An open letter to Brinda Karat: why do female supporters of the Kerala CPIM spew such venom at Hadiya?

Dear Comrade

I can hardly describe the joy and relief I felt reading your piece on the Hadiya case in the Hindu yesterday. By now I am nearly deaf from the cacophony of misogyny, islamophobia, and sheer short-sighted rage that CPM supporters on Facebook are unleashing against this young woman.

Your voice of sanity, Comrade, is therefore a great restorative. If not for your writing, one could have well thought that the CPM was nothing more than a bunch of short sighted, power hungry, strategisers, whose total lack of ethics and values is covered up by a vapid, outdated rationalism and an equally problematic liberalism. You refuse to condemn Hadiya for choosing Islam. You acknowledge that she is brave. You unequivocally reject the father and other minions of patriarchy. You rightly criticise state patriarchy evident in the Supreme Court. Unlike many CPM supporters here, you have no illusions about the times we live in; you are clearly aware that the NIA is not something which will spare us if we stay good. Importantly, you put paid to the idea that the High Court judgement that sanctioned her illegal custody was justified — an idea assiduously nurtured by certain public figures allied with the CPM against religious Muslims. Comrade, thank you again for being so forthright and in the face of snarling islamophobes in your own ranks actually gunning for the voice you raised against her illegal custody long back.

Continue reading “An open letter to Brinda Karat: why do female supporters of the Kerala CPIM spew such venom at Hadiya?”

The Gates of Vaikuntam?

When Hadiya Shafin shouted to the crowd that she converted voluntarily, that Shafin was her chosen husband, and that she wished to spend her life with him, some leading rationalist liberal feminists in Kerala sniggered at her: be grateful for the Indian Constitution which allows you to make a choice. This statement hid a despicable insult to her choice of Islam, slyly implying that it would not permit her any choices.

Goodness knows where these puerile, vain, indurate minds live their everyday lives.  Maybe they are either still able to insulate themselves somehow from the onslaught of Hindutva violence, or find it useful to use the arms of this Hindutva hegemonised thuggish state to their narrow, shamefully narrow, ends.

Whatever, I could see no trace of the protective presence of the Indian Constitution when the Supreme Court heard Hadiya. I could see not the highest court of Justice of a vibrant democracy but I got a sense of how the Gates of Celestial Vaikuntam may look like:

Read more at : https://thewire.in/200701/hadiya-supreme-court-nia/

 

 

 

Hadiya’s Safety is the Kerala Government’s Responsibility: Rajathi Salma writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala

[This is the text of the open letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala from the celebrated Tamil poet Rajathi Salma, a leading literary and activist voice from South India whose writing has often revealed the pain and poignancy of women’s unfreedoms and the denial of a creative life of choice to them. This is about the never-ending agony that the confinement of a young woman, Hadiya, by her father, has become. Hadiya is to be heard by the Supreme Court of India on 27 November 2017, but the Kerala government refuses to take responsibility for her safe travel to Delhi, after many many pleas from civil society] Continue reading “Hadiya’s Safety is the Kerala Government’s Responsibility: Rajathi Salma writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala”

Thoughts on the Continuing Assault on Women’s Rights and Progressivist Gaslighting in Kerala

After the atrocious indifference and trivialisation of domestic violence displayed by the sneering alpha-male brigade of the CPM during the discussion of the Hadiya Case, nothing surprises me. However, it appears important to point out how such callousness is indeed becoming normalised here alarmingly. It seems that the gains of women’s movement which made violence against women at home something beyond an intimate private affair, a ‘family quarrel’, are being steadily depleted. Of course, we did see how so many smooth-talking liberal CPM-oriented or purportedly-rationalist young male intellectuals went ballistic at the mere suggestion that they are blind to the domestic violence in Hadiya’s imprisonment. Also intriguing was their persistent defense of the father’s right to keep an adult, mentally fit, educated daughter immobile and imprisoned because he feared for her safety. Continue reading “Thoughts on the Continuing Assault on Women’s Rights and Progressivist Gaslighting in Kerala”

‘Revolution against Das Kapital’ and the ‘Lonely Hour of the Economy’

This is a modified version of the article that was published earlier in The Wire

(T)he economic dialectic is never active in the pure state; in History, these instances, the superstructures etc – are never seen to step respectfully aside when their work is done or, when the Time comes, as his pure phenomena, to scatter before His Majesty the Economy as he strides along the royal road of the Dialectic. From the first moment to the last, the lonely hour of the ‘last instance’ never comes. – Louis Althusser, For Marx, London: Verso 1979, p. 113

The event known to the world as the ‘October’ revolution in Russia – or simply as the ‘Russian revolution’ – took place on 7-8 November, a hundred years ago. But then why call it the October revolution? Thereby hangs a tale – the tale of modernity, myth-making and of a new imagination of Time.

The moment of revolution, image courtesy libcom.org
The moment of revolution, image courtesy libcom.org

As a matter of fact, the Revolution occurred on 25-26 October, according to the Julian calendar (so called because it had been promulgated by Julius Caesar), which Russia, along with a large part of the Western world, followed at that time. It was only in January 1918 that the Soviet government decreed the shift to the Gregorian calendar. The reason was that Russia should join ‘all cultured nations in counting time’, as a decree cited by historian Mark Steinberg put it. Accordingly, the first anniversary of the revolution was celebrated on 7 November 1918 throughout the Soviet Union.

What is interesting here is not so much the shift but the reason assigned for it – joining other ‘cultured nations’ of the world, which in the language of the early twentieth century meant only one thing – the modern West, which had long been setting the norm for everything desirable. Ways of ‘counting time’ too had to be aligned with Europe, lest one be considered insufficiently modern. Spatially, the Czarist Russian empire straddled both Europe and Asia, which had already, in the new reckoning of Time, been cast as ‘advanced’ and ‘backward’ respectively. The desire to become modern and join the ‘cultured nations’ was to run through the history of the revolution and its consolidation into the new Stalinist state. This desire was to be manifested in its deep distrust of the peasantry and rural life on the one hand, and in the frenetic drive to ‘catch up’ with Western Europe. As Stalin would say, he wanted to accomplish in a couple of decades what Europe had in a few centuries, compressing time, as it were, into one dizzying experience for entire society. The continuing ‘past’ had to be annihilated.

Continue reading “‘Revolution against Das Kapital’ and the ‘Lonely Hour of the Economy’”

Defend the tradition of fighting for the oppressed: Sohail Hashmi writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala

(This is the text of the open letter written by the eminent left cultural activist Sohail Hashmi to Com. Pinarayi Vijayan on the Hadiya case)

Continue reading “Defend the tradition of fighting for the oppressed: Sohail Hashmi writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala”

Preserve Kerala as the Shining Example of Democracy for India : Prof. Satish Deshpande writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala

(This is the text of the open letter from Prof. Satish Deshpande to the Chief Minister of Kerala on the Hadiya issue. Satish’s work Contemporary India, translated as Samakalika India, has been hugely influential in shaping the progressive understanding of Hindutva nationalism and communal hatred in Kerala.)

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The Honourable Chief Minister of Kerala

Shri Pinarayi Vijayan

6th October, 2017

Respected Sir,

Ever since I first came to Kerala in 1981 to study at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) at Thiruvanathapuram, I have been a committed supporter of everything that the left tradition of your great state has achieved by way of democratic innovations in governance and social practice. Even today, I believe that Kerala continues to be a shining example in many spheres where the rest of India lags far behind.

I was therefore shocked to read about the Hadiya case and the tacit and explicit state support that underwrite her virtual house arrest today. I am told that the man that Hadiya has chosen to marry and the organisation with which he is associated may have a questionable past. Whatever be the truth of this matter, the fact is that an adult citizen’s personal choices in matters like marriage cannot be undone by the state no matter how ill-considered that choice may appear to others. Moreover, in the current climate, it is surely not irrelevant that the religion in question is Islam – it is highly unlikely that this case would have attracted any attention if Hadiya had chosen to convert to some other religion.

It is highly embarrassing – to the say the least – that a government led by a party that can claim to have played a major role in transforming Kerala society for the better is today seen to be siding with the reactionary forces.

I appeal to you to use the power vested in you by the people of Kerala to end this travesty of justice and ensure that Hadiya is left free to live her life as she chooses.

With best wishes,

Satish Deshpande

(Professor of Sociology, Delhi University)