Category Archives: Excavation

Hari Vasudevan, the Soviet Archives and the Left Establishment: Sobhanlal Datta Gupta

This tribute to Prof HARI VASUDEVAN by Prof SOBHANLAL DATTA GUPTA, who passed away in Kolkata recently, is being reproduced here, courtesy Mainstream Weekly.

Thereafter, as we proceeded in our work on the publication of the texts of the documents, we began to face insurmountable resistance, quite surprisingly, from a section of the Left establishment in West Bengal. We were threatened, maligned and discouraged not to proceed with this work any further and ridiculed for our research on documents which were described as “fake” and “doctored”.

It was May, 1995, exactly 25 years ago. Hari Vasudevan (Calcutta University), Purabi Roy (Jadavpur University) and I myself (Calcutta University) were in Moscow for two months, working as a team sent by The Asiatic Society, Calcutta in connection with a project of collection of documents from the newly opened Soviet archives on Indo-Russian Relations : 1917-1947. This project was the result of a Protocol signed between The Asiatic Society, Calcutta and Moscow’s Institute of Oriental Studies. With extremely limited funding we were expected to prepare catalogues of as many documents as possible and bring home photocopies/microfilms of those documents which we considered most important, depending, of course, upon their accessibility. It was a Herculean job, since we had no idea of the materials we had to handle. Working on hundreds and hundreds of documents, catalouging and copying them (in many cases because of paucity of funds and since we had no laptop, quite often we had to take down a document by hand) demanded a division of labour. While Purabidi worked in the State Archives of the Russian Federation (GARF), Archives of the Ministry of External Affairs (MID), Russian State Military Historical Archive (RGVIA), Hari and I worked in the former Central Party Archives, Institute of Marxism-Leninism (now known as Russian State Archive for Social and Political History or RGASPI ). Continue reading Hari Vasudevan, the Soviet Archives and the Left Establishment: Sobhanlal Datta Gupta

‘Beheading’ Marxism, Unleashing Desire: Ghya Chang Fou and the Marxist Unconscious

Ghya Chang Fou is not a Chinese or East Asian word – it is the name of this new dark Bengali satirical film that had its world premiere this September (2018), at the Transart Communication Festival, Nove Zamky, Slovakia.  Below is the official trailer of the film, followed by my take on it – better not read as a review.

The quirky world of Ghya Chang Fou (Joyraj Bhattacharjee, 2017) is best seen and understood as a dream. For, a dream never really adheres to the conventions of linear realistic narrative, and characteristically, scrambles up time and space. Everything makes perfect sense while you are seeing it but do try interpreting your dreams through realist conventions, especially if you are a believer in any form of realism.

Continue reading ‘Beheading’ Marxism, Unleashing Desire: Ghya Chang Fou and the Marxist Unconscious

Literature and Silence: Prasanta Chakravarty

Guest post by PRASANTA CHAKRAVARTY

“Then is Now. The star you steer by is gone, its tremulous thread spun in the hurricane spider floss on my cheek.”
~ Basil Bunting, Briggflatts

 

“He who writes the work is set aside; he who has written it is dismissed. He who is dismissed, moreover, doesn’t know it. This ignorance preserves him.”
~Maurice Blanchot, The Space of Literature

 

“Blanchot is even greater waste of time than Proust,” Georges Poulet had famously remarked. Poulet was hinting at the grandeur of wasted time. A ruthless negativity, a rigorous retreat must take on all forms of reparation and facile optimism of human agency. Unconcern must be at the front and centre of our concern. The work of art is. Nothing more. The very idea of elucidation—to dwell upon the actual object that a writer has to offer us—is aesthetically vulgar and politically reactionary. A deep futility marks all perfection. A creation, like Eurydice when Orpheus looks at her, must disappear. The work is remote from itself. It is the incapacity to stop feeling what is not there to be felt.

All quests are echoes. Foreign to presence. Any presence. Quests grasp us rather. But they exclude the writer. He is stupefied. He is idled out of his own work—hence he must go back to work, tirelessly. The lucidity of his insomniac regression keeps on emerging infernally in what we call art. Write he must. But only and solely by being on the verge of his ruinous look back.

Continue reading Literature and Silence: Prasanta Chakravarty

LBJ, Kashmir, and Indian Liberals: Rajive Kumar

Guest Post by RAJIVE KUMAR

Towards the end of his presidency, Lyndon B Johnson, the 36th President of the United States of America, had been reduced to a figure of universal scorn and derision. His escalation of the Vietnam War to a point from which it became impossible to extricate the US ended up  in becoming one of the defining human tragedies of twentieth century. This was war fought on the basis of pretexts that did not actually exist.  The slur “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” which became an anthem of sorts for protestors eventually compelled him to forgo running for a second term in office in 1968.  Those protesting against the war, those who eventually forced Lyndon Johnson to leave the political arena were Americans who were overcome with images of atrocities and the rising count of civilian deaths in a mindless war.

Continue reading LBJ, Kashmir, and Indian Liberals: Rajive Kumar

Linger Like Moisture Within – On Viren Dangwal’s Pitr-Paksh: Prasanta Chakravarty

Guest Post by Prasanta Chakravarty

Pitr-paksh/ पितृ-पक्ष (also pitru-paksh) is the 16 day lunar period in the Hindu diurnal calendar when believers pay homage to their ancestors, through specific food offerings. Most years, the autumnal equinox falls within this period, that is, the Sun transitions from the northern to the southern hemisphere during this time. In Northern and Eastern India and Nepal, among the cultures following the purnimanta or the solar calendar, this period usually corresponds with the waning fortnight of the month Ashwin. The souls of three preceding generations of one’s ancestor reside in Pitr-loka, a realm between heaven and earth. Continue reading Linger Like Moisture Within – On Viren Dangwal’s Pitr-Paksh: Prasanta Chakravarty

Erdogan Gets A Degree from Jamia Millia Islamia and Everyone Else’s Father is in Prison in Istanbul

Everyone else’s father is in prison in Istanbul,
they want to hang everyone else’s son
in the middle of the road, in broad daylight
People there are willing to risk the gallows
so that everyone else’s son won’t be hanged
so that everyone else’s father won’t die
and bring home a loaf of bread and a kite.
People, good people,
Call out from the four corners of the world,
say stop it,
Don’t let the executioner tighten the rope
[ Nazim Hikmet, 1954 ]

Its best to stay as far aways as possible when two mafia dons meet to talk business. Especially when their deep state security detail has a disturbing tendency to shoot first and ask questions after. Today, Delhi’s roads are emptier than usual, even on a Sunday. And I am reading Nazim Hikmet, because a thug is coming to town.

Continue reading Erdogan Gets A Degree from Jamia Millia Islamia and Everyone Else’s Father is in Prison in Istanbul

मारूति-सुजुकि मज़दूरों को उम्र कैद व अन्य नाजायज सजाओं के खिलाफ़ पंजाब में उठी जोरदार आवाज़: लखविन्दर

अतिथि post: लखविन्दर

मारूति-सुजुकि मज़दूरों को उम्र कैद व अन्य नाजायज सजाओं के गुड़गांव अदालत के फैसले को घोर पूँजीपरस्त, पूरे मज़दूर वर्ग व मेहनतकश जनता पर बड़ा हमला मानते हुए पंजाब के मज़दूरों, किसानों, नौजवानों, छात्रों, सरकारी मुलाजिमों, जनवादी अधिकारों के पक्ष में आवाज उठाने वाले बुद्धिजीवियों व अन्य नागरिकों के संगठनों ने व्यापक स्तर पर आवाज़ बुलन्द की है। 4 और 5 अप्रैल को देश व्यापी प्रदर्शनों में पंजाब के जनसंगठनों ने भी व्यापक शमूलियत की है। विभिन्न संगठनों ने व्यापक स्तर पर पर्चा वितरण किया, फेसबुक, वट्सएप पर प्रचार मुहिम चलाई। अखबारों, सोशल मीडिया आदि से इन गतिविधियों की कुछ जानकारी प्राप्त हुई है।

​5 अप्रैल को लुधियाना में लघु सचिवालय पर डीसी कार्यालय पर टेक्सटाईल-हौजऱी कामगार यूनियन, मोल्डर एण्ड स्टील वर्कर्ज यूनियनें, मज़दूर अधिकार संघर्ष अभियान, नौजवान भारत सभा, पी.एस.यू., एटक, सीटू, एस.एस.ए.-रमसा यूनियन, पेंडू मज़दूर यूनियन, डी.टी.एफ., रेलवे पेन्शनर्ज वेल्फेयर ऐसोसिएशन, जमहूरी अधिकार सभा, आँगनवाड़ी मिड डे मील आशा वर्कर्ज यूनियन, कामागाटा मारू यादगारी कमेटी, स्त्री मज़दूर संगठन, कारखाना मज़दूर यूनियन, पेंडू मज़दूर यूनियन (मशाल), कुल हिन्द निर्माण मज़दूर यूनियन आदि संगठनों के नेतृत्व में जोरदार प्रदर्शन हुआ और राष्ट्रपति के नाम माँग पत्र सौंपा गया जिसमें माँग की गई कि सभी मारूति-सुजुकि के सभी मज़दूरों को बिना शर्त रिहा किया जाए. उनपर नाजायज-झूठे मुकद्दमे रद्द हो, काम से निकाले गए सभी मज़दूरों को कम्पनी में वापिस लिया जाए।


​लुधियाना में 5 अप्रैल के प्रदर्शन की तैयारी के लिए हिन्दी और पंजाबी पर्चा वितरण भी किया गया जिसके जरिए लोगों को मारूति-सुजुकि मज़दूरों के संघर्ष, उनके साथ हुए अन्याय, न्यायपालिका-सरकार-पुलिस के पूँजीपरस्त और मज़दूर विरोधी-जनविरोधी चरित्र से परिचित कराया गया और प्रदर्शन में पहुँचने की अपील की गई। लुधियाना में 16 मार्च को भी बिगुल मज़ूदर दस्ता, मोल्डर एण्ड स्टील वर्कर्ज यूनियनों, मज़दूर अधिकार संघर्ष अभियान, आदि संगठनों द्वारा रोषपूर्ण प्रदर्शन किया गया था।

​जमहूरी अधिकार सभा, पंजाब द्वारा बठिण्डा व संगरूर में 4 अप्रैल, बरनाला में 8 अप्रैल को, लुधियाना में 1 अप्रैल को पिछले दिनों देश की अदालतों द्वारा हुए तीन जनविरोधी फैसलों मारूति-सुजुकि के मज़दूरों को उम्र कैद व अन्य सजाएँ, जनवादी अधिकारों के लिए आवाज उठाने वाले दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय के प्रो. साईबाबा सहित अन्य बेगुनाह लोगों को उम्र कैद की सजाओं, और हिन्दुत्वी आतन्कवादी असीमानन्द को बरी करने के मुद्दों पर कन्वेंशनें, सेमिनार, प्रदर्शन, मीटिंगें आदि आयोजित किए गए जिनमें अन्य जनसंगठनों नें भी भागीदारी की। जमहूरी अधिकार सभा ने इन मुद्दों पर एक पर्चा भी प्रकाशित किया जो बड़े स्तर पर पंजाब में बाँटा गया।

 पटियाला में 4 अप्रैल को मज़दूरों, छात्रों, किसानों के विभिन्न संगठनों द्वारा रोष प्रदर्शन किया गया। बिजली मुलाजिमों ने भी टेक्नीकल सर्विसज़ यूनियन के नेतृत्व में 4 अप्रैल को अनेकों जगहों पर प्रदर्शन किए। लहरा थरमल पलांट के ठेका मज़दूरों ने 4 अप्रैल को रोष रैली के जरिए मारूति-सुजुकि मज़दूरों के साथ एकजुटता जाहिर करते हुए उनके समर्थन में आवाज़ उठाई। मारूति-सुजुकि मज़दूरों के समर्थन में पंजाब में उठी आवाज़ की कड़ी में लोक मोर्चा पंजाब ने 8 अप्रैल को लम्बी (जिला बठिण्डा) में रैली और रोष प्रदर्शन किया। लम्बी में आर.एम.पी. चिकित्सकों द्वारा भी प्रदर्शन किया गया। अनेकों गाँवों में मज़दूर-किसान-नौजवान संगठनों ने अर्थी फूँक प्रदर्शन भी किए हैं। आप्रेशन ग्रीन हण्ट विरोधी जमहूरी फ्रण्ट, पंजाब ने मोगा में 12 अप्रैल को कान्फ्रेंस और प्रदर्शन आयोजित किया।

मारूति-सुजुकि मज़दूरों का जिस स्तर पर कम्पनी में शोषण हो रहा था और इसके खिलाफ़ उठी आवाज़ को जिस घृणित बर्बर ढंग से कुचलने की कोशिश की गई है उसके खिलाफ़ आवाज़ उठनी स्वाभाविक और लाजिमी थी। पंजाब के इंसाफपसंद लोगों का हक, सच, इंसाफ के लिए जुझारू संघर्षों का पुराना और शानदार इतिहास रहा है। अधिकारों के जूझ रहे मारूति-सुजुकि मज़दूरों का साथ वे हमेशा निभाते रहेंगे।

पूरे देश में मज़दूरों का देशी-विदेशी पूँजीपतियों द्वारा भयानक शोषण हो रहा है। जब मज़दूर आवाज़ उठाते हैं तो पूँजीपति और उनका सेवादार पूरा सरकारी तंत्र दमन के लिए टूट पड़ता है। ऐसा ही मारूति-सुजुकी, मानेसर (जिला गुडग़ांव, हरियाणा) के संघर्षरत

 मज़दूरों के साथ हुआ है। एक बहुत बड़ी साजिश के तहत कत्ल, इरादा कत्ल जैसे पूरी तरह झूठे केसों में फँसाकर पहले तो 148 मज़दूरों को चार वर्ष से अधिक समय तक, बिना जमानत दिए, जेल में बन्द रखा गया और अब गुडग़ाँव की अदालत ने नाज़ायज ढंग से 13 मज़दूरों को उम्र कैद और चार को 5-5 वर्ष की कैद की कठोर सजा सुनाई है। 14 अन्य मज़दूरों को चार-चार साल की सजा सुनाई गई है लेकिन क्योंकि वे पहले ही लगभग साढे वर्ष जेल में रह चुके हैं इसलिए उन्हें रिहा कर दिया गया है। 117 मज़दूरों को, जिन्हें बाकी मज़दूरों के साथ इतने सालों तक जेलों में ठूँस कर रखा गया उन्हें बरी करना पड़ा है। सबूत तो बाकी मज़दूरों के खिलाफ़ भी नहीं है लेकिन फिर भी उन्हें जेल में बन्द रखने का बर्बर हुक्म सुनाया गया है।

​जापानी कम्पनी मारूति-सुजुकि के खिलाफ़ मज़दूरों ने श्रम अधिकारों के उलण्घन, कमरतोड़ मेहनत करवाने, कम वेतन, लंच, चाय, आदि की ब्रेक के बाद एक मिनट के देरी के लिए भी आधे दिन का वेतन काटने, छुट्टी करने के लिए हजारों रूपए वेतन से काटने जैसे भारी जुर्माने लगाने, आदि के खिलाफ़ कुछ वर्ष पहले संघर्ष का बिगुल बजाया था। कम्पनी की दलाल तथाकथित मज़दूर यूनियन की जगह उन्होंने अपनी यूनियन बनाई। नई यूनियन के पंजीकरण में कम्पनी ने ढेरों रूकावटें खड़ी कीं। उस समय हरियाणा में कांग्रेस की सरकार के मुख्यमंत्री भूपेन्द्र हुड्डा ने सरेआम पूँजीपतियों की दलाली का प्रदर्शन करते हुए कहा था कि कारखाने में नई यूनियन नहीं बनने दी जाएगी। मज़दूरों ने लम्बी-लम्बी हड़तालें लड़ीं, अपने अथक संघर्ष से यूनियन का पंजीकरण कराके जीत हासिल की। मज़दूर संघर्ष कम्पनी और समूचे सरकारी तंत्र की आँख की किरकरी बना हुआ था। संघर्ष कुचलने के लिए साजिश रची गई। 18 जुलाई 2012 को कारखाने के भीतर पुलीस की हाजिरी में सैंकड़ों हथियारबन्द गुण्डों से मज़दूरों पर हमला करवाया गया। बड़ी संख्या मज़दूर जख्मी हुए। कारखाने में आग लगवा दी गई। एक मज़दूर पक्षधर मैनेजर की इस दौरान मौत हो गई। साजिश के तहत इसका दोष मज़दूरों पर मढ़ दिया गया। बड़े स्तर पर गिरफतारियाँ की गईं, यातनाएँ दी गईं। ढाई हज़ार मज़दूरों को गैरकानूनी रूप से नौकरी से निकाल दिया गया। 148 मज़दूरों को जेल में ठूँस दिया गया। जमानत की अर्जी पर पंजाब-हरियाणा हाईकोर्ट ने टिप्पणी की कि अगर जमानत दी गई तो भारत में विदेशी पूँजी का निवेश रुकेगा। जिन 13 मज़दूरों को उम्र कैद की सजा सुनाई गई है उनमें 12 लोग यूनियन नेतृत्व का हिस्सा थे। इससे इस झूठे मुकद्दमे का मकसद समझना मुश्किल नहीं है।

अदालत का फैसला कितना अन्यायपूर्ण है इसका अन्दाजा लगाने के लिए सिर्फ कुछ तथ्य ही काफ़ी हैं। कम्पनी में चप्पे-चप्पे पर कैमरे लगे हुए हैं लेकिन अदालत में कहा कि उसके पास 18 जुलाई काण्ड की कोई वीडियो है ही नहीं! कम्पनी के गवाहों के ब्यानों से साफ पता चल रहा था कि झूठ बोल रहे हैं। वो तो मज़दूरों को पहचान तक न सके। गुण्डों व उनका साथ देने वाले मैनेजरों व अन्य स्टाफ के मैंबरों से कहीं अधिक संख्या में मज़दूर जख्मी हुए थे। पोस्ट मार्टम में पाया गया कि मैनेजर अवनीश कुमार की मौत दम घुटने से हुई है न कि जलाए जाने से जिससे साफ़ है कि यह हत्या का मामला है ही नहीं। और भी बहुत सारे तथ्य स्पष्ट तौर मज़दूरों का बेगुनाह होना साबित कर रहे थे लेकिन इन्हें अदालत ने नजरान्दाज कर मज़दूरों को ही दोषी करार दे दिया क्योंकि पूँजी निवेश को बढ़ावा जो देना है! वास्तव में मारूति-सुजुकी घटनाक्रम के जरिए लुटेरे हुक्मरानों ने ऐलान किया है कि अगर कोई लूट-शोषण के खिलाफ़ बोलेगा वो कुचला जाएगा।

ये फैसला तब आया है जब असीमानन्द और अन्य संघी आतन्कवादियों के खिलाफ ठोस सबूत होने, असीमानन्द द्वारा जुर्म कबूल कर लेने के बावजूद भी बरी कर दिया जाता है। दंगे भड़काने वाले, बेगुनाहों का कत्लेआम करने वाले न सिर्फ आज़ाद घूम रहे हैं बल्कि मुख्य मंत्री, प्रधान मंत्री जैसे पदों पर पहुँच रहे हैं !

आज देशी-विदेशी कम्पनियों, लुटेरे धन्नासेठों को खुश करने के लिए सरकारें मज़दूरों से सारे श्रम अधिकार छीन रही हैं। न्यूनतम वेतन, फण्ड, बोनस, हादसों से सुरक्षा के इंतजाम तक लागू न करने वाले पूँजीपतियों पर कोई कार्रवाई नहीं होती, उन्हें कभी जेल में नहीं ठूँसा जाता। उलटा भाजपा, कांग्रेस से लेकर तमाम पार्टियों की सरकारें कानूनी श्रम अधिकारों में मज़दूर विरोधी बदलाव करके पूँजीपतियों को मज़दूरों की बर्बर लूट की और भी खुली छूट दे रही हैं। किसानों, छात्रों, नौजवानों, आदिवासियों, सरकारी कर्मचारियों के अधिकार कुचले जा रहे हैं। भोजन, स्वास्थ्य, शिक्षा, बिजली, पानी, आदि तमाम सरकारी सहूलतें छीनी जा रही हैं। इसके खिलाफ़ उठी हर आवाज को दबाने के लिए पूरा राज्य तंत्र अत्याधिक हमलावर हो चुका है। काले कानून बनाकर एकजुट संघर्ष के जनवादी अधिकार छीने जा रहे हैं। जनपक्षधर बुद्धिजीवियों, पत्रकारों, कलाकारों तक का दमन हो रहा है, जेलों में ठूँसा जा रहा है। जन एकजुटता को तोडऩे के लिए धर्म, जाति, क्षेत्र के नाम पर बाँटने की साजिशें पहले किसी भी समय से कहीं अधिक तेज़ हो चुकी हैं। जहाँ जनता को बाँटा न सके, जहाँ लोगों का ध्यान असल मुद्दों से भटकाया न जा सके, वहाँ जेल, लाठी, गोली से कुचला जा रहा है। यही मारूति-सुजुकी मज़दूरों के साथ हुआ है। लेकिन बर्बर हुक्मरानों को दीवार पर लिखा पढ़ लेना चाहिए। इतिसाह गवाह है- जेल, लाठी, गोली, बर्बर दमन जनता की अवाज़ न कभी दबी है न कभी देबेगी।

Remembering Chandu, Friend and Comrade: Kavita Krishnan

Chandrashekhar (Comrade Chandu)

Guest Post by Kavita Krishnan

It’s been twenty years since the assassin’s bullets took Chandu away from us, at 4 pm on 31 March 1997.

I still recall my sheer disbelief when a phone call from my party office at my hostel that evening informed me ‘Chandu has been killed.’ Chandrashekhar as well as youth leader Shyam Narayan Yadav had been shot dead while addressing a street corner meeting in Siwan – ironically at a Chowk named after JP – Jaiprakash Narayan, icon of the movement for democracy against the Emergency. A rickshaw puller Bhuteli Mian also fell to a stray bullet fired by the assassins – all known to be henchmen of the RJD MP and mafia don Mohd. Shahabuddin.

In the spring of 1997, as JNU began to burst into the riotous colours of amaltas and bougainvillea, Chandu bid us goodbye. He had served two terms as JNUSU President (I was Joint Secretary during his second stint) and had decided to return to his hometown Siwan, as a whole-time activist of the CPI(ML) Liberation. He had made the decision to be a whole-time activist a long time ago. Chandu’s friends know that for him, the decision to be an activist rather than pursue a salaried career was no ‘sacrifice.’ It was a decision to do what he loved doing and felt he owed to society.

Continue reading Remembering Chandu, Friend and Comrade: Kavita Krishnan

Rain and Revulsion: Prasanta Chakravarty

This is a GUEST POST by Prasanta Chakravarty

“Slime is the agony of water.”

~ Jean Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness


The Birth of Revulsion – Pranabendu Dasgupta

No certainty where each would go —
Suddenly the descent of a cloudburst, rain.
We stood, each where we were,
And stared at one another.
It is not good to be so close
“Revulsion is born” – someone had said

“Revulsion, revulsion, revulsion.”
Then, lighting a cigarette, some man
Muttered abuse at another next to him.
Like an abstract painting, spiralling like a gyre,
In a wee space
We slowly fragmented, dispersed.
Had it not rained, though,
We would have stepped out together.
Perhaps to the cinema, tasting a woman’s
Half-exposed breast with the eye,
Then laughing out loud,
We could head for the maidan!
Someone maybe would sing; someone
Would say, “I am alive”.

But it rained.

(Krittibas, Sharad Sankhya,  1386)

 ঘৃণার জন্ম

প্রনবেন্দু দাশগুপ্ত

কোথায় কে যাবে ঠিক নেই —
হঠাৎ দুদ্দাড় ক ‘রে বৃষ্টি নেমে এলো।
যেখানে ছিলাম, ঠিক সেইখানে থেকে
আমরা পরস্পরের দিকে তাকিয়ে রইলাম।

এত কাছাকাছি থাকা খুব ভালো নয়।
” ঘৃণার জন্ম হয় ” –কে যেন বললো
” ঘৃণা, ঘৃণা, ঘৃণা। ”
তারপর সিগ্রেট ধরিয়ে, আরো একজন
খুব ফিশফিশ ক ‘রে
পাশের লোককে গাল দিলো।
বিমূর্ত ছবির মতো তালগোল পাকিয়ে পাকিয়ে
ছোট্ট জায়গা জূড়ে
আমরা ক্রমশ ভেঙে, ছড়িয়ে পড়লাম।

বৃষ্টি না নামলে কিন্তু
আমরা একসঙ্গে বেরিয়ে পড়তাম।
হয়তো সিনেমা গিয়ে,রমণীর আধ -খোলা স্তন
চোখ দিয়ে চেখে
তারপর, হো হো ক ‘রে হেসে
ময়দানের দিক যাওয়া যেতো !
কেউ হয়তো গান গাইতো ; কেউ হয়তো
বলতো “বেঁচে আছি “।

কিন্তু বৃষ্টি নেমেছিলো।।

(কৃত্তিবাস, শারদ সংখ্যা ১৩৮৬)

Continue reading Rain and Revulsion: Prasanta Chakravarty

Appeal to Join “JNU Chalo” on 15 Nov Marking One Month of Najeeb’s Disappearance: JNUSU

Guest Post by JNUSU (Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union)

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Friends, on 14th October night, Najeeb Ahmed, a student of M.Sc. Biotechnology, JNU was brutally assaulted and violently threatened by a group of ABVP students. From 15th October morning, Najeeb went missing from the campus. The disappearance of a student from a central university in the national capital after assault and intimidation of right wing lumpens is no doubt an ominous reflection of the dark times we are living in. For past four weeks, students, teachers, staff members of JNU, and citizens of Delhi have been coming out on the streets demanding institutional accountability to bring back Najeeb.

Continue reading Appeal to Join “JNU Chalo” on 15 Nov Marking One Month of Najeeb’s Disappearance: JNUSU

Three Photographs, Six Bodies: The Politics of Lynching in Twos: Megha Anwer

This is a guest post by MEGHA ANWER

 

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Mazlum Ansari and Imteyaz Khan, Jharkhand 2016.

 

The recent spate of vigilante attacks in India has lent a new, nearly domestic familiarity to the word “lynching”. This, though, is more than just a shift in language: the nation’s visual archive itself seems be shifting, towards instatement of a new normal. Inside just a year the “lynching photograph” has moved center-stage, filling mainstream news reportage and social media newsfeeds. The imagistic vocabulary of lynching has thus taken on a touch of mundane inevitability in caste and communal violence.

It began in March 2015, with the lynching of Syed Arif Khan in Dimapur, Nagaland. A couple of months later two teenage Dalit girls were raped, strangled and left hanging from a mango tree in Katra village in Uttar Pradesh. Then, on 28 September 2015, Mohammad Akhlaq was bludgeoned to death by a mob in his home near Dadri in what went on to gain spurious notoriety as a “beef-eating incident”. The following March, continuing with the logical rhythm of a scheduled sequel, the cattle herder Mazlum Ansari and his 14-year-old nephew Imteyaz Khan were lynched and hanged from a tree in Jharkhand. Most recently (on May 22) M. T. Oliva, a Congolese citizen, was beaten to death in the national capital of Delhi. This is an incomplete list: it includes only those incidents that resulted in fatalities. In the same timeframe there have been at least a dozen other cases in which the victims somehow survived the end-stage public shaming, torment and lurid physical violence, in short the ordeal of a completed lynching.

There is no lynching without its spectators. Continue reading Three Photographs, Six Bodies: The Politics of Lynching in Twos: Megha Anwer

How We Destroy our Future by Proxy – On The Ruination of Ruins: Rahul Sharma

This is a guest post by RAHUL SHARMA

humayun-1-2

Why do we, if at all we do, really care about our material cultural heritage? Is it because it reminds us of what was, and is, good and great in humanity? Or is it the case that we look at a cultural objet and recognise that it is the Ozymandias complex materialized, that even the great and the mighty fail? Or is it that we may never attain the great heights in purity, simplicity, or other qualities we idolize and project on the remnants of the times past?

Or maybe we just want the tourism dollars and euros. Be that as it may, only someone obtuse, or with exaggerated tendency towards the behavior philistine, would say that our cultural heritage, our miniature paintings, our ruins, our tombs, forts, wall paintings, temples, mosques , books, manuscripts, and other things this essay is too short to quantify, are not worth preserving. Also note here that I said we, because we might be a bunch of separate kingdoms and separate principalities earlier, but deep down, we were one people, separated by religion and language, but united (willingly or unwillingly), by the plain and simple fact that you can’t chose your neighbor.

Continue reading How We Destroy our Future by Proxy – On The Ruination of Ruins: Rahul Sharma

जिशा, मेरी दोस्त, दलितों की जान इतनी सस्ती क्यों है? चिंटू

अतिथि पोस्ट : चिंटू

Josh
जिशा

जिशा, मेरी दोस्त मेरी यार, क्या कहूँ यार तुम्हारे साथ जो दंविये बर्बरता हुई उसके लिए मुझे  शब्द नहीं मिल रहे हैं कुछ कहने को. ये देश ये समाज हर रोज़ ऐसे झटके  देता रहता है और इतना देता है, इतना देता है, की हमारे लिए वीभत्स से वीभत्स घटना क्रूरतम से क्रूरतम घटना साधरण बन गई है और इन घटनाओं को पचाने की क्षमता में भी हम माहीर हो गए है. देखो न दोस्त, असाधारण कहाँ कुछ रह गया है. बचपन से आज तक तो यही सब देख- देख कर पले बढे हैं हम सब की, जो कुछ हो अपना हक़ मत मांगना, पढने लिखने की बात मत करना , बाप या भाई लात घूंसे  मार- मार कर तुम्हे अधमरा कर दे लेकिन एक शब्द भी उनके खिलाफ बोलने की गुस्ताखी मत करना, गाँव के उच्च जाति वर्ग के सामंती तुम्हे अगर छेड़े तुम्हारा बलात्कार करे तो उसका बहिष्कार मत करना कियोंकि ये तो उनका जन्म सिद्ध अधिकार है.

तुम्हारे लिए जो लक्ष्मण रेखा खिंची गई है उससे बाहर जाने की कोशिश की तो तुम्हारी शामत आना पक्की है. और शादी? ये तो दूसरी जात में तो दूर की बात अपनी जाति  में भी करने का अधिकार या आजादी की बात मत करना ये तय करना घर के बड़े पुरुषों के कंधे पर छोड़ो. सती सावित्री बनो, एक सद्गुणी बेटी, बहु और पत्नी बनो इसी में तुम्हारी भलाई है.

 

Continue reading जिशा, मेरी दोस्त, दलितों की जान इतनी सस्ती क्यों है? चिंटू

Resolution in support of the student protests in India against the militant suppression of intellectual freedom and dissent by the BJP-government

This is a resolution passed by the Doctoral Students’ Council, City University of New York (CUNY)

WHEREAS, on 12 February, the Delhi Police raided student hostels at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and arrested the JNU Students’ Union President Kanhaiyya Kumar on the arbitrary and anti-democratic charge of sedition; and

WHEREAS, this application of a draconian, colonial law which criminalizes dissent stands in stark contradiction to the very democratic character of the nation that affirms an individual’s right to free speech, however radical and unpopular the opinion; and

WHEREAS, this arrest of an elected student representative and the subsequent militarization of the campus with an overwhelming police presence is sanctioned and sponsored by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led ruling regime, in conjunction with its affiliate organizations RSS and ABVP, its student wing; and

WHEREAS, this coercive presence of the police on the university premises and elsewhere is compounded by their complicity in the physical assaults by lawyers of the Hindu Right on JNU teachers and students at the courthouse before Kanhaiyya’s hearing; and

Continue reading Resolution in support of the student protests in India against the militant suppression of intellectual freedom and dissent by the BJP-government

Support and stand for Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group: Mohammad Zafar

This is a guest post by MOHAMMAD ZAFAR

We are going into a dangerous situation now. It is that time when we all should come together to work against autocracy, state led atrocities, bullying, dictatorship and authoritarianism and any other form of injustice. We all know about JNU case, role of Lawyers & MLA O. P. Sharma in the shameful acts of abuse and warnings to people who take initiative to speak against atrocities and injustice all-over the country. Now Raman Singh’s model of development has also showed us two shameful cases in Chhattisgarh. One is attack on Tribal activist and AAP’s leader Soni Sori who has faced a lot of humiliation, atrocities and pain but always stood steadfast on her path and is still fighting. And one more case of state-led dictatorship is related to Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group, which is a legal aid group to support tribal people who are facing problems in that region in terms of false cases, fake encounters, etc. for details about its existence see this link of the Hindu’s article (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/a-group-of-lawyers-trying-bring-law-to-lawless-bastar-region/article7735079.ece) They worked for people facing false charges of Naxalism, against controversial encounters and other issues where there is a need to work hard for giving support to the voice of justice among tribes.

This has become problematic for state and police. They first started annoying them, throwing false allegations against their degrees and eligibility to fight case. When they fought and won against those charges now some organizations (with the support of state officials & police) also warned them to leave that place and said that they are Maoist sympathizers. And now finally they left their landlord’s rented home in Jagdalpur when police pressurized their landlord who (according to one member of Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group (JAGLAG) in an interaction to a reporter) is very good for them and they don’t want to be a problem for him. For further details and mail of a member of JAGLAG see the article in this link.

            We should think again, is it development where state itself making people speechless and generating more mistrust among people for government, where they do violence by their own way and more than that they are even silencing voices of resistance. These officers will get awards by government like Ankit Garg who shamelessly ordered humiliation and sexual abuse of Soni Sori. They want to silence voices like JAGLAG so that they will punish more innocents in the name of Naxalism as they did with Kartam Joga, who because of lot of efforts of Lawyers and activists found a new life after 3 years’ Jail and pain of brutality of Police. They don’t want any voices of resistance because they know their reality will emerge; so they beat people without any reason as they did with Lakhan Lal and broke his legs just for replying “Laal Salaam” in the dead of the night; their shameful act of humiliating Soni Sori in jail in the name of police inquiries is also for the same reasons. In the name of Anti-Naxalism/Maoism they are trying to silence all voices and justifying all their acts as their friends are trying to do in the name of nationalism in other parts of country. We should support now all members of Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group and raise this issue on all platforms.

“A Glorious Thing Made Up Of Stardust:” What Pat Parker & Rohith Vemula Ask Us to Consider Lata Mani

This is a guest post by LATA MANI

The first thing you do is to forget that I’m black
Second, you must never forget that I’m black

Pat Parker (1978)

In these opening lines of her poem, For the White Person Who Wants to Know How to be My Friend, Pat Parker names a paradox at the heart of challenging socially produced difference. Parker is speaking not to diversity in nature, nor to the diversity of nature. Not to the variations of appearance – size, shade, height, foliage, texture; or mode of expression – hoot, howl, accent, gesture, cultural practices. Her lines address a uniquely human phenomenon: prejudice. They speak to the poignant difficulty of challenging a spurious and malevolent construction of racial difference in a society still in the grip of its miasma.

I have recalled Parker’s lines many times in the days of sorrow, tumult and righteous rage that have followed Rohith Vemula’s suicide. “Rohith Vemula’s suicide.” I am holding off from saying “Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide.” Or, as is now being said with good reason, “Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s institutional murder.” I defer by a couple of sentences a description of him that refers to the caste into which he was born; to honour if only symbolically his anguish that the contingent facts of his birth had indelibly defined his life.

Continue reading “A Glorious Thing Made Up Of Stardust:” What Pat Parker & Rohith Vemula Ask Us to Consider Lata Mani

Reclaiming academia: understanding the student movement of our time: Tony Kurian and Suraj Gogoi

This is a guest post by TONY KURIAN and SURAJ GOGOI

Students from different parts of the country started protesting since a Dalit student from one of the premier universities of the country (University of Hyderabad) committed suicide on account of caste discrimination by the administration. This new wave of protests can be traced back to Occupy UGC which erupted when University Grants Commission (UGC) decided to stop the monthly research stipend known as non-net fellowship of Rs 5000 and 8000 for MPhil and PHD respectively. The ministry concerned has since constituted a panel to review the decision on account of student’s protests. On the other hand, we are seeing India becoming part of World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on higher education. These instances should not be regarded as isolated moments but should be viewed as an integral part of a story unfolding. It is in this context that one should locate the student movement of our time. The movement itself is receiving much media attention, and, it was mostly couched as a student’s movement against the government. For sure, the immediate demands of the students is to ensure justice to Rohith Vemula. The present wave of student movement is aimed at reclaiming academia both from an exclusivist culture which permeates much of our academic institutions, and increasing influence of free market logic in our higher education.

 Why are we seeing a new wave of student protests?

To understand why a movement like that we are witnessing now is extremely important for a vibrant and democratic academic space, we should explore some of the unwritten rules of academia itself and our academic institutions. Research is a long-term investment for the person who undertakes it. Every day he or she spends as a full time researcher is a day forgone from the job market. For a research scholar to earn a permanent job, it can take anywhere between five to ten years after the master’s programme.

Continue reading Reclaiming academia: understanding the student movement of our time: Tony Kurian and Suraj Gogoi

Survey Report on Losses Sustained during Chennai Floods: Concerned Citizens and Activist Groups

Guest Post on Chennai floods by CONCERNED CITIZENS AND ACTIVIST GROUPS  

[Earlier today we had published a post on the Chennai floods. The following is a report of a Survey on losses sustained during the floods, conducted by Arunodhaya: Centre for Street and Working Children; Bhavani Raman; Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG); Karen Coelho, Kavin Malar; Krishnaveni; Madhumita Dutta; Vettiver Collective; Prem Revathi; Priti Narayan; Students of Madras Christian College; TN Labour blog; and V. Geetha]

Sample Survey of Losses Sustained During Chennai Floods

With special reference to losses and damages of possessions, loss of workdays and damage to homes

January 2016

Executive summary

A group of concerned citizens involved in relief work post-Chennai floods, 20015 undertook a sample survey of 610 households (including migrants) across the city to assess losses suffered/damages incurred to homes, goods, occupational tools and also to get an idea of loss of working days. The purpose of this survey was to identify the exact quantum of losses sustained by the population and to direct government to compensate the populace for damages/loss accruing on account of the floods.

  • Places surveyed: Eekaduthangal, Jaffarkhanpet, Saidpet, Kotturpuram (Adyar flood plains), Mudichur (badly affected suburb), Semmencheri, Perumbakkam (resettlement/new housing tenements for low-income groups), Kodungaiyur, Ponneri (outlying suburbs with poor infrastructural developments.
  • More than 95% of people surveyed had not received warnings about impending flooding.
  • Inhabitants of over 85% of households surveyed have lost 25-40 working days and concomitant wages, ranging from Rs 250-500/per day.
  • Almost all households had lost or were left with irretrievably damaged certificates, household articles, including fridge, washing machine, grinder, mixers, lights, fans, stoves, tools of trade, children’s books, cycles and in some cases bikes and scooters.
  • Total losses sustained by households range from Rs 75,000 (including wages lost and cost of damage to homes) to Rs 50,000.

Continue reading Survey Report on Losses Sustained during Chennai Floods: Concerned Citizens and Activist Groups

The Need for Black-South Asian Solidarity: Lavanya Nott

This is a guest post by LAVANYA NOTT

In February 2013, George Zimmerman, a 28-year old neighbourhood watch coordinator in Sanford, Florida, stalked and fatally shot 17-year old unarmed Trayvon Martin, an African-American high school student. In July of that year, Zimmerman was acquitted of his crime.

On August 9, 2014, unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown was shot several times by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri after Brown stole several packs of cigarillos from a neighbourhood store. In late November of that same year, a grand jury did not indict Wilson of his crime.

The Black Lives Matter movement began after Zimmerman’s acquital, and the Ferguson non-indictment saw the movement surge forward, with thousands of citizens taking to the streets all over the United States in protest. In the months that followed, the movement gained rapid momentum, spurred on by yet another non-indictment—that of a White police officer in Staten Island who put 43-year-old Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold in broad daylight, without provocation. His death was ruled by a medical examiner as a homicide, but his killer Daniel Pantaleo escaped indictment.

In mid-September 2015, Mohammad Akhlaq’s house in Dadri was broken into, his family attacked, and his life taken by a rampaging mob of RSS workers who were responding to a rumor that Akhlaq killed a cow and subsequently consumed its meat on Eid.

Less than a month later, a gang of upper-caste Rajputs set fire to the house of a sleeping Dalit family, killing two-year-old Vaibhav and his nine-month-old sister Divya. This attack, in BJP-ruled Faridabad, was set against the backdrop of a long-standing caste-related dispute between the Dalit and Rajput communities in the city.

Continue reading The Need for Black-South Asian Solidarity: Lavanya Nott

Of Flags and Fetishes – The Paris Attacks and A Misplaced Politics of Solidarity: Debaditya Bhattacharya

This is a guest post by DEBADITYA BHATTACHARYA

Megan Garber’s article ‘#PrayForParis: When Empathy Becomes a Meme’, published in The Atlantic (November 16, 2015) has claimed that Paris hashtags and French flag filters on Facebook make for an “act of mass compassion” – a “compassion that has been converted, via the Internet’s alchemy, into political messaging”.

flag filter2

I have absolutely no problems with flag filters on Facebook. Or for that matter, profile-picture revolutions that happen all too often. I’m not, in the least bit indignant about such a competitive exhibitionism of feeling – indexed through a currency of memes and emoticons. In an age of such mass-production of violence (‘terroristic’ or ‘humanitarian’), it is no surprise that the event of mourning must become a symptom of the incompatibility between ‘act’ and ‘response’.

A funereal Facebook must therefore bleed profile pictures, because that seems the only charter of our most intimate emotions. We naturally do not care if Facebook is using the Paris tragedy as a marketing platform, as long as it helps us reclaim a deeply ‘personal’ angst in the face of more-than-a-hundred ‘spectacular’ deaths.

Continue reading Of Flags and Fetishes – The Paris Attacks and A Misplaced Politics of Solidarity: Debaditya Bhattacharya

Which COURT of Justice for Vinay Sirohi?

Yesterday, in a corner of Delhi-NCR known as Keshopur, a 22-year old sewage worker breathed his last, a final tortured breath inhaled inside a part of the vast network of sewage pipelines that map the city in their own cartography of waste. The pipeline was owned by the Delhi Jal Board, so its function was not simply to transport sewage, but to transform it into potable water through a portion of the pipeline that resembles a septic tank – a portion known as the ‘digester’.

djb_body_759
The portion of the pipeline containing Vinay Sirohi’s body. Courtesy Indian Express online edition.

That Vinay Sirohi, 22-year old contract worker with the Delhi Jal Board, who got married last year and had taken up part-time employment to help him get through college, lost his life in a part of the sewage pipeline called the ‘digester’ imparts something so grotesquely apposite to this tragedy that one almost doesn’t want to think about it. One often doesn’t, of course. One has the option of of flipping the page of the newspaper, of resting one’s eyes on more life-affirming images – English Premier League, Bollywood, Modi-Cameron Cameron-araderie…even Kejriwal’s homely navy-blue sweater and baggy trousers are a pleasant distraction. Anything that tells us that life as it was meant to be – humans wearing a clean sweater and trousers with a sofa to sit on after their stomachs and minds are fed and sated – is better than the thought of a body inside a pipe under the city. When I tried to save the image that you see above, the caption read djb_body_759. I don’t want to think about what that caption means. Does it mean the 759th body found inside the DJB’s sewage network? Does it mean the 759th body to have been recovered by the police this year, 2015? Does it mean the 759th body to have died in sewage pipelines across the country, or ever?

Continue reading Which COURT of Justice for Vinay Sirohi?