up to the news that the Child Welfare Committee has ordered that Anupama’s child must be brought to Kerala in five days for a DNA test.

However, the process is still overseen by the officials who directly connived to give the baby away for adoption. The family’s criminal acts are still under a very lax, lagging investigation. Anupama’s educational certificates are still in their possession and the police refuses to intervene to restore them to her.

Indeed, the evil that Prof Kannabiran identifies so excellently in this letter must still be fought, until justice is done. Just the return of the child to Kerala cannot replace justice. Anupama suffered tremendous domestic violence, deliberate endangerment, cheating, and illegal custody at the hands of her family. That cannot be papered over,

Continue reading Rise Above Traditional and Conservative Misogyny — Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala: Kalpana Kannabiran

Women’s Rights are Hard Won — An Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala : V Geetha

we are troubled that the state finds it hard to grant a woman the right to lead a life of her choice and to have custody over her child. These are hard won rights, and it has taken generations of struggle by women, many of whom are from your state, to secure both civil and legal acknowledgement for women’s rights to marriages of their choice, and for their right to motherhood, divorce, adoption and so on.

Continue reading Women’s Rights are Hard Won — An Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala : V Geetha

Let Good Sense Prevail — An Open Letter to the Kerala Chief Minister: Padmini Swaminathan

That the entire state machinery, ostensibly at the behest of parents who are important functionaries in the ruling party, has been deployed to not only keep the baby, mother and father apart but hem them in such a way that redressal will require untangling of very many complex issues that have deliberately been tied together, reveals the deep and destructive patriarchal underpinnings of the party and family.

Continue reading Let Good Sense Prevail — An Open Letter to the Kerala Chief Minister: Padmini Swaminathan

Do not let the injustice drag infinitely — Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala — Dr Gayatri Devi

Anupama has committed no crime. She got pregnant. She did not murder anyone. She did not rob a bank. She did not betray the nation. She committed no terroristic threats or acts. She is not a smuggler, a thief, a rapist, or a crook. She got pregnant. Getting pregnant is not a crime. She got pregnant and decided to keep her baby. This is not a crime.

Continue reading Do not let the injustice drag infinitely — Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala — Dr Gayatri Devi

Restore Faith in Kerala’s Progressive Legacy — Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala: Prof Mohan Rao

The strange case of ‘honour-baby-snatching”,: involving a local-level CPM leader in Thiruvananthapuram city, Peroorkkada Jayachandran is still haunting us despite every attempt by the CPM cyberwarriors to smother it. Mr Jayachandran still feels completely justified and hundreds of left supporters, including so-called progressive women, are ready to proclaim that this dastardly act is a ‘father’s right’. Mr Jayachandran’s nineteen year old daughter Anupama fell in love with a dalit man, a leader of the DYFI, got pregnant by him, and decided to keep the child. Anupama’s parents decided that there was loss of honour in this and proceeded to perpetrate unspeakable violence on the young woman, trying to force her to abort her baby, and finally by snatching away her baby days after it was born. They twisted the entire machinery of child protection and adoption and the police to give the child away without the consent of its parents.

Continue reading Restore Faith in Kerala’s Progressive Legacy — Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala: Prof Mohan Rao