Category Archives: Culture

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

Statement on threatened arrest of Prof. Anand Teltumbde : AIFTRE

Guest Post by AIFTRE

AIFRTE condemns threatened arrest of Prof. Anand Teltumbde

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 Professor Anand Teltumbde, an IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus, IIT Professor, Executive Director of BPCL, Ex-MD & CEO of Petronet India, Senior Professor and Chair, Big Data Analytics in GIM, author of 26 books, columnist in EPW, writer of innumerable articles, a noted scholar of caste-class and public policy issues, Leading Public Intellectual and Democratic and Educational Rights Activist faces imminent threat of arrest as an ‘Urban Maoist’ in the vilest post-independence plot by the state.  

The criminal farce of exploiting an important day of commemoration for the Dalits, the anniversary of the battle that took place at Bhima-Koregaon in 1818 in which the Mahar soldiers played a leading role in defeating the Peshwa rulers, to incarcerate select human rights defenders, intellectuals and activists in peoples’ movements and curb dissent in the country is an unprecedented and blatant abuse of power

Justice P B Sawant, retired judge of the Supreme Court and Justice B G Kolse-Patil, ex-judge of the Bombay High Court invited activists and progressive intellectuals to the Elgar Parishad on 31 December 2017 at Shaniwarwada to mobilize people against the communal and casteist policies of the NDA government led by the BJP. More than 250 organizations joined, including  some Maratha organizations who had never before aligned politically with the Dalits. This alarmed the power obsessed BJP, which responded by commissioning its agent provocateurs, Milind Ekbote of Samastha Hindutva Aghadi and Sambhaji Bhide of Shiv Chhatrapati Pratishan, to create a rift between Dalits and Marathas.

At the end of the conference, participants took an oath not to vote for the BJP and to protect the constitution of India. The entire conference was video-recorded by the police as well as by the organizers. Nothing untoward took place at the conference and all the delegates dispersed peacefully.

On 1 January, when Dalits congregated at Bhima-Koregaon, the Hindutva goons mounted a planned attack pelting stones from the terraces of houses lining the road, beating people and burning stalls. The police merely looked on, establishing the administration’s complicity. Rumours that mischief was planned were widespread among common people, but the administration had feigned ignorance and allowed riots to happen. WhatsApp messages showed saffron flag bearers shouting slogans in the name of Ekbote and Bhide chasing and beating the Dalits who were caught unawares.

On 8 January, one Tushar Damgade, an RSS functionary and a disciple of Sambhaji Bhide, filed an FIR naming Kabir Kala Manch activists for organizing the Elgar Parishad, claiming that inflammatory speeches caused the violence on 1 January.

Nine days after the conference, the police began working according to this scripted plan. They raided houses of specific people and insinuated that Maoists had funded and organized the Parishad, ignoring the public statements by Justice Kolshe-Patil and in the chargesheet attached a statement attributed to Justice Sawant, which he has publicly denied.

APCO to Kotler – The Artificial Glossing of Modi’s Image

Narendra Modi is the first mainstream Indian politician who has tried to build his image rather assiduously. But the acceptance of an award with dubious connections does not add to the glory of the Prime Minister’s post.

Philip Kotler Award

Image Coutesy: The Indian Express

Narendra Modi, the present incumbent to the Prime Minister’s chair, had a little break the other day for an award ceremony. Well, little different from the usual award ceremonies — where the Prime Minister presents awards and gives some pep talk, here Modi himself was presented with the ’First-ever Philip Kotler Award’.

Perhaps looking at Modi’s much-publicised workaholic nature (if one is to believe what is written about him, he is reported to work 18 hours a day without any break) the organisers had seen to it that people who were to be presenting the award were flown in to save his time.

As expected, not only the bhakts but many of Modi’s cabinet colleagues could not hide their glee with this ‘first-ever’ award and went on overdrive to shower praise on him. Soon it dawned upon them that (thanks to The Wire report, which merely posed a few basic questions about this award) there was not much to be elated over this award, so they preferred to suddenly turn mute.

(Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/apco-kotler-artificial-glossing-modis-image)

 

 

 

 

 

विचार ही अब द्रोह !

(‘चार्वाक के वारिस : समाज, संस्कृति एवं सियासत पर प्रश्नवाचक ‘ की प्रस्तावना से)

कार्ल मार्क्‍स की दूसरी जन्मशती दुनिया भर में मनायी जा रही है।

दिलचस्प है कि विगत लगभग एक सौ पैंतीस सालों में जबसे उनका इन्तक़ाल हुआ, कई कई बार ऐसे मौके आए जब पूंजीवादी मीडिया में यह ऐलान कर दिया कि ‘मार्क्‍स इज डेड’ अर्थात ‘मार्क्‍स मर गया’; अलबत्ता, यह मार्क्‍स की प्रत्यक्ष मौत की बात नहीं थी बल्कि मानवमुक्ति के उस फलसफे के अप्रासंगिक होने की उनकी दिली ख्वाहिश को जुबां दिया जाना था, जो उनके नाम के साथ जाना जाता है। याद किया जा सकता है कि सोवियत रूस का विघटन होने के बाद और जिन दिनों पूंजीवाद की ‘अंतिम जीत’ के दावे कुछ अधिक जोर से उठने लगे थे, पूर्व सोवियत रूस के एक गणराज्य में बाकायदा एक पोस्टर मार्क्‍स की तस्वीर के साथ ‘‘मोस्ट वाटेंड’’ के नारे के साथ छपा था।

यह अलग बात है कि हर बार इस भविष्यवाणी को झुठला कर अग्निपक्षी/फिनिक्स की तरह मार्क्‍स राख से बार बार ‘नया जीवन’ लेकर उपस्थित होते रहे हैं। आलम तो यहां तक आ पहुंचा है कि 1999 में- अर्थात सोवियत रूस के विघटन के लगभग नौ साल बाद- बीबीसी के आनलाइन सर्वेक्षण में मार्क्‍स को सहस्त्राब्दी का सबसे बड़ा विचारक कहा गया था। Continue reading विचार ही अब द्रोह !

Thejus – The Death of a Daily Newspaper

[This is a GUEST POST by N P CHEKKUTTY]

 

It is rarely that a journalist writes about himself or herself, because they are supposed  to be detached observers of history-in-the-making. But this time I cannot help it because one of the things that happened in the Sabarimala-obsessed state of Kerala this week happens to be the demise of Thejas, a daily newspaper that I was associated with for almost 14 years. It was a death foretold over two and half months ago, but no one took notice and no one raised any serious concerns about the passing of a newspaper that existed in our civil society for over a decade. It is sad that the newspaper which was known for its fierce anti-Sangh Parivar positions leave the scene just a few months ahead of a general election that will decide the future course of this country. Continue reading Thejus – The Death of a Daily Newspaper