All posts by ponni

A response from a Sri Lankan friend: Priya Thangaraja


The last two days have left me like I have just come from a storm and I dont even feel the tingling of rain drops on me. But this began long before. The state media I hear showed movies of Idi Amin and Hitler and a constant barrage of pro Mahinda Rajapakse propaganda. “they were brainwashed” is what I am hearing. I agree with everyone that its not like we had a better option. A military man who got rid of many when asked to get rid of one cant be the harbinger of a new era. Continue reading A response from a Sri Lankan friend: Priya Thangaraja

The absurd theatre of Sri Lanka, applauded by India

Every time I go to Sri Lanka, my historical sensibility gets heightened. I still remember this huge hoarding of Mahinda Rajapaksa ‘lovingly’ holding an old woman, obviously Tamil as she was wearing a pottu. That woman could be one of the 2.5 lakh people who have lost their homes, belonging and land in the war. She could be part of the other lakhs who have lost all of this in the more than twenty-five years of war.

The day before yesterday, 26th January, was the first ‘free’ election ‘after the war’. During the months before the election, 700 incidents of violence were reported, leading to the death and injury of many. Yesterday, as the results rolled out, chaos hit the streets of Colombo. We don’t even have enough information about what happened in the rest of the country yesterday. Rumours were floating about. I shall not dwell on the rumours and provide them legitimacy, although I am tempted to, as some of them are shocking and could be true. Ethics come in the way. Continue reading The absurd theatre of Sri Lanka, applauded by India

Interview with Ins Kromminga, German intersex activist and artist

Below are excerpts from an interview I did with a fascinating artists and activist who initiated a process in me, simple and obvious, and yet complicated and hardly ever embarked upon- vis-a-vis the politics of gender and sexuality. Ins has challenged the routine of the politics we engage in and the world view we sometimes unintentionally take for granted and thus make static, Hoping for an engaging discussion on the issues Ins lays out below.

Also, something to think about: how we write articles in popular media about difficult, unspoken of issues to just put them out there. To bring about some visibility but at the cost of some of the complexity? Sometimes visibility even at the cost of compromise on our politics of how we speak of pain and pleasure in all our lives and in the context of the frameworks of oppression? I see myself having done this below in my fleeting account of Ins’s life and work. How then do we engage with the mainstream media and find the language to articulate complexities approachably and regularly? It’s the eternal question but lets ask it again because, as we all know, we have to. :) Continue reading Interview with Ins Kromminga, German intersex activist and artist

Rakhi Sawant Ka Swayamvar!

“Yeah yeah, take a good show and spoil it by theorizing” said my labour lawyer/bollywood-gossip-junkie flat mate. All I said was that I thought Rakhi Sawant Ka Swayamvar was an “Interesting phenomenon that comments on the articulations of the notion of marriage within the context of fixed notions of culture among upper middle class north Indian families and within that the tropes of gender, normativity and melodrama! And so I should write about it on Kafila”.

Her comment wasn’t entirely unjustified.

The way in which one watches these shows in itself raises a range of questions. The show has taken over my life as of now. The final decision of who she will marry will be made soon and the restlessness and anxiety about it is immense and requires effort to contain. Continue reading Rakhi Sawant Ka Swayamvar!

Valentine’s day and protest in Bangalore, 2009

A friend said that last week in Bangalore and the drama(s) around Valentine’s Day would make a wonderful PhD thesis if one had the time and the distance. Two things are of relevance here.

One, the spread of communal politics that is inherently violent and divisive is not new to our country. Moral policing forming a major part of it and translating primarily into the control of the everyday lives of women, control over the institutions that could keep the regressive ideas around religion and caste in place such as marriage have been the standard points of attack in many parts of the world and in India. To maintain the notion of the ‘other’ that these divisive forces base their politics and everyday activities, we should never meet or get to know the ‘other’. And thus the attacks on young people who had friends across communities. It is these incidents that have sometimes spiraled into well-planned, thoroughly executed, state-sponsored carnage of people from certain communities, namely the imaginary ‘other’. Continue reading Valentine’s day and protest in Bangalore, 2009