After the recent – and fascinating – debate on autorickshaws that spanned three posts and several comments, I couldnt resist putting this up once it arrived in my mailbox. Thank you Akshaya for sending it my way.
I want to go off on a bit of a tangent here. Just to open a different discussion in the spirit of thinking, and muddling along together. It seems to me that one of the axis on which the debate has turned is on the question of desire and its representation. Who is the desiring subject, towards whom is this desire directed, who represents this desire in what way, what are the slippages therein, who has the right to speak about whom.
I was wondering if we can approach this from a slightly different angle by taking this question of desire beyond the individual subject (variously defined). And in fact nameless did gesture to this in one of her responses where she raised the question of the appropriation of what she termed subaltern practices by elite intellectuals where certain practices and forms, in this case autos, are made to stand in for certain values – in this case progressive, ‘left” etc – which says more about the locations of the intellectuals and their insensitivity to their own class-caste positions, in a move which is patronizing at best and exploitative at worst. I think inherent in this critique is the shadow of a kind of objectification of a certain experience, so that a symbol becomes alienated from the actual life practices in which it is located to circulate as some empty signifier, to be appropriately filled as per requirement.
Or it is just another case of planning paranoia?
Although commonly understood to be a city of traders, Ravinder Singh Chowdhary*, is adamant that Delhi be understood as the abode of farmers. Sitting adjacent to lush verdant fields of brinjal, rice, and spinach in the village Madapur Khadar in Delhi’s Badarpur Constituency, Chowdhary, explains how Delhi is paradoxically “a city of farmers.” “From Kilokri and Kotla Mubarakpur in the South-East, to Karol Bagh in Delhi’s North-West, almost every new colony post-partition has been settled on farm land. Those settled by the Government were given water, electricity and drainage and became proper colonies; those settled by private individuals were denied these basic amenities and termed ‘illegal’ or ‘unauthorised’.”
In its most recent and controversial policy announcement, Delhi Government and the Union Ministry of Urban Development seem to take cognisance of Chowdhary’s understanding of the city’s settlements and have begun the process of issuing provisional regularisation certificates to about 1,500 unauthorised colonies that are mostly settled on agricultural land; a move that they claim will benefit approximately 40 lakh residents.
Continue reading Death of the Author(-ized)?
Reproduced from the Indian Express this morning. Of course, I wrote it entirely with Kafila in my heart, the Express just got it first :)
A gay man is given two years of electroshock therapy in a major city hospital to “cure” him — the National Human Rights Commission refuses to file a complaint. A 2004 book on queer politics sees 34 contributors write under their full names, many for the first time. Lesbian women continue to commit suicide rather than be forcibly married. Large sections of the media openly support campaigns against Sec 377 — the 1861 law that criminalises “unnatural offences” — and widely carry an open letter written by Vikram Seth and Amartya Sen against the law. The law still stands over the head of the gay community, but the challenge to it in the Delhi High Court inches towards a verdict. Meanwhile, aravanis (as hijras are known in Tamil Nadu) win a landmark battle for the legal right to have government identification cards and passports issued under “E” as their gender. Continue reading Pride, Prejudice and Politics
Pleased with its professionally executed hatchet job on what is probably Delhi’s first real public transport endeavour that incorporates the needs of pedestrians and cyclists apart from bus users, the press seems to have forgotten the BRTS – moving on to search for other programmes to torpedo. But what was the BRTS fuss all about? Read on …
“’Experts’ order serial rape of Delhi Roads” screamed a particularly tasteless headline, in a national paper, of an article that claimed that the entire city shall be subjected to “gang-rape by greedy contractors with the benign blessings of rootless experts and supine babus.” In another widely published English newspaper, the editor in chief spoke out fearlessly against the “brutal enforcement of licence-quota raj on our roads”, denouncing what he saw as the “cynical and expensive exercise in enforcing a new kind of ideological socialism.” In another op-ed carried by the same paper, another piece spoke out against the “elitist” nature of the same project. “The masses want to drive,” noted columnist Saubhik Chakravarthy,” So reducing road space for private vehicles is ultimately elitist.” Judging by the vicious vendetta unleashed by the mainstream press, one would assume that the mild-mannered professors of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, had committed a crime against the state, rather than have designed the latest addition to the city’s mass transit system.
This is a simple exercise in basic arithmetic that will help us reach some rather basic results, the results might be a little unexpected but simple arithmetic is known to have indulged in such pastimes on other occasions as well.
There are around 3000 Blue line buses that ply on the streets of Delhi, and aside from terrorising the general populace off the streets, sending around 150 citizens of Delhi to meet their respective makers they are also known to occasionally ferry passengers.
It is now public knowledge that most, if not all, these buses are owned, benami, by local politicians and, as the expression goes, their near and dear ones. The fact that these killers are allowed to hold an entire city of close to 14,000,000 to ransom is not entirely due to their being politically correctly related, though that helps, it is mostly because of a well organised system of preventing diligent government servants from the discharge of their duty.
The government servants being thus prevented are gentlemen who have promised to be “with us for us always” [the motto of Delhi Police, for the information of non-Delhi people] (I am personally extremely happy that they are being prevented from discharging their duties towards me). The fellows want so dearly to serve us but are systematically prevented by the drivers and owners (Ds & Os) of the aforementioned vehicles. What can the poor fellows do, every time they want to rise to our defence the Ds & Os or their representatives show them some magical papers and the potential do gooders freeze in mid stride!