Category Archives: Culture

Decolonizing Thought – Beyond Indian/ Hindu Exceptionalism

A Decolonization mural in Oakland, USA, photo HiMYSYeD, Oakland Wiki

This post is prompted by a discussion that followed some remarks I had made on social media regarding the way in which a certain common sense that we may call ‘Hindu Nationalist’, had come to dominate the sensibilities of even those intellectuals in the Hindi world who otherwise might stand opposed to the Hindu Right. ‘Decolonizing’ has lately become a banner of the Hindu Right and for many otherwise secular Hindi intellectuals too,an occasion for an often strident anti-West rhetoric. Such a common sense assumes, simply by default, that the only “authentic” position of critique of the West is one framed by Hindu/ Indian exceptionalism. Needless to say, as I have argued at length in my recent book (Decolonizing Theory), the narrative that structures the imaginative world of many such modern Hindus is already a narrative produced by colonialism.

Continue reading Decolonizing Thought – Beyond Indian/ Hindu Exceptionalism

Why BJP Wants Meat Banned in Mathura

The BJP is imposing harmful dietary restrictions and refusing to accept that more Indians want to consume meat, fish and eggs for their nutritional benefits.

Mathura
Representational use only

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In 1902, the prolific British writer HG Wells delivered a philosophical speech titled “The Discovery of the Future” at the Royal Institution in London. Wells is often remembered for his “predictions”, for example, the approximate date when the second world war would begin. In this speech, he envisioned something else with equally significant ramifications—the collapse of the capitalist system. Wells also anticipated that a world of peace and plenty would follow in its wake.

What if someone, following Wells example, attempts a similar extrapolation for India? If anybody could foresee such things, what would they find lies ahead for the “biggest democracy” in the world?

In the absence of Wells, perhaps present-day events can be a map or guide to the future. For example, during recent Janamashtmi celebrations, Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced that his government would ban meat and liquor in Mathura city. He said the meat-sellers and liquor dealers of the area could switch to selling milk. According to his government, a meat and liquor ban would help combine “modern technology” with the cultural and spiritual heritage of the region.

( Read the full article here)

If Hindutva is dismantled, whom will it harm?

An upcoming conference in the USA, “Dismantling Global Hindutva”, organized by Indians in the USA, most of whom are legally “Hindus”, and supported by over 40 US universities, has provoked the ire of the Hindu Rashtravaadis there as well as in India. Conflating Hindutva with Hinduism is the first step. Based on this, the Hindu American Foundation claims this conference is “Hindu phobic”, that it will put the well-being of Hindu students and faculty at risk, and that “they may feel targeted or threatened, or face hostility or harassment” as a result of “the kinds of generalisations, misunderstandings, and ‘otherising’” the event will perpetuate.

Ho hum. Just another day in Hindu Rashtra-that-is-India then, for most of us “Hindus” who oppose the politics of Hindutva that promotes misunderstandings and otherises us, all the way to mob and media violence, lynchings and jail. It is from Hindutva that “Hindus” are most at risk in India today, not from any non-Hindu “Other”.

(Why these repeated quotation marks around “Hindu”? We will come to that).

An article in Firstpost uses words like “genocidal” and “xenophobic” to describe what this conference is going to be. The conference brochure shows “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) figures being uprooted, roots and all, with the claw end of a hammer”, and this is “genocidal” according to the author. Showing the German Nazi Party being uprooted would amount to genocide too, in this understanding, perhaps? Since Hindutvavaadis are actively seeking co-victimhood with victims of anti-Semitism, as another article explicitly states, they might want to reconsider this second conflation, of the neo-fascist RSS with “Hindu”. This second article says the conference will “dehumanize Hindus everywhere” and asks indignantly if a conference titled “Dismantling Global Jewry” would be acceptable. Continue reading If Hindutva is dismantled, whom will it harm?

Knoxpet to Murphy Town – and back: Janaki Nair

Guest Post by JANAKI NAIR

Images by CLARE ARNI

Inside the home of Arun, standing in front of the mural he created (August 2021)

Twenty one years ago, the photographer Clare Arni and I meandered through Murphy Town, shooting images for my exhibition and book on Bangalore. I had eyes only for the physical-material fabric of the place. A working class neighbourhood, designed in the 1920s by an inspired municipal engineer, Murphy, who wanted to build urban forms that would elevate the then leather workers – Tamil speaking Chuckliars producing saddles and boots for the army – to a higher and more respectable place than they had been assigned  in the cruelly divided, hierarchical world of caste.  I had read about the plans for transforming the area called Knoxpet in the archives, and wanted to see for myself how this unique experiment in social engineering had turned out in what came to called Murphy Town.

It was a near idyllic place, dotted with squares rimmed by low, tiled houses, shaded by at least two, sometimes more, capacious raintrees. Lines of washing sometimes crossed the squares, and there were goats and chickens minding their business, but it was a sight for sore eyes, a quiet leafy neighbourhood that workers – and shoemakers at that — could only dream about. We were content to feast our eyes on those visuals. I don’t think I fully realized the social importance of that little miracle that had been wrought in brick and tiles. The exhibition, Beladide Noda, Bengaluru Nagara! was held in three locations in Bangalore in 2000, and the book came out in 2005. They both featured the famous squares of Murphy Town. Continue reading Knoxpet to Murphy Town – and back: Janaki Nair

Some Remarks about Movements

Guest Post by Ravi Sinha

Accountability is foundational to democracy and, ultimately, people are supposed to take those in power to account through democratic processes and mechanisms. But, then, we also know what often happens in democracy. Electoral competition gives rise to ‘technologies’ (often religious, cultural and identity-based) which turn citizens into “Bhakts” (devotees) and storm-troopers (remember Hitler’s “Brownshirts”). The dark side of democracy comes on top more often than the other side. India is witnessing that disaster. Trump was a testimony to the same phenomenon in the United States.

But what about movements? Are they also supposed to be accountable to someone or something? One would presume that movements are accountable to their own missions, values, objectives, arguments and strategies. Is anyone taking the movements to account on that score?

One would imagine that the left movement has been taken sufficiently to account all over the world. So much so that, for most people, there is no longer any need to take it to account. In many eyes, it is finished. Why waste time on something that is finished? And yet, the most curious thing is that the left remains the favourite whipping boy of most other movements and their intellectual luminaries. Here in India a favourite pre-occupation of Dalit intellectuals is to expose the Savarna (upper caste) hegemony over the left movement and many feminists focus on the misogyny of leftists. As if in a survey of the Indian society, leftists have come on top as the most likely and most numerous perpetrators of oppression and violence against Dalits and women! There is no denying that left must be taken to task for all its ills and all its failings. But, should a movement that is often pronounced dead be the prime example when it comes to evaluating movements?

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh has declared that it would be the party that would actually build the Ram temple. This party is openly and loudly appealing to Brahmins as a caste to come into its fold. Babasaheb Ambedkar famously talked about annihilation of caste and declared that there is no scope of Dalit liberation under Hinduism. This irony is not confined to BSP. A Dalit is submissively the President under the current dispensation and an ex-Dalit Panther is a minister. All this can be explained away as pragmatic responses to the demands and rigours of democracy. But what about the movement itself? What about Ambedkar’s mission?

The question goes far deeper. Why is it the case that Hindutva has been able to make such inroads into Dalit communities? In what ways and to what degrees the ‘Hindu civilizational mind’ sits within the ‘Dalit cultural mind’? Why is it the case that in Gujarat carnage and elsewhere Dalits have been as much and as willing a part of the Hindutva “Brownshirts” as any other community? Why is it the case that an occasional Dalit leader who emerges as a fiery meteorite in the aftermath of a gruesome atrocity disappears as fast from the social and political horizon and the masters of the electoral machinations remain as much in control of the actual political arena?

One hopes that the theorists of social movements – from Columbia and Harvard Universities to JNU and Osmania – are earnestly grappling with this puzzle. We all know the simple and common-sense answers, but they do not suffice. The puzzle needs a deeper explanation. How long the intellectual prophets of the social movements remain content with celebrating the history and the survival of these movements? How long will Dalit writers remain content with asking the caste lineage of other (Savarna) writers and denouncing them for the surnames they use? How long will they be content with demanding monopoly over literary depiction and theoretical explanation of Dalit life and experience? Real questions and real challenges remain unattended.

(https://www.facebook.com/newsocialistinitiative.nsi/posts/2635781250063345)

Field report from protest against granite mining at Bodikonda: Chandra Sekhar

Guest post by Chandra Sekhar

All images courtesy the author

Background

Bodikonda is a monolithic stone hill in Lakshminarayanapuram village in Parvathipuram mandal in Vizianagaram district. This has been in the news on and off over the last two years or so, because local people have been protesting the lease given to private companies for mining colour granite, without their being consulted nor any sort of public hearing.

Three leases for quarrying coloured granite were granted and executed in favour of MSSS Srinivas for an extent of nine hectares, M Madhupriya for an extent of six hectares and Kishore Granites Pvt. Ltd. for another nine hectares ( total of 24.29 hectares) for a period of 20 years. This comprises almost 50% of the area of the total hill. These companies applied for a lease in 2010 to the Assistant Director of Mines and Geology, Vizianagaram, and new licences were given in December 2019.

Procedural Discrepancies Continue reading Field report from protest against granite mining at Bodikonda: Chandra Sekhar

Governments Must Implement the Constitution, Not Religious Texts

Several courts have tried to reign in states bent on holding religious events during the pandemic. Judiciary must more proactively prevent them as the third wave approaches.

Constituion of india

Simple things need retelling when society is in a state of flux. The fact that India is a republic—has been one for more than 70 years—where sovereignty rests with the people and not with scriptures is one fact. That India runs by its Constitution and laws under it is another fact.

The Uttarakhand High Court reminded the state government of these facts when it objected to proposals to live-stream the historic Char Dham Yatra on the plea that the scriptures do not sanction it. The court rejected the petition, saying India is a democracy where the rule of law, not religious texts, govern.

( Read the full text here)

Stan Swamy’s Custodial Murder – Joining the Dots From Santhal Hul To the Pathalgadi Movement

Fr. Stanislaus Lourduswamy aka Stan Swamy, image by Sarah Modak, courtesy Article 14

There are just no words left to express the anger and helplessness that overcame hundreds and thousands of people like me when they heard of the custodial murder of an ailing, frail, octogenarian, Fr Stanislaus Lourduswamy, known to the world as Stan Swamy. The various issues that arise from the virtual judicial abdication of responsibility has been powerfully articulated by former Delhi High Court Chief Justice, AP Shah and one can hardly add to that. What is perhaps the most shocking is not that the judiciary abdicated in observing its duty of upholding the Constitutional rights of a citizen but that it seems to have lost even the minimum grace and human concern.

“Medical reports taken on record clearly showed that Fr Swamy had the degenerative Parkinson’s disease, and could not even do basic tasks, such as holding a spoon, writing, walking or bathing. Indeed, the court noted that he had a severe hearing problem, and was physically very weak. But even that did not move them. Every regular bail application that was filed by his lawyers was unequivocally rejected.” 

This is shocking beyond words – or used to be once upon a time. But as each day of this regime passes, our threshold of taking shock increases by leaps and bounds. Are we really surprized now, that while this was how they treated Stan Swamy, a goon who had just the other day openly called for mob violence and “shooting down anti-nationals” has now been promoted to the Central ministry?

Continue reading Stan Swamy’s Custodial Murder – Joining the Dots From Santhal Hul To the Pathalgadi Movement

How Might a Feminist Respond to a Collegial Mansplaining of Feminism? Anannya Dasgupta

Guest post by ANANNYA DASGUPTA

Scroll had recently featured the Foreword to a book, with the heading ‘What do allies write about when they write (poetry) about feminism?’ The descriptive tag read – Saikat Majumdar surveys a unique anthology in his Foreword to ‘Collegiality and Other Ballads’. What makes this anthology unique? Sometime in 2020, Shamayita Sen had circulated a call ‘seeking poems on feminist ideology’ from ‘non-women’. I remember thinking, surely the call will be revised; feminist allies must know that there is a problem with excluding women from a space meant to check the pulse of contemporary feminisms. Besides, who is non-woman enough to want to be a part of such a man-book? While the premise of the book was not revised, the category ‘non-woman’ has been. The title page of the anthology now reads: Collegiality and Other Ballads with a tag – feminist poetry by males and non-binary allies. The opening line of Majumdar’s Foreword adds to the uniqueness of this mostly male-only feminist anthology by attributing uniqueness to feminism itself: ‘Feminism is the name of a unique battle.’

Continue reading How Might a Feminist Respond to a Collegial Mansplaining of Feminism? Anannya Dasgupta

Sushant Singh Rajput, Hindu Rashtra and Bollywood

A slightly longer version of this post was published under a different title in  Southasia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal (Issue 24/25, 2020)

A young, successful, Hindi film actor died in tragic circumstances.  What followed was a sensational real life movie, scripted in the headquarters of Hindu Rashtra, as part of its larger campaign to control the cultural arena.

Sushant Singh Rajput was found hanging in his bedroom in a Mumbai flat in June 2020, and it was initially declared as suicide by the Mumbai police. Within days however, the hashtag Justice for SSR started trending, and suddenly thousands of devoted and inconsolable fans had sprung up all over social media, all attacking “Bollywood” (the Bombay film industry) for its “nepotism” which had deprived a talented actor of work, driving him to suicide. “Boycott Bollywood” was a key theme in this frenzied outpouring of apparent grief.  From here it escalated to claims that Rajput had been murdered, and that a drug cartel linked to Bollywood stars was involved in the crime. Soon these claims were all that one could see on social media, and on some Hindi, Marathi and English television channels, specially Republic and Times Now, which specialize in sensationalist and blatantly pro-Hindutva political reportage, including fake news (for one instance see Bajpai 2020). Continue reading Sushant Singh Rajput, Hindu Rashtra and Bollywood

Who Feels the Pain of the Injured?

India’s most prominent sports and entertainment figures have to traverse a long distance to achieve true greatness.

Who feels the Pain of the Injured?

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Freepik

The racial bias in the American education system came under the scanner recently from an unexpected quarter. The occasion was a series of events to mark the 100th anniversary of an organised massacre of Blacks in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921. Mobs of violent white supremacists had destroyed the prosperous black Greenwood neighbourhood in a well-planned and predetermined manner, many aided and abetted by city officials, who provided arsonists with weapons. Actor-filmmaker Tom Hanks, regarded as an American cultural icon, underlined the conspiracy of silence in the school curriculum around this tragic race massacre in which 300 Black people died, and 10,000 became destitute or homeless.

In his essay, “You Should Learn the Truth about Tulsa Race Massacre”, published this month in the New York Times, Hanks unpacks the systematic cover-up of the massacre and other instances of racial bias and discrimination that the school education system papers over. He writes that white teachers and school administrators prioritise white feelings over Black experiences, which helps them omit “volatile” topics and preserve the status quo. Hanks has not limited his focus to the racial bias in the American education system but admits the role of Bollywood in shaping “what is history and what is forgotten”.

Have the icons of entertainment in India ever taken a leaf out of Hank’s book and searched their soul about the exclusions, discriminations and humiliations rampant in Indian society and their “industry”? For example, forty-two people, most of them Dalit women and children, were killed in the Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu in 1969 by local landlords. The Kilvenmani massacre took place more than a half-century ago. On its fiftieth anniversary, a series of remembrance events were held across the country, not unlike the events that marked the Tulsa race violence. The Thanjavur killings are said to be the first massacre of their kind in independent India. No perpetrator of this attack ever got punished. The court held that since the alleged attackers belonged to the upper strata of society, it was difficult to believe that they had walked into the village…(Read the full text here))

मुक्तिबोध : हृदय के पंख टूटने पर

यह मुक्तिबोध की जन्मशती नहीं है. कोई ऐसा अवसर जिसके बहाने कवि या रचनाकार पर वार्ता फिर से शुरू करने का आयोजन किया जाए. एक तरह से यह मुक्तिबोध को असमय, बिना किसी प्रसंग के पढ़ने का निमंत्रण है. हर दूसरे दिन हम मुक्तिबोध के साथ हाजिर होंगे.

मुक्तिबोध शृंखला;1

प्रिय नेमि बाबू,

आपका पत्र नहीं. समय का भाव नित्य से अधिक ही होगा. पर याद आपकी आती रहती है. आजकल धूप अच्छी खिलती है और मन तैर तैर उठता है, और आपकी याद भी इसी सुनहले रास्ते से उतर आया करती है.”

देखा अक्टूबर का ख़त है. 26 अक्टूबर,1945 का. शारदीया धूप ही रही होगी? सोचता हूँ, मुक्तिबोध को “अँधेरे में” लिखने में अभी वक्त है. कोई 13 साल बाद वे इस कविता को लिखना शुरू करेंगे. और फिर उनकी याद से धीरे-धीरे यह धूप, यह सुनहली धूप पोंछ दी जाएगी. मुक्तिबोध अँधेरे के कवि रह जाएँगे. भीषण, भयंकर के भावों के.

उस युवा कवि का, लेखक का अपने मित्र को उसका पत्र न मिलने पर दिया गया उलाहना आगे पढ़ता हूँ. धूप ने उसके मन को रंग दिया है.

“गो मैं यह सोचता हूँ कि यह सब गलत है. दिन के बँधे हुए कार्य को अधिक बाँधकर करने के पक्ष में रहते हुए भी कामचोरी से दिली मुहब्बत टूट नहीं पाती. मैं मानता हूँ कि कर्तव्य ही सबकुछ है. … क्या ज़रूरी है कि कर्तव्य किया ही जाय और उस समय आनेवाली आपकी याद को बाहर खड़ा रखकर मन के दरवाज़े को बंद कर दिया जाय.”

यह कर्तव्य है रोज़मर्रा की ज़िंदगी को पटरी से लगाए रखने का कर्तव्य. जो आदमी को धीरे धीरे घिस डालता है और उसे औसतपन की सतह से बाँध देता है. इससे कैसे छुटकारा पाएँ?

Continue reading मुक्तिबोध : हृदय के पंख टूटने पर

Image Management and Rhetoric – India’s Tale of Pandemic catastrophe: Irshad Rashid

Guest post by IRSHAD RASHID

         

 ‘Something is rotten in the state of Denmark’, laments Hamlet, the Prince in the eponymous play by Shakespeare. Today everything seems rotten in the Indian State. The way lives are being lost amidst this raging pandemic – with the wilful indifference and callousness of the Indian State and its appendages—calls our attention to what looms over the helm of the affairs of the state.

Continue reading Image Management and Rhetoric – India’s Tale of Pandemic catastrophe: Irshad Rashid

Missing footsoldiers seek positivity amid raging pandemic

While Rome never burned, Nero never played the fiddle…

RSS

Pragya Singh Thakur, the Lok Sabha Member of Parliament from Bhopal, would never have imagined that the leading Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar would mark her return to her constituency after a 70-day gap with a sarcastic article published on its front page. The headline read, “He Digvijayi Sadhvi Pragya! Shukriya, Aap Ko Bhopal ki Yaad to Aayi—O World Conqueror, Many Thanks, You Remembered Bhopal at Last.”

The daily was giving vent to the feelings of the lakhs of citizens of the capital of Madhya Pradesh. Some had even organised a social media campaign revolving around their “missing” MP.

The last time Thakur was in the city was 2 March, to participate in a condolence meeting for a BJP leader. Thereafter, she was away from the city. The intervening period had proved extremely harsh for residents due to the deadly second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has already claimed hundreds of lives

The anger of citizens was palpable. That is why the daily asked her, “When Bhopal was sick and desperate for help, you were not to be seen. When the city needed oxygen and Remdesivir, you were still not here.”

The absence of an elected leader belonging to the ruling dispensation when people need her the most raises a pertinent question. Was this an exception? Forget the fact that the BJP-Sangh Parivar repeatedly claim they are “disciplined soldiers”, a number of those associated with right-wing organisations have gone missing in action. 

( Read the full article here)

पितृसत्तात्मक हिंसा के प्रति शून्य सहिष्णुता की नीति अपना कर अपने संघर्षों को मज़बूत करें! – नारीवादी व महिला संगठनों के बयान

टिकरी बॉर्डर पर युवा महिला कार्यकर्त्ता के साथ यौन हिंसा और अपहरण पर सार्वजनिक बयान, 9 मई, 2021

बंगाल से आयी असोसियेशन फॉर प्रोटेक्शन ऑफ़ डेमोक्रेटिक राइट्स (एपीडीआर), श्रीरामपुर की 26 वर्षीय कार्यकर्त्ता के 30 अप्रैल 2021 को बहादुरगढ़, हरियाणा में हुए निधन पर हमें गहरा अफ़सोस है। यह युवती किसान आंदोलन से बेहद प्रेरित हुई और 2 से 11 अप्रैल को बंगाल में आन्दोलन का प्रचार कर रहे किसान सोशल आर्मी के साथ टिकरी बॉर्डर पर आंदोलन के प्रति अपना समर्थन दर्ज कराने आयी थी। उसे खोने का शोक मनाते हुए, हम टिकरी बॉर्डर पर उसके द्वारा बिताये चंद दिनों के दौरान उसके साथ हुए घटनाक्रम के बारे में सुन कर भी बेहद चिंतित और परेशान हैं।

Continue reading पितृसत्तात्मक हिंसा के प्रति शून्य सहिष्णुता की नीति अपना कर अपने संघर्षों को मज़बूत करें! – नारीवादी व महिला संगठनों के बयान

Strengthening our Struggles through Zero Tolerance to Patriarchal Violence: Statement by Women’s organizations

Public Statement on the Sexual Assault and Abduction of a Young Woman Activist at Tikri Border issued on 9 May 2021

We deeply mourn the death of a 26-year old activist from APDR (Sreerampur) in West Bengal, who passed away on 30th April, 2021 at Bahadurgarh in Haryana. She was deeply inspired by the farmers’ movement and had gone to express her solidarity at the Tikri border with the Kisan Social Army who had been campaigning around Bengal from 2nd April to 11th April, 2021. As we mourn her loss, we are also deeply troubled and concerned on hearing the events that had unfolded during her short stay at the Tikri border.

Continue reading Strengthening our Struggles through Zero Tolerance to Patriarchal Violence: Statement by Women’s organizations

Why ensuring dalit human rights is still a tough task in the 21 st century

‘Sunped in Haryana and Natham in Tamil Nadu, separated from each other by hundreds of kilometers, populated by communities speaking different languages and cultures, find themselves connected because of this ‘Unity in Diversity’ of a different kind; being witness to atrocities on Dalits in very many ways.’

Representational image. | Image Courtesy: Wall Street Journal

“The Smallest Coffins are the Heaviest”.

Sunped, a small village in Faridabad, Haryana, hit the national headlines recently once again, when a CBI court gave its verdict in case of the deaths of two Dalit children.

If memory does not fail you, one would recall that this village had witnessed the deaths of two children – two and a half year-old Vaibhav and ten-month-old Divya – who were burned alive and their parents Rekha and Jitender suffering burn injuries half a decade ago. 

These deaths in a village which had a background of simmering conflict between dominant castes and Dalits, despite police protection provided to the ill-fated family, had caused  tremendous uproar at the national level. Rallies and marches were held in different parts of the state and in the rest of India as well, demanding justice for the family. A callous statement by a Union Cabinet Minister about the incident where he argued that the government cannot be held responsible if “someone throws stones at a dog” had then added further fuel to the fire.

Perhaps to douse popular anger, the state government led by Manohar Lal Khattar had ordered a CBI enquiry into the case. It also took into custody eleven members of the dominant caste (namely Rajputs) from Sunped for their alleged involvement in these killings, based on a complaint by the victims.  

The verdict by the CBI court in the case has landed the struggle for justice in this particular case into a black hole. 

( Read the full article here)

What happens when faith overrides sense ?

The severity of the second wave and the government’s unpreparedness demonstrate the limits of ‘strong’ leadership and religion-based politics.

What Happens When Faith Overrides Sense?
Image : Courtesy PTI

It was 1527, and Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation, wrote a letter advising a Lutheran leader what a believer should do during an epidemic. Europe was in the deadly grip of the bubonic plague at the time. It had killed thousands of people.

Extracts of his letter are relevant even today, especially the parts where Luther talks about what to do during an epidemic: “…Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence.”

Tirath Singh Rawat, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, perhaps does not know of this letter or its contents. Surprisingly, he does not even seem to recall the experiences from last year. In fact, much of what happened during the Covid epidemic seems lost on him. In 2020, public places of worship and religious gatherings became super-spreaders of the virus. That is why, for the first time, religious congregations were banned everywhere from Mecca to the Vatican to arrest the spread of the pandemic.

So, it is strange that Rawat cannot recall how believers took the back seat and ceded space to science during the first wave. Indeed, he has made a specious claim that faith in God will overcome the fear of the virus, in the context of the Kumbh Mela, a gathering where tens of lakhs of people gathered earlier this month.

( Read the full text here )

Living with the Virus ?

Whether people of the world will have to learn to live with the virus?

As India and many parts of the world seem to be engulfed by the second or third wave of the Coronavirus epidemic – which looks more dangerous – this idea is being pushed from different quarters.  Newspaper articles or surveys or studies have appeared in different publications which seem to be pushing this narrative.

Sample conclusions of a study done jointly by Emory and Penn State University which say “One year after its emergence, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has become so widespread that there is little hope of elimination.” This appeared in an article in USA Today . A famous journal Nature also shared a survey which talked to Scientists and around 90 per cent of the Scientists polled talked of how Covid is likely to be endemic in pockets of the global population.(do)

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क्या हो बच्चे का धर्म ?

“Five minutes after your birth, they decide your name, nationality, religion, and sect, and you spend the rest of your life defending something you did not even choose.”

: Quote, unnamed

1.

आप कह सकते हैं कि पहली दफा मैं इस पहेली से तब रूबरू हुआ था या कह सकते हैं कि अधिक गंभीरता से सोचने लगा जब बंबई की इस ख़बर ने ध्यान खींचा था.

किस्सा थोड़ा पुराना लग सकता है अलबत्ता आज भी मौजूं.

मराठी परिवार में जनमी एक युवती और गुजराती परिवार में पले युवक ने- जिन्होंने अन्तरधर्मीय विवाह किया है और बम्बई में बसे थे- दरअसल यह तय किया कि वह अपनी नवजन्मी सन्तान के साथ किसी धर्म को चस्पां नहीं करेंगे. उनका मानना था कि बड़े होकर उनकी सन्तान जो चाहे वह फैसला कर ले, आस्तिकता का वरण कर ले, अज्ञेयवादी बन जाए या धर्म को मानने से इनकार कर दे, लेकिन उसकी अबोध उम्र में उस पर ऐसे किसी निर्णय को लादना गैरवाजिब होगा.

निश्चित ही अपने इस फैसले पर अमल करने में उनके सामने काफी बाधाएं आयीं. सन्तान का जन्म प्रमाणपत्र तैयार करने में अलग-अलग दफ्तरों के चक्कर काटने पड़े, एक अफसर ने तो युवती से पूछ लिया कि क्या तुम्हें अपने धर्म पर गर्व नहीं है ?  युवती ने तपाक से जवाब दिया कि भले ही वह धर्म को मानने वाले परिवार में जन्मी हो, लेकिन किसी भी रीति रिवाज को नहीं मानती और अहम बात यह है कि क्या एक जनतांत्रिक धर्मनिरपेक्ष देश में मां बाप यह फैसला नहीं ले सकते कि वह अपनी संतान को किसी धर्म से नत्थी नहीं करेंगे.

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Exploring ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ Through Medieval Sanskrit Narratives: Rahul Govind

In this guest post, RAHUL GOVIND gives us, by way of a review of Audrey Truschke’s book, a glimpse of the world of medieval Sanskrit and what they tell us about ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ identity in their own time.

The Language of History – Audrey Truschke

Why Audrey Truschke’s The Language of History is essential reading for every Indian (and Pakistani and Bangladeshi)

There is the view that the medieval period of Indian history witnessed an all-consuming battle between Hindus (who were native to India) and Muslims (who came to India as conquerors).  This originated as a typical colonial strategy of ‘divide and rule’ in the 19th century, but then transformed into a communal politics that ultimately led to Partition. In India today this very view is becoming a dominant one, where the medieval period is assumed to be nothing but the destruction of an ancient indigenous Sanskritic culture by invading Muslims.

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