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
This is a Guest Post by RAKSHITA SWAMY
I recently was reading a PhD dissertation that was aiming to deconstruct the movement that eventually led to the passing of India’s historic Right to Information Act. The study involved unpacking recent agendas of good governance and placing the RTI Act in the center of this reform agenda. By attempting to stitch the narrative of the role played by different factors, the convergence of which led to the eventual passing of the Act, the author tried to compare one version of the narrative, with the other, thereby pronouncing a judgment on what actually may be the “truth”. It was while reading this particular piece of scholarly research, funded by one of the leading Universities of the world, that I was struck by the thought of what purpose we imagine academic research in the field of social science to actually serve. Does it serve to throw light on aspects that are not discussed enough? Or is it meant to pose one set of facts versus the other, and facilitate the reader in coming to a conclusion on what actually can be deemed as a fact. Can research emanating within the broad field of poverty alleviation, development and instrumentalities of governance ever seek to really influence policy making, or even public action? This essay makes a fledgling beginning in attempting to answer this question. Continue reading The Monopoly of Knowledge: Rakshita Swamy
Guest post by INSHAH MALIK:
Perhaps, beyond angry outbursts and slogans nothing was left of Kashmiri intellectuals engaged in understanding problems of home land. Afzal Guru was hanged and pens were strangulated. I was one of the people who protested at Jantar Mantar, with no strategy, no political statement, I bundled myself with others to the station, to enter a site of ‘mourning’. Kashmir has a rich culture and cultured production of ‘grieving’, when someone dies, everyone assembles and expresses grief verbally and through wailing. That is what I found myself doing. Continue reading What does Afzal’s death mean? : Inshah Malik
We Rise Because We Refuse To Support State Violence On Women.
We Rise Because Rape And Violence Against Women Under Any Circumstances is Unacceptable.
We Rise On This International Women’s Day To Demand Freedom for Soni Sori & Punishment For Her Perpetrators.
Continue reading One Billion Rising for Soni Sori: 8th March 2013 and till she is free.
Previously posted on dbsjeyaraj.com
We the undersigned are aghast and anguished by the recent decision of the government of Tamil Nadu, acting on the Chief Minister’s orders, to send back two sports teams from Sri Lanka that were in Chennai to play matches against local school teams.
Two days after the Chief Minister issued her orders, members of a Tamil nationalist group, Naam Tamizhar Iyakkam protested against a group of pilgrims from Sri Lanka visiting a church near Thanjavur.
There have been similar protests in the past against visiting teams – by members of the Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam. Continue reading Protesting the Forced Repatriation of Visiting Sports persons and Others from Sri Lanka
From Nityanand Jayaraman
The state’s propaganda and witch-hunt has taken a fresh and disturbing turn with an engineered FIR filed by the husband of Vijayapathi Panchayat President and his brother Stalin.
I spoke to V. Pushparayan at 1015 a.m. today. According to media reports, a gang instigated by Pushparayan and Udayakumar, attacked and injured Sahayaraj (President’s husband) and Stalin (Sahayaraj’s brother) at 830 p.m. on 14 April, 2012. The media reports do not even bother to interview the people accused of this alleged crime. The allegation is made into a fact, as if the reporter had observed the attack.
Here’s the version from Idinthakarai: Continue reading Kudankulam Udpate
This document has come to us via NITYANAND JAYARAMAN
The following is a rough and quick translation of the Demands placed by a delegation on behalf of the Struggle Committee of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy.
TRANSLATION OF DOCUMENT FROM TAMIL, CONTAINING DEMANDS
“DEMANDS OF THE PROTESTING PEOPLE” Continue reading Kudankulam Update
Guest Post by V.GEETHA
My name is V. Geetha, and I live in Chennai. I am a writer, with an interest in civil rights issues. I write this note to register my shock and bewilderment at some recent developments in my state. Given your concerns about the relationship between freedom and responsibility as far as the media is concerned, I felt it important to convey some of my – and other peoples’ – misgivings over media reporting of sensitive political events.
Throughout today, March 25, SUN News, part of the SUN TV network, while reporting on three men arrested over the last few days, for supporting the anti-nuclear plant struggle at Kudankulam has alleged they are all ‘Maoists. The channel has further gone on to note that it has got wind of a ‘ naxalite plot’ that is all set to take over the anti-nuclear plant protests at Idinthakarai. Continue reading Letter to the Press Council Chair Person Justice Markandey Katju about SUN News reportage of the arrest of the supporters of the Kudankulam Struggle
Below is the latest update from Kudankulam.
Click here for the Letter from the National Fishworkers Forum to the Prime Minister.
Further below is a press statement released on 23/03/2012 about the arbitrary arrests, illegal detention and custodial torture of three activists whose politicl affiliations are being wrongly read on to the Kudankulam struggle in order to take focus way from the issues in question and malign the people’s struggle that continues.
KOODANKULAM – PMANE UPDATE – 25.03.2012
Greetings! Pushparayan, the other 13 friends and I have become weaker and tired; but we are still able to sit up and talk to people. Today is the seventh day of the indefinite hunger strike. Nobody from the State Government or the Central Government has bothered to come and see us or talk to us. A medical team came to check our health day before yesterday (March 23) but no public health officials came and offered any help even though some 10,000 people have been congregating here at Idinthakarai every day since March 19th. Our friends from Idinthakarai have been cooking some simple meals for all these people and most of the people are sleeping here as there is the prohibitory order of 144 still in effect. They are scared of going out of this foot-ball stadium sized space in front of the St. Lourdes church. The police are waiting for me and Pushparayan to collapse so that we would go to an hospital for treatment and they could arrest us there. How cruel and anti-people our governments could become!
Continue reading Kudankulam Updates
Below is a note written by Udayakumar, one of the leaders in Kudankulam that is being circulated. Further below is an update from activist Nityanand Jayaraman on the Madras High Court interim orders in response to cases filed against all the illegal steps taken by the government on Kudankulam.
Please watch this blog for another audio broadcast from Sundari, an activist and member of the community in Idinthakarai. Continue reading Kudankulam Update
Recording of a report by Sundari from Idinthakarai, the village in Kudankulam where many are on fast unto death and 15000 people have gathered in protest of the Nucelar Plant. Sundari is a long time local activist in the region who has been part of the struggle against the Nuclear plant.
Police have cracked down on the village and there is now a complete blockade. Journalists are not being allowed at all. This is an effort to get news out regularly. This recording has been made possible by the efforts of activists who work with enabling reporting for community radio through mobile phones. These broadcast and others that will follow, will be sent to community radio networks within Tamilnadu and around the country. Please spread the news. A translation is available below.
Sundari reports from Idinthakarai here.
Continue reading Mobile phone based report for Community Radio from Idinthakarai, Kudankulam
The Tamilnadu police in alliance with the paramilitary, rapid action force, Industrial security force has laid an utterly illegal and anti democratic siege on the peaceful struggle by fisherpeople and others in Idinthakarai village. In an attempt to terrorise the people and weaken their struggle the police in a nexus with civil administration has suspended electricity and water supply to the village. Vital supplies like milk powder, medicines and food stuff have been blocked entry. When neighbouring villagers tried to bring in firewood through the sea route they were blocked this morning. A pregnant woman who was in labour pain was detained by the police for quite some time and her admission into the hoispital was delayed. There are thousands of children, women, elder people and men in the protest site surrounded by layers and layers of police of every possible denomination and this is a peaceful struggle waged by the poor people of idinthakarai to safeguard their livelihoods and also to protect all of us all of humanity from yet another nuclear disaster.
So please take time and call/ message
Vijendra Bidari, SP, Tirunelveli : 09940193494
George, ADGP: o9442200913
Register your protest.
Demand them to stop intimidating the peaceful protesters.
SMS message: “Do not block media, food, water, medicines or movement of people in and out of Idinthakarai. Restore access to basic facilities and media freedom”
You must all be aware of the sustained struggle put up by the people of Idinthakarai and other neighbouring villages against the commissioning of the nuclear energy plant at Kudankulam. The struggle has been a concerted one, waged by fishers, agricultural labourers, small peasants and those in the artisanal trades. It has been a struggle for asserting people’s right to livelihood, life and liberty, all of which stand imperiled by the proposed nuclear reactor.
These are moments when spaces like Kafila become so important.
On the 19th of March, news came in that Tamilnadu Police men of six districts led by the ADGP for Crime of the Tamilnadu Police, Mr. O.S.George were sent to Kudankulam. This meant 6000 armed police men, 3 DIGs and 20 SPs were in Kudankulam. The TV reports, when they were still possible, showed police violence and extensive police presence in the village. We also saw women from Kudankulam, the backbone of the movement, declaring that there will be a strong people’s response to this violence and that they cannot be taken peaceful protest cannot be taken for granted. The first project taken up by the police seems to have bee to block off the village from any outsiders. Nearby villagers who tried to approach the villages by sea were also arrested by the police. As of now, all roads to the village have been blocked. Communication systems have been tampered with. Continue reading Kudankulam: A brief history and a recent update
Guest post by NEERJA DASANI
Can 611 people represent a country of a billion? According to the recent Gillette ‘Salutes the Soldier in You’ campaign, they certainly can, especially if two out the 611 are Bollywood stars. Here’s another question – if a national news channel dedicates several half-hour segments to this campaign, lending their own in-house anchor for credibility, discussing how every woman in India wants a military man for a life partner, should it still be called a news channel? So much for self-regulation.
While the compromised nature of the programme, left no more than the now-customary bitter aftertaste, what lingered on was the implicit coding at work. We were being told that courage, confidence, camaraderie, grooming and integrity are copyrighted ‘soldier values’, that clean-shaven men are ‘manlier’, ergo soldiers are ‘manlier’ and that men with ‘soldier values’ have a better chance of being chosen as a ‘groom for your daughter/sister’. These people took themselves so seriously that they wanted to petition the President to ‘rededicate’ the Gateway of India to soldiers – presumably because India Gate isn’t visible from Bollywood. All this to sell a razor.
Continue reading Romancing War