It could have been me: Rajamathangi S

Guest Post by RAJAMATHANGI S

I am one of the fortunate PhD scholars lucky enough to study in JNU. I am a Dalit woman.  My mother is my family’s main breadwinner and my father struggles as a daily wager. I have two siblings who are younger than me. My mother is a low paid private school teacher today because of the education, which her single mother provided to her. My maternal grandmother who became a widow at a young age, didn’t sit inside the house after her husband passed away, she works as a sanitation worker even today, a profession that is considered a taboo by her community people. It is the hard work of these two women that has helped me reach this position.

Because of my family situation my school education was scattered all over Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. I never studied in one school for more than two years. So one can understand how many types of schools and people I have experienced with. I started my schooling in a convent in Pondicherry. Then I went to three matriculation schools before I completed my 6th standard; after that because of my family’s economic condition I was put in Government and aided schools from class 7 till the completion of class 12. Irrespective of changing schools every alternate year I was good at my studies, I was always encouraged and motivated by my friends and by my teachers. I was always fortunate when it came to teachers: teachers stood by me in all my obstacles throughout my education wherever I went and JNU has been no exception to this.

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The Unapologetic Indian Muslim: Sabiha Farhat

Guest Post by SABIHA FARHAT

These are tough times for muslims in India.  But now that I look back and shed my ‘liberal’ prejudices – muslims were never acceptable as ‘who they were’ in Indian society.  I had always blamed my mother for not giving me proper lunch box to carry to school.  But the truth is that even in class 5, no student ate from my tiffin and gradually I started going to the play field in recess rather than enjoying a meal under the big Peepal tree.  After that I took tiffin only when I prepared it myself, that was class 11 & 12.  But even then the girls would hardly eat from my lunch box.  We did sit together but no one touched my food.  Was I the Untouchable?

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New Politics of Our Times and Post-Capitalist Futures

An earlier version of this essay was published in Outlook magazine

“The young students are not interested in establishing that neoliberalism works – they’re trying to understand where markets fail and what to do about it, with an understanding that the failures are pervasive. That’s true of both micro and macroeconomics. I wouldn’t say it’s everywhere, but I’d say that it’s dominant.
“In policymaking circles I think it’s the same thing. Of course, there are people, say on the right in the United States who don’t recognise this. But even many of the people on the right would say markets don’t work very well, but their problem is governments are unable to correct it.”
Stiglitz went on to argue that one of the central tenets of the neoliberal ideology – the idea that markets function best when left alone and that an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth – has now been pretty much disproved. Read the full report by Will Martin here

One often hears over-zealous warriors of neoliberalism say of Leftists that they live in a time- warp; that the world has long changed and that the disappearance of state-socialism has finally proved that all their beliefs were little more than pipe-dreams. They talk as though history came to an end with the collapse of actually existing socialisms and the global ascendance of neoliberalism in the early 1990s. As though all thought came to an end; as if the distilled essence of everything that could ever be thought, or need be thought, was already encapsulated in the neoliberal dogma.

Continue reading “New Politics of Our Times and Post-Capitalist Futures”

Who will get the hot roti in the Delhi assembly elections?

My friend Guddi has a great story about a Gujjar wedding she attended recently in Ghaziabad. It was a typically chaotic event, marked accurately by the swirling crowds around the dinner stalls. If Gujjar weddings are chaotic and the dinner doubly so, the scene around the tandoor is triply compounded chaos. Barely concealed competition amongst overmuscled Gujjar men in overtight pants for that precious hot roti ensures that none but the most Hobbesian men remain, circling the tandoor like hungry wolves, periodically thrusting their plate forward like fencing champions and shouting obscenities at the harried servers. In such a heart-stopping scenario, a young server had as Guddi recounts, figured out the formula to keep everybody from killing each other (or him). As soon as the roti would be pulled out of the tandoor, seductively golden brown and sizzling, this man would hold it high up with his tongs so everybody could see, then in an elaborate dance-like ritual, touch each of the empty extended plates in front of him with the roti, and finally, in a mysterious but authoritative decision, place it respectfully on a randomly selected plate. Repeat with every single roti that emerged from the tandoor. A hushed silence followed by nervous laughter followed every such flourish.

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Ban self-styled vigilante groups in India – Petition

PETITION ON CHANGE.ORG

Parts of the petition are reproduced below. Follow the link given at the end to sign the petition.

Incidents of mob violence by vigilante groups have become alarmingly common in many parts of India. These groups have frequently committed serious crimes, including harassment, assault and murder…

In spite of these groups repeatedly committing atrocities against minorities, nothing substantial has been done to stop them. The Central and several State Governments have remained silent. In addition, the authorities have extended no support to the victims, predominantly Muslims and Dalits, who have lost their lives and livelihoods.

The recent debates in the Rajya Sabha and the intervention of the Supreme Court are a step towards improvement. An earlier criticism by the Prime Minister proved to be inefficient as the vigilantes continued to operate as before.

Clearly, greater social awareness and resistance is needed to combat vigilante groups. Through this petition, we express our support for the decision of the Supreme Court and demand

1. An immediate ban on vigilante groups irrespective of any cause that has brought them into existence.

2. Unconditional and unequivocal condemnation of vigilantism from the National and State Governments.

3. Social support and compensation for victims.

SIGN THE PETITION HERE.

Individuality and a Liberal Error – A Response to Pratap Mehta: Huzaifa Omair Siddiqi

Guest post by HUZAIFA OMAIR SIDDIQI

It has often been broadcast that we live in a post-truth age. In fact we live in an age better envisioned as one of post-certainty, where everything and every fact is liable to be pronounced uncertain and doubtful. The problem with the mainstream liberal discourse is its inability to catch up to the inevitable demise of certainty in the political sphere. What was most certain, according to Descartes, was the being of one’s own ego. In this age of post-certainty, this is the last certainty which the liberal discourse still seems to stick to, in the name of ‘individual rights’, without ever understanding the real essence of the question of individuality.

Muhammad Iqbal was the public intellectual of the last century who made this question of individuality his very own guiding question. This guiding question, how does individuation happen, was part of his desire to formulate his basic question, how does the community of individuals come into being? Pratap Bhanu Mehta, in his opinion piece in The Indian Express has sought to diagnose the tragedy of Iqbal as one which in its sacrifice of the rights of the individual, attempted to pursue the consolidation of the truly spiritual community. Mehta, one of India’s finest public intellectuals, cannot be questioned within this paradigm of liberal thinking.

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Thinking Past the BJP Victory in UP – Response to Biju Mathew: C.P. Geevan

Guest post by CP GEEVAN

The following is a response to the piece by Biju Mathew on Kafila, underlining the need for single-minded focus and keep the feet firmly on political realities

Given the exuberant optimism that Biju Mathew evokes in these dark days, many of us afflicted by malignant pessimism should not have many reasons to complain or pick holes in this view of looking back and foreseeing the way forward. On the face of it, this article does gladden one’s heart and spirit! However, imagining larger than life attributes to struggles and spells of resistance can be very misleading. In a way, with a rather benevolent interpretation, one cannot quarrel with Biju’s contention that nobody needs to wait for some political party to lead the resistances against the far-right takeover or start the process of breaking the ‘wave’. There is no hesitation in agreeing with the proposition that instead of waiting, which carries the risk of waiting indefinitely, it is imperative that each individual who is appalled at the turn of events must contribute urgently to building ‘innovative and locally responsive actions’. Well, inaction is certainly not an option. Act we must – in the face of the frightening likelihood of the saffron brigade unleashing a horrific civil war and engineering mass killings. There are no quarrels as to the primary intent of the article – that it is a call to shed excessive pessimism, end despondency, and take steps towards politically meaningful actions. Nevertheless, it will be a big mistake to imply that the process of banishing the gloom need not extend to the political rivals of the Hindutva nationalist parties. Continue reading “Thinking Past the BJP Victory in UP – Response to Biju Mathew: C.P. Geevan”