Tag Archives: Amartya Sen

An old RC ruminates on his ‘Pseudo-Secularist’ roots: Hartman de Souza

Guest post by HARTMAN DE SOUZA

The background and context to this not-so-enigmatic title is very simple. By today’s standards, I am old – I get a hefty discount travelling by train which I am still hooked on, and I am still counting the years and sniffing my coffee. The ‘RC’ is a lot simpler:

Travelling by train from Mumbai to Delhi many, many moons ago, a man in the compartment, in his thirties, got into conversation with me. After I had answered his opening bullet shot questions – You are from? You are doing what? Your father is doing what? – he told me I spoke English like a ‘foreigner’.

I was still fresh from Kenya those days, where I was born, so I got a lot of grief from having a different accent that no one could place.

This was of course much, much before you could study for an undergraduate degree in India (where you were born) and then, if you had the means and the SATs, go and study in the US for a few years. There, in the land of beef and honey, as we now note with pride, many Indians also discovered the ‘free market’ and their ‘authentic’ Hindu roots – then came back to spew communal venom with a makeshift American accent and the dollars to back it.

As if it was stamped on my bloody forehead, he then asked: “You are Christian?” He pronounced this as “Kir-tchin’.

I pretended I hadn’t heard. So he repeated the question. I nodded, hoping he would disappear and let me get on reading my book.  He did not. Instead had a broad grin on his face, like he knew in which bag he could drop me in.  “You are RC!” he said, almost triumphantly.

For a few seconds, he almost had me stumped. I raised my eyebrows.

Ro-maan Catholic,” he offered.

I shook my head and smiled back. “No,” I replied “Retired Catholic…”

He didn’t get the joke. Guys like that still can’t. Continue reading An old RC ruminates on his ‘Pseudo-Secularist’ roots: Hartman de Souza

Where Are The Emile Zolas of Our Times !

On Minority Rights and State Violence

Each one has his reasons: for one, art is a flight; for another, a means of conquering. But one can flee into a hermitage, into madness, into death. One can conquer by arms. Why does it have to be writing, why does one have to manage his escapes and conquests by writing? Because, behind the various aims of authors, there is a deeper and more immediate choice which is common to all of us.

What is Literature? Jean Paul Sartre

It is difficult to start when you are among an august gathering of masters and students of a subject you are not much aware of and are asked to say something to them. Today I find myself in that unenviable situation.

Let me admit here that when I received the information of the seminar I was really very excited to learn that scholars of literature would be focusing themselves on human rights, an issue which demands urgent attention from every thinking and concerned human being. But when the question of joining the debate arose, I was really in two minds. In fact, I was bit reluctant to come here for two simple reasons.

Firstly, being a left activist for larger part of my social life, I have been more accustomed to address public meetings on specific issues or share my ideas on a particular theme among activist circles. There have not been very many occasions when I had the opportunity to come to such gatherings. Continue reading Where Are The Emile Zolas of Our Times !

The buck should not stop with Meena Kumari

Let us recount some facts to understand the circumstances that led to the death of 23 children at a primary school at Gandaman, Chapra . First, some micro-facts :

  • The primary school struck by the  tragedy  is  a NAV SRJIT VIDYALAYA, a  newly created school. In fact, it is a break away from an earlier existing middle school   in the village.
  • This school, if you care to call it by this name, is a single room structure  with a floor full of potholes.
  • There is neither a kitchen nor a   facility to store the raw food-items in the school.
  • There is no source of clean drinking water in the school. There is a hand pump there but you get hard water from it.
  • Meena Kumari was NOT the headmistress of the school . She was only the teacher –in-charge of the school.
  • The school has two women teachers including Meena Kumari. The other one was on maternity leave  at the time of the incident. Meena Kumari was the only teacher left to look after more than 60 children, from class one to five who study there , a duty which includes teaching, supervising Mid-Day Meal (MDM) and other administrative duties. Continue reading The buck should not stop with Meena Kumari