Category Archives: Culture

When ‘Strange’ Visitors Called on Ram Puniyani

Recall Kalburgi and Shahid Azmi? There are several such unconnected looking incidents in recent times that are part of the same mindset that looks for ‘internal enemies’ in every dissenting voice.

When ‘Strange’ Visitors Called on Ram Puniyani

Image for representational use only.Image Courtesy : Siasat

Ram Puniyani, the affable and relentless campaigner for communal harmony and peace, who at the age of 73 displays the enthusiasm of a 25-year-old ever ready to go from place to place with his characteristic bag full of literature, had some unusual visitors in his house a few days ago.

What was rather strange was that the trio that visited his house in plain clothes on March 9, introduced themselves from CID but were reluctant to show their identity cards and supposedly had come to make enquiries regarding a non-existent passport application, as neither Professor Puniyani nor anyone else from his family had applied for the same.

( Read the full text here : https://www.newsclick.in/when-strange-visitors-called-ram-puniyani)

 

 

A Statement against Suppression of Dissent by IACLALS

We are publishing below a statement sent to us by the Indian Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies against the suppression and criminalizing of dissent in India

The Indian Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (IACLALS) expresses its deep dismay over the continuing assault on civic freedoms and constitutional rights of writers, teachers, students, human rights activists and public intellectuals in the country. The current political climate of fear and intimidation – fuelled and vindicated by the state and the ruling party – has simultaneously targetted entire communities through a range of religious-ethnic violence, as much as it has sought to silence conscientious voices that have spoken up against such onslaughts. Vacuous rhetorical constructions like “anti-national” and “urban naxal” – with no basis in fact or in principles of democratic governance – have been repeatedly manufactured as the grounds for punitive-legal action and media trials, through the invoking of outdated colonial codes like the sedition laws. The latest of these forms of orchestrated witch-hunt has seen the attempted arrest or chargesheeting of Hiren Gohain, Anand Teltumbde and of several JNU students – in the cause of raking up an electoral consensus against the spirit of scientific inquiry and free-thinking.

The IACLALS’ academic investments have engaged with and gained from the works and ideas of these scholars, who now face the ire of the state. As a scholarly association, we believe in the need and power of a critical public sphere, as the only promise of a living democracy. We stand in firm solidarity with them, and strongly condemn every attempt being made at gagging forms of dissent and enforcing regimes of censorship.

Pondicherry University, Feb. 8, 2019.

GJV Prasad (Chariperson), Subhendu Mund and M. Asaduddin (Vice Chairpersons), Rina Ramdev (Secretary), Angelie Multani (Treasurer)

 

Celebrating Dalit Achievements: C. K. Raju

Guest post by C.K. RAJU

It was B. R. Ambedkar who first publicised the 22 Mahar names inscribed on the pillar commemorating the battle of Bhima-Koregaon.  Ambedkar, a Mahar himself, had experienced great indignities, and everyone appreciates his quest for a symbol of dalit achievement. Much has been written since on Bhima-Koregaon, but one question has not been asked:  is there really such a paucity of symbols of dalit achievement?

Not actually. There is no dearth of dalit and ‘lower caste’ achievers. Sages from such backgrounds range from Valmiki, author of the Ramayana, to Tukaram, Kabir, and Sri Narayana Guru. Dalit warriors and kings range from the Nanda dynasty, mere reports of whose mighty army so frightened Alexander’s troops (according to Plutarch), to the Chalukyas (who were dalits according to Bilhan), the Bhils, the Gonds, and to Udham Singh who avenged Jallianwallah Bagh.

Continue reading Celebrating Dalit Achievements: C. K. Raju

Will MIT Show Swamy the Door like Harvard Did?

A campaign is gathering steam against MIT inviting BJP leader Subramanian Swamy for a conference on February 16

Subramanian Swamy

Image Coutesy: Scroll

‘We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides — on many sides,”

– Donald Trump on Charlottesville violence

The year was 2017 when the Charlottesville violence happened, when White Supremacists – supporters of Ku Klux Klan or KKK – killed a young man and wounded several others, by ramming a car into a rally of counter protesters. What had further shocked people was that instead of condemning this planned, one-sided violence, President Donald Trump had tried to ‘discover’ equivalence by talking about ‘violence on many sides’ for which he received enough opprobrium.

Yes, there was a single Indian politician who had come out in full support of Trump’s stand who had urged US-based Indians ‘to stand with Trump’ when he was being ‘hunted by cockeyed liberals and Left wing loonies on racism’.

Not a long ago, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy was in the news again when he targeted Priyanka Gandhi, younger sister of Congress President Rahul Gandhi, when she was appointed as the general secretary of the Congress Party. He had alleged that she ‘suffers from bipolar disorder and beats up people’, and that she was misfit for public life. He had no qualms about thus humiliating the entire community of ‘specially abled people’, and had exhibited his utter ignorance about the fact that with proper diagnosis and treatment, people with such a disorder can lead healthy and productive lives.

Variously described as a political maverick, a ‘Muckraker-in-Chief’ or a colourful politician, Swamy is in the news once again.

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/will-mit-show-swamy-door-harvard-did ?)

And Somewhere There are Engineers …

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A conversation with youngsters – who are by nature bubbling with energy , fired with idealism and suffused with innumerable questions – is a thing which everyone with grey hair looks forward to.

For someone like me it is an added gift this morning that after exactly a gap of forty years this writer is with students of engineering helping him rekindle memories of his own days of engineering in the city of Varanasi. A really exciting period when few of us had come together to do something for society as well. A period worth remembering when we were engaged in running evening classes for deprived sections in neighbouring villages, learning from their life experiences and in spare time reading good literature, tracking trajectories of different revolutions, debating, discussing, brainstorming what else can be done to awaken the society around. Continue reading And Somewhere There are Engineers …

In Imagination, in Resistance, in Solidarity and Rage – People’s Literary Festival in Kolkata: Tamoghna Halder

Guest post by TAMOGHNA HALDER

“It was the unlikeliest setting for a ‘literature festival’. A run-down auditorium with rickety chairs secured with rope. Noisy ceiling and pedestal fans. Battle scarred tables covered with threadbare cloth. But the first edition of the People’s Lit Fest, held in Kolkata, was designed to be just that – a radically different interpretation of literature and its role in modern India”

These were the opening lines of a report by Scroll.in, on the 1st edition of People’s Literary Festival, 2018. In less than a couple of weeks, the 2nd edition of People’s Literary Festival (henceforth, PLF) will commence, once again at that run-down auditorium with rickety chairs, namely ‘Sukanta Mancha’ in Kolkata. The present article hopes to shed some light on the reasons why those rickety chairs or the noisy fans are related to PLF, but before that, as a member of Bastar Solidarity Network (Kolkata Chapter), I feel compelled to explain why we even organize PLF in the first place.

Continue reading In Imagination, in Resistance, in Solidarity and Rage – People’s Literary Festival in Kolkata: Tamoghna Halder

Law versus faith, female activists versus male devotees and other strange creatures at Sabarimala

Images of resistance

The three images below teach us how society is transformed – by the courage and determination of the oppressed and marginalized; by tears of rage, and by stony cold resistance in the face of violent retaliation by entrenched power.  It is not that these pioneers were fearless, but that they acted despite their fear.

The first shows Kairali TV camera-person Shajila Ali Fathima, tears running down her face as she continues filming the vandalism of Hindu right-wing mobs over the Sabarimala issue, despite being threatened and physically attacked (her neck was hurt, and she has since been advised a cervical collar and rest).

The second shows fifteen year old Elizabeth Eckford walking steadfastly past the hostile screams and stares of white segregationists on her first day of school in 1957, after the US Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in schools.

And the third shows the Kalaram Temple satygraha, led by BR Ambedkar and BK Gaikwad in 1930, to fight for the right of Dalits to enter the temple.  Almost nine decades later, Dalits still face immense hostility and violence towards their right to worship and participate in temple festivals.

Women are activists, men are devotees

Continue reading Law versus faith, female activists versus male devotees and other strange creatures at Sabarimala