My book Green and Saffron is just out. The book details and an interview are on the blog of Permanent Black. From the publishers’ notice:
This book examines contemporary environmental issues and movements in independent India on the one hand, and the development of Hindu conservative ideology and politics on the other. It includes the first thorough investigation of Anna Hazare’s movement in Maharashtra.
Mukul Sharma argues that these two social currents—environmental conservation and Hindu politics—have forged bonds which reveal the hijacking of environmentalism by conservative and retrograde worldviews. This, he says, constitutes a major aspect of hinterland political life which neither academics nor journalists have seriously analysed. Environmentalism and politics cannot be seen as separate from each other, for environmental issues are being defined in new ways by an anti-secular form of Hinduism. In turn, Hindu ideologues are gaining mileage for their ideology by espousing major environmental projects. Continue reading Green and Saffron: Hindu Nationalism and Indian Environmental Politics
Guest post by SUMANTRA MAITRA
When you are in journalism, something that slowly builds up in you is your immunity to suprise. You can feel fear, sadness, hopelessness, impatience, and even joy, though the last emotion is increasingly becoming a rare thing in this field. But whatever you feel, one thing is for sure, that you generally don’t get surprised. So when I initially heard about a lone Canadian woman of advanced age and energetic spirits, who had come to India at the age of 19 in the 1960s, fighting the land mafia in Hardwar, without any help from anyone, I was intrigued, but NOT surprised.
I decided to chase the story.
Continue reading Esther’s Story – Battling the Land Mafia in Hardwar: Sumantra Maitra
Guest post by MAHTAB ALAM
Last week, after a gap of almost 12 years, when I was asked by my family members to accompany them to see Chhatth Puja, an ancient Hindu festival dedicated to Surya, the Sun God, I could not resist myself and readily agreed to join them. As a school going boy, I had always enjoyed watching the festival and devotees performing the rituals observed for the Puja in my hometown Supaul, a district of Bihar, which borders the Tarai region of Nepal. In the last 12 years, I couldn’t get a chance to do so due to the mobile nature of work I am involved in. The Puja, most elaborately observed in Bihar, Jharkhand and the Terai regions of Nepal in modern times, and those areas where migrants from these regions have a presence. Chhath, usually observed six days after Diwali, was observed on 12 November this year. Continue reading This Chhath Puja, Ram ke naam: Mahtab Alam
The Times of India carried a story today that we are reproducing here in full. It is the story of a Rajput-owned dog who became outcaste because it was fed a chapati by a dalit woman. Not only was the dog turned ‘out’ to live in the dalit basti, worse, the woman Sunita was fined Rs 15, 000/- by the panchayat for the crime. But hold on, there is more: when Sunita and her brother went to lodge a complaint at the police station, the police officer asked her why she fed the dog? So, this is not really a matter of one mad, ‘illiterate’ individual (as if literates are by definition better): This incident reveals an entire structure of thought and belief that extends through from the panchayat to the police itself (which despite the Supreme Court’s directive has not yet filed an FIR). Here is the full report:
BHOPAL: A dog’s life couldn’t get worse. A mongrel brought up in an upper caste home in Morena was kicked out after the Rajput family members discovered that their Sheru had eaten a roti from a dalit woman and was now an “untouchable”. Next, Sheru was tied to a pole in the village’s dalit locality. His controversial case is now pending with the district collector, the state police and the Scheduled Caste Atrocities police station in Morena district of north MP.
The black cur, of no particular pedigree, was accustomed to the creature comforts in the home of its influential Rajput owners in Manikpur village in Morena. Its master, identified by the police as Rampal Singh, is a rich farmer with local political connections.
Continue reading We Are Proud Hindus!