Violence, persistent and unending, creates an alternative reality, a festering, perverted, horrible, surreal reality. Violence, unending and unrelenting erases all memories of times past, Memories of times when another reality existed, It is this alternative reality that begins to redefine imagery, ideas, sensibilities and begins to creates a new grotesque discourse, a discourse in which the ugly face of fear and death becomes the normative. I’ll give you one example of how this works. Continue reading Alchemies of Art and Resistance in Kashmir→
What happened in Gurgaon two days ago is only a foretaste of what is going to befall Delhi. The same fate awaits all other regions surrounding Delhi in the broader National Capital Region, if we refuse to draw appropriate lessons from the deluge that short-circuited the virtual dreams of those who had bought the chimera of the Millennium City.
A short recap of what led to the deluge will help place the entire issue in perspective. The low-lying plains of the area receive precipitation run-off from the Aravalis and the Chhattarpur area of Delhi. All this run-off used to flow through the Badshahpur Nala.
The Chief Minister of Delhi has come out with a very practical idea, an Idea, whose time has come as the American would say. Anyone who says that Delhi’s air is a killer is only putting it mildly. The number of those dying of respiratory ailments on a daily basis stands today at 23, this translates to 161 per week, 644 per month and 7728 per year. The figures were half this 4 years ago.
Even if pollution levels do not worsen in future the cumulative effects of exposure to these high levels of pollution will keep pushing up the death rate and increasingly it will be the kids born today who will grow into wheezing asthmatics, inhaling this deadly cocktail of pollutants increasingly becoming unfit, as they grow, for doing anything that calls for even mild exertions. The resultant costs on medical expenses incurred by their families, in the face of the rapid withdrawal of government spend on public health will assume the shape of a horror movie gone real and it can only get worse unless something is done and done fast. Read the full article, published in Catch News, here
We are reproducing this piece by Mina Malik-Hussain, which appeared in The Nation (Pakistan) as it deals with an important issue which concerns the changes that are taking place within subcontinental Islam. The piece underlines the great cultural battle underway within Islam which, in the final analysis is about being Muslim in many different ways. Mina Malik-Hussain is a feminist based in Lahore.
When we were small, there was a month and it used to be called Ramzan. It was Ramzan on television, it was Ramzan in the newspaper with the sehr-o-iftar timings and while nobody had a cell phone or Facebook to wish anyone, it would have been Ramzan Mubarik nonetheless. Sometimes if one was being quite linguistically adventurous it would be Ramazan, but nobody seemed to mind.
And then, insidiously, The Arabs crept up on us. It wasn’t like the return of Muhammad Bin Qasim, but somehow Ramzan became Ramadan. Nobody knew exactly how it happened, but almost overnight our crisp z’uad sound became a lisping Arab burr, and we—a nation of language speakers with no apparent consonant pronunciation difficulties—were flung into the downward spiral of an affectation obsession. Now it was cool to sound Arab, and soon enough it began to be increasingly desirable to look it. Cue Al Huda, cue our streets being lined with gangly palm trees that do nothing, either in terms of beauty or shade, cue the availability of the most bling Islamic cover-up gear you’ll see this side of Dubai.
Still, as a nation we were still fairly open-minded about this, so we fasted year after year and didn’t really pay attention to the semantics of it. We were busy trying to live our lives and be regular Pakistanis, but The Arabs kept making inroads onto our cultural minds. One year ‘khuda-hafiz’, that old and comfortable way of saying goodbye and Godspeed, became ‘Allah hafiz’ with the dubious reason of having to specify which deity to whose protection one was recommending you. Because here in multi-religious, multi-cultural and secular Pakistan there was actual leeway where one would wonder who exactly Khuda is, and perhaps not want to be entrusted to a pagan god. Some people resisted, and continue to resist Allah hafiz and keep saying khuda-hafiz with the logic and hope that whatever His name, He will still protect and love them. Also if it was good enough for one’s grandfather and great-grandfather, it was just fine for them too. Read the full article here
This article has appeared in the June issue of Terrascape
Travelling with a knowledgeable guide makes a trip worth it. And if the guide is someone like Chhering, you’ll cherish the trip all your life.
Broadly speaking there are two kinds of human beings, the inquisitive and the conformist. It is the inquisitive kinds who try new things; experiment, ask questions, make most discoveries, travel to unchartered territories and constantly venture into terrain, geographic and cephalic, where angels fear to tread. The conformist does none of the above. They travel only the well-trodden path, visit places where the food, the hotel, the weather, in fact nothing whatsoever has the potential of throwing up a surprise.
The world cannot exist without either. The inquisitive opens up the world, both physically and in terms of ideas, while the conformist fashions new territories – geographical and cerebral – habitable and familiar for others and prepares the ground for the next generation of the inquisitive to venture beyond what has by then become familiar.
It is a fact that I am not one of those who can be included among the ‘inquisitive’, not in the sense in which I use the term here. It is equally true that I do not want to belong to the category that I have chosen to describe as the ‘conformist’. Why I do not want to be placed in the second category will be revealed once you go through this episode placed below. Your perusal of the same would perhaps justify my reluctance to be counted among the second category. Continue reading Chhering – A Guiding Star→
This piece has appeared in the May issue of Terrascape
A quest for those mountains where a true seeker of truth can find solace and solitude – and a lesson in geology
I had grown up being told, as were most children who grew up in the times when I did, about great spiritual seekers, sanyasis, sufis and such like who had chosen to seek truth and to give up everything that tied them to the mundane concerns and attachments of this world. The stories of all these seekers of truth invariably ended with many of them finding what they sought in the mountains.
The mountains they visited were not the mundane, run-of-the-mill mountains, that ordinary mortals like us visit. They went in search of mountains that gave meaning to words like desolate, forsaken, remote, impassive, distant and words that created similar impressions. It was mountains such as these that the gods had chosen as their abodes, it were these that invited the seeker of truth within their folds. The seekers immersed themselves completely in the contemplation of the unknown and the unknowable, and emerged years later wiser and all-knowing.
As I and other children of my age grew up, we were drawn away from the spiritual and into the thick of the knowledge of the ‘this worldly’. We studied the secular sciences and gradually came to acquire a totally different understanding of the mountains.
Ambedkar University Delhi, a recently established State University in the NCR, has become the new buzz in the academic circles of the Capital. It is seen as space full of creative opportunities by an academic community exhausted by bureaucratic regimes and the sheer weight of established institutions stifling any real creativity and innovations in most central Universities. In a recent article in Economic and Political Weekly, Janaki Nair described AUD as a ‘viable, vibrant space of thinking and learning, striving to provide affordable and yet sustainable fee structures and encouraging creativity and non-hierarchical structures of learning.’ To be fair, such perceptions are not entirely baseless. As it is a recently established University, almost everything, from the various schools, courses, syllabus even physical infrastructure is in the making without very rigid contours. All this gives one a sense of an innovative and fluid space. Many of the faculty members indeed do strive hard to design courses in consultation with students and give them space to express themselves. But beneath this, on the grounds, all is not well at AUD. Continue reading All Is Not Well at AUD: Natasha Narwal→
बहुत फ़र्क़ है यह चायवाला
जो अपनी ज़िंदगी
दूसरों को चाय पिलाते गुज़ार देते हैं
बहुत फ़र्क़ है यह चायवाला
रामदीन, मैकल या ज्ञानी जी से
जो भूखे पेट रहते हैं दिन भर
और टूटे छप्पर, या पेड़ की जड़ के सहारे
चाय के एक प्याले से किसी के माथे की
थकन मिटाते हैं
फ़ैक्टरी के गेट के बाहर,
उस नौजवान का ग़म दूर करते हैं
जिसे अभी अभी नौकरी से निकाला गया है
या किसी राहगीर को सही रास्ता बताते हैं
बहुत फ़र्क़ है यह चाएवाला
उन से जो
देर गए, रात को अपने घर लौटते हैं
चंद सिक्के समेटे, उन गुंडों की गालियों के साथ,
जो रोज़ ज़बरदस्ती चाए पीते हैं,
और बदले में धमकियाँ देते हैं Continue reading चायवाला: गौहर रज़ा→
अभी ज्यादा समय नहीं बीता जब एक दिन यह ज्ञात हुआ के नई दिल्ली में स्थित तथाकथित अग्रसेन की बावली को अगरवाल समाज के हवाले कर दिया गया है क्योंकि उन्होंने ए एस आई से यह कहा था के इस बावली का निर्माण महाराजा अग्रसेन ने किया था जो अगरवाल समाज के संस्थापक थे. उनका कहना था कि इसलिए अगरवाल समाज बावली की देखभाल करना चाहता है – आखिर बावली उनके संस्थापक की यादगार जो है. ए एस आई ने विधिवत ढंग से एक एम ओ यू (इकरारनामा) तैयार किया दोनों पक्षों ने उस पर हस्ताक्षर किये और बावली अग्रवाल समाज के हवाले कर दी गयी.
अग्रवाल समाज को शायद उस शिलालेख से भी ऐतराज़ था जो बावली के बाहर ए एस आई ने लगाया हुआ था और ऐतराज़ वाजिब भी था अग्रवाल समाज का “विश्वास” है के बावली महाराज अग्रसेन की बनवाई हुई थी और शिलालेख पर, जहाँ तक हमें याद है, यह लिखा हुआ था के ‘उग्रसेन की बावली के नाम से मशहूर इस बावली का निर्माण सल्तनत काल की वास्तुकला का एक सुन्दर नमूना है’. इस तरह की बात ज़ाहिर है अस्वीकार्य थी और फ़ौरी तौर पर भूल सुधार की आवश्यकता थी. लिहाज़ा भूल सुधार दी गयी. अब जो नया शिलालेख वहां लगाया गया है उस पर साफ़ साफ़ लिखा है के “इस बावली का निर्माण अग्रवाल समुदाय के पूर्वज, राजा उग्रसेन, द्वारा किया गया था.” यह अलग बात है के शिलालेख पर अंग्रेजी में इस बात को ज़रा अलग ढंग से इस तरह कहा गया है “ कहा जाता है के इस बावली का निर्माण अग्रवाल समुदाय के पूर्वज, राजा उग्रसेन, द्वारा किया गया था.” (यह भी दिलचस्प बात है कि राजा का नाम कहीं ‘उग्रसेन’ तो कहीं ‘अग्रसेन’ लिखा जाता आया है.) Continue reading उन्नाव का सोना और विश्वास के आगे समर्पण→
कुलदीप कुमार की यह पुस्तक समीक्षा समयांतर के अक्तूबर २०१३ अंक में छपी थी. इस विषय में चूँकि हमारी ख़ास दिलचस्पी है, लिहाज़ा, इसे हम यहाँ अपने पाठकों के लिए पेश कर रहे हैं.
कोसांबी: कल्पना से यथार्थ तक, लेखक भगवन सिंह, आर्यन बुक्स इंटरनेशनल; पृ. ४०१, मूल्य: रु ७९५/-
हड़प्पा सभ्यता और वैदिक सभ्यता को एक ही मानने वाले भगवान सिंह ने अंतर्राष्ट्रीय ख्याति के गणितज्ञ, विद्वत समाज में समादृत संस्कृतज्ञ एवं प्रसिद्ध मार्क्सवादी इतिहासकार दामोदर धर्मानंद कोसंबी पर एक पुस्तक लिखी है ‘कोसंबी: कल्पना से यथार्थतक’। 401 पृष्ठों की इस पुस्तक को आर्यन बुक्स इन्टरनेशनल, पूजा अपार्टमेंट्स, 4 बी, अंसारी रोड, दरियागंज, नई दिल्ली-2 ने इसी वर्ष छापा है और इसका मूल्य 795 रु॰ है।
पुस्तक के ब्लर्ब में कहा गया है: “कोसंबी का नाम दुहराने वालों की कमी नही, उन्हें समझने का पहला प्रयत्न भगवान सिंह ने किया। वह कोसंबी के शिष्य हैं परंतु वैसे शिष्य जैसे ग्रीक परंपरा में पाए जाते थे।” इन दो वाक्यों में दो दावे किए गए हैं। पहला यह कि भगवान सिंह से पहले किसी ने भी कोसंबी को समझने का प्रयास नहीं किया, और दूसरा यह कि वह कोसंबी के शिष्य हैं, वैसे ही जैसे ग्रीक परंपरा में हुआ करते थे। कोसंबी के इस स्वघोषित शिष्य के अपने “गुरु” के बारे में क्या विचार हैं, यह जानना दिलचस्प होगा। भगवान सिंह कोसंबी के बारे में श्रद्धा से भरे अपने उद्गार कुछ यूं व्यक्त करते हैं: “…वह आत्मरति के शिकार थे, उन्हें अपने सिवाय किसी से प्रेम न था, न अपने देश से, न समाज से, न भाषा से, न परिवार से। उनका कुत्ता अवश्य अपवाद रहा हो सकता है। इसीलिए लोग उनसे डरते भले रहे हों, उन्हें कोई भी प्यार नहीं करता था। उनके अपने छात्र, पत्नी और बच्चे तक नहीं।” (पृ॰ 120) Continue reading डी डी कोसांबी पर भगवा हमला: कुलदीप कुमार→
By SOHAIL HASHMI: Navina Jafa’s Performing Heritage: Art of exhibit walks is one of few books dealing with the process of conducting heritage and culture walks in India. But the subject is a rapidly expanding and lucrative field that – until now – has not been very well understood.
Jafa is a student of history, a trained classical dancer, a conservationist and a heritage activist. Normally those with their fingers in too many pies end up mixing their metaphors, but this author specialises in inventing her own – the title of this book, for instance. Performing artists, performing acrobats, performing monkeys are terms that all of us are familiar with, but the concept of heritage that performs is more unusual.
The text exists simultaneously on two planes. The first locates heritage walks in the realm of public performances, distinguishing them from exhibitions in controlled environments like museums and art galleries. The second is more illustrative, and is presented as an explanation of the arguments being advanced across the first strand. Continue reading Performing Heritage→
By SOHAIL HASHMI: Though the East and the West have great differences in issues cultural, in one matter they are like twin brothers. Both insist we should not speak ill of the dead. This does not apply to Changez Khan, Hitler and Mussolini. Some would add a few more to the list, but there are chances of violent disagreements on some of those names.
There have been honourable deviations from this haloed creed and if my memory serves me right, at least one of them has been attributed to The Bard, who made Mark Antony declare at the funeral of Caesar, “Friends Romans and Countrymen, we have gathered here to bury Caesar and not to praise him,” or words to that effect.
These were some of the confused musings that floated to the top of the mind when I heard the news of V.C. Shukla’s passing away. Does the fact that he is dead or the dastardly fashion in which death stalked him and ultimately consumed him, give him an escape from his deeds?
It is a commentary on our justice delivery system that V.C. Shukla, one of those who belonged to the coterie that ran the Emergency establishment for Mrs Gandhi, did not spend a long time behind bars for his acts of commission as Minister of Information and Broadcasting. Some of his achievements as Minister of Information included snapping power supply to newspapers critical of the Emergency, introducing Draconian censorship, banning magazines and newspapers, and sealing printing presses that dared to publish anything critical of the infamous Mrs G or her Emergency regime. Continue reading A memorable evening with Vidya Charan Shukla→
In this country of almost a billion and a quarter you might find some people who have not heard of Mohammed Rafi. In such a scenario, My Abba: A Memoir, a book on the great singer written by his daughter-in-law Yasmin Khalid Rafi in its stream of conscience kind of technique, connects one to his life like no other book. Yasmin is writing about someone she idolised and loved, like only a daughter can. When she talks of him, a jumble of memories comes rushing back and surrounds her—the songs she liked, the music directors who worked with Rafi Saheb, his simplicity, his generousness, his love for his family, his insecurities, his inability to be flamboyant, the metamorphosis that transformed him into a great performer the moment he set foot on the stage. Continue reading Playback of a golden voice→
With the Sarandha chit fun scam in West Bengal, a side-effect has been the going bust of its media investments. Seema Guha, Delhi bureau chief of the recently shut down Bengal Post writes in The Hoot:
The executive editor Ranabir Roychowdhury and several of the core journalist team were known to us, but none of us had ever heard the name of Sudipta Sen, the owner. We in Delhi were far away, but our colleagues in Kolkata too did not know anything about him, except that he was a real estate tycoon with a land bank of 100 acres or more. He was also into chit funds. It was much later that we came to know that this was his main business, our money was basically derived from the collections Saradha made from the poorest people in Bengal and other eastern states. He had business in the north east as well as in Odisha. [Read the full article]
We have watched with disgust and horror the brutal police assault on students during a peaceful demonstration organized by four Left students’ organizations on 2nd April, 2013 in Kolkata and the subsequent death of Sudipta Gupta, a participant in the demonstration, while in police custody. Sudipta was a bright student and a leading activist of the Students’ Federation of India. We are shocked to see the Chief Minister of the state absolve the police of any responsibility for Sudipta’s death before a proper enquiry had even been initiated. We do not perceive this incident as an isolated one but rather as the egregious culmination of a series of systematic attacks on the civil and democratic rights of the academic community in West Bengal over recent months. We strongly condemn this unprovoked singular attack on a peaceful students’ demonstration and the subsequent custodial death of Sudipta Gupta. We demand an immediate and impartial enquiry into the incident. Continue reading Statement by concerned academicians on the death of a student in police custody in Kolkata→
For some strange reason, all, or almost all love legends have a tragic end. I cannot recall too many that end with “and they lived happily ever after”. In fact, Romeo-Juliet, Laila-Majnun, Heer-Ranjha, Sohini-Mahiwal, Sassi-Pannun, Dhola-Maru, Saif-ul-Malook-o-Badi-uj-Jamaal – the list of unhappy lovers separated by the cruel hands of society, scheming relatives, jealous rivals, misunderstandings and plain simple divine design is endless.
The Ellora caves, locally known as ‘Verul Leni’ and located on the Aurangabad-Chalisgaon road, were, like the Ajanta caves,carved out of the terraces that were formed as a result of the great movements in the crust of the earth that began millions of years ago. A part of land that had broken off the Australian landmass drifted north and began to push against the Laurasian plate about 65 million years ago, giving birth to the Himalayas at one end and triggering hectic volcanic activity at the point of contact. The resulting waves of lava flow solidified into layers, or terraces, spread across hundreds of miles. Both Ajanta and Ellora are located on this massive lava flow known as the Deccan trap. Incidentally, the Deccan trap is full of man-made caves. Maha-rashtra alone has about 1,200 big or small caves or big and small cave clusters and close to 75 per cent of them (about 900) are Buddhist caves. Continue reading Ageless chisel: The rock-cut caves of Ellora→
This statement is based on a Seminar attended by representatives of Safai Karamchari Andolan, Republic Trade Union of India, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front; Advocates, Doctors and Health Activists; Faculty and Students of MIDS, IIT-M, New College, ACJ, MSE, Madras University among others. The discussion was one among many incidents happening across the country to support the struggle for abolishing manual scavenging and rehabilitation of manual scavengers.
More than a million people (mostly Dalit women and children) in India are still being ordained by the caste-ridden social order to clean the refuse of society with their bare hands. They are systemically forced to sell their labour-power, at a minimal price, to perform this inhuman task – what is termed as “Manual Scavenging”. People from particular Dalit communities, cutting across region and religion, are vulnerable to early death due to fatal infections, disease and exposure to toxic gases that manual scavenging entails. Further, age old casteism, continues to stigmatize and humiliate manual scavengers suppressing them to the status of “lesser humans”. Continue reading Petition – End the Scourge of Manual Scavenging→
In 1988 Lutyen’s Delhi, was declared a heritage zone by prohibiting building activity within the 26 square kilometre area out of the 43 Sq. Km. area that falls within the civic control of New Delhi Municipal Committee (NDMC). A move has now been initiated to get the entire area declared a World Heritage site.
The very logic of an area being declared a Heritage Zone should preclude any interference with the layout and design of the entire zone. Non-interference also means that, future building and development activity, if at all permitted, has to conform to the original parameters of design, materials, fittings and fixtures used, building techniques, landscaping and the kinds of trees planted in the heritage zone.
Even before the 1988 freeze on construction, there was a master plan for Delhi and it clearly identified the Lutyen’s Bungalow Zone as an area where high rises were not to be permitted.
The actual violations began when this rule was selectively relaxed beginning with permission given in the mid 70s to construct the high rise Sagar Apartments on Tilak Marg. High rises like Asha Deep and Dakshineshwar on Hailey Road followed shortly thereafter. Continue reading New Delhi: A heritage zone at 80!→
भारत के दो महानगरों राष्ट्रिय राजधानी दिल्ली और बम्बई को यूनेस्को द्वारा विश्व धरोहर की सूची में नामांकित करने की तैयारियां चल रही हैं, कुछ मित्रों ने दिल्ली या बम्बई की बहस शुरू कर दी है जो वास्तव में पूर्णत: अनर्गल बात है.
में दिल्ली बनाम बम्बई के पचड़े में पड़ने के बजाये ये सवाल पूछना चाहता हूँ के ऐसा क्यों है के 65,436,552की कुल आबादी और 6,74,800 वर्ग किलोमीटर के कुल क्षेत्रफल वाले फ्रांस में 35 स्थान, नगर, इमारतें प्राकृतिक स्थल आदि ऐसे हैं जो विश्व धरोहर की सूची में शामिल किये गए हैं मगर इस सूची में भारत का नाम केवल 29 बार ही आता है.
जो सवाल पूछना ज़रूरी है वो यह के सिर्फ दिल्ली या/और बम्बई ही क्यों? जोधपुर, जयपुर, अजमेर, इंदौर, उज्जैन, भोपाल, बनारस, इलाहबाद, लखनऊ, पटना, वैशाली, हैदराबाद, विदिशा कालिंजर, मदुरै, कांचीपुरम कलकत्ता और मद्रास क्यों नहीं ?, आप ने नोट किया होगा के बम्बई कलकत्ता और मद्रास के नए नाम में इस्तेमाल नहीं कर रहा हूँ और दिल्ली को भी देहली नहीं लिखा है. यह जान बूझ कर किया जा रहा है दरअसल विरासत कहीं अतीत में जड़ हो गयी कोई चीज़ नहीं है और इसलिए नाम बदलने की समस्त परियोजनाएं विरासत से छेड़ छाड करने की निन्दनीय प्रवर्ति का ही हिस्सा हैं. Continue reading दिल्ली बनाम बम्बई→
जनसत्ता के 23 सितम्बर, 2012 के अंक में प्रकाशित कुलदीप कुमार के स्तंभ “निनाद” को हम थोड़े संशोधन के साथ छाप रहे हैं.
दक्षिण अफ्रीका के जोहान्स्बर्ग शहर में विश्व हिन्दी सम्मेलन हो रहा है। पहला सम्मेलन 1975 में नागपुर में हुआ था जिसमें जवाहरलाल नेहरू विश्वविद्यालय की ओर से एक प्रतिनिधिमंडल शामिल हुआ था। मैं उन दिनों विश्वविद्यालय की साहित्य सभा का सचिव था और पंकज सिंह उसके अध्यक्ष थे। कवि मनमोहन भी प्रतिनिधिमंडल में शामिल थे। तब तक इमरजेंसी नहीं लगी थी। अगर मेरी स्मृति धोखा नहीं दे रही तो वह जनवरी का महीना था। देश में जेपी आंदोलन ज़ोरों पर था और प्रधानमंत्री इन्दिरा गांधी ख़ासी अलोकप्रिय हो चुकी थीं। हम इस सम्मेलन को तमाशा समझते थे और उसका विरोध करने ही नागपुर पहुंचे थे। दिल्ली से ही एक बयान साइक्लोस्टाइल कराके ले गए थे। जैसे ही इन्दिरा गांधी ने अपना उदघाटन भाषण देना शुरू किया, हम सबने उठकर विरोध में नारे लगाने शुरू कर दिये और उपस्थित प्रतिनिधियों के बीच विरोध-वक्तव्य की प्रतियाँ बांटने लगे। सुबह-सुबह कुछ प्रतिनिधियों के कमरों में दरवाजे के नीचे से हम अपने बयान की प्रतियाँ खिसका आए थे। जैसा कि होना था, बाद में हमें पुलिस ने धर लिया। Continue reading हिंदी का संकट: कुलदीप कुमार→