Guest post by LATA MANI
Political discourse in the contemporary period is by marked an affective intensity. Regardless of the issue an acute depth of feeling is in evidence. Righteousness, betrayal, entitlement, anguish and aggression suffuse arguments across the political spectrum. What seems at stake is not merely the desire to speak but to have the terms of one’s discourse deemed legitimate, to be understood as one understands oneself. The sizzle, crack and snap of rhetoric expresses the heightened temperature. One could credibly interpret it as the sound of an existing order breaking down under multiple pressures. This would however be a partial explanation. The surcharged atmosphere is equally evidence of the ties that bind those passionately disagreeing with each other. And therein lies a clue. Continue reading Objects in the Mirror are Closer than you Think – Beyond the Rhetoric of Otherness: Lata Mani
Guest post by LATA MANI
This is the last in a triptych reflecting on current events and the discourse of social justice activism. Previous posts here & here
“When people speak about this or that, I try to imagine what the result would be if translated into reality. When they “criticize” someone, when they “denounce” his ideas, when they “condemn” what he writes, I imagine them in the ideal situation in which they would have complete power over him. I take the words they use – demolish, destroy, reduce to silence, bury – and see what the effect would be if taken literally.”
Michel Foucault, “The Masked Philosopher,” 322.
Foucault’s words are unsettlingly apposite to the current climate in India where an authoritarian government is seeking to quite literally crush and eliminate all dissent, all dissenters, any notion it deems illegitimate. The totalitarian fantasies of the BJP and its affiliates give us a real-time view of the violence that Foucault’s words can only discursively conjure. It gives us pause for thought about a tendency in the rhetorical practices of social justice activism. Continue reading Sticks & Stones May Break my Bones…But Words? On Social Justice Rhetoric
This is a guest post by LATA MANI
In the past fifteen years I have been developing what I describe as “contemplative cultural critique.” Such an effort at transcoding between secular and meditative understandings is not without difficulty and not without its limits. But it has led me to pose questions I might not otherwise have asked, and to think through them in ways that I would not have previously considered.
How might this approach contribute to reflecting on the political turmoil of the past eight weeks in India? This period has been marked by national focus on the penalization and criminalization of student dissent at Hyderabad Central University and Jawaharlal Nehru University. In the former case prolonged institutional harassment drove Rohith Vemula to take his life and in the latter it has led to the imprisonment of Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirbhan Bhattacharya on charges of sedition. In both instances a witch-hunt led by the media and the right-wing BJP government has created a hostile environment conducive neither to dialogue nor to a calm consideration of facts. These events, as P. Sainath has argued, extend to university campuses ideological, legal and political tactics long used against communities resisting “development” in rural India. Continue reading Am I Doing Enough? Crisis, Activism and the Search for Meaning: Lata Mani
NEERJA DASANI on the Kabir Kala Manch, their life, art and the constant hurdles set before them by the State. Previously published in Literary Review section of The Hindu on January 5, 2014.
The art of irony is something that the members of Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), who identify themselves not as a cultural troupe but as a political movement, are well-versed in. This could be because life for them has been a series of curious contradictions. Emerging from mohallas and bastis, their voices reverberated through the corridors of power, disturbing the slumber of those within. Finding democracy’s din too unsettling, its elected guardians branded KKM as anti-national. The resultant time spent either in jail or underground, strengthened their resolve instead of silencing them into submission.
Read the rest of the article here.
STATEMENT BY SOME MEMBERS OF CATALYST STUDY CIRCLE
It is with dismay we, readers from Tamil Nadu, of esteemed English Daily Newspapers (print version) like The Hindu, The Times of India, New Indian Express, Deccan Chronicle etc., want to bring to your notice the lack of coverage of a news item. We have come to know through social networking sites that about 2 Lakh workers ‘March to Parliament’ by 11 central trade unions took place on 12.12.13 (Video by Malavika Vyawahare– Labour Rally and Post by Venkat – Two Lakh Workers March to Parliament and March For a Minimum Living Wage – Post by Srinivasan Ramani). This has not been given any coverage on 13.12.13 in Tamil Nadu at least in Chennai based print version Edition.
To read the complete letter and endorse it click here.
Sometimes one needs to write pieces while breaking down into tears. That is the only way we can stay true to the fact that words are not enough to express our anguish and our disbelief but also our strength.
It isn’t surprising. In the land where the struggles of Soni Sori and Irom Sharmila not only continue but often go unnoticed, a regressive Supreme Court Judgment which sets the bar low for legality, constitutionality, justice and social morality isn’t out of the ordinary- all in a days work for some.
I spent the week articulating my loving critique of our movement. I thought we were past the idiosyncrasy of fighting an archaic law- one among the many scars of colonialism- being repeated with gusto by whom we can safely call the loony-right wing who claimed to represent all kinds of Gods and worse- many people. We all thought we could move on to fight the many fights that would give us the opportunity to fully shine bright in our creativity and vibrance. But here we are again- having to scream out loud the bare necessities of human existence to voices that have long forgotten the act of listening. Continue reading Justice will prevail