All posts by Shivam Vij

A pointless battle in Siachen: Saadut Hussain

Guest post by SAADUT HUSSAIN

 

“We, the willing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, with so little, for so long, we are now qualified to do anything, with nothing.” Notes from the diary of a soldier who served in Siachen. (Original quote by Mother Teresa.)

India and Pakistan may have their guns aimed on each other at Siachen, but in reality they are both fighting nature, nature defeating them and being defeated by them. At 20,000 feet the world’s largest glacier outside the North and South Poles, Siachen is the world’s highest battlefield. Continue reading A pointless battle in Siachen: Saadut Hussain

Anatomy of an allegedly thwarted coup: Anwar Dayal

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Guest post by ANWAR DAYAL

Bangladesh has seen more coups than Pakistan. It probably came close to one recently, by alleged Islamists in the army. I say probably because when it comes to military intervention in Bangladesh, who-what-why-when have often been unclear. For example, a few majors seized the country’s tanks and killed the founding president and his family in August 1975. Was it a few disgruntled officers with personal disputes, as was claimed by the contemporaneous foreign media? Or was it part of the complicated and brutal Cold War geopolitics, with the involvement of senior officers and politicians, as many believe? Even though the perpetrators of the massacre have been convicted, and a few hanged, Bangladeshis still debate these questions.

It’s been like that for all military interventions over the years. What may have happened in recent weeks is unlikely to be the exception. As such, one should not necessarily conclude that Saleem Samad’s officially sanctioned account in India Today is the full story.

Samad’s narrative goes something like this. Continue reading Anatomy of an allegedly thwarted coup: Anwar Dayal

Bangla rocks: Jyoti Rahman

Guest post by JYOTI RAHMAN

Lagaan was a groundbreaking film, but a Bollywood film nonetheless. My favorite song-dance sequence is the one where the villagers, well Gauri and Bhuvan and friends, celebrate Krishna’s birthday. In the song, the girl complains that Radha is anxious about Krishna’s philandering ways and the boy replies that Radha should be understanding because there’s no one else in Krishna’s heart but Radha.

When the meaning of the song is explained to her, Elizabeth asks Gauri: Is Radha Krishna’s wife?

Oh no, Krishna’s wife is Rukmini! 

Of course Radha-Krishna are anything but married. Imagine the shock the Victorian girl would have felt upon realizing that the villagers were celebrating an extra-marital affair with such fanfare.

It is not just that Bollywood village in the high noon of Raj. Gita Govinda and other songs celebrating Radha-Krishna are sung in every modern Indian language. And not just in India. Songs on the theme were thriving in an unexpected place, in an unexpected time. Among Bangladeshi youth, in the early years of this century, when the country seemed to increasingly Islamicising. Partly influenced by the music coming out of the diaspora in Londonistan, songs like this one, celebrating the union of Radha-Krishna in the Nikunja Temple became massive hits.

Over the fold, let me note a few examples of Bangla rock – and let’s not be pedantic here, I’ll use rock as a shorthand for western-influenced urban music, including pop, reggae, hip hop and other genres.

Continue reading Bangla rocks: Jyoti Rahman

Who Killed Jugni? Shiraz Hassan

Guest post by SHIRAZ HASSAN

It was many summers ago. I was visiting my village on the banks of the Jhelum. I saw the people of my village go towards the Eidgah, across the chappaD, or the pond. When I asked my grandfather about them, he said. “Ajj mela ay putter!” [Son, today is a fair!] The mela ground was bustling with makeshift shops and people thronging them. At one end of the mela a circus had come up. The mithai stalls were packed with customers and curious on-lookers, some of them were buying and eating. And that’s when I heard the sound of their music. There they were, surrounded by a circle of spectators. A couple of local artists sang a song I had not heard before. I couldn’t understand a word, other than ‘O mereya Jugni, O mereya Jugni’ – which they chorused, over and over again.

That was my introduction to Jugni. I had no idea who Jugni was, and for I long time I didn’t care. Continue reading Who Killed Jugni? Shiraz Hassan

Kilvenmani, Karamchedu, Chunduru… Orissa, Pratapgarh?

Reviewing Anand Teltumbde’s book Khairlanji: A Strange and Bitter Crop, Rajesh Ramachandran concludes:

The book however has a serious ideological flaw. It inadvertently falls into the Brahminical trap of theorising class conflicts in terms of positing Dalits against the new Shudra oppressors. Kilvenmani, Karamchedu, Chunduru and other examples are repeated at least seven times in the text to argue that new oppressors are Shudras. If that be, how does Teltumbde explain desperately poor tribals killing and raping Dalits in Kandhamal? The real oppressor is the caste hegemony perpetuated by the core Sangh Parivar constituency of the Brahmin-Bania-Thakur trinity. Is it any surprise that it was Parivar’s Brahminical commentators who first introduced the Dalit-Shudra contradiction to theorise the “failure” of Kanshi Ram’s Bahujan experiment and the split of the unbeatable BSP-Samajwadi Party alliance in UP. Hope the Dalit ‘holocaste’ series doesn’t serve this Hindutva agenda. [Mail Today, 26 October 2008]

Or, indeed, how does one explain atrocities against Dalits by Brahmins?

Some images do not disturb

CBI-employed manhole workers in Noida
CBI-employed manhole workers in Noida

guest post by S. ANAND

There are times when our critical antennae do not perk up. We do not wish to decode certain signs because we are all implicated in them. Following the 14 September blasts in Delhi, suddenly the media found a new value in ragpickers, street vendors, auto drivers and others who live on the fringes of the city and are generally looked down upon by people who inhabit apartments, blogs, cars (and autos, I must add).

Suddenly, by 15 September, ragpicker Krishna was canonized as a ‘hero’ by the media, the police and the state (the Delhi government claims credit for saving some lives with its ‘eyes and ears’ policy). Yet, Times of India prefaced its report about Krishna thus: Continue reading Some images do not disturb

Such absurdity on a Wednesday

Guest post by SHAHRUKH ALAM

On Wednesday, I met some young men from Dhule. I am not at all sure where Dhule is and I said as much to them. “There was some violence there. It has been in the news lately,” they said. “Did any bombs go off in Dhule?” said I. “No bombs, no. But there was communal violence. It was on the news.” “I only watch prime time news. I don’t usually manage to view the afternoon bulletins. Nor the eleven PM one (informative though they are),” I explained. “So where exactly is Dhule?” I persisted. “It is a district on the north-western tip of Maharashtra. It’s not so far from Malegaon.” Ah, Malegaon! Where the blasts occurred? Finally I had a co-ordinate. Continue reading Such absurdity on a Wednesday

Are the Tatas not to be blamed for the Singur fiasco at all?


Since even the chief minister of Bengal admits that violence was used in Singur to acquire land against the wishes of farmers who owned and/or worked it, there’s virtually nobody who claims otherwise (except our favourite newspaper).

So the line that goes is that it is the state government which botched it up. If only you had allowed the Tatas to acquire land on its own, if only the land acquistion act didn’t require the Evil State to acquire the land… market forces of demand and supply would have prevailed. Continue reading Are the Tatas not to be blamed for the Singur fiasco at all?

Was it a recce or a planned raid?

DCP Alok Kumar
DCP Alok Kumar

Guest post by AZIZ BURNEY, Editor, Rashtriya Sahara (Urdu), Delhi

It is a truth universally acknowledged that anything viewed from various angles presents various shapes. It is also a fact that your angle of view determines to a large extent the picture registered by your brain. An askew angle of view is bound to distort the picture. Reality defies comprehension without proper perspective. To date, we have not been able to understand what kind of picture the Delhi police is trying to draw in order to explain the incidents of September 19 as they happened. Continue reading Was it a recce or a planned raid?

“India’s Anti-Christian Violence Unparalleled Among World Democracies”

As Maoists confirm that they were behind the murder of Laxmananda Saraswati and give their reasons, two notes below from Madhu Chandra of the All India Christian Council.

Hi Friends,

Hindutva forces – Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bajrang Dal knew very well that the Maoists have killed their Swami Lakshmanananda on August 23 but intentionally denied it and alleged Christians so that they could do what they have done to Dalit Christians of Orissa.

Orissa Government who runs on mercy of BJP and Hindutva forces believes the allegation and allowed the religious ethnic cleansing of Christians in Kandhamal district of Orissa. Continue reading “India’s Anti-Christian Violence Unparalleled Among World Democracies”

“Gentle persuasion” in Kashmir

Some intelligence agencies have also warned of a low-poll percentage. But a senior police official said: “One cannot wait for the perfect situation in Kashmir.” According to him “gentle persuasion” in rural and border areas will help improve turnout. “After all, it is not a crime to ask people to vote. In several countries, voting is mandatory,” he argues. [George Joseph, Sakaal Times]

What an admission, what a giveaway! Indian democracy never went beyond Lakhanpur anyway. Nationalists and the weak hearted, please be ready to shut your eyes and ears for the next two months. The Indian state is planning to show its ugliest face in the Valley. Get ready, get ready.

Your Dera Ghazi Khan, and mine

Dera Ghazi Khan by Bex Summer (Via Flickr)

In Mehrauli, the Khattars insisted that after noting down the damage, in lakhs, that the blasts caused to their shops, the second most important detail was that they were from Dera Ghazi Khan.

Dera Ghazi Khan? Oh, in Multan you know, we are all from there, 300 families. Yes, yes, after Partition, in the Sarai area of Mehrauli, we’ve always lived here, forever…

And then I see the subject line of a thread on a Sindhi mailing list: “Capital be shifted from Islamabad to Deira Ghazi Khan/ Bahawalpur/ Raheemyar Khan.” Continue reading Your Dera Ghazi Khan, and mine

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The Chanakyans

The other sometimes amuses, sometimes provokes:

Sam, the primary principle, implies the use of rationalization but if this technique does not work then the second implement is Kam i.e. bribery. If this does not produce the desired result, then the tertiary principle is Dand or the vehement use of violence. If all three fail then the last machination is Bheet or sowing seeds of dissension and discord. Continue reading The Chanakyans