Thoughts on the Continuing Assault on Women’s Rights and Progressivist Gaslighting in Kerala

After the atrocious indifference and trivialisation of domestic violence displayed by the sneering alpha-male brigade of the CPM during the discussion of the Hadiya Case, nothing surprises me. However, it appears important to point out how such callousness is indeed becoming normalised here alarmingly. It seems that the gains of women’s movement which made violence against women at home something beyond an intimate private affair, a ‘family quarrel’, are being steadily depleted. Of course, we did see how so many smooth-talking liberal CPM-oriented or purportedly-rationalist young male intellectuals went ballistic at the mere suggestion that they are blind to the domestic violence in Hadiya’s imprisonment. Also intriguing was their persistent defense of the father’s right to keep an adult, mentally fit, educated daughter immobile and imprisoned because he feared for her safety. Continue reading “Thoughts on the Continuing Assault on Women’s Rights and Progressivist Gaslighting in Kerala”

Objects in the Mirror are Closer than you Think – Beyond the Rhetoric of Otherness: Lata Mani

Guest post by LATA MANI

Political discourse in the contemporary period is by marked an affective intensity. Regardless of the issue an acute depth of feeling is in evidence. Righteousness, betrayal, entitlement, anguish and aggression suffuse arguments across the political spectrum. What seems at stake is not merely the desire to speak but to have the terms of one’s discourse deemed legitimate, to be understood as one understands oneself. The sizzle, crack and snap of rhetoric expresses the heightened temperature. One could credibly interpret it as the sound of an existing order breaking down under multiple pressures. This would however be a partial explanation. The surcharged atmosphere is equally evidence of the ties that bind those passionately disagreeing with each other. And therein lies a clue. Continue reading “Objects in the Mirror are Closer than you Think – Beyond the Rhetoric of Otherness: Lata Mani”

Statement by concerned citizens on the continued incarceration of Hadiya

We, the undersigned concerned citizens, are greatly disturbed by news reports of the NCW in-charge, Rekha Sharma’s visit to meet Hadiya at the home of her father, Mr. Asokan, where she continues to be incarcerated. These reports raise more fears than they allay.

Ms Hadiya has been reported by Ms Sharma to be ‘healthy and happy’. However, Ms. Sharma goes on to state, without providing any evidence whatsoever, that while there is no ‘love jihad’ in Kerala, there are forced conversions.

It bears reiteration that Ms. Hadiya is a twenty four year old adult woman, who took a decision to convert to Islam, and then to marry a Muslim man. For this exercise of self determination, Ms. Hadiya has been placed under house arrest in her parents’ control, and this shocking violation of Ms. Hadiya’s personal liberty and her right to take decisions about her own life, has been endorsed by the legal system.

Continue reading “Statement by concerned citizens on the continued incarceration of Hadiya”

‘Revolution against Das Kapital’ and the ‘Lonely Hour of the Economy’

This is a modified version of the article that was published earlier in The Wire

(T)he economic dialectic is never active in the pure state; in History, these instances, the superstructures etc – are never seen to step respectfully aside when their work is done or, when the Time comes, as his pure phenomena, to scatter before His Majesty the Economy as he strides along the royal road of the Dialectic. From the first moment to the last, the lonely hour of the ‘last instance’ never comes. – Louis Althusser, For Marx, London: Verso 1979, p. 113

The event known to the world as the ‘October’ revolution in Russia – or simply as the ‘Russian revolution’ – took place on 7-8 November, a hundred years ago. But then why call it the October revolution? Thereby hangs a tale – the tale of modernity, myth-making and of a new imagination of Time.

The moment of revolution, image courtesy libcom.org
The moment of revolution, image courtesy libcom.org

As a matter of fact, the Revolution occurred on 25-26 October, according to the Julian calendar (so called because it had been promulgated by Julius Caesar), which Russia, along with a large part of the Western world, followed at that time. It was only in January 1918 that the Soviet government decreed the shift to the Gregorian calendar. The reason was that Russia should join ‘all cultured nations in counting time’, as a decree cited by historian Mark Steinberg put it. Accordingly, the first anniversary of the revolution was celebrated on 7 November 1918 throughout the Soviet Union.

What is interesting here is not so much the shift but the reason assigned for it – joining other ‘cultured nations’ of the world, which in the language of the early twentieth century meant only one thing – the modern West, which had long been setting the norm for everything desirable. Ways of ‘counting time’ too had to be aligned with Europe, lest one be considered insufficiently modern. Spatially, the Czarist Russian empire straddled both Europe and Asia, which had already, in the new reckoning of Time, been cast as ‘advanced’ and ‘backward’ respectively. The desire to become modern and join the ‘cultured nations’ was to run through the history of the revolution and its consolidation into the new Stalinist state. This desire was to be manifested in its deep distrust of the peasantry and rural life on the one hand, and in the frenetic drive to ‘catch up’ with Western Europe. As Stalin would say, he wanted to accomplish in a couple of decades what Europe had in a few centuries, compressing time, as it were, into one dizzying experience for entire society. The continuing ‘past’ had to be annihilated.

Continue reading “‘Revolution against Das Kapital’ and the ‘Lonely Hour of the Economy’”

Notes on a Feminist Crowdsourced List of Sexual Harassers: Nandita Badami

Guest post by NANDITA BADAMI

In the wake of the extreme disagreements we have witnessed in these past few days, there is perhaps no point (at least, not anymore) in staking a claim about whether or not the list should have been created or circulated to begin with. The list is here, and it will most likely stay. It has, as Rama Lakshmi has pointed out in an extremely insightful Facebook post, inaugurated a new moment in the Indian feminist movement. And despite their many concerns, I doubt that even the most vocal anti-listers will deny the cathartic role it has played for some women.

Perhaps the time has come then, to think seriously about how to engage with the list: not simply declare allegiance, or deny legitimacy, but to start thinking about how to work towards bettering what many (both pro- and anti-listers) find to be problematic with it. To at least try to create genuine feminist dialogue about what a crowdsourced list of sexual harassers could look like – starting not from the content, but from the form and format of the list itself. Continue reading “Notes on a Feminist Crowdsourced List of Sexual Harassers: Nandita Badami”

#whatnow? Ponni

THIS POST IS WRITTEN BY PONNI

To all the men, women, and all those of named and unnamed genders in my life, intimate, private and public, who have shown me safety, joy, pleasure, comfort and love and who ask of me, gently, the same. I love you all.

I was raped when I was 14, Or maybe 15. Not sure. It took me three years to realise it happened. Another ten to choose to begin to deal with it. And another six to realise the details and extent of what happened. And so, the process continues. Far from over. So yeah, #metoo.

When I moved to Delhi I called home crying everyday, not only because I didn’t know Hindi and everyone chided me by calling me madrasi, but because I got sexually harassed everyday. It wasn’t the ‘far away’ whistling kind I was used to in Chennai. I saw penises from unzipped pants in the crushing closeness of Delhi buses. Again, on the bus, I had men masturbate on my shoulders and am still showering to get it off me. So yeah, #metoo.

Once I was older, I acquired some ‘power’ (by my standards) – people had heard of my name from publications, activist work – I was accused or it was implied that I could have sexually harassed or abused two women at two different times. I was in romantic relationships with them. Neither one made the accusation public. Neither one of them were my equals in age, or cultural capital. One of them got in touch many years later and tried to establish a friendship again while implying that she never meant to make me feel that way. But I was too scared to even respond. The other was much closer to me and so I said more and she said more to me. She was the one I had a physical relationship with. I will never forget that feeling of power, enormous self doubt, and painful reflection. I will always ask myself what my intentions were, how I may have expressed them and why I wasn’t able to negotiate power in a way that was adequately and appropriately dignified, respectful, kind and most importantly equal-ising.

Continue reading “#whatnow? Ponni”

Say NO to Aadhar – sign the petition

Sign the petition here.

Text of the petition

I’m Saying NO to Aadhaar

We the undersigned wish to place on record our opposition to the Aadhaar scheme which is being aggressively pushed by the government in complete violation of norms, procedures and Supreme Court orders. 

Many of us have resisted enrolment. Many of us are already enrolled. But today, we stand together to say NO To Aadhaar. 

We oppose Aadhaar because it violates our Constitutional rights and freedoms as citizens. 

We oppose Aadhaar because it undermines the foundations of our democracy, disempowering us as citizens while giving government the means to control every aspect of our lives. 

The mess created by Aadhaar is not a matter of poor implementation or “teething troubles” as claimed by the government.  Aadhaar cannot be fixed with some tweaking and tinkering. It is fundamentally flawed and  must be scrapped.      

We say NO to Aadhaar because  Continue reading “Say NO to Aadhar – sign the petition”