You can see the English translation by Radwa Ashour of the original poem in Arabic by the Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti , after this translation into Hindustani by AYESHA KIDWAI
एक अनोखी रात
उसकी उंगली दरवाज़े की घंटी को बस छूनेवाली है
दरवाज़ा, बहुत ही आहिस्ता आहिस्ता,
वो अंदर आता है.
अपने कमरे में जाता है.
है तो, यहां:
उसकी तस्वीर, उसके नन्हे से पलंग के बराबर
उसका स्कूल का बस्ता, अँधेरे में,
अपने आप को सोते हुए देखता है
दो ख़्वाबों के दरमियाँ, दो झंडों के.
वो सभी दरवाज़ों को खटखटाता है
— खटखटाने वाला था. पर नहीं.
सब उठ जाते हैं:
“ख़ुदा कसम, लौट आया!,” चिल्लाते हैं
पर उनके शोर से कोई आवाज़ नहीं मचती.
बाहें फैलाते हैं मोहम्मद को समेटने के लिए
पर उनके हाथ उसके कन्धों तक पहुंचते नहीं. Continue reading एक अनोखी रात: मुरीद बरघूती/अनुवाद: आयेशा किदवई
We stand firmly with Apoorvanand, our friend and fellow member of the Kafila collective, as we do with all those being interrogated and framed by Delhi Police for the violence in Delhi. We also stand with all political prisoners of this fascist regime.
Before you read the statement below, endorsed by over a thousand people from different parts of India, take a look at this detailed expose of how the Delhi Police is trying desperately to cook up a conspiracy theory that will leave the actual planners and executors of the anti Muslim pogrom in Delhi in January, to roam free, while arresting and intimidating hundreds of people who peacefully and non-violently protested the unconstitutional CAA. Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta carefully dissects the anti CAA Whatsapp groups out of which the Delhi Police is trying to concoct a bizarre narrative, in The Wire.
On August 3, 2020 the Special Branch of the Delhi Police called in Prof. Apoorvanand, well-known writer, public speaker and Professor of Hindi at Delhi University, where he spent 5 hours, for an interrogation in connection with the Northeast Delhi riots. The police have seized his phone. This comes close on the heels of the interrogation of many other intellectuals and activists.
A day when authorities feel free to haul in the nation’s leading public voices to police stations, merely because they speak against the policies and ideology of the ruling government, is a day we must all be deeply concerned. Also, a day when we must overcome all fear, to stand up for each individual’s right to disagree, dissent, and thereby deepen our democracy. For this democracy today faces its most serious crisis since independence, far more critical than Indira Gandhi’s Emergency 45 years ago. As concerned citizens who love and value our democracy, and our country, we must speak out before it is too late and all voices of freedom are silenced forever.
Guest Post by RANJANA PADHI & LAXMI MURTHY
There is no cure for mortality, yet there is a lingering sadness and a sense of loss at the passing away of a fellow-traveler, a saheli and a comrade. Any reflection of such lives becomes a reflection of the times. The times when we as women, and as feminist collectives, dared to go against the grain. The early years of the women’s movement were vastly different from the present reality where much is taken for granted and often celebrated ahistorically as individual achievement. The struggles of the 1980s made strident inroads into challenging the bastions of patriarchy in the form of collective resistance. Making that vital link in what is a virtually unknown history for an entire generation of young women might help to make sense of the present. Because Kalpana was active to the end, commenting – and raving – even about recent events, through the lens of a sharp feminist politics.
Kalpana Mehta, 67, a feminist activist of the autonomous women’s movement in India, breathed her last on May 27, 2020 at her residence in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Kalpana was diagnosed of the neuron disease called Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in mid 2017. She gradually lost speech as well as mobility. Even then, she was tuned in to all events through the daily newspaper and communicated her thoughts and ideas through the application Tobii with friends who visited her during this time. Remaining engaged with news and sharing her political concerns and reflections helped her bravely cope with the symptoms of ALS. Also, her characteristic humor and witty rebukes directed at the powers that be were intact to her last breath. Continue reading Writing about Kalpana, writing about the times: Ranjana Padhi & Laxmi Murthy
Banojyotsna Lahiri shared her translation of some excerpts from a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, written 120 years ago, titled “Deeno Daan”.
It is about a temple.
Original Bangla below the translation.
“There is no god in that temple”, said the Saint.
The King was enraged;
“No God? Oh Saint, aren’t you speaking like an atheist?
On that throne studded with priceless gems, beams the golden idol,
And yet, you proclaim that it is empty?”
“It is not empty; rather, it is full of royal pride.
You have bestowed yourself, oh King, not the God of this world”,
Remarked the saint.
The King frowned, “2 million golden coins
were showered on that grand structure that kisses the sky,
I offered it to the Gods after performing all the necessary rituals,
And you dare claim that in such a grand temple,
There is no presence of God”? Continue reading “There is no god in that temple”: Rabindranath Tagore/Translated by Banojyotsna Lahiri
Guest post by HAMMERSICKLE RUBBERCHAPPAL
From the very title you can tell that it is a story with a happy end. It is also a true story.
Once upon a time there was a campus. In a slightly shabby postcolonial country. When they became post-colonial, they decided they needed somewhere to send their bright minds, so they could think, read, and learn to write. And since they were dusting themselves off after they had booted the colonisers out, they also knew that most people in that shabby country had nowhere they could send their kids to learn and grow because everyone lived in all kinds of faraway parts of the country, had no money, and had very difficult lives. Some enthusiastic, farsighted, and sensible people in their parliament decided to make this possible. They made the laws, they found the space, barren and brown, in a hot part of a sprawling northern town. Then they got the best minds from everywhere, to teach and to learn, so that together they could do their best to make everyone a citizen of a slightly less shabby postcolonial country.
For half a century, this campus flourished. It became green from brown, it had slightly rickety places for everyone to live in. There were many small and big places you could go for a hot meal. Yes, it cost the government some money, but not that much. There are people who say very tall buildings are phallic symbols. Interestingly though, the tallest building on the campus was the library. Slowly, the busy people on this campus took on the responsibility for how the shabby postcolonial country would think. Not everyone was happy, but all these people were so sincere and so committed and so good, that no one could really say they were wrong. They learned languages from all over so they could speak with the world, they learned about the past in history, about the present in sciences that were very talkative and social, and thought hopeful and sciencey thoughts about the future. Even the walls danced with poetry, purpose, and an abandon of colour.
Then came those years of frightening and radically evil people who began to take over entire countries. Not that this was entirely new, it had happened before. How that could happen again is being investigated to this day, but is dark matter for another story. And then this shabby postcolonial country fell to the same fate. Continue reading Once Upon a Time There Was a Campus (and Why it is Still There) – A Fable: Hammersickle Rubberchappal
You can read the English translation by Radwa Ashour, of Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti’s poem Counsel, below this translation into Hindustani by AYESHA KIDWAI
“La reproduction interdite” by Rene Magritte 1937.
हैरत ज़दा, असमंजस में,
उस ने हमें बुलवाया
और हम हाज़िर हुए.
उसकी संगेमरमर की बालकनी के तले खड़े हुए:
दुखी लग रहा था वो.
हाथ लरज़ रहे थे
जब से एक ज्योतिष ने उस से ये कह दिया था
“किसी की सलाह नहीं लोगे, तो मौत पक्की है“. Continue reading सलाह: मुरीद बरघूती/अनुवाद: आयेशा किदवाई
MAYA ANGELOU recites her iconic poem Still I Rise, followed by the translation into Hindustani by NIVEDITA MENON below.
चाहे लिख दो मेरी कहानी,
झूठी, विकृत, कडवी सी,
चाहे कुचल दो मिट्टी में,
उड़ जाऊंगी, मैं धूल सी.
मेरी गुस्ताखी से हो नाराज़?
क्या इतना दुःख है दिल में?
मेरी चाल का यह गुरूर,
मानो तेल के कुँए बैठक में.
Excerpts from an article published in The India Forum. Link to whole article given below.
A powerful analysis of the injustice of the prison system in India (in which 70 percent of the incarcerated are under trial), the authors PRATIKSHA BAXI and NAVSHARAN KAUR make an argument for recognizing women, as well as gender and sexual minorities, as ‘custodial’ minorities.
We argue that all women inmates may be defined “custodial” minorities. As per the 2020 statistics we collated, there are 68 persons incarcerated under the category “others”. No grave threat is posed to society by UTPs belonging to sexual and gender minorities that non-custodial alternatives cannot be found for them, while they wait for investigations and trials to be over. And alternatives to prison system need to be innovated for all convicted women, and gender and sexual minorities. There does not seem to be an attempt to recognise that their right to health and life is made far more precarious in a transphobic prison-medical complex. They must be counted and accounted for…
All women in prisons without distinction of charge, crime or sentence, whether pregnant, lactating, menstruating or menopausal, differently abled or ailing may be thought of as “custodial” minorities. Muslim women face terrible targeting and blame, as do Dalit women who face intolerable discrimination and bear the brunt of misuse of law against them. Similarly, Muslim and Dalit male undertrials are also subjected to sexualised forms of torture in police and judicial custody. And policies that exclude foreigners from interim bail position them as custodial minorities, who face institutionalised racism. However, the law has difficulty in “seeing” these prison inmates, especially undertrials, as custodial minorities.
You can see the English translation of the original poem by the Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti , after this translation into Hindustani by AYESHA KIDWAI
कितनी कला, बारीक़ सोच, हिचकिचाहट, और क़ुरबानी की रातें,
कम या ज़्यादा कीमत अदा कर,
तुम्हें लगती हैं एक सरल सा
आला अविष्कार करने में?
एक तानाशाह बनाने में तुम्हें सिर्फ
एक बार ही घुटना टेकना है. Continue reading पानी की फ़र्माबरदारी: मुरीद बरघूती /अनुवाद: आयेशा किदवाई
Guest Post by JAMAL KIDWAI
Ibn-e-Insha (15 June 1927 – 11 January 1978) would have turned 93 today. We celebrate his birthday by curating some of his best poetry, sung by leading vocalists from India and Pakistan.
Born in Jalandhar, Punjab, on 15 June 1927, he was named Sher Mohammad Khan by his parents. Ibn-e-Insha was his pen- name; loosely translated it means Ibn, son of Insha, referring to a famous 18th century classical poet, Inshallah Khan Insha.
Insha also means, simply, writing, or expression.
Guest post by PANCHALI RAY
The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare some of the most significant and deep-rooted fault lines of society, whether it is attacks on Indians from the North-east part of the country including racial slurs, holding returning migrants responsible for the spread of the virus or even downright Islamophobia leading to a hashtag #CoronaJihad going viral on social media. Sections of the hyper-vocal, privileged Indian middle-class, along with frenzied nationalist media houses let no opportunity pass to demonize its minorities.
However, what came as a surprise was that along with the stigmatization of migrant workers, ethnic minorities and Muslims, health care workers too faced intense hostility worldwide. Already facing a severe lack of resources including no or few Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) making them even more vulnerable to infection, they are now facing the additional hazard of being labelled as agents of the pandemic.
While on the one hand, medical workers are being labelled as ‘warriors’ and ‘super heroes’ with orchestrated events to show gratitude, on the other hand, they are being hunted down, mobbed, and evicted from their homes. India went a step further, and did a grandiose display of felicitating health care workers by having the armed forces fly past fighter jets, shower flower petals aerially and have their military bands perform outside state hospitals.
This article focuses specifically on the gendering of the organization of the health care sector, which reflects wider binaries of masculine/feminine, cure/care, science/affect.
Guest post by JANAKI NAIR
Maj General GD Bakshi (hereafter MGB) feels enough is enough. Having dealt with the Information Warfare and Psychological Operations in the Indian Army, he has now trained his guns on the internal enemy, abandoning the trenches of Jai Jawan for the far messier archaeologists’ hangout. In his battle dress – impeccable suits and ties– he wages war in the cause of snatching back History from historians, particularly Marxist Historians, Oxford and Harvard Historians, Colonial Historians, Tony Joseph, and above all JNU Historians who pose the Greatest Threat to the Continuity of our National Past. (Fortunately, he has not heard of Subaltern Historians, who have dared to polish up arguments instead of his shoes; or of feminist or Dalit historians, who impertinently ask whatever happened to the Vedic dasi). While waging this war, he also hopes to win some minor battles on behalf of the Indian Taxpayer by shutting down JNU.
Then MGB had a second think: why waste a chance of planting a flag on a beautiful 1000-acre campus just because it was a Marxist redoubt? And what safer flag in these times of COVID than a Webinar in the JNU ether? So MGB is ready to announce the Paradigm Shift in the study of the Saraswati Civilisation. (For those who were reared on that disloyal diet of NCERT books, it refers to the Indus Valley Civilisation, or Harappan Culture). This Paradigm Shift will fortunately not be as fickle as the Sutlej, which changed its course mid-holocene. In fact, this Paradigm Shift does not rely much on historians or archaeologists, but more on scientists – geologists, geneticists, accurate carbon dating physicists – who along with MGB, alone are capable of Total Objectivity, and know that only Good Things happened in the Indian past. Continue reading Paradigms Lost, Past Continuous – Saraswati and some other rivers: Janaki Nair
Guest post by ANIA LOOMBA AND SUVIR KAUL
Protest in Philadelphia, June 7, 2020 (Video by Teren Sevea))
In 2002, when we moved to Philadelphia to join the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, a friend invited us for breakfast to his home in West Philadelphia, abutting the university. We learned then that in May 1985, rowhouses in this area, then a largely African American residential neighborhood, were bombed by the police (a military-grade explosive was thrown down from a helicopter). The police action followed a confrontation with a group called Move, whose members combined Black liberation and environmentalist ideals. When flames spread, the then Police Commissioner decided to “let the fire burn.”11 of the 13 people in the Move house were incinerated; 5 were children between the ages of 7 and 13.
Four years earlier, in another well-publicized case that scarred Philadelphia, a Move associate and Black Panther, Mumia Abu-Jamal was incarcerated for the murder of a police officer; he, considered by many to be a political prisoner, remains in jail. In 1963, just when Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream speech,” a Black family who moved into a white working-class neighbourhood faced a mob of 1500 shouting “Two, four, six, eight—we don’t want to integrate!” In 1967, a man called Frank Rizzo became Police Commissioner, and led a brutal attack on school students who demanded that Black history be included in their curriculum. Dozens were injured. In 1972 Rizzo was elected mayor of the city, a post he held for eight years. His tenure was so notorious for brutality against African Americans that the U.S. Justice Department sued the city’s police department, saying that its use of excessive force “shocks the conscience.” In spite of this terrible history, or more probably because of it, his statue loomed for years near the City Hall, a symbol of racist policing and governance in a city which is 44% African-American and one of the most segregated cities in the country.
Until last week.
THIS IS THE FINAL PART OF A THREE PART POST
India has been effectively under an RSS coup d’etat since May 2019, after the extremely dubious “sweeping victory” of the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. Since then, there has been a concerted and relentless onslaught on democracy from the twin forces of Hindu chaudhrahat and predatory capitalism, an assault accelerated under cover of the lockdown since March 2020.
Part I of this post discussed how the triumphant Hindu supremacist Indian state has been producing Hindu chaudhrahat, both formally through law, as well as informally (by “stealth”), through the sabotaging of institutions.
Part II discussed the accelerated offensive by state-backed private capital; in all its old forms, of course, including treating human labour as just another resource for it to exploit, like coal or oil; but also in its more recent and dazzling avatar of data capitalism.
The lockdown only made sense if it was used as a breathing space (a sad, unintended pun), to prepare for contact-tracing and infrastructure to deal with the spike in infections that was bound to result upon the lockdown ending. It has instead been used by the current regime as a full blown political emergency. Civil liberties are effectively suspended and large scale arrests of anti-CAA protesters have been carried out. In addition, the mythology of the “Urban Naxal-Jihadi network” has been produced to continue the arrests of academics, journalists and activists. This deranged script, concocted in RSS HQ, blends the twin projects of Hindu supremacism (“jihadi”) and predatory capital (“urban Maoist”) to effectively turn the lockdown into a lockup for opponents of these projects.
Meanwhile, since the actual pandemic is not the concern of the government, infections and deaths are on the rise, and once the lockdown is lifted we can expect much worse.(There are of course, non-BJP state governments that have done much better, and too much has been written about Kerala as an exemplar for me to add anything here.)
In the midst of the breathless rage and frustration of the moment, the millions of us who still resist both Hindu Rashtra and the depredations of capitalism, are connecting to ideas across the globe that dare to imagine other worlds.
How are we to combine, come together, connect to other stories the virus tells us, find our way to other lanes down which it leads us? How will we find and inhabit those fissures and chinks in which green things can grow, and solidarities, and compassion and hope. Continue reading Part III – THE VIRUS, THE MUSLIM AND THE MIGRANT: Rewilding, pirate care and solidarity
As Indians and people of Indian origin in the United States, we stand in solidarity with Black communities and their allies who are protesting this racism, and demanding structural change.
The killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd have highlighted the systemic racism against African-Americans that is a continuation of the long history of the criminalization, dehumanization, and oppression of Black lives in the United States. From the economy to the electoral system, this society has been built on the simultaneous exploitation and marginalization of Black people. The COVID pandemic too shows how their lives continue to be the most vulnerable in our society today.
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)
We, the undersigned feminists, community activists and academics from around the world stand in solidarity with Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal who are being held as part of the Narendra Modi government’s brutal clampdown on dissent against the deeply discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The government is taking advantage of the dispersion caused by the COVID19 crisis.
Nosotras/xs las personas abajo firmantes, como feministas, activistas comunitarias y académicas de distintas partes del mundo, nos solidarizamos con Devangana Kalita y Natasha Narwal, detenidas como parte de la ola de represión contra el movimiento nacional de protesta por la naturaleza profundamente discriminatoria del Acta de Enmienda a la Ciudadanía (CAA en ingles) y del Registro Nacional de Ciudadanos (NRC) impulsados por gobierno Indio de Narendra Modi.
Devangana and Natasha are feminist activists and founding members of the Pinjra Tod -‘Break the cage’ collective (For more info: https://www.facebook.com/pinjratod)
made up of women students fighting for their rights. Devangana studies an MPhil at Centre for Women’s Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Natasha is a doctoral student at the Centre for Historical Studies, at the same university.
We, members of Faculty Feminist Collective JNU, stand in solidarity with all wrongfully arrested students, and in particular with JNU students Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal who were arrested on 23rd May 2020 by the Delhi Police. We demand the immediate release of all those wrongfully accused of playing a role in the anti-Muslim pogrom in northeast Delhi in February 2020.
It is clear to us that this spate of arrests during the lockdown is an attempt by the government to punish the voices raised in peaceful protest against the unconstitutional CAA and proposed NPR and NRC, all of which are meant to destroy the very idea of India as a democracy.
While forces close to and constituting the current regime openly called for violence against Muslims in the days leading up to the horrific incidents of February 2020, their role has not been investigated. Instead a large number of arrests (according to media reports, 800 arrests), mostly of Muslims, has been carried out, supposedly for their responsibility for the violence in which the larger number of deaths and injuries have in fact been suffered by Muslims. Many of those arrested are students, including Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider and Asif Iqbal Tanha of Jamia Milia Islamiya. Earlier, JNU student Sharjeel Imam was arrested for sedition for a speech at an anti- CAA protest, and the draconian UAPA has been slapped on him as well.
The Migrant Workers Solidarity Network has documented migrant workers’ resistance across India in an interactive map. Below is a screen-shot of the map.
From the MWSN site:
The COVID-19 crisis in India has made the migrant workers visible in public discourse. But the dominant narratives have made them visible as subjects of compassion, as perpetual victims seeking help of others and not as active makers of our society, not as rightful citizens, not as resisting political subjects who can challenge the oppressive conditions surrounding them.
The ‘Migrant Workers’ Resistance Map’ is an attempt to document acts of resistance by migrant workers since the beginning of the lockdown. Within our limited human and technical capacity, we have collated information and designed this map. While we launch the map, we acknowledge that it is far from giving a fully representative picture of the nature and spread of migrant workers protests both geographically and temporally and the possibility of bias in collecting information and understanding what qualifies as ‘resistance’. Let us collaborate.
Add new information of resistance to the map: Fill this form.
Poetry bears witness. It records, it remembers. Resistance, indeed life itself, has long been sustained and nourished by the words of poets.
So, it is with poetry that we celebrate the inspiring movement against the Citizenship Amendment Act, and with the power of words fight the wrongful arrests and malicious prosecution of anti-CAA activists.
The first session will feature poets Aamir Aziz, Aquila, Neha and Rabiya of the Parcham Collective, Miya’h poet Shalim Hussain & Naveen Chourey
Host and anchor: Tanzil Rahman
On 16th May | Saturday | 8 pm onwards
Register using this link