From revered icon to unruly subject – Irom Sharmila and the politics of gender: Panchali Ray

Guest Post by PANCHALI RAY

In the month of August, 2016, Irom Sharmila Chanu, also known as the ‘Iron Lady’ and ‘Mengoubi’ (the fair one) announced that she would break her 16 year long hunger fast, which she commenced  as a protest against the imposition of AFSPA (Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act) by the Indian state on the tiny hilly state of Manipur. While some cheered, others were curious, and many shocked and angry at what they perceived as her betrayal of the Manipuri cause. The backlash from her community was quick and ferocious, and newspaper headlines carried titillating stories of how she was rejected by her ‘own’.[1]

While much has been written on Sharmila’s hunger strike, her breaking of the fast, and entry into electoral politics, there has not been an equal amount of discussion on the politics of gender. For instance, the fact that Sharmila’s location in the North-Eastern part of the country has been central to her marginalization and non-acknowledgement[2], or that the mainstream media’s highlighting of her predicament, post-hunger strike, reinforced stereotypes of Manipur as the ‘wild’ and ‘savage’ North East[3] has received considerable attention.

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Return of Hindutva: A Challenge for Secularism

Guest Post by Gargi Chakravartty


Hindutva’s Second Coming by Subhash Gatade; published by Media House, Delhi; 2019; pages: 272; Rs 395 (US $ 18).

The return of Modi to power with a huge margin in this 2019 election is a clear verdict for the Hindutva plank. Why and how it happened leave us, the secular billions, to ponder about the reality and its aftermath. And at that juncture Subhas Gatade’s 272-page analysis titled ‘Hindutva’s Second Coming’ gives us something concrete to think over once again. This in-depth study with rich academic perception is a commendable work, bereft of jargons and convoluted expressions, often found in books written from a high pedestal which goes beyond the mental reach of lay readers. Precisely for this reason the author needs to be specially acclaimed for bringing out facts at one place based on notes and references which are so far scattered in divergent historical materials. It serves as a Reader for millions who are combating communalism and distortion of history at the grassroot level.

( Read the full text here :

Immigrant Detention Centres in India – need for transparency: Paresh Hate

Guest post by PARESH HATE

From what knowledge we have so far, it seems clear that the issue of citizenship and migration in South Asia is not any less complicated or politically charged than in Global North. Assam Accord and National Registry of Citizenship were already polarizing individuals across the political spectrum.  The demonisation of Bangladeshi immigrants continues throughout the country. But the entering of BJP in Assam politics has complicated the matter even further. Beyond the stories of deportation and violence at the border between India and Bangladesh, now we are also witnessing a rise of detention centres all over India which has put the lives of many migrants effectively into a state of limbo where they are designated for deportation but do not know when they will meet this fate.

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EC Misleads Public With Bogus RTI Reply on VVPAT Count: Poonam Agarwal

Evidence mounts of something extremely rotten in the state of India and the recent Lok Sabha elections.

We have raised this question on Kafila for a while now, see The Massive Mandate and Open Letter to Election Commission of India by civil servants, the serious charges in which have been met with total silence.

Now POONAM AGARWAL writes in The Quint, which has been investigating the issue for some time.

The current state of India’s Election Commission (EC) raises doubts about its transparency and fairness, especially when we find that it is misleading the public in its RTI replies.

The EC was constituted in 1950 to conduct free and fair elections, and was established as an autonomous body solely so that it can work independently. Is that what it’s doing?

The Quint filed an RTI seeking information and documents on the VVPAT count data during the Lok Sabha elections 2019. In reply, the EC refused to share the documents on the grounds that the VVPAT data is not available with the Commission (which means, at the EC headquarters in Delhi).

Here’s How the EC Is Misleading Citizens.

Read the full article at The Quint.


मोदीनामा : हिंदुत्व का उन्माद


मई 2019 में नरेंद्र मोदी के नेतृत्व में हिंदुत्ववादी दक्षिणपंथी भारतीय जनता पार्टी ने शानदार चुनावी जीत हासिल की।

यह जीत सामान्य समझ को धता बताती है – जीवन और आजीविका जैसी आधारभूत बातें इस चुनाव का मुद्दा क्यों नहीं बन पाईं? ऐसा क्यों है कि सामान्य और सभ्य लोगों के लिए भी

हिंदुत्व के ठेकेदारों की गुंडागर्दी बेमानी हो गई? क्यों एक आक्रामक और मर्दवादी कट्टरवाद हमारे समाज के लिए सामान्य सी बात हो गई है? ऐसा क्यों है कि बेहद जरूरी मुद्दे आज गैरजरूरी हो गए हैं?

ये सवाल चुनावी समीकरणों और जोड़-तोड़ से कहीं आगे और गहरे हैं। असल में मोदी और भाजपा ने सिर्फ चुनावी नक्शों को ही नहीं बदला है बल्कि सामाजिकं मानदंडों के तोड़-फोड़ की भी शुरूआत कर दी है।

यह किताब प्रधानमंत्री के तौर पर मोदी के पिछले पांच वर्षों की यात्रा को देखते हुए आने वाले पांच वर्षों के लिए एक चेतावनी है।


LeftWord Books, New Delhi, 2019

Language: Hindi, 131 pages, 5.5″ x 8.5″

Price INR 195.00 Book Club Price INR 137


Subhash Gatade is a left activist and author. He is the author of Charvak ke Vaaris (Hindi, 2018), Ambedkar ani Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (Marathi, 2016), Godse’s Children: Hindutva Terror in India (2011) and The Saffron Condition (2011). His writings for children include Pahad Se Uncha Aadmi (2010).

The Politics of Piety in Naya Pakistan: Afiya Zia

Guest Post by AFIYA ZIA

A year ago, Pakistan’s national elections brought in a new government led by the Pakistan Tehreeq e Insaf (PTI) and headed by the former-cricketer-turned politician, Imran Khan. Khan had been drifting in the political wilderness for 22 years, waiting for providence to appoint him Prime Minister. As the 2018 elections loomed, this was not looking possible. However, a series of legal cases of corruption started being levelled against the serving PM, Nawaz Sharif, and efforts were made to atrophy others from the major parties of the PML-N and PPP (who had signed the ‘charter of democracy’ to prevent military intervention in civilian governance). The methods of these moves made it clear that the ‘establishment’ was betting on a new horse. Khan was not taking any risks though.

Six months before the national election, he entered marriage for the third time (with no less controversy than his previous marriages) to Bushra Maneka who was also his spiritual guide or pirni. A mother and a grandmother, there was speculation that Bushra divorced her husband for the higher cause of marrying the PM-in-waiting. In the days prior to the summer election, Khan performed Umrah in Mecca with Bushra, and was seen prostrating at a shrine in Pakistan and accessorised with rosaries and amulets in preparation for the polls.

Continue reading The Politics of Piety in Naya Pakistan: Afiya Zia