Category Archives: Good Ideas

The changing face of Delhi in travellers’ accounts: 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: 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

The Big Bang, Black Holes and Gravitational Waves : Dr Ravi Sinha

The Relativity Story from Albert Einstein to Penrose and Hawking

The 8th lecture (in Hindi) in the Umang Library popular science series will happen this Sunday, November 8, at 5 PM IST. The series is aimed at creating awareness about science in the Hindi belt of India. This coming lecture will be on how the cosmos has been turned from being a subject of genesis myths into a playground of hard science in the course of the last one hundred years. Continue reading The Big Bang, Black Holes and Gravitational Waves : Dr Ravi Sinha

Restoring Delhi’s Central Ridge – Dilli hai jiska naam I: Pradip Krishen

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 here is the first piece, by PRADIP KRISHEN

Restoring Delhi’s Central Ridge:  Pradip Krishen

(All images by Pradip Krishen)

Delhi’s Central Ridge is big — a little more than 850 hectares. That’s 8 and a half square kilometres of semi-wild forest in the heart of a totteringly large metropolis.

The Central Ridge is mostly open thorn forest but it can be quite dense in pockets. An evergreen climber called ‘heens’ (Capparis sepiaria) adds to the impression of density

It’s true the Ridge is degraded and filled with invasive trees from South America, its potholed roads are used as a rubbish dump and there are all sorts of other problems inside, but it’s still remarkable that the Central Ridge exists at all. And that it hasn’t been taken over to make multi-storeyed flats for civil servants. Or worse.

The President’s Bodyguard leases a polo ground inside the Central Ridge and does some damage by scattering rubbish from its Polo clubhouse indiscriminately on the Ridge.

I can’t say I know all of the Central Ridge. But it’s now been nearly 50 years since I first started going in there, and there’s a portion — it could be as much as 90 or 100 hectares or so — that I can claim to know really well because I walk there every day. I’m writing a journal-style book about the C Ridge — only about this parcel I’m most familiar with — and I hope to give you a sense of what it is about the C Ridge that I find not just fascinating but important from the angle of how this city is evolving and growing. Continue reading Restoring Delhi’s Central Ridge – Dilli hai jiska naam I: Pradip Krishen

साझी शहादत-साझी विरासत: वसंत राव और रजब अली को याद करना क्यों जरूरी है ?

वसंतराव और रजब अली। साभार-इंडियन एक्सप्रेस

अहमदाबाद के जमालपुर के पास स्थित वसन्त-रजब चौक कितने लोगों ने देखा है? देखा तो कइयों ने होगा, और आज की तारीख में उससे रोज गुजरते भी होंगे, मगर अंगुली पर गिनने लायक लोग मिलेंगे जिन्होंने चौराहे के इस नामकरण का इतिहास जानने की कोशिश की होगी। मुमकिन है गुजरने वाले अधिकतर ने आज के इस इकहरे वक्त़ में- जबकि मनुष्य होने के बजाय उसकी खास सामुदायिक पहचान अहम बनायी जा रही है- इस ‘विचित्र’ नामकरण को लेकर नाक भौं भी सिकोड़े होंगे।

वह जून 1946 का वक़्त था जब आज़ादी करीब थी, मगर साम्प्रदायिक ताकतों की सक्रियता में भी अचानक तेज़ी आ गयी थी और उन्हीं दिनों यह दो युवा साम्प्रदायिक ताकतों से जूझते हुए मारे गए थे। वसंत राव हेगिश्ते का जन्म 1906 में अहमदाबाद के एक मराठी परिवार में हुआ था तो रजब अली लाखानी एक खोजा मुस्लिम परिवार में कराची में पैदा हुए थे (27 जुलाई 1919) और बाद में उनका परिवार अहमदाबाद में बस गया था। हमेशा की तरह उस साल रथयात्रा निकली थी और उसी बहाने समूचे शहर का माहौल तनावपूर्ण हो चला था।

कांग्रेस सेवा दल के कार्यकर्ता रहे इन जिगरी दोस्तों ने अपने ऊपर यह जिम्मा लिया कि वह अपने-अपने समुदायों को समझाएंगे कि वह उन्मादी न बनें, इसी काम में वह जी जान से जुटे थे, छोटी बैठकें कर रहे थे, लोगों को समझा रहे थे। 1 जुलाई को एक खांड नी शेरी के पास एक उग्र भीड़ ने – जो जुनूनी बन चुकी थी – उन्हें उनके रास्ते से हटने को कहा और उनके इन्कार करने पर उन दोनों को वहीं ढेर कर दिया। Continue reading साझी शहादत-साझी विरासत: वसंत राव और रजब अली को याद करना क्यों जरूरी है ?

कोविड संक्रमण की चेन तोड़ने के लिए मलप्पुरम ने नई ज़मीन तोड़ी है

आज जब पूरे देश में धार्मिक स्थलों को खोला जा रहा है, तब बीते दिनों ‘सांप्रदायिक’ होने का इल्ज़ाम झेलने वाले केरल के मलप्पुरम ज़िले ने अपनी अलग राह चुनी है. कोरोना के बढ़ते मामलों के मद्देनज़र वहां की पांच हज़ार मस्जिदों को अनिश्चितकाल तक बंद रखने समेत कई धार्मिक स्थलों को न खोलने का फ़ैसला लिया गया है.

Minara masjid wears a deserted look on the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramzan, amid unprecedented circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic and a nationwide lockdown, in Mumbai. PTI

लॉकडाउन के दौरान बंद एक मस्जिद. (फाइल फोटो: पीटीआई)

मलप्पुरम, केरल के एकमात्र मुस्लिम बहुल जिले, जहां उनकी आबादी 75 फीसदी है, ने एक इतिहास रचा. तय किया गया है कि जिले की 5,000 मस्जिदें अनिश्चितकाल के लिए बंद रहेंगी.

इस निर्णय के पीछे का तर्क समझने लायक है. क्योंकि राज्य में कोरोना वायरस संक्रमण के मामले बढ़ते दिख रहे हैं, इसलिए यह तय करना मुनासिब समझा गया कि उसके दरवाजे श्रद्धालुओं के लिए बंद ही रहें.

जाने-माने इस्लामिक विद्वान पनक्कड सययद सादिक अली शिहाब थंगल, जो इंडियन यूनियन मुस्लिम लीग के जिला अध्यक्ष हैं, उन्होंने इस खबर को मीडिया के एक हिस्से में साझा किया.

इस तरह जबकि बाकी मुल्क में प्रार्थनास्थल, धार्मिक स्थलों को खोला जा रहा है, मलप्पुरम ने अपनी अलग राह चुनी है.

इस बात पर जोर देना जरूरी है कि आठ मुस्लिम संप्रदायों (denomination) की उस बैठक में, जहां 9 जून के बाद प्रार्थनास्थलों को खोलने के सरकारी निर्णय पर विचार करना था, यह फैसला एकमत से लिया गया.

सभी इस बात पर सहमत थे कि उन्हें इस छूट का इस्तेमाल नहीं करना चाहिए. एक ऐसे वक्त में जबकि कोविड-19 के मामले सूबे में बढ़ रहे हों, मस्जिद कमेटियों और धार्मिक नेताओं ने यह जरूरत महसूस की कि उन्हें सतर्कता बरतनी चाहिए.

खबरें यह भी आ रही हैं कि न केवल मस्जिदें बल्कि इलाके के कई मंदिरों और चर्च ने भी उन्हें तत्काल खोलना नहीं तय किया है.

मिसाल के तौर पर, श्री कदमपुजा भगवती मंदिर जो मलप्पुरम में है तथा श्री तिरूनेल्ली मंदिर जो वायनाड में है, वह बंद रहेंगे.

नायर सर्विस सोसायटी से संबंधित मंदिर भी 30 जून तक नहीं खुलेंगे. एर्नाकुलम-अंगमाली आर्चडाओसिस ऑफ सिरो मलबार चर्च ने भी तय किया है कि उसके मातहत चर्च 30 जून तक बंद रहेंगे.

निस्संदेह इस बात को लेकर इलाके के लोगों में गहरा एहसास दिख रहा है कि राज्य ने जिन भी सावधानियों को बरतने की बात की हो, स्पेशल ऑपरेटिंग प्रोसिजर्स का ऐलान किया है, हकीकत में उन पर अमल करना नामुमकिन होगा लिहाजा कोविड-19 के समुदाय आधारित संक्रमण की संभावना बनी रहेगी.

( Read the full article here)

‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’ : Team Umang Library

Guest Post by Team Umang Library

Remembering Great Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan
on his hundredth death anniversary                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     (Watch the video on Youtube uploaded by Umang Library:
First Part: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rehg3WtiBKc
Second Part: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1I1NaWoajY

Srinivasa Ramanujan Facts: 40 Facts on Self-Taught Mathematical Genius

Photo Courtesy : https://factslegend.org/

It was the year 1913 when Srinivasa Ramanujan, then an ordinary clerk in Madras Port Trust, drafted letters to Prof G H Hardy, then a leading mathematician at Cambridge University, containing his mathematical theorems.

The rest as we know is history.

Continue reading ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’ : Team Umang Library

An Open Letter to the Kerala Governor Sri Arif Mohammad Khan About Our Fight Against the Virus, But Also About Our Resistance to CAA-NRC

Dear Sir

First of all, thank you for acknowledging, even praising,the efforts of the government of Kerala and the people to protect ourselves and humanity against the threat of the corona virus. It is true that Kerala’s efforts and achievements are being lauded the world over, but those voices are never going to make any impact on the supporters of the Sangh parivar in Kerala. But your views cannot be dismissed so easily as ‘Western’ or ‘leftist’ (though they may still murmur about your Muslim name). What has really riled me in the recent past is their systematic effort at downplaying Kerala’s achievements, heaping abuse on our effort to help migrant workers, and raising baseless allegations against those who are working to mitigate the crisis. So as a historian of modern Kerala, I am writing this to offer some insights into why we have been able to do this, in the hope that you may be able to see what they will never tell you — simply because they are so sadly blinded by hate. Continue reading An Open Letter to the Kerala Governor Sri Arif Mohammad Khan About Our Fight Against the Virus, But Also About Our Resistance to CAA-NRC

Srinarayanadharmam: Raghavan Thirumulpad (Part 2)

The third chapter is about precepts applicable to all human beings;  the aacharyan speaks here on the panchadharmas and the panchashuddhi. The panchadharmas are : nonviolence, truth, non-covetousness, the rejection of intoxicants,  and the avoidance of licentiousness. Dharmoyam Saarvavarnikah, say the earlier aachaaryas, mentioning nonviolence, truth, non-covetousness, celibacy, and frugality as the five crucial dharmas. The Yogasastra mentions these five as the panchayamas. Continue reading Srinarayanadharmam: Raghavan Thirumulpad (Part 2)

Lessons from Ambedkar and Gandhi to take forward

They represented two foundational but antagonistic visions of “what we as a society, what we as a state should embody”

( Review of ‘Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and The Risk of Democracy’ By Aishwary Kumar Navayana, Rs 599)

The book, Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and the Risk of Democracy by Aishwary Kumar, takes forward the conversation around the two “most formidable non-Western thinkers of the twentieth century, whose visions of moral and political life have left the deepest imprints”.

In the early 1990s D.R. Nagaraj published The Flaming Feet, a compilation of his essays in which he admired both Gandhi and Ambedkar. Coming close on the heels of the phenomenon of Dalit assertion, it argued that “there is a compelling necessity to achieve a synthesis of the two”. But that has not been the only attempt to examine how the ideas of these two leaders interacted, challenged each other, and how they extended or revisited the meanings of different concepts.

The book, Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and the Risk of Democracy by Aishwary Kumar, takes forward the conversation around the two “most formidable non-Western thinkers of the twentieth century, whose visions of moral and political life have left the deepest imprints”. For the author they “exemplified two incommensurable ways of forging a relationship between sovereignty and justice, force and disobedience”, or represented two foundational but antagonistic visions of “what we as a society, what we as a state should embody”.

Focusing mainly on Hind Swaraj — a monograph written by Gandhi on a ship to South Africa from London (1909) — and Annihilation of Caste, which happens to be the undelivered speech by Dr Ambedkar when he was invited by the Jat Pat Todak Mandal, Lahore (1936) — the organization rescinded the invite when it came across the ‘radical’ proposals he had put forward in the draft — this around 400-page book discerns “an insurrectionary element at the limit of politics” in the works of these two stalwarts. It is “an insurrection that sought to extract the political itself — and the social question — from the doctrinal prescriptions and certitude of its European past”

( Read the full text here : https://www.telegraphindia.com/culture/books/lessons-from-ambedkar-and-gandhi-to-take-forward/cid/1747042?ref=books_culture-books-page)

The Triumph of Streevaashi! Women break the wall of caste at Sabarimala

Out of the dark, seemingly never-ending night, a streak of light! Two women of menstruating ages, Bindu and Kanakdurga, finally entered Sabarimala, breaking the concerted walls built against them by brahmanical-Hindutva male authorities on the right and left. Continue reading The Triumph of Streevaashi! Women break the wall of caste at Sabarimala

Keep Calm and Carry On: Dealing with Patriarchal Carpet Bombing in Kerala

For all women in India, what is happening in Kerala should be an eye-opener.  This is how Indian society rewards you for reaching the top, aspiring seriously to be on top, and actually asking questions to authorities about why they keep drawing on women’s energies and resources while simultaneously undermining the very ground on which they survive. In Kerala, two things are going on: there is on the one hand, a vicious gang led by Rahul Easwar which is openly threatening women who would dare to enter Sabarimala with the worst kinds of violence, on the other, the horrid misogyny of the press was revealed at the press conference held by the Women in Cinema Collective who expressed their deep disquiet at the way in which the organization of cinema actors, AMMA, and its president Mohanlal, were eager to protect oppressors and ignore survivors. Also, even male intellectuals who have been very supportive of feminist and gender justices causes have been named in the MeToo campaign among journalists in Kerala.

Kerala is a society where, in the past twenty years, we have seen women come up everywhere — in journalism, literature, academics, cinema, architecture, engineering, art, management, sports, trade unionism, activism. Women in Kerala have been the force of social democratizing as evident from the struggles ranging from the Munnar tea garden workers’ struggle to the brave nuns protesting against sexual violence. For sure, a very large number of women in Kerala are ultra-conservative, and that is apparent both in their presence in the muck that Easwar and his gang are raking up in Kerala, as well as in the shameless way in which some of them were emboldened to hurl caste insults at the Chief Minister of Kerala. This is therefore reminiscent not so much of the Battle of Britain in World War II, but for the Battle of Stalingrad — which was heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe, even as there was hand-to-hand combat on the ground for control of the tiniest slices of the city, and where the city residents were often subject to the terrors of both the Nazi and the Soviet sides alike.

If you want to see male hubris overflowing, please take a look at this video, of https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FWomeninCinemaCollectiveOfficial%2Fvideos%2F249328929064857%2F&show_text=0&width=267“>the press conference held by the Women in Cinema collective. All I can tell us all is, Keep Calm and Carry on. After all, unlike in the World War II, the ammunition of these creeps need not hurt us at all; it can make it only more powerful.

 

 

 

Brackish Reflections on the Great Deluge of 2018: Roby Rajan

This is a guest post by ROBY RAJAN

Epic. Biblical. Apocalyptic. These are some of the words that have been used to describe the floods and landslides that have wreaked havoc in Kerala over the last few weeks. Entire towns and cities were submerged, and entire rivers altered their courses overnight. Continue reading Brackish Reflections on the Great Deluge of 2018: Roby Rajan

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

‘Why Ghalib appears so contemporary even today ?’ : Interview with Hasan Abdullah

Ghalib has fascinated generations of people and they have tried to understand/ interpret his poetry in their own way. For any such individual it is really difficult to recollect when and how Ghalib entered her/ his life and ensconced himself comfortably in one’s heart.

This wanderer still faintly remembers how many of Ghalib’s shers were part of common parlance even in an area whose lingua franca is not Hindustani. His andaaz-e-bayaan, his hazaron khwahishein, his making fun of the priest etc. could be discerned in people’s exchanges – without most of them even knowing that they were quoting the great poet.

To be very frank, to me, it is bewildering that a poet – who died over 150 years back – looks so contemporary or at times even a little ahead of our own times. Is it because, he talks about primacy of human being, at times philosophising about life,  and on occasions talking about rebelling against the existing taboos in very many ways? But then have not many other great poets have dealt with the same subjects/ topics? Continue reading ‘Why Ghalib appears so contemporary even today ?’ : Interview with Hasan Abdullah

BJP, In Search Of An Icon: Is Deendayal Upadhyay Party’s Mahatma Gandhi?

Tomorrow, the capital will see the culmination of the year-long birth centenary celebrations of Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader Pandit Deendayal Upadhayay
BJP, In Search Of An Icon: Is Deendayal Upadhyay Party's Mahatma Gandhi?

‘Nirastapadapeshe Erandopi Drumayate !’ – Sanskrit Proverb

(In a treeless country even castor counts for a big tree)
( Quoted in EPW ”An Occasion for the RSS”, GPD)

Come September 25 and the capital would see the culmination of the year-long birth centenary celebrations of Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader Pandit Deendayal Upadhayay . The year gone by had witnessed flurry of activities around Deendayal Upadhyay supposedly to project him as one of the ‘makers of modern India’. Exactly a year ago Prime Minister Modi had shared a piece of his mind at a public meeting in Kozhikode wherein he had specifically put Deendayal Upadhyaya in the same category as Mahatma Gandhi and Lohia who had “[i]nfluenced and shaped Indian political thought in the last century”.

Read the full article here

After #NotinMyName at Jantar Mantar on June 28: Sanjay Kak for NotinMyName, Delhi

Guest Post by Sanjay Kak, for  #Notinmyname / Statement from Not In My Name, Delhi

Last evening’s (June 28th) spirited protest at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, under the banner of Not In My Name, was an autonomous citizens protest against the recent spate of targeted lynchings of Muslims in India – the most recent of 16 year old Junaid, stabbed to death on 23 June 2017 in Delhi (NCR).
For an audience that was estimated to be 3500 strong, the torrential downpour at a little past 8 pm may have rained out a part of the programme. But something remarkable had already been achieved: the evening had washed away, even if temporarily, an almost overwhelming sense of despondency, of hopelessness, and of fear. 


Since the Not In My Name protest had announced that the platform was not meant for political parties, and their banners and slogans, the stage saw the marked absence of the speeches (and faces) of routine protest meetings at Jantar Mantar. Rhetoric was displaced by feeling, and it was left to the poets and musicians to carry the sharp political messages of the day. On an evening that was often very emotional, the most difficult moments came when a group of young men from Junaid and Pehlu Khan’s extended families (and residents from their respective villages) came on stage and spoke to the audience.

When the call for a protest meeting went out last Sunday we were hoping that a few hundred people would gather to express their outrage at what is happening around us. For the attacks on Muslims are part of a pattern of incidents that targets Dalits, Adivasis, and other disadvantaged and minority groups across the country. In almost all these incidents the possibilities of justice seem remote, as the families of the victims are dragged into procedures they are ill-equipped to handle. Through all these heinous crimes the Government has maintained a silence, a gesture that is being read as the acquiescence of all Indians.

Not In My Name aimed to break that silence. But the scale and spirit of the protest meeting at Jantar Mantar became amplified many times over, as similar gatherings were spontaneously announced all over the country. As word spread through social media, groups in 19 other locations announced Not In My Name protests, and this phenomenal synergy inevitably drew media attention to all the events, and gave the protest a solidarity and scale that was truly unprecedented – there were at least 4 protests in cities abroad too. (And more protests have been announced for later this week…) The protest meeting ran on the shoulders of a group of volunteers who managed to put together everything in less than four days. No funds were received (or solicited) for the expenses from any political party, NGO, or institution. Instead volunteers worked the crowd and our donation boxes received everything – from Rs 10 coins to currency notes of Rs 2000, and everything in between.

Citizens hold placards during a silent protest Not in My Name against the targeted lynching, at Janter Manter in New delhi on wednesday. Photo by Parveen Negi/Mail Today, June 28, 2017

The impact of the Not In My Name protest at Jantar Mantar yesterday only points to the importance of a focused politics to deal with the crisis this country seems to be enveloped by. Less than a day after the protests Prime Minister Modi broke his silence on the matter of lynchings. It could not have been a coincidence: speaking in Ahmedabad he said killing in the name of gau bhakti is unacceptable. But to protect the life of a 16 year old being brutalised in a train needs more than a tweet, and we all wait and watch.

This fight has just begun. In the days to come the exceptional solidarity attracted by the protest in New Delhi will have to become less exceptional, and more everyday.


Sanjay Kak is a filmmaker and writer based in Delhi.

The #NotinMyName protests, which began in a response to a Facebook post uploaded by Delhi filmmaker Saba Dewan, have since taken place in more than twelve cities in India, and also in the UK, USA and Pakistan. More protests, under the #NotinMyName tag, as well as independently of it are being planned by citizens groups, organizations and individuals in many places.

Tomorrow, July 2nd, 2017 will see a sit in at Jantar Mantar from 11 in the morning, at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi called by families, individuals and panchayats from Nuh, Ballabhgarh and Faridabad, they will be joined by students, activists and other individuals.

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From Cucumber Juice to Mutton Soup, A Culinary Healing Journey: Anitha S

This is a Guest Post by ANITHA S

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As a nature lover and then an ecologist, my tryst with the living world has been fascinating, exciting, scary and at time dangerous. The most recent of this interaction was with a jackfruit tree in my backyard that has the uncanny capacity to produce fruits all the year round…juicy, sweet and delicious fruits that one cannot even imagine throwing away. I developed a balance of sharing the  fruits with the bats, squirrels, crows, tree pies, woodpeckers and koels that would inhabit my garden whenever the fruit ripens and spreads its fragrance around. Continue reading From Cucumber Juice to Mutton Soup, A Culinary Healing Journey: Anitha S

Longing for the Future – Two Days with Penkoottu and AMTU at Kozhikode, Kerala

Kozhikode, Hotel Alakapuri, 4-5 March, 2017.

Kozhikode has always upturned my feelings about the male gaze. It is of course a cheerful, bustling, place, full of fabulously good-looking people of all genders. The cheeriness has a certain effortlessly defiant quality – already evident when you look out of the window as the train from the south pulls into the railway station, and see bright, healthy, merrily-swaying wild flowers raise their heads undefeated by the ferocious summer sun– wild sunflowers in hundreds, magnificent vines of kulamariyan flowers ( literally, ‘over-the-top’ flowers, but known here also, interestingly enough, as Antigone vines), creepers happily, constantly, and untiringly winding over  little piles of rubbish and covering them with short-lived if emphatic trumpets of mauve, lavender, red, yellow, and white.  You pass this eternal artwork-in-progress of the flowers and vines and city trash and enter Kozhikode, but realise that it actually tells you a bit about the men there only when you meet them. Continue reading Longing for the Future – Two Days with Penkoottu and AMTU at Kozhikode, Kerala

Longing for the World: A Memoir of Two Days at the Kochi Biennale

[Disclaimer: I am not an art critic, artist, or travelled in the world of art. This is just a memoir]

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Fort Kochi, 9 Feb. 2017

Though I had already been to the biennale in January and had a roaring time, something kept urging me to go there again. That something, I believe, is my insatiable imagination – which has always had a life of its own as long as I can remember, needs to be fed all the time, and actually drives me crazy. But maybe I should be thankful: if I survive this loveless existence that is my life, it is because my imagination has always spirited me away even from the midst of the worst emotional violence and uproar. Social theorists who use trickster figures or such characters as Daedalus who give power the slip, or manipulate it to their own ends, are probably saying the same thing.

The only ‘Moral Science’ lesson I remember from school was from the fourth standard, about the invisible guardian angel who supposedly protected us from evil. What intrigued me was the suggestion that each of us had a special angel-companion of our own who was ever-present though invisible – quite a lovely idea to a lonely child who found it hard to blend and settle into her playmates’ world. For me that was the unseen power which transformed a boring class into a musical concert by playing music inside my head; wove words and images into tales there; scared me sometimes, but equally let me exorcise the fear; and led me to all sorts of nooks and corners in the house and the yard and showed me all sorts of things, almost a world that I, but no one else, could see.

I pulled myself out of the world of research that employed, that did not satisfy, my imagination, and went again to the biennale. Two golden days! No words exist to reveal how my heart sang at the prospect. And besides, I was going to stay with dear, beloved friends, people who lived steeped in imagination – unlike me, whose current existence involved the use of the imagination (though it can never be mastered fully for sure) in a self-conscious way. My friends who run a little homestay near Fort Kochi reach out to others with extraordinary warmth mainly because, I think, their world is so incredibly diverse – populated by not just all sorts of diverse human beings, (rich, poor, high, low, of different faiths and castes, related by marriage, friendship, acquaintance, country-cousinship, common humanity, vague feelings of familiarity and so on), but also by spirits, saints, gods, all of who are felt and reached. Continue reading Longing for the World: A Memoir of Two Days at the Kochi Biennale