Category Archives: Movements

The ‘Obama Moment’: Sangay Mishra and Jinee Lokaneeta

The ‘Obama Moment’ and Conversations on Race
Guest post by SANGAY MISHRA and JINEE LOKANEETA

[The ‘Obama moment’ is much more than the man. Elementary, one would have thought. But maybe not. For, it has been intriguing to watch and listen to people – radical and nonradical liberal alike – mock this moment in a cynical, ‘we-know-it-all’ and ‘what-do-you-expect?’ mode. Intriguing, because, somewhere the insinuation is that those who celebrate are just being carried away by an ephemeral event. Maybe. It seems however, and the authors argue below, that this persona we now know as ‘Obama’ was not there even a year or two ago; he emerged in this present form, through a series of ‘encounters’ – with race, with his own history and with ‘blackness’. In his present form, Obama is produced by a certain African American investment in the earlier Obama (of, say, the pre-campaign Obama). – AN]

Much as the Obama victory on the 4th of November was expected and already predicted by a number of polls, the reaction to his victory both inside and outside the United States was breathtaking.

Continue reading The ‘Obama Moment’: Sangay Mishra and Jinee Lokaneeta

Bye Bye Reliance: Pen Tehsil Says No SEZ!

In our continuing concern with the strange times that seem to have befallen our cities, lets not lose sight of the historic battle underway in the countryside. In the first instance of its kind, the referendum on the Maha-Mumbai Special Economic Zone being set up by Reliance has unambiguously returned the verdict of the farmers of Raigad- no SEZ in Pen! As Sanhati notes, the Tata’s 1500 crore investment in Singur sounds like loose change when compared to the one lakh crore that Reliance is planning to sink into 10,000 hectares. 22 villages in the Pen Tehsil voted against the acquisition of their lands at the paltry sum of 10 lakhs per acre. Unsurprisingly, Reliance Industries Limited has said the referendum is “not genuine”:

Continue reading Bye Bye Reliance: Pen Tehsil Says No SEZ!

Singur, Mediotics and an NGO Called Indian Express

[Note: Television was often referred to as the the idiot-box. For very sound reasons. It produced idiocy on a regular basis. It still does. But in these days, this is no longer the monopoly of the televisual media. Newspapers too are doing pretty much the same. Let us call this specific form of media-generated idiocy, rampant among media persons, mediocy and the phenomenon, mediotics. Those affected by it will then be mediots.]

I know that someone will immediately step in to correct me to say that Indian Express is not an NGO. But if one looks at the completely illiterate use of the term made by the Indian media, then anything that is not ‘governmental’ is ‘non-governmental’ and can, hence, be called an NGO. Except that for the large mass of ignoramuses peopling the media i.e. mediots, this is a safe term to describe an animal that you cannot identify. Continue reading Singur, Mediotics and an NGO Called Indian Express

Quepem by the kilo: Hartman de Souza on Mining in Goa

I am posting below a requiem to Quepem by my old friend Hartman. It reads eerily like a companion piece to the curatorial essay to Manifesta 7 by Raqs, posted earlier on Kafila. Raqs wrote:

Mountains are flattened to mine bauxite, the main aluminium ore. Mountains of aluminium waste may eventually take their place…The “rest of now” is the residue that lies at the heart of contemporaneity. It is what persists from moments of transformation, and what falls through the cracks of time. It is history’s obstinate remainder, haunting each addition and subtraction with arithmetic persistence, endlessly carrying over what cannot be accounted for. The rest of now is the excess, which pushes us towards respite, memory and slowing things down.

And here’s Hartman:

As you read this, mourn the brutal rape and murder of half a dozen steep, thickly forested hills barely 12 kilometres from Quepem town in south Goa. These form an integral link of the magnificent Western Ghats that surround Goa, and as any schoolchild studying the environment will tell you, they play a crucial role in providing Goa its ecological wellbeing.

And yet, in blatant contravention of wisdom we purport to impart to children, hundreds of forests are being cut down around Quepem even as I write this. The denuded land turned inside out so fast, a hill can disappear in three months, leaving behind suppurating wounds that go down so deep the giant tipper trucks at the bottom look like the harmless toys little boys plays with.

Continue reading Quepem by the kilo: Hartman de Souza on Mining in Goa

Under Development: Singur

If you are in Kolkata between 27 June and 2 July, you may do well to visit the Seagull Arts and Media Resource Centre, Kolkata, for an exhibition of photographs of Singur. There will also be a panel discussion and a film festival. Continue reading Under Development: Singur

Ahilan Kadirgamar on Southasian Solidarity and Questions of State and Land

[This guest post is by AHILAN KADIRGAMAR who is an activist with the Sri Lanka Democracy Forum. He has written about the international dimension of the conflict and peace process in Sri Lanka and worked on human rights concerns related to the conflict. His current interests include the political economy of state-society relations and attempts at state reform in Sri Lanka.]

I have been travelling between cities, from Kathmandu to Delhi to Calcutta and down south to Madras. Visiting friends, but also trying to understand peoples’ perceptions of Sri Lanka in a time of war. I give talks here and there, but many more meetings over tea and dinner. There is an older tradition of solidarity, but now I am thinking again of the meaning of Southasian solidarity.

In Calcutta, on an activist’s book shelf, I find a book signed and gifted to her in the mid-eighties by Para, my friend from Berlin who passed away last year. Kumaraswamy Pararajasingham, a Marxist and human rights activist in Lanka in his early years, was a pillar of Tamil dissent over the last two decades of exile in Germany. An old Marxist in Calcutta, asks me about Hector Abhayawardhana, the theoretician of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party Continue reading Ahilan Kadirgamar on Southasian Solidarity and Questions of State and Land