This is a guest post by ROHIT REVI
Tanmay Bhat, popular Stand Up Comic, recently released a video on the popular social networking platform SnapChat, imitating Sachin Tendulkar, the popular cricketer, and Lata Mangeshkar, the popular Musician. He called it ‘Sachin vs Lata Civil War’, where the two figures argue over who the better cricketer is, Tendulkar or Kohli. It was almost immediately picked by right-winged political groups, such as the BJP and the MNS, and over the course of the day, the few seconds long video became about ‘Tanmay vs Indian Culture’, ‘Comedians vs The Nation’ and so on. Mumbai Police consulted legal experts, in the meanwhile asking YouTube and Facebook to take the video down. The mainstream media, held hour long debates in relation to the video, and those who tuned in heard about ‘drawing lines’ and ‘crossing boundaries’, amidst drowning shrieks on, again, what ‘our’ culture is and what it is not. As customary, MNS Leader Ameya Kopkar, issued a quick threat to assault him, if he ever appeared in public. Sunil Pal, the comedian, called the young brand of comedians of which Tanmay is a part, a group “filled with lesbians and gays”. An effigy was burnt.
This article is not about whether the video was funny or not. It is about a certain brand of offensive humour and the need for it. Continue reading On the Need for Obscene and Offensive Humour: Rohit Revi
People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS)
Murder of another rational voice against communalism and superstition
The respected and loved Kannada scholar and writer MM Kalburgi was murdered by two unidentified men on August 30 at his home in Dharwad. The seventy seven year scholar was actively researching Vachanas literature of early Kannada and literature produced during the Adil Shahi period in Northern Karnataka. He was a source of wisdom for many students and scholars, and his killers gained access posing as students. He was also a vocal critic of religious superstitions and had been targeted by fundamentalists within his own Lingayat community and by Hindutva organisations. He had received many threats and his house had been attacked with stones and bottles. He was given police protection, which was withdrawn only days before his murder.
Professor Kalburgi’s cold-blooded murder has caused widespread shock and dismay in the literary and intellectual circles of Karnataka. Many protests involving ordinary citizens have been held in Bangalore and Dharwad. At least one Hindutva Bajrang dal activist has publicly welcomed the assassination, warned another rationalist of Karnataka, Prof KS Bhagwan of the same fate.
Prof Kalburgi’s killing comes after the murders of two other prominent critics of religious superstitions. Dr Narender Dabholkar was killed in 2013 in Pune. Trade Unionist and Communist Govind Pansare was killed in Kolhapur in February this year. There are uncanny similarities in the modus operandi of all three cases. It is likely that as in the earlier cases, the police will fail to solve Prof Kalburgi’s murder. Continue reading P.A.D.S. Statement on the killing of Prof MM Kalburgi – a sane voice against communalism and superstition
Issued by Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge (ASEAK)
From Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses to Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History, we are witness to an increasingly regressive trend of banning books, films and art in the name of ‘hurt sentiments’. However, while in a plural and diverse society as ours where sentiments are routinely hurt, when do certain instances of ‘hurt sentiments’ translate into the clamping down of such ‘hurtful’ narratives, leading to their censorship and banning? The aggressive intolerance towards any effort that challenges the dominant discourse on religion, caste, gender, sexuality, nation, etc. points us in a direction where knowledge produced takes the shape of propaganda. In the face of this attack, let us reclaim our right to think, question, challenge and criticize – the pillars of knowledge production. Continue reading Whose “Hurt Sentiment”? On Pulping of Wendy Doniger’s Book: Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge (ASEAK)
This just in from our Thiruvananthapuram correspondent SAJAN VENNIYOOR
Trivandrum, 21 Nov: An unnamed youth from Thiruvananthapuram was arrested by the Kerala Police cyber-crime squad for allegedly ‘liking’ a Facebook post written by a complete stranger. The Facebook account in the name of ‘Indian Patroit Who Fuking Hates Everybody’ – believed to be an alias – carried a comment that was allegedly critical of something reportedly concerning a recently deceased non-Malayali. The Facebook comment was also withdrawn soon after the arrest of the Thiruvananthapuram native under sections 505 of IPC (“promoting ill-will among groups with different imaginary friends”) and 66A of the IT Act (“causing annoyance while belonging to a minority group”).
It is not known what the offensive post said, but police sources confirm that while the comment “did not actually hurt religious sentiments in the proper sense of the word”, it jolly well hurt the feelings of people who knew someone who had some kind of sentiments that may well have been hurt had he been alive.
In his defence, the unnamed youth submitted before the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Vanchiyoor, that he had clicked on the Facebook button only because he violently disagreed with the post, thinking it said “Yikes”.
His lawyer confirmed later that the youth, who was let off on bail, was either dyslexic or from Ulloor.
(Clarification: Some Of Us Are Actually Dyslexic and/or From Ulloor. Any offence caused is therefore to us.)