Red Flags of ‘Consent’/ Black Flags of Freedom and We, the Civil Society
guest post by TRINA NILEENA BANERJEE
(Written in Feb 2008)
The way towards Nandigram in November 2007 was fraught with a spectacle of flags.
I use the word ‘fraught’ deliberately – because as the journey progressed that autumn morning1, this proliferation of flags left me with a sense of mounting fear and apprehension. Continue reading Red and Black→
To expect matters to end there was of course absurd. Hadn’t anybody noticed that in Kashmir even minor protests about civic issues like water and electricity inevitably turned into demands for azadi? To threaten them with mass starvation amounted to committing political suicide.
Not surprisingly, the voice that the Government of India has tried so hard to silence in Kashmir has massed into a deafening roar. Hundreds of thousands of unarmed people have come out to reclaim their cities, their streets and mohallas. They have simply overwhelmed the heavily armed security forces by their sheer numbers, and with a remarkable display of raw courage.
Raised in a playground of army camps, checkposts and bunkers, with screams from torture chambers for a soundtrack, the young generation has suddenly discovered the power of mass protest, and above all, the dignity of being able to straighten their shoulders and speak for themselves, represent themselves. For them it is nothing short of an epiphany. They’re in full flow, not even the fear of death seems to hold them back.
And once that fear has gone, of what use is the largest or second-largest army in the world? What threat does it hold? Who should know that better than the people of India who won their independence in the way that they did? [Outlook]
Sheela Bhatt’s assertions that the Gujarati Muslim hasn’t been seeking retribution by a long shot are not surprising at all. What is illuminating is this:
One of the surprises of Saturday’s blasts was that except one blast in Sarkhej, all the blasts were executed in East Ahmedabad, which includes the highly communally sensitive walled city area. The accuracy of the planning suggests that a person with a complete grip on the social-political mindset of the city and its communal geography must be behind the blasts.
No one in this shaken city doubts that these blasts were planned by someone who has a thorough knowledge of the past 25 years history of communally sensitive areas and the Sangh Parivar’s role in it. Continue reading Ahem-dabad again→
Five years ago, in an article called “Srinagar, Four Years Later,” Suvir Kaul wrote:
A Ram Mandir is being built at the site of the ancient sun temple at Martand (Mattan). This is not simply an addition to what is already there – it is a deliberate refashioning of Kashmiri Hindu worship to obey the dictates of Hindutva practice. But worst of all are the excessive displays put on ostensibly for the benefit of the Amarnath yatris, but which actually function as a warning to local Kashmiris: all along the route past Pahalgam, and to some extent on the Baltal route, banners and wall-slogans sponsored by the CRPF and the BSF (and occasionally, the Jammu and Kashmir police) welcome the yatris. These units also make available tea and snacks, and announce them as prasad. There is no constitutional separation of temple and state to be found here – the yatris, and those who guard them, are equally, and aggressively, Hindu. [Link]
If you are in Kolkata between 27 June and 2 July, you may do well to visit the Seagull Arts and Media Resource Centre, Kolkata, for an exhibition of photographs of Singur. There will also be a panel discussion and a film festival. Continue reading Under Development: Singur→
S. Anand draws his own conclusions from a trip to Azamgarh, about which Aditya Nigam had earlier written a post on Kafila.
While the urban elite, who can afford to indulge the growing fad of organic slow-food, would now happily pay a premium price for the hard bread (appreciating its high-fibre content) that Dalits were forced to eat owing to denial and deprivation, the rural Dalits are forced into the maida economy of Maggi Continue reading An epitaph for the bull-hull economy→
It has been over a year since Mayawati came to power in UP and I am absolutely sick of seeing news reports beginning with the comment, “In a state ruled by a Dalit chief minister, a Dalit youth was killed…” This hostility towards Mayawati is ironically couched in the language of ‘Dalit empowerment’, the phrase used so loosely its is completely devoid of meaning. Where were all these reporters and their editorialising and their concern for Dalits when Yadavs were running the state?
What has Mayaywati been doing for Dalits? That question will be answered again and again without talking to a single Dalit. But if you do go looking for something, you will find it. The redoubtable Nilanjana Bose reports: Continue reading Gomti Nagar to Bundelkhand→
Lost on 25 March, the Delhi police commissioner’s dog was soon found, giving star news an opportunity to ‘break news’ and do a special show replacing a news bulletin. Below: they continued flashing the news and calling it ‘breaking’ even when other news forced itself on to the screen.
[This detailed report was prepared by Kavita Srivastava, the Jaipur-based general secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties. Posting this here to make it publicly available as it is not on the PUCL website. Please note that this was a rough draft. ]
State Violence and Caste Confrontation in Rajasthan
I. Outline of the week long movement for ST Reservation by the Gurjars
Soon after independence the Bhil Meenas got reservations in the Districts of Dungarpur, Banswara, Chittorgarh and Udaipur. At the time of 1931 census the Bhil Meenas were over 20, 000, however today they have reduced to half they are only 10,000 in number.
This was an issue of contention for the Meenas as they felt that they also deserved to be STs so they decided to raise their voice against this injustice as they called it. Under the leadership of Lakshmi Narayan Jhirwal they organized themselves.
In April last year, Avinash Dutt and I had interviewed the political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot. We walked around Lodhi Gardens, tape recorder in hand, and I ended up transcribing more than five thousand words that night. Tehelka had published a shorter, edited version. Here’s the full thing.
I was reminded of this interview after encountering the argument here that there should be, and is, a Dalit-Brahmin alliance against the already much-demonised OBCs. I thought that this way of seeing the BSP’s victory in the Uttar Pradesh elections was not only incorrect, but also seemed to be in need of the argument that Jaffrelot makes in this interview: that seeing caste as a ‘system’ is outmoded, at least as far as electoral politics is concerned.
1- Shivam: Which is more important for the average Indian, religion or caste?
radical Islam in India as this generationu003cbr />remembers with gratitude the handsomeu003cbr />contribution of Rajiv Gandhi and his cohorts tou003cbr />Sikh militancy.u003cbr />u003cbr />The secularist dogma of many fighting the sanghu003cbr />parivar has not helped matters. Even those whou003cbr />have benefited from secular lawyers and activistsu003cbr />relate to secular ideologies instrumentally. Theyu003cbr />neither understand them nor respect them. Theu003cbr />victims still derive solace from their religionsu003cbr />and, when under attack, they cling moreu003cbr />passionately to faith. Indeed, shallow ideologiesu003cbr />of secularism have simultaneously broken the backu003cbr />of Gandhism and discouraged the emergence ofu003cbr />figures like Ali Shariatis, Desmond Tutus and theu003cbr />Dalai Lama – persons who can give suffering a newu003cbr />voice audible to the poor and the powerless andu003cbr />make a creative intervention possible from withinu003cbr />worldviews accessible to the people.u003cbr />u003cbr />Finally, Gujarat’s spectacular development hasu003cbr />underwritten the de-civilising process. One ofu003cbr />the worst-kept secrets of our times is thatu003cbr />dramatic development almost always has anu003cbr />authoritarian tail. Post-World War II Asia toou003cbr />has had its love affair with developmentalu003cbr />despotism and the censorship, surveillance andu003cbr />thought control that go with it. The East Asianu003cbr />tigers have all been maneaters most of the time.u003cbr />Gujarat has now chosen to join the pack.u003cbr />Development in the state now justifies amorality,u003cbr />abridgement of freedom, and collapse of socialu003cbr />ethics.u003cbr />u003cbr />Is there life after Modi? Is it possible to looku003cbr />beyond the 35 years of rioting that began in 1969u003cbr />and ended in 2002? Prima facie, the answer isu003cbr />"no". We can only wait for a new generation thatu003cbr />will, out of sheer self-interest and tiredness,u003cbr />learn to live with each other. In the meanwhile,u003cbr />we have to wait patiently but not passively tou003cbr />keep values alive, hoping that at some point willu003cbr />”,1] );
Future generations will as gratefully acknowledge the sangh parivar’s contribution to the growth of radical Islam in India as this generation remembers with gratitude the handsome contribution of Rajiv Gandhi and his cohorts to Sikh militancy. [The Times of India, 8 January]
The vagaries of the first-past-the-poll system in India make sure that we often over- or under-estimate the meaning of election results going strictly by who’s won how many seats. But if you go by factors such as vote share and seat-by-seat break-up, you will see the complexity of any election result. Once the results are out, the psephologist disappears. But that’s when he should be there.
Sharab, shabab aur kabab. Of these three shauqs of Lucknow’s nawabs (as in the “nawabi by nature”) it is shabab – youth – that Lakhnavis cherish the most, for they know by instinct that it is fleeting. The sense of loss lies at the heart of Lucknow, and the subtitle of Veena Talwar Oldenburg’s anthology Shaam-e-Awadh – “Memories of a dying city” – captures the decadence that has defined the city for much of its existence. Continue reading Decadent Delight→
Every now and then, some “terrorist” or another is arrested. Never an alleged terrorist, but a proclaimed one. Every now and then there is a blast that kills dozens. We never know who commits these attacks. We never will. A man has been sentenced to death this morning for an attack on the Red Fort. What a circus this is, and what an audience we are. Two news reports below. The first one will affect your reading of the second one. Continue reading “The questioning of the arrested persons is on now”, he said→
This is a hunger-strike for the YouTube generation. The two men – Dawa Lepcha and Tenzing Gvasto Lepcha – whose protest has been posted on the popular online video site, have not eaten for 39 days. Doctors at the hospital where they lie in the remote Indian state of Sikkim say they are getting weaker each day. There are serious concerns about the functioning of the men’s kidneys.
The cause that has led these two men to take this drastic action and for their friends to post this powerful video on the internet is the very land on which they and their families live. A massive hydro-electric power scheme backed by the state government, consisting of more than 20 individual projects, threatens to drive the men and their neighbours from the land close to the Teesta river in the Dzongu region of the state. Campaigners say the project is illegal and claim the authorities have failed to obtain the necessary assessment of the impact the schemes will have. [Link]
Cities generate their fresh crop of what are officially named “PAPs”. The two Ps in PAP stand for project and persons. “A” is the relationship between them. The relationship “A” between “Project” and “Persons” can be generic, and there are few words in our dictionary for that. The “A” in “PAP”, the hyphen between “Project” and “Persons” could be anything – PAPs could mean project associative persons, project affective persons, project arranged persons, project augmented persons! There is in fact a world of PAPs around us. The city is a strange landscape of paps…
Now there is also something called the “PAP smear”. It’s a test to detect cancer. When a body and its cells get into an antagonism. The test determines whether this antagonism is bearable or aggressive to the body. And here we have two more PAPs – the project aggressive persons and the project antagonistic persons. However, PAP has its own designated full form in the city – it stands for Project Affected Persons. Persons – working class persons – moved, relocated, removed for new developments. The city gives them share money for new houses, or it builds houses for them which announce – Hiranandani (builders in Mumbai) building 8304 houses for project affected persons.
But the fact remains, that the contemporary is increasingly about the ingenuity and innovativeness of these PAPs, and a large creative industry can live and thrive off this.