Guest Post by RANJANA PADHI & LAXMI MURTHY
There is no cure for mortality, yet there is a lingering sadness and a sense of loss at the passing away of a fellow-traveler, a saheli and a comrade. Any reflection of such lives becomes a reflection of the times. The times when we as women, and as feminist collectives, dared to go against the grain. The early years of the women’s movement were vastly different from the present reality where much is taken for granted and often celebrated ahistorically as individual achievement. The struggles of the 1980s made strident inroads into challenging the bastions of patriarchy in the form of collective resistance. Making that vital link in what is a virtually unknown history for an entire generation of young women might help to make sense of the present. Because Kalpana was active to the end, commenting – and raving – even about recent events, through the lens of a sharp feminist politics.
Kalpana Mehta, 67, a feminist activist of the autonomous women’s movement in India, breathed her last on May 27, 2020 at her residence in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Kalpana was diagnosed of the neuron disease called Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in mid 2017. She gradually lost speech as well as mobility. Even then, she was tuned in to all events through the daily newspaper and communicated her thoughts and ideas through the application Tobii with friends who visited her during this time. Remaining engaged with news and sharing her political concerns and reflections helped her bravely cope with the symptoms of ALS. Also, her characteristic humor and witty rebukes directed at the powers that be were intact to her last breath. Continue reading Writing about Kalpana, writing about the times: Ranjana Padhi & Laxmi Murthy
The following is a statement Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression on the passing away of leading feminist activist Kalpana Mehta. This English version was earlier published in Mainstream Weekly.
Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) deeply mourns the passing away of Kalpana Mehta in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. The loss of a fellow traveller and a comrade at a time when we are going through a massive public health crisis and continuous clampdown on the right to dissent through arrests and detention is hard to bear. Kalpana has been with WSS ever since its inception in 2009.
Having done B. Tech in Aeronautical Engineering from IIT, Kanpur she had left for the US to pursue a degree in MBA. She came back to India in 1976, as it happened with many other fellow Indians who returned in those times, when the country was reeling under the clampdown of the National Emergency imposed by the Congress-led government in power at the centre. Within a few years in trade union work, she became part of a vibrant and powerful political current that brought to light women’s oppression and subordination in society and the need to organize as women, which was becoming well nigh impossible in the left and socialist movements of those years. Her life and politics have thus been shaped by the emergence of the autonomous women’s movement in the late 70s and early 80s. Kalpana was a co-founder of the autonomous feminist collective Saheli Women’s Resource Centre that was set up in 1981; she continued to remain at the forefront of the women’s movement ever since. Read the full statement here.
‘विमन अगेन्स्ट सेक्शूअल वायलेंस एंड स्टेट रिप्रेशन’ (WSS)
की कल्पना मेहता को श्रद्धांजलि
‘विमन अगेन्स्ट सेक्शूअल वायलेंस एंड स्टेट रिप्रेशन’ (WSS) कल्पना मेहता के उनके निवास इंदौर, मध्य प्रदेश में निधन पर गहरा शोक व्यक्त करता है. एक ऐसे समय में जब हम व्यापक पैमाने पर अभूतपूर्व सार्वजनिक स्वास्थ्य संकट से गुजर रहे हैं और जब सत्ता द्वारा असहमति के अधिकार को लगातार बेरहमी से कुचला जा रहा है, हमारे बीच से एक हमसफ़र और कॉमरेड का चले जाना बेहद पीड़ादायक है. 2009 में, WSS की स्थापना के समय से ही कल्पना लगातार इसके साथ जुड़ी रहीं.
Continue reading अलविदा कल्पना मेहता – एक श्रद्धांजलि