Category Archives: Everyday Life

STOP UNLAWFUL DEMOLITIONS IN DELHI: Women’s groups, other groups, and concerned citizens of Delhi

Letter of Deep Distress and Concern to
THE LG OF DELHI, CM OF DELHI, COMMISSIONER, MUNICIPAL CORPORATION OF DELHI

Stop Unlawful Demolitions in Delhi;
Compensate, Rehabilitate, Restore Livelihoods
of the Affected Immediately

We, the undersigned, wish to express our deep concern at the bulldozer-led demolitions carried out by various municipal corporations in Delhi. As is well known, the first round of demolitions was carried out by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation in Jahangirpuri resettlement colony on April 20, 2022, soon after the communal violence in the area just four days prior to that. The recent visits to and subsequent statement by the SDMC Mayor regarding areas earmarked for future demolition points to the real and present danger that the actions in Jahangirpuri and Kalyanpuri over the past week will be repeated in these areas that have already been named – Shaheen Bagh, Jasola, Sarita Vihar, Jaitpur and Madanpur Khadar.  It is deeply disturbing that demolitions in these areas have been put on hold only because the Delhi Police publicly asked for ten days’ notice in order to cooperate with the order. Massive presence of paramilitary forces in some of these areas as well as frequent processions of slogan shouting crowds led by BJP leaders are contributing to an overall climate of intimidation and terror.

It is appalling that the bulldozers hired by civic authorities are targeting temporary structures essential for livelihood such as handcarts and cycle carts, fruit stalls, gumtis, and wooden ‘shop’ tables. These structures are used all over the country by some of the poorest communities in the city – rickshaw pullers, fruit vendors, women running marginal and subsistence businesses, ragpickers, garbage sorters, vendors and hawkers. The brutality of the action to destroy the precious belongings of some of the poorest residents of the city is unprecedented in the history of Delhi. The affected are overwhelmingly unprotected informal economy workers who have already suffered sudden and severe destruction of their livelihoods during last two years of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.  Continue reading STOP UNLAWFUL DEMOLITIONS IN DELHI: Women’s groups, other groups, and concerned citizens of Delhi

The psyche and the temptations of Hindu Rashtra: Jaya Sharma

Guest Post by JAYA SHARMA

How is it that even as Uttar Pradesh  goes to the polls, even as desperate youth go on a rampage to demand employment, their Chief Minister remains focused on evoking violent fantasies around the ‘M’ of the Mafia.  How is it that the facts of Kairana matter so little when Adityanath evokes the “Kashmir-like” Hindu exodus?  How is it that the CM’s followers on twitter express their adoration with descriptions of their “mazaa” – enjoyment – at the UP police lathi charge against anti-CAA protestors? [1]

The lethal absurdities of national politics that have liberals and progressives tied up in knots of despair do not belong to the territory of rationality. As we scramble to understand the appeal of Hindu nationalist leaders like Yogi Adityanath, in this article, I would like to draw your attention to the ‘psyche’ as a lens through which to understand the pull of ideologies embodied by such leaders. Might the lens of the psyche also help us consider whether followers of such hardline leaders are ‘zombies’ (as suggested by NDTV’s Ravish Kumar[i], whose fan I am, too) are not as different from us on the liberal or progressive end of the spectrum as we might want to believe?  Might it be, that the extent of difference between the progressive “us” and right-wing “them” is that they stand a much greater chance of enjoying that enviable and rare mix of safety and adventure so elusive in our lives?

Love, Sex Aur Politics

Walk with me for a moment into the territory of sex and love, another part of our lives where rationality seems to lose its grip. Continue reading The psyche and the temptations of Hindu Rashtra: Jaya Sharma

Why feminists must oppose the hijab ban in Karnataka colleges

Image courtesy Times of India

Images of educational institutions barring their gates to women in hijab are dense with implied violence. Used as we have become to the extreme physical violence on display during the period of this regime, both by state authorities and  by street mobs launched by Hindutva outfits,  in these images is captured in one frozen instant, the ideological violence of Hindu Rashtra.  Here is the marked and stigmatized  Muslim female body, exiled from the resources of the nation, kept out by iron gates, to be admitted only on the terms set by Hindutva.

But let us note that this is not “only ideological” violence, the power of which we have witnessed in plenty since 2014.  We know what terror “mere” words can threaten  – “love jihad”,  “gau hatya”,  “kapdon se pehchane jayenge” –  the last, the murderously weighted words of the Prime Minister himself, that those who protest the CAA can be identified by their clothes.

So ideological violence yes, but implicit physical violence too, held only  temporarily in abeyance –  what if the women decided to climb the gates and insisted on attending class? Or sat quietly on dharna outside? What kind of violence by private security and police would not be unleashed? Just before the pandemic,  did we not witness the brutality of police attacks on peaceful student protests against fee hikes in Delhi?

As more and more colleges in Karnataka deny women wearing hijab entry into colleges, and therefore their right to education, the RSS/BJP government of Karnataka backed such moves, invoking the Karnataka Education Act of 1983, Section 133 (2) of which states that students will have to wear a uniform dress chosen by the college authorities.  Continue reading Why feminists must oppose the hijab ban in Karnataka colleges

Support Afghan women’s demand for a just peace guaranteeing the rights of all people

JOIN THE 1200 human rights and women’s rights defenders and civil society activists who have signed this petition.

Text of petition below. Link to sign the petition.

Women of Afghanistan demand a just peace that guarantees the rights of all people.

We, the true friends of Afghanistan and signatories of this open letter, declare our support for Afghan women’s demands expressed below, and join them to call on the United Nations, the government of Afghanistan and national and international actors to fulfill their obligations and undertake responsible measures that would lead to a just peace that protects the interests and rights of all the people of the country.

The women of Afghanistan have suffered through ruinous wars for more than 40 years. Their lives have been impacted by a war in which they have played no role, and which has resulted in in the loss of their human dignity, as well as their innocent sisters and mothers, spouses, children and young people, during a cycle of endless violence, sexual apartheid, kidnapping, rape, slavery, absolute poverty and injustice. Their houses have been destroyed, their children have become orphans and several generations of our people have been displaced in their own land, as well as in the regional states and the world-over.

Continue reading Support Afghan women’s demand for a just peace guaranteeing the rights of all people

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

क्या इस तरह भारत में कोरोना कभी ख़त्म होगा? राजेन्द्र चौधरी

Guest post by RAJINDER CHAUDHARY

पंद्रह दिन एक व्यस्क मरीज़ के साथ कोरोना वार्ड में गुज़ार के जब मैं अपने शहर पहुंचा तो पाया कि मेरे सैक्टर को ही कन्टेन्मन्ट ज़ोन बना रखा था. कन्टेन्मन्ट ज़ोन यानी ऐसा इलाका जिस में आने-जाने के रास्ते बंद किये हुए थे ताकि कोरोना पीड़ित इस सैक्टर में आवाजाही न हो सके. यह दावा कि मैंने 15 दिन कोरोना वार्ड में अपने मरीज़ के साथ गुज़ारे उन लोगों को अविश्वसनीय लग सकता है जो बड़े शहर के बड़े हस्पताल में दाखिल अपने कोरोना पीड़ित मरीज़ से संपर्क करने को तरसते रहे हैं. परन्तु यह सच है. मैंने भी सपने में भी यह नहीं सोचा था कि कोरोना मरीज़ की देखभाल के लिए मुझे उस के साथ हस्पताल में रहना पड़ सकता है.  सरकार की कोरोना नीति की बहुत सारी आलोचना मैंने पढ़ी-सुनी और की थी पर मुझे इस का अहसास नहीं था कि बाकी मरीजों की तरह हस्पताल में दाखिल अपने कोरोना मरीज़ की देखभाल भी खुद करनी होती है. सच में भारत धुर विसंगतियों का देश है. एक ओर हमारी सरकार पूरे इलाके को ‘कन्टेनमेंट ज़ोन’ (नज़रबंद इलाका) घोषित कर सकती है ताकि वहां से कोरोना पीड़ित दूसरी जगह जा कर संक्रमण को फैला न सकें और दूसरी ओर हस्पताल में कोरोना पीड़ित मरीज़ की देखभाल के लिए किसी परिजन को उस के साथ रहना पड़ता है. चौबीस घंटे तो कोई एक व्यक्ति मरीज़ की देखभाल कर नहीं सकता था. इस लिए हम दो लोग अपने परिजन की देखभाल के लिए उस के साथ शिफ्टों में रहते थे जिस के चलते हमारा कोरोना वार्ड से घर आना जाना लगा रहता था. इस से न केवल हम परिचारकों के संक्रमित होने का ख़तरा था अपितु नियमित तौर पर घर आने जाने के कारण हम और लोगों को भी संक्रमित कर सकते थे.

Continue reading क्या इस तरह भारत में कोरोना कभी ख़त्म होगा? राजेन्द्र चौधरी

An Exorcism For Every Woman and A Curse on Every Man: Fulana Detail

This is a guest post by FULANA DETAIL

The post below is hard to read. It is written with a great deal of rage and pain and grief. It is a post about sexual violence. It is not explicit in any way. It does not describe sexual violence. It describes the feeling of being before the violence of masculinity. It describes the violence of the feeling of feeling. Which is why it is hard to read. You may wish to think carefully about whether you want to read further. Please consider this a trigger warning. 

Today I performed an exorcism. I performed an exorcism of every image that floods the media of sexual violence, of rape and mutilation, of violation, of violence that should be undoable and unthinkable. I decided to think it. I let these images move through my mind and my body. I performed an exorcism for every woman, and everyone who believes herself woman, and lives woman, and every one who lives as not man. I performed an exorcism for everyone who is not a man. I performed an exorcism for every man who is not a man. I let image, upon image, upon image, upon image, upon image, upon image, flood my mind. I opened my mind as wide as I could, without filter and protection. Eventually I let my mind break at the seams, for many hours. I let my mind descend into terror. I let my mind touch madness. I let my mind become a not mind. And not by reaching atman or bhramaan  believe you me. I let my mind become incoherent.

Continue reading An Exorcism For Every Woman and A Curse on Every Man: Fulana Detail

What is a city – Dilli hai jiska naam IX: Sohail Hashmi

This is the final post in a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself.  It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades and we requested them to write for Kafila.

This series is titled Dilli hai jiska naam and the links to the previous posts can be found at the end.

My post below is the final one in the series. It was originally presented at a seminar at the Srishti School of Art Design and Technology, Bangalore, and is included in “Radical City – Imagining Possibilities for the Indian City” (Sage Publishers).

What is a City? Sohail Hashmi

What exactly is a city, is it just a large settlement, is the size of the population living within a definable area the only criterion, is it merely a centre of production, exchange and transport, how does one distinguish it from a village or a small town?

Questions such as these have engaged scholars cutting across diverse disciplines and a large number of definitions of a city exist, A city has been defined in terms of its demographics alone – a densely populated area, through its size – a city is a large settlement, there are other definitions that try to define the city through its systems of public utilities, through the presence of centralised civic authority, as a centre of production, a site through which political power is exercised and even as a site with a continuous history cutting across centuries.

A city is all this and more and this essay would seek to present some partially formed ideas on what is this elusive ‘more’.

Continue reading What is a city – Dilli hai jiska naam IX: Sohail Hashmi

Invention of Merit and the ‘Millstone of Caste’: Mohan Rao

Guest post by MOHAN RAO

“And yet there must be deliverance for we are all otherwise convicted at birth.”

I want to thank Srivats and Anveshi for inviting to be part of a discussion about the book, Caste as Merit, by Ajantha Subramaniam.* I am not a scholar on these issues and I must confess this scares me sometimes, for I wonder if we can discuss these issues at all? Some friends actually advised me not to take part in this discussion, because I was, ineluctably,  going to be labelled as Brahmin, talking about a book written by a Brahmin in the US! In my own estimation though, I remain a nastika, a non-believer, out of Brahminical bounds.

I would like to begin by showing a lithograph – and a story.

Continue reading Invention of Merit and the ‘Millstone of Caste’: Mohan Rao

The Farmers’ Struggle – The Govt is Making a Big Mistake

 

 

Farmers’ protest, image courtesy Outlook India

The Central government is playing with fire – and along with it the Supreme Court of India. They had banked upon the ‘Modi magic’ or ‘Modi charisma’ to see them through this time as well, just as it had on earlier gambles like demonetization. The overconfidence that they can push through anything- even the most unpopular measure – by using a combination of the media-administered ‘nationalist potion’ and Modi’s ‘magic’, has led it to the corner it has painted itself into.

The situation is serious, as over 60 people have died and innumerable old people are still out there in the freezing cold. They have put their lives in danger, expecting the government to come out with the only solution that can save them, their livelihoods and their autonomy, namely the repeal of the laws. They aren’t prepared to go back home for the way they see it, it is better to die fighting than simply die the way the government wants them to.

However, the worst is yet to come – for the confrontation is bound to reach a flashpoint as 26 January draws closer and the farmers are forced into the desperate action of holding their proposed tractor rally by entering Delhi. If the government continues to fiddle, simply hoping that the storm will blow over, it is sadly mistaken.

Let’s face it: for the farmers there the new farm laws constitute a death warrant – as some of their leaders have put it – and therefore a matter of life and death. For the government, on the other hand, it is a question of further expanding the obscene super-profits of crony corporate capitalists, who have already made a killing even as lakhs and lakhs of ordinary people were pushed to destitution during the lockdown. Continue reading The Farmers’ Struggle – The Govt is Making a Big Mistake

Can Delhi Experience Blue Yamuna once again? Dilli hai jiska naam VIII: Manoj Misra

We thought of a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself.  It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades and we requested them to write for Kafila.

This series is titled Dilli hai jiska naam and the links to the previous posts can be found at the end.

This is the eighth post in the series by MANOJ MISRA

The article that follows is dedicated by the author to the memory of Prof. Brij Gopal, a leading authority on Wetlands and Aquatic Systems, who passed away on the 4th of January 2021. Manoj Misra, the author of the article was keen that his tribute to Prof. Brij Gopal be placed at the head of his piece. The article, which focuses on the issues that bedevil the once mighty river Yamuna, follows the tribute. 

In Memoriam – Prof. Brij Gopal (1944-2021)

Prof. Brij Gopal, a former Professor of Environmental Sciences at JNU breathed his last suddenly on 4 January 2021. An internationally renowned expert on wetlands and aquatic systems he was associated with the National Institute on Ecology (NIE). After retiring from JNU he set up in 2009 the “Centre for Inland Waters in South Asia” (CIWSA) at a small village named Peera near Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh with an objective to encourage and mentor budding researchers and to work on water related issues of Bundelkhand region.

He was amiable and yet firm. To him science and scientific facts were paramount. Having seen increasing threats to rivers and their floodplains he convinced the union Ministry of Environment & Forests to consider legal protection to them in form of a River Zone Regulation (RRZ) on the lines of CRZ. He became the key architect of the draft notification but which for largely political reasons is still to get notified.

His vast scholarship was acknowledged by ministries and courts and he was asked to help as a member on various expert committees.

To us at the India Rivers Week/Forum (IRF) and Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan (YJA) he was a constant source of encouragement and advice. His passing away is an irreplaceable loss and his absence would be gravely felt.

May his soul rest in peace!   

Can Delhi Experience Blue Yamuna once again? Manoj Misra

Let us ‘clean’ the river….has been the rallying call.

To see a ‘clean’ river be it Ganga or Yamuna has for decades been a fond national wish. Appropriately the apex government agency for Ganga rejuvenation has been named the ‘National Mission for “Clean” Ganga’ (NMCG). Continue reading Can Delhi Experience Blue Yamuna once again? Dilli hai jiska naam VIII: Manoj Misra

‘उत्तर प्रदेश विधि विरुद्ध धर्म-समपरिवर्तन प्रतिषेध अध्यादेश’ फ़ौरन रद्द करो : एक बयान

133 संगठनों और 858 लोगों की तरफ़ से जारी बयान

Scrap the “Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance” Immediately

इस बयान पर दस्तख़त करने वाले संगठनों और व्यक्तियों की फ़ेहरिस्त इसके अंग्रेज़ी वर्ज़न में देखें.

प्रिय मित्रों,

18 वर्ष की आयु में हम अपने पार्षदों, विधायकों, सांसदों को वोट दे सकते हैं। 18 की उम्र में, हम तय करते हैं कि कौन ऐसी नीतियां बनाएगा और लागू करेगा जो हमें, हमारे प्रियजनों, हमारे समुदाय, हमारे देश को प्रभावित करती हैं 18 में, हमें अपने मताधिकार का जिम्मेदारी से प्रयोग करने के लिए पर्याप्त परिपक्व माना जाता है  

हालांकि, चाहे 18 साल की उम्र में हो या 50 की उम्र में, हमें अपने रोमांटिक पार्टनर तय करने की या किससे शादी करनी है की, इजाज़त नहीं है!! अल्पसंख्यक धर्म, जातियों, दबीकुचली जातियों, समलैंगिक ट्रांस और क्वीयर के साथ दोस्ती और रोमांटिक संबंध नहीं बनाने के लिए हमारे परिवारों द्वारा चेताया जाता है ।अगर कोई हिंदू महिला किसी मुस्लिम पुरुष से प्रेम करती है तो यह समाज में अपराध माना जाता है, अगर वे शादी करते हैं और महिला मुस्लिम धर्म में धर्मांतरण करती है तो यह मान लिया जाता है कि मुस्लिम पुरुष ने उसे धर्मांतरण के लिए मजबूर किया है। अंतरविश्वास और अंतरजाति विवाहों में भी, यह मान लिया जाता है कि दूसरा व्यक्ति महिला की इच्छा के विरुद्ध धोखा देकर उसे बाध्य कर रहा है और उसके इरादे गलत हैं। अक्सर हम सुनते हैं कि कैसे समलैंगिक जोड़ों को उनके जैविक परिवारों, समाज और पुलिस द्वारा प्रताड़ित किया जाता है जिसमें पुलिस कानूनी प्रक्रिया पूर्ण करने और संरक्षण देने के बजाए परिवार की आकांक्षा को ही पूरा कर रही होती है  ।समलैंगिक महिलाओं, समलैंगिक पुरुषों, ट्रांस व्यक्तियों को तथा सिर्फ स्त्रीपुरुष सम्बन्धों पर विश्वास करने वाले ब्राह्मणवादी परिवार इस से परे, अंतरंग संबंधों और सामाजिक जीवन जीने के  आकांक्षीलोगों को घरों पर गंभीर दमन का सामना करना पड़ता है

27 नवंबर 2020 को पारित उत्तर प्रदेश सरकार के धर्मांतरण  निषेध अध्यादेश मेंरोमांटिक पार्टनर चुनने में धर्म, जाति, लिंग और लैंगिकता की सीमाओं का उल्लंघन करने वाले लोगों पर परिवारधर्मसमुदायों द्वारा की गई हिंसा को मंजूरी देने की बात कही गई है।एक्ट के मुताबिक हर धर्मांतरण गैरकानूनी है। धर्मांतरण के लिए जिलाधिकारी से पूर्व मंजूरी जरूरी है।अधिनियम में यह भी कहा गया है कि किसी व्यक्ति के पिछले धर्म में पुनर्परिवर्तन अवैध नहीं है, भले ही जबरन किया जाए ।जबकि हिंदू दक्षिणपंथी समूहों और दक्षिणपंथी नेतृत्व वाली सरकारों ने अंतरविश्वास रोमांटिक संबंधों के बारे में लोगों कोलवजिहादके रूप में भड़काया, जहां ज्यादातर मामलों में मुस्लिम आदमी को आतंकवादी मान लिया जाता है, ऐसी कोई घटना या आंकड़े नहीं हैं जो यह साबित करें कि ऐसे रोमांटिक रिश्ते कभी आतंकवादी गतिविधियों से जुड़े मिले हों दूसरी ओर, ऐसे असंख्य उदाहरण हैं जहां राज्य और समुदाय ने अंतरविश्वास प्रेम और विवाहित वयस्क जोड़ों पर गलत तरीके से हमले किये हैंI स्थानीय पंचायतों ने भी समुदाय के मानदंडों का उल्लंघन करने के लिए युवा जोड़ों को मौत के घाट उतार दिया है। हाल ही में शेफिनजहां मामले 2018, मेंजहां अंत में सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने विश्वास बदलने का अधिकार माना, और कहा कि विश्वास बदलने का अधिकार पसंद का मौलिक अधिकार है और यह भी देखा गया है कि, एक बार दो वयस्क व्यक्ति रोमांटिक साझेदारी में प्रवेश करने के लिए सहमत होते हैं तो परिवार, समुदाय, कबीले की सहमति आवश्यक नहीं है Continue reading ‘उत्तर प्रदेश विधि विरुद्ध धर्म-समपरिवर्तन प्रतिषेध अध्यादेश’ फ़ौरन रद्द करो : एक बयान

Scrap the “Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance” Immediately: A Statement

A STATEMENT BY 133 ORGANIZATIONS and 858 INDIVIDUALS

Dear friends,

At the age of 18, we can vote for our councilors, MLAs, MPs. At 18, we decide who will make and implement policies that affect us, our loved ones, our community, our country. At 18, we are supposed to be mature enough to responsibly exercise our voting rights.

However, whether at the age of 18 or at the age of 50, we are not allowed to decide our romantic partners or who to marry. We are not allowed to have friendships and romantic relationships with people of `the other’ religion, caste, ethnicity, genders, sexualities.

If a Hindu woman chooses a Muslim man as her romantic partner, it is considered a crime in society and if they marry and the woman converts to Muslim religion, it is assumed that the Muslim man has forced her for conversion. In inter-faith and also in inter-caste marriages, it is taken for granted that the other person is bound to cheat you or dupe you and that the person you have chosen to be your partner has some wicked, ulterior motive to `make’ you fall in love.

In homo-erotic romantic relationships, often we hear how lesbian couples are being tortured by biological family, community and the police often acting on behalf of the family. Lesbian women, gay men, trans persons face severe repression at home for transgressing gender norms, aspiring for intimate and social lives beyond the compulsory Brahmanical hetero-normative family system. Many of us have similar painful and traumatic experiences.

`The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020’ passed on 27th November 2020, seeks to sanction the violence committed by family-religion-communities on people who transgress boundaries of religion, caste, gender and sexuality in choosing romantic partners.

This Ordinance is simultaneously an attack on any person who wishes to change her religion. According to the Act, every conversion is illegal. The conversion requires the prior sanction from the District Magistrate. The Ordinance also says that `reconversion’ to a person’s previous religion is not illegal even if done forcibly. This is the gateway to what is termed `ghar wapasi’.

Over the last few years, the Hindu right-wing groups and right-wing led governments have accelerated their attempts at whipping up paranoia about inter-faith romantic relationships. They deliberately call it ‘love-jihad’, equating the Muslim lover with terrorism, while there have been no incidence or statistics that even the right-wing gangs or governments have been able to furnish. Continue reading Scrap the “Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance” Immediately: A Statement

ONION CITY – Dilli hai jiska naam VII: Anisha Shekhar Mukherji

We thought of a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself.  It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades and we requested them to write for Kafila.

This series is titled Dilli hai jiska naam and the links to the previous posts can be found at the end.

This is the seventh post in the series by Anisha Shekhar Mukherji

Onion City: Anisha Shekhar Mukherji

 Apparitions of different Delhis : A medieval structure engulfed by the expansion of Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, 2010 (Photo: Snehanshu Mukherjee)

Delhi often reminds me of an onion. Imperfectly taken apart, many layered, veined, maimed. Its layers are not coherent or visibly bound. Scattered stray wisps forlornly curl at the edges in some corner, many centuries lie bunched together in another. Yet within them lie hidden vapours of many pasts, rising unbidden to sting you into an awareness of a different time.

Celebrated in tradition, song and history, the region of Delhi has been an urban centre almost continuously for more than 3000 years. The legendary epic Mahabharata[1] refers to Indraprastha—the capital of the kingdom of the five Pandavas, each embodying a virtue, and their beautiful wife, Draupadi—on whose site it is said, present-day Delhi sits. The Pandavas lost and won Indraprastha again. And that has been the fate of Delhi through the ages—to be lost and won successively by different rulers. Archaeological fragments and architectural remains of later dynasties, who built their cities here, may still be seen—from those of the Tomars in the eleventh century to the Mughals in the nineteenth century CE—vast palaces, intricate temples, looming gateways, arched bridges, domed mosques and tombs. In actuality each ruler demarcated a portion of land, within the larger area of what is now termed Delhi, as his city. So, effectively, the various cities of Delhi consisted of separate stakes of land with their own city walls, forts and supporting fabric. Sometime these cities encompassed and integrated the older ones. Sometimes they appropriated, ousted or ignored them. Continue reading ONION CITY – Dilli hai jiska naam VII: Anisha Shekhar Mukherji

Shahjahanabad My Love Affair – Dilli hai jiska naam VI:  Jayshree Shukla

 We thought of a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself.  It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades and we requested them to write for Kafila.

This series is titled Dilli hai jiska naam and the links to the previous posts can be found at the end.

This is the sixth post in the series, by JAYSHREE SHUKLA

Shahjahanabad My Love Affair: Jayshree Shukla

(All images by Jayshree Shukla)

 

Ja’ama Masjid

My love affair with Shahjahanabad is only five years old. But it has the passion and intensity of star crossed lovers who fight to be together against all odds. It all began when I enrolled to go for a heritage food walk with a cousin of mine.

The omens were not good. Mohammed (my friend and family driver) and I made the unwise decision to drive to Chandni Chowk and we got stuck in the mother of all jams almost right away. I frantically checked my watch over and over again. My cousin, who had wisely chosen to use the Metro, was already there. Finally, the group left without me.

As they moved to halt number one, I thought I could join them there. But to no avail. I was still stuck. I finally caught up with my group at halt number three. They were having Kanji Vadas. Then we crossed over to the other side and stopped briefly at the Sunehri Masjid. Here we learnt that Nadir Shah had ordered the massacre of the citizens of Delhi standing atop the roof of the Masjid. Exactly there, I too got slaughtered. In my enthusiasm I remained blissfully unmindful of the purse slung carelessly over my shoulder. I discovered soon enough that my wallet was gone. As were all my IDs, my credit and debit cards, all the money I had – everything. I had been foolish enough to keep everything in the wallet and bring it along that evening. So the heritage food walk ended for me in ten minutes. I was not even able to pay for it! And I spent the evening at the Kotwali trying to get an FIR registered. Continue reading Shahjahanabad My Love Affair – Dilli hai jiska naam VI:  Jayshree Shukla

From the Electron to the Higgs- The Long Twentieth Century of Particle Physics – :Dr Ravi Sinha

Guest Post by Dr Ravi Sinha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 9th lecture (in Hindi) in the Umang Library popular science series will happen this Sunday, December 13, at 5 PM IST. The series is aimed at creating awareness about science in the Hindi belt of India.

Abstract : From the Electron to the Higgs: The Long Twentieth Century of Particle Physics

In 1897 J J Thomson discovered the electron with a Cathode Ray Tube that could fit on a small table in his Cavendish Laboratory. In 2012 the Higgs particle was discovered at the Large Hadron Collider which is the largest scientific instrument ever built (it is a particle accelerator that sits in a tunnel 27 kilometres in circumference and required billions of dollars to build). If the 1897 discovery inaugurated particle physics, the 2012 one was the culmination of the chain of stunning discoveries of new particles spread across these 115 years. In this lecture we will tell the story of the major landmarks of this long century of particle physics which include discoveries of the proton, of anti-particles and of quarks. This is the epic story of the eternal quest of humankind for the most fundamental laws of Nature and the most fundamental constituents of matter. Like all the lectures in this series this lecture too will be accessible to high school students and to curious lay persons. Continue reading From the Electron to the Higgs- The Long Twentieth Century of Particle Physics – :Dr Ravi Sinha

Shehernama – Dilli hai jiska naam V: Dunu Roy

We thought of a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself.  It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades and we requested them to write for Kafila.

This series is titled Dilli hai jiska naam, and the links to the previous posts can be found at the end.

This is the fifth post in the series, by DUNU ROY

Shehernama: DUNU ROY

सीने में जलन आँखों में तूफ़ान सा क्यूँ है

इस शहर में हर शख़्स परेशां सा क्यूँ है

-Shaharyar

Twenty-fifth March 2020 marked yet another step forward in the emergence of a strong-arm State in India. An unprecedented lockdown began on that day; a draconian net of control and supervision descending on a people deeply divided, restive about one issue after another, plagued by an economy that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer, and now struck with the double whammy of a virus running amok with the State engineering a siege. Within a week, with work evaporating, savings running out, and stomachs clamouring for nourishment, the great exodus also began. In cities and towns across the land workers launched the long trek back home, dragging trolleys, head-loading baggage, carrying the very young the very old and the very sick, and evading – as best they could – a rampant police. The song from the 1978 film Gaman (Departure) strikes a wailing echo to the rhythm of purposeful feet – “Burning chests and stormy eyes; what ails all in this city”?

What is this city which gives birth to such imaginations?

Continue reading Shehernama – Dilli hai jiska naam V: Dunu Roy

The changing face of Delhi in travellers’ accounts – Dilli hai jiska naam IV: Swapna Liddle

We thought of a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself.  It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades and we requested them to write for Kafila.

This series is titled Dilli hai jiska naam, and the links to the previous posts can be found at the end.

This is the fourth post in the series, by SWAPNA LIDDLE

The changing face of Delhi in travellers’ accounts : Swapna Liddle

There are many sources through which we can learn about the history of a city, and these are often the writings of its inhabitants, such as personal letters, diaries, newspapers, and official documents of various kinds. When it comes to basic descriptions of a place, however, it is often the writings of travelers that give us the most vivid accounts. Residents often take their surroundings for granted, neither very conscious of nor feeling any imperative to record their own impressions of their surroundings.

Visitors, on the other hand, are struck by the novelty of the place, and the farther they come from, the more this is true. They often also want to record their memories, in words and in images. In the case of Delhi, a particularly large number of European visitors passed through and recorded their experiences from the late 18th century onwards. This coincided with the expansion of the British East India Company’s control over the Gangetic plain, and became a deluge after the Company actually conquered and began to administer Delhi in 1803. Sometimes the records of these travellers were personal aide memoires for a journey undertaken, but often accounts to be shared with those back home, via letters to near and dear ones. Some of these ended up in the form of published journals with a larger readership.

To us today, the words and pictures left behind are a valuable peek into a landscape that has since then changed profoundly, and this article will be largely dealing with that change. At the same time, 18th century observers were also acutely aware that they were seeing a changing landscape, that had been affected by both natural and human factors. Antoine Polier, the Swiss adventurer visiting Delhi in 1776, was aware that the river Yamuna had quite recently changed its course, from just below the walls of the Red Fort, to about a mile eastwards, leaving only a narrow channel separating Red Fort from Salimgarh.

It is this narrow channel flowing between the two fortifications that we see in many of the earliest sketches, such as those of Captain John Luard in the 1820s and Charles Stewart Hardinge in 1847.

“Red Fort” by Charles Stewart Hardinge

Continue reading The changing face of Delhi in travellers’ accounts – Dilli hai jiska naam IV: Swapna Liddle

RE-ORIENTING URBAN PLANNING STRATEGIES and The Master Plan of Delhi – Dilli hai jiska naam III: A.G. Krishna Menon

We thought of a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself.  It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades and we requested them to write for Kafila. 

This series is titled Dilli hai jiska naam and the links to the previous posts can be found at the end.

This is the third post in the series by AGK MENON

Re-orienting urban planning strategies – The Master Plan of Delhi: A.G. Krishna Menon

Introduction

Delhi is an extraordinary historic city, comparable to Rome or Istanbul in the range and significance of its extant heritage. It is now the capital of a politically and economically aspiring Republican. However, unlike Rome or Istanbul, the significance of the city’s historic legacy plays little role in determining how the contemporary city is envisaged. In fact, this legacy is elided in civic planning and politically contested.  Therefore, when in January 2013, the Government of India forwarded a dossier to UNESCO, to nominate Delhi as a World Heritage City, it was a historic turnaround because it marked a paradigm shift in how the civic authorities sought to view its future.

Until then, India had never sought to celebrate any of its remarkable historic cities for their heritage characteristics let alone conserve it. However, it had been the contention of the Delhi Chapter of the Indian Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), that there was a strong correlation between not valuing the cultural legacy of historic cities and the degraded conditions they had been reduced to in contemporary times. For example, the Master Plan of Delhi officially identified Shahjahanabad, the pre-eminent Mughal city built by Emperor Shahjahan in 1648, as a slum that needs to be redeveloped in the manner the bombed out cities of Europe after World War II were rebuilt. These circumstances motivated INTACH to actively advocate the need to conserve historic cities and it worked to get Delhi nominated as a World Heritage City. Continue reading RE-ORIENTING URBAN PLANNING STRATEGIES and The Master Plan of Delhi – Dilli hai jiska naam III: A.G. Krishna Menon

Basti Basna Khel Nahin Hai – Dilli hai jiska naam II: Narayani Gupta

This is the second part of a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself. It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades, and we requested them to write for Kafila.

This series is titled Dilli Hai Jiska Naam, and the first post in the series by Pradip Krishen can be read here.

Here is the second post, by NARAYANI GUPTA

Basti basna khel nahin: Narayani Gupta

Presented at a seminar on ‘The Right to the City’ at Indraprastha College, Delhi University, on 5 September 2019 

The strident cry of the Right to the City takes us back 50 years, to Henri Lefebvre. 50 years ago, when I was in my 20s,  parts of the world turned upside down – 1967 saw the Naxalbari peasant uprising, in 1968, Lefebvre’s book Le Droit a la ville was followed by the  protest movements of students and workers in Europe. 1969, the rhythms of Woodstock, and in India the excitement of the founding of JNU… Today we get late for appointments because of the pile-up of cars on the roads. 50 years ago it was because of the river of red flags that eddied through the streets from Ramlila Maidan to Sansad Bhavan. Government bred its ‘other’ – protest. Things fall into place when recalled from a later time, but when they happen they merely disturb the surface.

So this is a golden jubilee moment, but also a nostalgia moment, nostalgia for that stubborn sense of hope which we seem to have lost, for the battle-cries now replaced by triumphalist slogans.

The plea for a collective life and an equal access to resources – which is implied in the battle-cry ‘The Right to the City’ – has to be placed against the histories of particular countries. It is certain conjunctures that explain why something happens when it does – even the rallying-cry of the Right to the City.

Continue reading Basti Basna Khel Nahin Hai – Dilli hai jiska naam II: Narayani Gupta