My tribute to Kerala’s irreplaceable K R Gouri Amma. The brightest bolt of lightning that illuminated the dark skies of twentieth century Kerala.
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
Over the past one year, I have been trying to make a college in Kerala – in a women’s college in Kerala– take some action against one of their faculty members who rained abuse on me publicly, including a public assertion about his possession of a penis, at a seminar in which I was an invited guest. This happened in November 2019.Continue reading The gender between men’s legs and other learnings from a college in kerala
The following petition initiated by Prof Apoorvanand ; Bhasha Singh, Journalist/Activist ; Jitendra Kumar, Senior Journalist ; Mahendra Mishra, Editor, Janchowk and Subhash Gatade appeals to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), The Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DICCI) and The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) to boycott toxic new channels. The petition can be signed here :
It is a welcome sign that two prominent business houses, namely Bajaj Auto and Parle have taken the WELCOME DECISION to not advertise on TV channels spreading hatred. We urge all the advertisers to BOYCOTT HATE MONGERS, because the history is witness that the hate ruins the whole society and does not spare anyone, however rich and high and mighty a person may be. Let us remind ourselves the unforgettable words of Pastor Martin Niemoller that he spoke on emerging from the Nazi prison: “… When they came for me, there was none left to protest”. Don’t ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.
These corporates need to recall that not long ago when Black Lives Matter movement was at its peak in the West, more than 1,000 companies had decided to boycott a section of social media platforms for their dubious stand on race.
We are aware of the background: The qualitative changes – for the worse – that have taken place in the Indian media, especially the electronic variant during last few years. The ownership of the large media houses has become limited to a few big players. And these big corporates are not concerned with the concerns of the common people, and use the media for their own and their political masters’ vested interests by focusing on non-issues and indulgence in sensationalism, false propaganda and hatred – thereby actively participating in the destruction of social unity in diversity among Indians that has existed despite any and every difference of class, caste, gender, region, religion, language, ideology or any other.
Without going back to the times when the lynching became the new political weapon – with the accused being welcomed by the ruling party leaders and even minister – during the last few months, we saw that in order to deflect attention from the catastrophe that had befallen on the people in general but migrant labour in particular because of the COVID-19 pandemic and to advance the agenda of demonizing Muslims – a la Jews in Nazi Germany – how ‘Tablighi Jamat’ was willfully portrayed falsely as the ‘corona jehadi’ and what not. Then, we witnessed the suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput being transformed into an endless ‘issue’, and the less said about the latest Hathras gang-rape, the better – the bizarre brazenness of hate-speech and hate-driven crime is unmistakably on the rise!
HIGH TIME THAT BOYCOTT OF HATE MONGERS BECOMES A COLLECTIVE PRACTICE!
Guest post by JAMAL KIDWAI
Agha Sahab ( Agha Ashraf Ali), passed away at the age of 94 on the 7th of August, 2020.
I was lucky to know Agha Sahab closely because of his intimate connection with Jamia Millia Islamia and our long standing family friendship. He would come down to Delhi in the winter and spend a lot of time at my parents home, drinking tea in the winter sun. But I got to know him as a friend when I started visiting Srinagar from 1999 onwards, for programmes being conducted being by the NGO I worked with . My trips would remain incomplete if I did not visit him.
I am making appeal here to all people who really care for children’s rights beyond the hypocrisies of the global child rights discourse.
A controversy is raging in Kerala over a video of body art posted by the body-activist Rehana Fathima in which her two children paint an image of a phoenix on the exposed torso of their mother. The children are not nude, they don’t look outside the frame. Rehana herself does not look out, nor is her body being displayed in any explicit sense. There is nothing pornographic; the video was not made for commercial purposes. However, the video has unleashed a storm of outrage and the bitter conservatism of both Right and Left-wing politics in Kerala now engulfs the family like a toxic fog.
Rehana has been subject to unimaginable violence online. She is no stranger to it; her insistent efforts to keep radical body politics alive in a society in which bodies are strictly subject to caste and religions communities and bound firmly within heternormative sexuality, patrilineal family-forms and marriages that insist of huge dowry payment to the groom have stirred all sort of insecurities, unconscious and otherwise, of the Malayali masculinist elite. During the conservative backlash against the Supreme Court’s verdict approving the entry of female devotees to the Sabarimala temple in 2018, Rehana Fathima (who claims that she had converted long back and is also known by the name Surya Gayatri) made an attempt to make the pilgrimage, resulting in her arrest and jailing. She was accused of obscenity for uploading a picture of herself in the pilgrim’s costume, but showing a little skin off her thigh.
In the present case, she is accused of corrupting her children by exposing them to her naked body and then making the video public. The first complaint was filed by a BJP functionary and then the Kerala State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights directed the police to file cases against her charging the provisions of the POCSO Act. Other cases against her have used the provisions of the IT Act and the Juvenile Justice Act.
The police raided her home — and seized the laptop and, appalling, her son’s cherished set of brushes and paints. This violence remains unnoticed. There has been much hand-wringing by hypocrites who claim that they are not offended by the art but because children have been involved. These people do not seem to notice the violence against this young boy.
Rehana’s 13 year old is serious about his art. He is not like the kids who parents force into art classes so that they can brag about it in their circle. He is not traumatised by the sight of his mother’s body, but by the loss of his brushes, taken away by the Kerala Police as ‘evidence’ of the ‘crime’! The investigation of alleged violation of child rights gets an auspicious start, I suppose, with the police committing precisely such violation.
I appeal to all of you who think this is injustice — irrespective of whether it is technically proper or not — to speak up. If you can, please contribute brushes. Or pay Rs 10. The child’s father, Manoj K Sreedhar, is on Facebook. The address is : Rujul manav (appu) c/o Rehana fathima Ernakulam 682036 Mob: manoj 9446767666.
Before I start, a request: Friends who are reading this, if you are close to Noam Chomsky, Amartya Sen, or Soumya Swaminathan, or the other left-liberals who appear in the Kerala government-sponsored talk series from outside Kerala, please do forward this to them? I hope to reach them.
The Left government in Kerala is gathering its international intellectual-activist support base to cash on its commendable — ongoing — success in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. This is not new — it has always been part of the dominant Left’s hegemony-bolstering exercises, especially after the 1990s, when its unquestionable hegemony in Kerala began to face a series of challenges. It has also been forced to pay attention to the oppositional civil society which relentlessly questions the dominant Left’s fundamental understanding of social justice and forces it to take seriously such ideas as freedom, autonomy, as well as identities not reducible to class. Continue reading Why does the Left in Kerala fear Rehana Fathima and not COVID- 19?
नवचिंतन कला मंच द्वारा – बीते दिनों में अपनी ही धरती पे बेगानेपन का अहसास कर हज़ारों किलोमीटर दूर अपने घरों की उम्मीद के निकले लोगों के साथ हुए हादसों की दास्तान ज़रूर देखें।
Guest Post by the group THE MOCKING BIRDS
‘The workers’ and peasants’ government… calls upon all the belligerent peoples and their government to start immediate negotiations for a just, democratic peace.
By a just or democratic peace, for which the overwhelming majority of the working class and other working people of all the belligerent countries, exhausted, tormented and racked by the war are craving [we mean] an immediate peace without annexations – that is, without the seizure of foreign lands, without the forcible incorporation of foreign nations and without indemnities.’
The ‘just and democratic peace’ sought by the workers and peasants government never arrived.
It was on 26 th October 1917 when Lenin, the 47 year old leader of this nascent Government, read out the Bolshevik Decree on Peace. This appeal fell on deaf ears.
The many players and participants in the first World War, the imperial powers fighting for a re-division of the world, which had already claimed millions of lives, refused to put a halt to their killing machines and the war continued for more than a year, adding menacing figures to the tally of the dead as well as the wounded. Students of history tell us that this ‘War to End Wars’ as it was termed then culminated in the deaths of more than nine million combatants and seven million civilians as a direct result of the War and the resulting genocides and related 1918 influenza pandemic causing another 20-50 million deaths worldwide.
Looking back one knows that if this decree on peace had been positively responded, few more million deaths in the ongoing war could have been avoided and deaths due to the pandemic of Spanish Flu ( 1918) could have been contained more effectively. Experts can tell you how the trenches of the western front proved ideal for spread of the virus as “[t]renches were flooded much of the time. Blood and bodily remains from people and animals that had been blown to pieces, along with faeces and rotting food, formed the pathways and shelters for troops going to and returning from, the front.”
The World War I which eclipsed all previous wars by its scale of destruction finally came to an end in 1918. Continue reading The Many Debts We Owe to Lenin
Guest Post by PARVIN SULTANA
(Review of HINDUTVA: EXPLORING THE IDEA OF HINDU; NATIONALISM, Jyotirmaya Sharma ( Context 2019); M.S. GOLWALKAR, THE RSS AND INDIA, Jyotirmaya Sharma (Context, 2019) ; DECODING THE RSS: ITS TRADITIONS AND POLITICS Raosaheb Kasbe (Leftword Books, 2019) , RAJIV GANDHI TO NARENDRA MODI: BROKEN POLITY, FLICKERING REFORMS Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr. (Sage Select, 2019) ; MODINAMA: ISSUES THAT DID NOT MATTER Subhash Gatade (Leftword Books, 2019)
The 2014 general elections which saw the Bharatiya Janata Party return to power with an absolute majority is believed to have brought an important paradigmatic shift to Indian politics. Scholars commenting have termed it as a majoritarian shift. Post elections, there have been discussions which tried to understand the reasons behind this massive mandate that the Right Wing political party managed to get. This Right Wing shift in India’s electoral politics was further proven by the 2019 Parliament election results which gave the BJP a larger mandate. Scholars have written trying to understand the rise of BJP—is it an isolated event or a continuation of past developments? This becomes important because even at the international level, there is a shift towards conservative politics.
Indian academia has also taken an objective look at this shift. A number of books have been written on various aspects of present-day politics, the ideologies and icons that paved the way for this rise and continue to provide intellectual fodder for this politics, the liberal economic policies which have been taken to their logical conclusion by the present government, etc. And these books have provided us with important insights to make sense of the present-day political situation of the country.
( Read the full text here : https://thebookreviewindia.org/understanding-the-rise-of-the-bjp/)
I have been reading with interest the exchange between Aditya Nigam and Satish Deshpande on the AAP’s strategy of avoiding ‘politics’ – or rather, distancing itself mostly from the polarised ideological debates while making small moves to shape for itself a space, arguably fuzzy, in the hegemonic discourse of Hindu. I am also witness to the unbelievably egregious attacks by the CPM leadership in Kerala against Islamist organizations protesting the CAA — the free reign granted to an explicitly communalised police force, the appallingly soft treatment of Hindutva offenders, even when they make open threats that warn Malayalis to ‘remember Gujarat’, the wanton attack on internal dissidents in the CPM using the worst instruments of the security states such as the UAPA, and the threat to dismantle the pandal of the Shaheen Bagh solidarity satyagraha in Thiruvananthapuram, something even Amit Shah has not dared to do (thankfully withdrawn after public outrage), and its blatant caste-elite majoritarian thrust while claiming to be the (sole) guardians of secularism. Continue reading Thoughts on the AAP’s Hindu Gestures from Kerala’s History
This is the fourth in a series titled Against Aachaaram: A Dossier from Malayalam on Kafila. The note below is by J Devika. The excerpt from the essay by Kuttippuzha Krishna Pillai is translated by UTHARA GEETHA.
The formation of the linguistic state of Kerala was the culmination of a long process of negotiation around Malayalam as a common cultural ethos for the new Malayali. It ultimately became a battle-ground on which the defenders and opponents of aachaaram clashed. Aachaaram – and the brahmin-sudra nexus – had taken a sound beating when the avarna rose up against these in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, both these did not go under. Instead, they were transformed – aachaaram was put through the seive of Victorian values, and the part of it that survived this process was hailed as the ‘quintessence’ of Malayali Hindu culture. The brahmin-sudra social contract, long existent as the major axis of both exploitation and oppression in the Malayalam-speaking regions, was soon resurrected as ‘savarna Hindu’. This new elite defined itself in terms of the newly-recovered ‘ Malayali Hindu cultural essence’.
One important way this elite and this insidious cultural identity manoeuvred itself into public discourse was by depicting itself as the cultural core of the new United Kerala. However, the best of Malayali intellectuals of the time, especially the poets — Balamani Amma, Vailoppilly Sreedhara Menon, Edassery Govindan Nair, and even P Kunhiraman Nair – crafted a vision of Kerala that was still rooted in many ways in local culture, nature and ethos, but was removed from aachaaram and its despicable connotations. The degree to which they succeeded in this, and their level of commitment to the destruction of aachaaram varied, but there was a general effort to seek other cultural moorings for the New Kerala. The most prominent of the moves made in this direction was perhaps the resurrection of the myth of the Asura King Maveli and the reimagining of Onam around him, rather than Vamana.
In the excerpt below, Kuttippuzha Krishna Pillai (1900-1971), one of Malayalam’s finest modern intellectuals and champions of free thought and unfettered conscience, makes a scathing critique of the attempts to sneak aachaaram back into imagination of new Kerala during the discussion about it as a unified cultural entity. He takes unerring aim at an image of the father-figure of aachaaram in Kerala, Parasurama, which was mounted at the entrance to a major conference on United Kerala, held at Thrissur in 1947.
[Kuttippuzha Krishna Pillai, ‘Parasurama chithram’, Kuttippuzhayute Prabandhangal Vol.3, Thrissur: Kerala Sahitya Akademi, 1990, pp.85-88]
The Image of Parasuraman
The newspapers have reported that an image of axe-bearing Parasurama has been installed on the tower at the entrance to the Aikya Kerala Nagar. It would be useful if the organizers explained what they mean by this image. The myth of Parasuraman, in sum, is a tale about his act of gifting the land of Kerala which he created by throwing his axe into the sea to Brahmins, to atone for his sin of having murdered Kshetriyakings twenty-one times. Do the organizers assign any value to this grandmother’s tale? Does this picture or this story contain anything that could inspire the creation of United Kerala in the future? Whatever that may be, there may not be many in these times of the twentieth century who will passively suffer the sight of the coffin of such made-up stories carried out and put on display. This image will only be perceived as a black flag symbolizing superstition and slavery by those who desire freedom. If we confer significance to Parasuraman’s history today, that means accepting ideas that besmear the face of humanity, free conscience and modern science. Let us see what all makes up the story:
- A Brahmin with supernatural powers strong enough to create land by drying up the sea with just a throw of his axe lived in India.
- The whole of Kerala belongs to the Brahmins according to the heirship granted by the donor.
- Redemption from sin is possible through making offerings to Brahmins.
- You can be absolved of multiple murders through such offering to Brahmins.
- Brahmins are the highest and finest caste and their lives are most valuable.
- As the whole of the earth belongs to the Brahmins, other castes are their mere tenants.
- Due to the same reason, the ruling powers are also Brahmin.
How many of those celebrating the United Kerala celebrations today at Thrissur believe the notions listed above? We ought to introspect on how these kinds of superstitions have pushed Malayalis, especially Hindus, into utter degradation, and about the many ways in which they were reduced to mere menials of the Brahmins. So many are the aachaaram-procedures and blind beliefs well-established over centuries, that this disgusting servitude has permeated the blood of the Savarna and is now dried up into an ugly stain. The blind aacharam of making offerings to the brahmins has cost the savarna Hindus so many lakhs of rupees! [And yet] isn’t this idiotic practice still embraced by many? Brahmin landlordism has its roots in this story of Parasuraman. How many lakhs of Keralites were exploited by the economic system built upon this! Have they attained freedom from this economic exploitation even today?
Even today, it is upon the slogan Go brahminaibhya shubhamasthu nithyam that the Hindu kings wield their sceptre. Good things should befall the Brahmins and the cows which provide them with milk and butter; to hell with others! Look how deep the Brahminical roots have sunk! Can’t you see its dark shadows on all aspects of a Keralite’s life? This image of Parasurama is in actuality the very slavishness of the savarnas to brahmins sunk deep in their subconscious raising its head. It is a disgraceful self-espoused flag of slavery even to them. When that is the case of the savarna, not to speak of the avarna! They cannot bear it even for a moment. It is the veritable caste-devil which has given rise of six or seven lakhs of abjected and oppressed people. And this is just about the Hindus. Think about another side. Does ‘Keralite’ only refer to Hindus? What worth does this image of Parasuraman hold for the people belonging to other religions? Do not Christians, Muslims, Jews and other communities have an equal status in United Kerala? The utter inappropriateness of an image of a Brahmin clutching his weapon belligerently, reiterating Brahmanical control over the whole world placed in front of a hall in which the United Kerala conference is held for all Keralites irrespective of religion and caste, is surely worth thinking about. Such images do not encourage friendship among different religious groups. Rather, they sow the seeds of disharmony and competition. Some might strain hard to reinterpret this picture and confer new meaning(s), attempting to connect it to modern ideas. They should understand that the common people would still comprehend it with reference to existing meaning conventions. It is impossible to uproot centuries-old deep-rooted meanings and channels of faith with a new interpretation. Is it not evident that Mahatma Gandhi is failing miserably in his attempts to reinterpret the Varna system and the chanting of Ram’s name as he strives to advocate the unity of all religions and to develop goodwill among Hindus and Muslims? Aren’t the bloodbaths of North India today a result of his journey through this dangerous path for well over twenty-five years? Religion, in its everyday meaning and tradition, would culminate in collective insanity. Gandhiji’s toils only helped to inflame it all the more.
We should particularly remember that people trying to dig up the Aryan culture under new names and forms are manuring religious fanaticisms dormant in humanity. The display of monsters from the past, like this image of Parasurama will result in such ugly outcomes. I think there are already disputes and clashes regarding the same in the newspapers. Only images that inspire brotherhood among over the one and a half crore of Keralites should be exhibited. This image of Parasuraman which proclaims Kerala’senslavementto brahmins and blind belief in religion should hereby be removed immediately. It would be amusing to know how the non-violent followers of Gandhi view this representation of a man who committed murder twenty-one times. As it is, they who are the chief trumpeters of United Kerala. It is also very amusing that the very first sight that will fall upon the Hallowed Eyes of the Rajah of Cochin, who will arrive in honour to inaugurate the conference, will be of a Kshatriya-slayer!!
Uthara Geetha is currently an Erasmus Mundus scholar at the Centre for Women Studies, University of York.
The excerpt below is translated by DARSHAN SUBRAMANIAM. The note that follows is by J Devika.
The art of legitimising religiosity in a secular country and live happily ever after.
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by wise people as false and by the rulers as useful. — Seneca (4 BC-AD65)
A picture is worth a thousand words.
An outgoing Prime Minister of the ‘world’s biggest democracy’ seen meditating under the glare of cameras in a cave specially opened for the occasion and with a dress stitched for the event, conveys many things simultaneously.
First and foremost, it tells us that the present incumbent to the post would at least be remembered for his varied sartorial tastes among the galaxy of PMs who headed the republic earlier. It appears that either all the others lacked the sense to dress for the occasion or found it a mundane job not befitting the post and the responsibilities they held then. Continue reading Modi’s Meditation ‘Tour’
Guest post by C.K. RAJU
It was B. R. Ambedkar who first publicised the 22 Mahar names inscribed on the pillar commemorating the battle of Bhima-Koregaon. Ambedkar, a Mahar himself, had experienced great indignities, and everyone appreciates his quest for a symbol of dalit achievement. Much has been written since on Bhima-Koregaon, but one question has not been asked: is there really such a paucity of symbols of dalit achievement?
Not actually. There is no dearth of dalit and ‘lower caste’ achievers. Sages from such backgrounds range from Valmiki, author of the Ramayana, to Tukaram, Kabir, and Sri Narayana Guru. Dalit warriors and kings range from the Nanda dynasty, mere reports of whose mighty army so frightened Alexander’s troops (according to Plutarch), to the Chalukyas (who were dalits according to Bilhan), the Bhils, the Gonds, and to Udham Singh who avenged Jallianwallah Bagh.
[This is a GUEST POST by N P CHEKKUTTY]
It is rarely that a journalist writes about himself or herself, because they are supposed to be detached observers of history-in-the-making. But this time I cannot help it because one of the things that happened in the Sabarimala-obsessed state of Kerala this week happens to be the demise of Thejas, a daily newspaper that I was associated with for almost 14 years. It was a death foretold over two and half months ago, but no one took notice and no one raised any serious concerns about the passing of a newspaper that existed in our civil society for over a decade. It is sad that the newspaper which was known for its fierce anti-Sangh Parivar positions leave the scene just a few months ahead of a general election that will decide the future course of this country. Continue reading Thejus – The Death of a Daily Newspaper
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.
Today, it is 100 days of the detention of acclaimed photographer and cultural activist Shahidul Alam. On this occasion, Arundhati Roy, Aparna Sen, Vikram Seth, Romila Thapar, Amitav Ghosh, Shabhana Azmi, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Nandita Das, Mohammad Hanif, Anish Kapoor among other eminent persons from across South Asia have written a letter to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed demanding his immediate release. on the 100th day of his detention.
H.E. Sheikh Hasina Wazed
Prime Minister of Bangladesh
Prime Minister’s Office
13 November 2018
Subject: Appeal for release of Shahidul Alam on 100th day in custody
As well-wishers of Bangladesh and supporters of its 166 million citizens’ struggle for dignity, social justice and prosperity, we are distressed by the continued imprisonment of photographer and cultural activist Shahidul Alam. Since the founding of the nation in 1971, the people of Bangladesh have led by example, fighting poverty, ending social injustices and being standard-bearers of participatory development. This advance has been made possible by the democratic spirit of the people, who have challenged military rulers and autocrats alike. As well-wishers of Bangladesh, we fear that these gains are in danger due to the rising political intolerance and denial of fundamental freedoms.
Shahidul Alam is a Bangladeshi citizen, but the rest of us in South Asia are also proud to call him our own, for the values of truth, justice and social equality he promotes. His work and activism are respected all over our region and beyond, with innumerable friends who admire his concern for the voiceless and marginalised. One example is his latest work highlighting the tragedy of the Rohingya people, who have been given refuge in Bangladesh by your Government.
Since Shahidul Alam was forcefully taken from his home on the 5th of August, he was remanded first in Detective Branch custody for seven days and, then held at Dhaka Central Jail at Keraniganj. He is accused of ‘hurting the image of the nation’ while reporting on protests by young students demanding road safety.
It is clear to us that the case of Shahidul Alam is being used as a means to suppress criticism by others in civil society. His arrest and continued detention appear to be manifestation of an intolerant political atmosphere, an attempt to threaten and silence the voice of Bangladeshi citizens. With the country preparing for general elections, this is a time when there should be more space for debate and discussion, not less.
As believers in the rule of law, we are shocked to learn that government lawyers continue to oppose Shahidul Alam’s release on bail using various stratagems and delays intended to deprive him of his fundamental rights to liberty and due process. Across South Asia, politicians and citizens have fought for the right to speak, and to write, and it is astonishing to us that a government today, especially one which seeks to harness technology for progress, should choose to use a law to proscribe online speech to jail a citizen.
We the undersigned urge you to ensure the release of Shahidul Alam on this, the 100th day of his detention. We look forward to Bangladesh retaining its place as an exemplar of
participatory democracy in South Asia.
1. Akram Khan, London
2. Amar Kanwar, New Delhi
3. Amitav Ghosh, Goa
4. Anish Kapoor, London
5. Aparna Sen, Kolkata
6. Arundhati Roy, New Delhi
7. Ashok Vajpeyi, New Delhi
8. Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Kolkata
9. Dayanita Singh, New Delhi
10. Ina Puri, Kolkata
11. Jayadeva Uyangoda, Colombo
12. Kanak Mani Dixit, Kathmandu
13. Laila Tyabji, New Delhi;
14. Manjushree Thapa, Toronto
15. Mohammed Hanif, Karachi
16. Moushumi Bhowmik, Kolkata
17. Nandita Das, Kolkata
18. Nimalka Fernando, Colombo
19. Patricia Mukhim, Shillong
20. Pooja Sood, New Delhi
21. Rachana Singh, New Delhi
22. Raghu Rai, New Delhi
23. Rajdeep Sardesai, New Delhi
24. Ramchandra Guha, Bangalore
25. Romila Thapar, New Delhi
26. Salima Hashmi, Lahore
27. Sanjay Kak, New Delhi
28. Sanjoy Hazarika, Shillong
29. Sankha Ghosh, Kolkata
30. Shabana Azmi, Mumbai
31. Sushila Karki, Kathmandu
32. Vijay Prashad, New Delhi
33. Vikram Seth, New Delhi
34. Vrinda Grover, New Delhi
At the end of the five-day worship in the month of Tulam, it is clear that women have been betrayed. The right wing which promised not to violently stop women devotees did precisely that; their leader also hurled vicious insults are trans people. The dominant left which foamed Ayyankali and Sree Narayana Guru at the mouth ended up reinforcing the ‘good woman’/bad woman’ division, saying first that only the former would be allowed to proceed, made the term ‘activist’ into a code word for ‘bad woman’, and then finally threw up its hands saying that it was impossible to implement the court order. The government and the CPM had obviously not done enough to make sure that women would indeed enter the shrine. Clearly, they are reluctant to touch the savarna moral majority. Continue reading Now What? After the Betrayal of Women at Sabarimala
Yesterday’s high drama at Sabarimala told us quite a lot about the games that politicians play in Kerala. Rehana Fatima, a young woman activist who decided to take the challenge (it is now a challenge, since the trekking path to the shrine is in effect controlled by Hindutva goons heaping verbal abuse, threatening open violence, and using children as shields) had to face not only the naked threats of the so-called bhakths and the vandalisation of her home at Kochi by the same elements, she had also to swallow the Kerala Minister Kadakampally Surendran’s jibe that Sabarimala was not a playground for ‘activists’! By saying so, he hinted that only ‘pure’, ‘untainted’ women believers who are apparently by definition not activists, can be helped by the Kerala Police to reach the shrine. So much for Pinarayi Vijayan’s evocation of Kerala’s legacy of enlightened Hinduism!