Category Archives: Everyday Life

Winning Delhi Elections – AAP, Gandhi and the Ideology Wars

 

What has Gandhi got to do with the recently concluded elections in Delhi? On the face of it nothing. But at another level, the election process, its campaign and its results – all invite us to revisit Gandhi’s stupendous moral-political project of cementing the Hindu-Muslim division with his own blood and his heroic failure. He could not prevent the Partition and ultimately fell to the bullets of a fanatic Hindu nationalist of the kind who are in power today.

I remember Gandhi today because gung-ho secularists (the political community that I inhabit, if very uncomfortably) are once again at their favourite occupation of daring Arvind Kejriwal and AAP to ‘prove’ their ‘anti-communal stance’ and all that it can mean today – as though they alone have the talisman to fight communalism. I am reminded of Gandhi because his was by far the most audacious  attempt to fight the communal menace but he too had no readymade answers to it.

Secular warrriors have been basically daring Kejriwal and AAP to do and say things that he had been avoiding doing or saying all these days. Just two instances – of the quotes below from two dear friends – should suffice to indicate what I mean.  The first is from Apoorvanand, writing in the Business Standard,

‘Voters in Delhi were confident that the AAP victory in the assembly elections wouldn’t so much as serve as an irritant to the BJP, let alone rock its boat, as the saffron outfit was firmly and safely ensconced in power. An efficient delivery boy is all the electorate wanted. In the Delhi voters mindset, an ideology-agnostic party that does not impede the BJP’s nationalist drive is tolerable.’

Continue reading Winning Delhi Elections – AAP, Gandhi and the Ideology Wars

A Moment of Unprecedented Possibilities

 

Beginning this week, we are starting a column which will appear every Thursday. The name of this column, ‘Parapolitics’, is meant to indicate something that happens all the time, outside the formally designated sphere of politics, or what is sometimes called ‘the political’ by political theorists. As a matter of fact, most of such politics – parapolitics – takes place everyday and is deeply tied to our everyday lives. It is also what we may call ‘existential politics’:  the dalit boys flogged by upper caste men inside a police station in Una, the woman of Unnao, whose family is decimated by the rapist’s henchmen, the mob-lynching to which Muslims are subjected on a daily basis, the farmer or the unemployed who commits suicide, the displaced adivasis or the workers who fight back – all these are instances of things deeply political but occurring away from or beneath the ‘proper’ domain of politics. The ‘proper domain of politics’ – that of state/government, parties, elections, alliances and so on – has repeatedly historically revealed its fundamental disconnect with such existential politics. Indeed, whenever faced by mass protests, the first response by the political class is to reduce it to the purported machinations of ‘opposition parties’. It cannot think of people, ordinary people, coming out in autonomous action. We might recall the response of the UPA government, at the height of the anti-corruption movement, challenging the locus standi of the protesters with the questions: ‘who are you?’ or ‘who has authorized you?’ etc Parapolitics is that unauthorized politics of everyday life, which often bursts out into the open but may also simply go on under the surface without any necessary public manifestation.

Students protest in Bengaluru, photo courtesy PTI

The most striking aspect of the present upsurge of popular anger around the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as has been widely noticed, is the way defiant young women have become the face of the struggle. I am not referring here only to the women whose iconic images are circulating everywhere today, but also to the sheer number in which they have come out and the power with which they have been speaking their mind before the media. And they belong to all communities.

Continue reading A Moment of Unprecedented Possibilities

It’s We the People, not we the Citizens, of India!

Image courtesy News 18

People, Persons, Citizens

When the idea of citizenship is wielded like a deadly weapon to deprive people of basic rights rather than to empower them, it’s time to think about the basis of rights differently.  While in the Preamble to the Constitution, ‘we the people’ resolve to secure to all its ‘citizens’ justice, liberty, equality and fraternity; Article 14 of the Fundamental Rights ensures equality before the law to all “persons”, not only to citizens.

The people of a land precede the creation of “citizens”, and we the people of India must think seriously at this moment in our history, about how justice is to be secured to all persons, and whether citizenship is an emancipatory idea any longer.

Consider the revealing and tragic irony of one of the accused arrested for his alleged role in violence during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA) , in East Delhi’s Seemapuri. Through his counsel, in a Delhi court, he claimed to be a juvenile, and to prove this, produced certificates from the madarsa at which he studies.

Delhi Police, however, claimed that these documents were insufficient to establish his age, and requested permission for a bone ossification test. The counsel of the accused argued that according to central government notifications, madarsa certificates are sufficient to prove age, but the Delhi court permitted police to carry out the ossification test.

Imagine the claim of such a person to  citizenship and to inclusion in the National Register of Citizens (NRC)! Continue reading It’s We the People, not we the Citizens, of India!

शौचालय: एक हत्यारी कथा 

Guest Post : Fact finding team of Communist Party of India ( CPI)

[पिछले सितम्बर की 25 तारीख़ को मध्य प्रदेश के शिवपुरी ज़िले के एक गाँव भावखेड़ी में दो बच्चों की नृशंस हत्या कर दी गयी थी।  मीडिया में कारण यह आया था कि उन्हें खुले में शौच करते देख उसी गाँव  व्यक्ति को गुस्सा आ गया और उसने बच्चों को मार डाला। 

सीपीआई का एक छः सदस्यीय जाँच दल मामले की तहक़ीक़ात के लिए 1 अक्टूबर 2019 को शिवपुरी और भावखेड़ी गया था।  ग्रामीणों और पीड़ित परिवार से तथा अन्य कर्मचारियों, शिक्षकों व बच्चों से बात करने पर हमारे सामने जो तस्वीर उभरी, उसके आधार पर तैयार यह रिपोर्ट]

The Open is No Place for India's Children to Go

मृतक बच्चे (फाइल फोटो दि वायर से साभार) Continue reading शौचालय: एक हत्यारी कथा 

एन आर सी और उससे जुड़े चंद सवाल : सबीहा फ़रहत

Guest post by SABIHA FARHAT

[भारतीय-हिन्दू मिथकों और परम्परा पर लंबे समय से लिखते आ रहे  बुद्धिजीवी श्री देवदत्त  पट्टनायक  अपनी एक ट्वीट में  एक लाजवाब  बात  कही . उनहोंने कहा कि जहाँ हिन्दू धर्मं  का मतलब  वसुधैव  कुटुम्बकम है , उसके  लिए  अगर  समूची वसुधा , सारी एक कुनबा  है , वहीँ  हिंदुत्व  का मतलब  सिर्फ़  एन आर सी  (यानी नागरिकों की राष्हैट्रीय फेहरिश्त ) है. बिलकुल दो शब्दों में  , बड़ी खूबसूरती  से पट्टनायक साहब ने इन दोनों  फलसफों के बीच का फर्क़ खोल कर सामने रख दिया  है. इस  संक्षिप्त लेख में   डाक्यूमेंट्री  फ़िल्मकार  और पत्रकार  सबीहा फ़रहत  उसी एन आर सी  से पैदा हुए  चंद सवाल उठा रही हैं.]

आजकल अमित शाह केवल एनआरसी पर स्टेटमेंट दे रहे हैं। “घुसपैठियों ” को बाहर फेंक देंगे और हिन्दू, सिख, बौद्ध, जैन, ईसाई, पारसी को नागरिकता दे देंगें। फिर चाहे उसके लिये संविधान को तक पर रख  कर सिटीज़नशिप ऐक्ट ही क्यों ना बदलना पड़े!

उनकी इस बात से साफ़ ज़ाहिर है कि देश के 16 करोड़ मुसलमान ही “घुसपैठिये” हैं। “दीमक” हैं और उन्हें देश से बाहर खदेड़ने की ज़रूरत है। लेकिन सिर्फ़ मुसलमान से इतनी नफ़रत क्यों? मुसलमान ने इस देश का क्या बिगाड़ा है? क्या उसने किसी की रोटी छीनी, किसी की नौकरी छीनी, किसी का बिज़नेस हड़प लिया। नहीं! क्योंकि अगर वो ऐसा करता तो आर्थिक तौर पर सबसे ज़्यादा कमज़ोर नहीं होता।

Continue reading एन आर सी और उससे जुड़े चंद सवाल : सबीहा फ़रहत

Everyday Tips for Surviving Tyranny: Anonymous

Guest Post by ANONYMOUS

Suspected Banksy mural in London in support of environmentalist protest. 

As authoritarian right-wing populist leaders across the world unleash a reign of tyranny and hate, there is a need to think together about everyday strategies of survival. As an individual, it can get a bit overwhelming. Everything could look pointless. Many friends talk about how they find it impossible to write or work in an atmosphere of hate and violence. However, it is important to remember that what might look invincible today may not last for even half a decade. But while it lasts, how does one live under tyranny and what are the ways of building non-violent resistance? Continue reading Everyday Tips for Surviving Tyranny: Anonymous

Queerness as disease – a continuing narrative in 21st century India: Kaushal Bodwal

Guest post by KAUSHAL BODWAL

In August 2018, it came to my knowledge that a few of my pictures wearing sarees were circulating in my extended family’s WhatsApp group. Phone calls from home regarding my “obscene” behaviour were followed by a shift in the entire conversation towards my having some illness that needed to be cured. At some point my mother called me to tell that one of my aunts knew a doctor who can heal me. My first thought was that she was joking; unfortunately, she was only too serious. Once I registered the gravity of the situation, I panicked. Even though I was staying in a closed campus, I was not sure of my family’s potential to do what they claimed they wanted to.

The issue was with both my gender expression and my sexuality. I was a male assigned at birth walking in a saree and they thought that it was because of my interest in men. One of my aunts assured my mother that my love for sarees will end once my homosexuality is cured. The next time I went home, I was anxious and terrified. I knew I had to speak to them and explain what was going on. There were going to be a lot of questions. It’s not as I had ready-made answers for them, especially since the understanding of gender and sexuality that I had was not easy to articulate in my native language of Haryanvi. Through whatever words I could, I came out to my parents. My mom cried and my father stood numb. But mostly, confused. Despite their anger and other emotional expressions, the overall emphasis was on going to a doctor to get me fixed. After all, I was sick. Continue reading Queerness as disease – a continuing narrative in 21st century India: Kaushal Bodwal