Adam, Eve, Art – Neither Belief Nor Unbelief: Prasanta Chakravarty

Guest post by PRASANTA CHAKRAVARTY

Stephen Greenblatt has struck upon a sheer and stupendous idea: to retell the tale of the first couple of the Christian world, Adam and Eve. The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve is a sweeping work with a remarkably ranging scholarship, galloping through centuries in minutes. The tone and the expanse of the book successfully hide the vertical depth of laborious research that has gone into bringing such an ambitious endeavour into culmination.  This is also a book of reliving an ancient art: the bare act of telling a story, holding up the full panoply of its rich narrative contours. The book jauntily speculates as much as it reveals. The very subject matter allows Greenblatt to do so. But there is yet another dimension to this project— a life-long, intense personal engagement with the idea of how conscious human intervention may have altered man’s relationship with whatever is cosmic, mythical and animistic. To that end it is also an ideological book that tells the story of Adam and Eve as it tries to grapple with our modern condition.

Continue reading “Adam, Eve, Art – Neither Belief Nor Unbelief: Prasanta Chakravarty”

Malayali Feminism 2018: In the Light of Vadayambady and Hadiya’s Struggle

The almost insoluble task is to let neither the power of others, not our own powerlessness, stupefy us.

Adorno.

As frightening spectres of untouchability and unseeability hover around the festering sore of the ‘caste-wall’ at Vadayambady in Kerala, as the so-called mainstream left-led government here continues to pour its energy and resources into aiding and abetting caste devils there, as most mainstream media turns a blind eye, as the Kerala police continues its mad-dog-left-loose act, many friends ask me: why have you not yet written about the struggle there of dalit people fighting of the demon of caste now completely, shamelessly ,in the public once more? Continue reading “Malayali Feminism 2018: In the Light of Vadayambady and Hadiya’s Struggle”

The Meaning of Jignesh Mevani

[A shorter version  of this article was published in The Wire on 18 December. I thank K. Satyanarayana, P. Sanal Mohan and Jangam Chinnaiah for their very helpful comments on it, which have helped me to clarify and elaborate on certain points.]

Jignesh Mevani, image courtesy New Indian Express

The rise of Jignesh Mevani constitutes a significant landmark in the political configuration in which the Congress has risen, despite itself, from a state of utter disarray to become the point of articulation for a possible political realignment in the near future. The process of political reconfiguration had already begun as a very significant section of the powerful patidar community, long understood to be the bedrock of the BJP’s social base in the state, had broken away from it. But alongside this, the rise of the young leaders Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mevani together produced the new young face of emergent Gujarat.

There is no doubt that the vacuum that characterized the space where the opposition should have been, no longer exists. The masthead of a new opposition formation is evident on the horizon. This turnaround in the fortunes of the Congress would not have been possible without the re-alignments in the non-electoral arena, facilitated in no small measure by the rise of this young leadership.

Continue reading “The Meaning of Jignesh Mevani”

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

Guest post by LATA MANI

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

Sad at Killing of My Ambedkarite Elder Sister Gauri Lankesh, says Chandrashekhar of Bhim Army, as Govt Moves to Slap NSA on BA Activists

This is an amazing moment. From what we at the Committee for the Defense of Bhim Army have gathered, and from Chandrashekhar’s own letter from Saharanpur District Jail (see below), the administration is moving to slap charges under the National Security Act on Chandrashekhar and other activists. However, while expressing his resolve to fight on, Chandrashekhar also makes it clear in this letter (the facsimile and the text below) that he is equally concerned and saddened at the killing of Gauri Lankesh. He refers to her as his ‘Ambedkarite elder sister’ and pledges to carry forward the struggle to get her justice as well. This is how different dots in the struggle get connected. This is how new nodes of thinking and doing politics emerge. Right now, for us however, the struggle, for the legal defense of Chandrashekhar and other Bhim Army activists is paramount. They want to crush the movement in its infancy and we must ensure it can grow and carry on its struggle for liberation from the yoke of Hinduism and Hindutva.
It is worth placing on record here that when the formation of the Committtee for the Defense of Bhim Army was announced, Gauri had got it touch and expressed her wish to be on the Committee. Unfortunately, that was not to be. But we are sure that this is perhaps the best tribute we can offer to Gauri – carry on the fight for the defense of Bhim Army!
Chandrashekhar’s letter from jail
सभी साथियों व माताओं बहनों को जय भीम जय भारत, जय भीम आर्मी,
 एक आवश्यक बात आप सब से शेयर करनी है उत्तर प्रदेश के सहारनपुर जिले की जेल इस समय मेरा घर है. एक सूचना आई थी की काले अंग्रेजों की तानाशाह सरकार और उनके हाथ की कठपुतली बना जिला प्रशासन यह चाहता है कि मैं अपनी जमानत अर्जी ना डालू अगर मैं जमानत की अर्जी डलवाता हूं तो वो मेरे ऊपर रासुका लगा देंगे.
पहली बात तो मैं यह स्पष्ट कर दूं कि यह देश हमारा है इस देश के 85 % दलित पिछड़े मुस्लिम वह अल्पसंख्या लोग अपने ही देश में गुलाम अब नहीं रहेंगे हम इस देश के Rakshak भी है और शासक भी है 85 % लोग यहां के मूल निवासी है और दलितों का रक्षक दल चमार जाति की चमार रेजिमेंट इनका उदाहरण है हमने इस देश के लिए बलिदान दिया है काले अंग्रेज जो दलित विदेशी होने का दावा करते हैं वह भीम आर्मी के प्रभाव से डरकर मुझ पर रासुका लगाकर मुझे डराना चाहते हैं तो मैं उन्हें यह कहना चाहता हूं कि रासुका ही नहीं वह चाहे तो मुझे फांसी लगा दे तो भी वह मुझे झुका नहीं सकते.
मैं एक बार नहीं एक हजार बार भी अपनी कौम के लिए हंसते हंसते फांसी चढ़ना पसन्द करुगा और मान-सम्मान वे इस देश में अधिकारों की जो लड़ाई है उसे पीछे नहीं हटूंगा. आजाद न तो कभी झुका है और ना कभी झुक  कर कोई समझौता करेगा मुझे गर्व है कि मैं चमार जाति में पैदा हुआ जब तक लहू का आखरी करता रहेगा अपने लोगों की सुरक्षा अधिकार वह मान सम्मान के लिए संघर्ष जारी रहेगा ।।
अंबेडकरवादी बड़ी  बहन गौरी लंकेश की हत्या से दुखी हूं पर इनके जज्बे को सलाम उनकी शहादत बेकार नहीं जाएगी हम सब उनको न्याय दिलाकर रहेंगे वो कभी झुकी नहीं इसलिए बड़ी खुशी से आपको यह कहना चाहता हूं कि अगर कल मैं ना भी रहूं तो पीछे न हटना संघर्ष करना आपके संघर्ष से हमारे आने वाली पीढ़ियां इस देश की शासक होगी बाबा साहब ने कहा जीवन लंबा नहीं महान होना चाहिए गुलामी और सम्मान का एक दिन बड़ा होता है उन हजारों साल से ना झुका हु  ना झुका गा ना रुका हु ना रुकू गा और ना बिका हु ना बिकुगा आजाद जिया था आजाद मरूँगा  जय भीम नीला सलाम जय साहब कांशीराम ।
       आपका भाई बेटा दोस्त
*(एडवोकेट चंद्रशेखर आजाद रावण संस्थापक भीम आर्मी भारत मिशन)*

Armed Forces Veterans Speak Out – ‘Act Now to Uphold the Constitution’

In the midst of all the cacophony and shrill pseudo-nationalist rhetoric that is destroying the fabric of a plural India, often in the name of the Armed Forces, 114 veterans of the Indian Armed Forces have spoken out. They have spoken out in no uncertain terms against targeted attacks on Muslims and Dalits and against the attempts to destroy the Constitution –  upon which arose the new, independent India.

An Open Letter from Veterans of the Armed Forces

To: the Prime Minister of India, Chief Ministers of the States, and Lieutenant-Governors of the Union Territories.

30 July, 2017

We are a group of Veterans of the Indian Armed Forces who have spent our careers working for the security of our country. Collectively, our group holds no affiliation with any single political party, our only common commitment being to the Constitution of India.

It saddens us to write this letter, but current events in India have compelled us to register our dismay at the divisiveness that is gripping our country. We stand with the ‘Not in My Name’ campaign that mobilised thousands of citizens across the country to protest against the current climate of fear, intimidation, hate and suspicion.

The Armed Forces stand for “Unity in Diversity”. Differences in religion, language, caste, culture or any other marker of belonging have not mattered to the cohesion of the Armed Forces, and servicemen of different backgrounds have fought shoulder to shoulder in the defence of our nation, as they continue to do today. Throughout our service, a sense of openness, justice and fair play guided our actions. We are one family. Our heritage is like the multi-coloured quilt that is India, and we cherish this vibrant diversity. Continue reading “Armed Forces Veterans Speak Out – ‘Act Now to Uphold the Constitution’”

Under the sign of security – Why the bogey of ‘the illegal Bangladeshi immigrant’ is so powerful across urban Indian homes: Sahana Ghosh & Rimple Mehta

Guest Post by SAHANA GHOSH & RIMPLE MEHTA

From the night of July 11 when Zohra Bibi did not return home to the evening of July 16 when union minister Mahesh Sharma, member of parliament for Gautam Budh Nagar, UP met with residents of Mahagun Moderne, much has transpired. Promptly after the minister’s assurances of ‘justice’ and even retribution to the flat-owners, the settlement of tin walled shacks in which Zohra Bibi and other workers like her lived with their families was demolished the next day. Many of the ‘facts’ of the matter remain disputed – while Zohra Bibi maintains that she neither admitted to the theft of cash nor hid in the basement of the building, the allegation that her employers Harshu and Mitul Sethi harassed and detained her, confiscating her mobile phone is denied by them. Meanwhile, thirteen men, a majority of them Bengali Muslims from West Bengal, arrested from the workers’ settlement are denied bail on the charge of attempted murder on the might of three FIRs filed by residents of Mahagun Moderne and languish in judicial custody. The Noida police are yet to commence any investigation of the Sethis as required by the FIR filed by Zohra Bibi and her husband Abdul Sattar. What does this language of the riot, of murderous mobs with which residents of the swanky apartment complex took to social media with #MaldainNoida accomplish? As security cards, required by domestic and other workers to enter the gated community, were revoked for 80-odd workers under the cry of ‘ban the Bangladeshi maid’, the bogey of the illegal Bangladeshi immigrant reared its ugly head. Continue reading “Under the sign of security – Why the bogey of ‘the illegal Bangladeshi immigrant’ is so powerful across urban Indian homes: Sahana Ghosh & Rimple Mehta”