Thinking a local Cosmopolitanism – the Kochi Muziris Biennale: Interview with Dilip Menon by Riyas Komu and CS Venkiteswaran

English transcript of  interview published in Malayalam in Mathrubhumi Weekly, October 17 2017.

CSV

Kochi is a curious choice as a site for an international art event like Biennale, isn’t it? It has played no prominent role insofar as art activity, practice or market is concerned, nor is it a metropolitan city like Mumbai or Delhi. One qualification, of course, could be its long cosmopolitan history of trade and the movement of people, ideas, religions or goods from time immemorial. Is KMB in a way, trying to invoke and re-imagine the cosmopolitan past or heritage of a place like Kochi?

Dilip Menon

I think there is a particular history to why such an event should happen in Kochi, and why it could be successful here alone. Kochi, being a port city, was always part of a universe that was much larger than the immediate geography within which it is located. So, like most port cities, it sits on the edge of land and looks out to the sea. When one thinks about the idea of cosmopolitanism, there is something about the already existing cosmopolitanism of port cities, whether it is Malacca, Kochi or Venice. It is not without significance that two of the more important biennales are in Venice and Kochi. I think that a port city is located in a much longer history of movements of people, ideas, materials and political ideologies across the ocean.  Even though these ports are now part of nation-states, their histories and memories are much deeper and much longer. The Kochi Muziris Biennale (KMB) is able to summon up these memories.

Continue reading “Thinking a local Cosmopolitanism – the Kochi Muziris Biennale: Interview with Dilip Menon by Riyas Komu and CS Venkiteswaran”

Deendayal Upadhyaya : BJP’s ‘Gandhi’ !

( This article would appear in the coming issue of ‘Think India Quarterly’)

(Photo Courtesy : jansatta)

 

 ..Kovind acknowledged that “the key to India’s success is its diversity” and “our diversity is the core that makes us so unique” and ended his speech with a call to build an egalitarian society as “envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi and Deendayal Upadhyayaji”… The Congress took umbrage at the way Kovind mentioned Upadhyaya in the same breath as the Mahatma. “The President should remember that he is not a BJP candidate any more. He is the President of India. He has to… rise above and think beyond party politics,” Congress veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad said.

(https://www.telegraphindia.com/1170726/jsp/frontpage/story_163934.jsp)

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In Search of an Icon

Fighters for Hindu Rashtra who have reached topmost echleons of power in this part of South Asia and are expected to extend and deepen their influence in coming times – if secular and democratic and left forces do not act together now – find themselves in a typical quandary. Continue reading “Deendayal Upadhyaya : BJP’s ‘Gandhi’ !”

एक  नायक की तलाश में भाजपा 

दीनदयाल उपाध्याय: भाजपा के ‘गांधी’

Image result for deendayal upadhyaya

( Photo Courtesy : thewire.in)

एक पेड़विहीन देश में एक एरंड भी बड़ा पेड़ कहलाता है – एक  संस्कृत सुभाषित का रूपांतरण

/In a treeless country even castor counts for a big tree/

/संदर्भ: http://www.epw.in/journal/2006/12/

 

राष्ट्रपति कोविन्द ने इस बात को स्वीकारा कि ‘‘भारत की कामयाबी की कंुजी उसकी विविधता में है’’ और ‘‘हमारी विविधता ही वह केन्द्र है जो हमें इतना अनोखा बनाती है’’। अपने भाषण का अन्त उन्होंने समतामूलक समाज बनाने के आवाहन के साथ किया जैसी ‘‘कल्पना महात्मा गांधी और दीनदयाल उपाध्यायजी’’ ने की थी।… महात्मा गांधी के साथ दीनदयाल उपाध्याय का नाम लेने पर कांग्रेस ने एतराज जाहिर किया। कांग्रेस के नेता गुलाम नबी आज़ाद ने कहा कि ‘‘राष्टपति को यह याद रखना चाहिए कि वह अब भाजपा के प्रत्याशी नहीं हैं। वह भारत के राष्ट्रपति हैं। उन्होंने दलीय राजनीति से ऊपर  उठना चाहिए।’’

(https://www.telegraphindia.com/1170726/jsp/frontpage/story_163934.jsp मूल अंग्रेजी से अनूदित )

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एक प्रतीक की खोज़

हिन्दु राष्ट्र के निर्माण के लिए प्रयासरत जमातें – जो फिलवक्त़ दक्षिण एशिया के इस हिस्से में हुकूमत के सबसे उंचे मुक़ाम पर पहुंची है – वह अपने आप को एक विचित्र दुविधा में फंसी पाती है। Continue reading “एक  नायक की तलाश में भाजपा “

Defend the tradition of fighting for the oppressed: Sohail Hashmi writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala

(This is the text of the open letter written by the eminent left cultural activist Sohail Hashmi to Com. Pinarayi Vijayan on the Hadiya case)

Continue reading “Defend the tradition of fighting for the oppressed: Sohail Hashmi writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala”

Preserve Kerala as the Shining Example of Democracy for India : Prof. Satish Deshpande writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala

(This is the text of the open letter from Prof. Satish Deshpande to the Chief Minister of Kerala on the Hadiya issue. Satish’s work Contemporary India, translated as Samakalika India, has been hugely influential in shaping the progressive understanding of Hindutva nationalism and communal hatred in Kerala.)

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The Honourable Chief Minister of Kerala

Shri Pinarayi Vijayan

6th October, 2017

Respected Sir,

Ever since I first came to Kerala in 1981 to study at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) at Thiruvanathapuram, I have been a committed supporter of everything that the left tradition of your great state has achieved by way of democratic innovations in governance and social practice. Even today, I believe that Kerala continues to be a shining example in many spheres where the rest of India lags far behind.

I was therefore shocked to read about the Hadiya case and the tacit and explicit state support that underwrite her virtual house arrest today. I am told that the man that Hadiya has chosen to marry and the organisation with which he is associated may have a questionable past. Whatever be the truth of this matter, the fact is that an adult citizen’s personal choices in matters like marriage cannot be undone by the state no matter how ill-considered that choice may appear to others. Moreover, in the current climate, it is surely not irrelevant that the religion in question is Islam – it is highly unlikely that this case would have attracted any attention if Hadiya had chosen to convert to some other religion.

It is highly embarrassing – to the say the least – that a government led by a party that can claim to have played a major role in transforming Kerala society for the better is today seen to be siding with the reactionary forces.

I appeal to you to use the power vested in you by the people of Kerala to end this travesty of justice and ensure that Hadiya is left free to live her life as she chooses.

With best wishes,

Satish Deshpande

(Professor of Sociology, Delhi University)

Let us rise to the defense of the Indian Constitution: Letter to the Kerala Chief Minister from Prof. Amit Bhaduri

[This is the text of the open letter written by eminent economist and leading development activist Prof. Amit Bhaduri, to Com. Pinarayi Vijayan] Continue reading “Let us rise to the defense of the Indian Constitution: Letter to the Kerala Chief Minister from Prof. Amit Bhaduri”