Tag Archives: Kolkata

Happy to Disturb – RJ Sayan and The Jadavpur Police Station, Kolkata

The disgusting police violence and simple thuggery unleashed by the Vice Chancellor of Jadavpur University at the behest of his masters in the Trinamool Congress Party and the West Bengal Government has resulted in a counter-offensive that features rage mixed with humour, mirth, music and creativity. Nothing can be more lethal for the zombies in power than the laughter and music of the young.

Here is a brilliant radio clip – produced by RJ Sayan (Meter Down, 104 FM, Kolkata).

Thanks to Debjani Dutta for the translations and the English subtitles in the video.

Eta Kolkata (This is Kolkata): Kaveri Gill

Guest post by KAVERI GILL

Today comes the surreal news that anyone painting their house or apartment white or sky blue in Kolkata can claim a waiver on property tax for a full year, a horror conjuring up a city that looks like a crumpled weave of Mother Teresa’s saree. Now, towns of Regency England and the Cornwall coast have uniform building and color restrictions to maintain historical continuity, but this idea is more in the perverse vein of babus suggesting that the burning ghats at Varanasi be “white-washed” for “freshness”.

The Chief Minister's radio and music in public places scheme
The Chief Minister’s radio and music in public places scheme

Thankfully, another Humphrey shot that idea down, yet the decimation of the architectural integrity of the façade of these famous ghats continues apace, with sealed air-conditioned buildings overlooking the burning bodies at Manikaran. Bengal’s Chief Minister has been known to remark that the colours “promote happiness” and accordingly, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) Mayor has incentivised citizens to embrace the “theme colours of the city”[1]. Coming on the heels of a general election, where the TMC won 34 seats out of 42, up from 19 in 2009, and compared to only 2 each for the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (with 18% of the vote share, not to mention an almost win in the city), even discounting for dirty tricks appropriated by their cadres from the Left of old, the scorn must be tempered by what this result says about the contemporary citizen of this state and city. Continue reading Eta Kolkata (This is Kolkata): Kaveri Gill

Anatomy of a Rape and Its Immediate Aftermath – A Report from Kolkata: Kasturi

Guest post by KASTURI

Time flew fast. Over the last two days and sleepless nights. A girl I knew, a cheerful bubbly college first-year, eyes wide open with dreams, has been subjected to sexual violence. We had walked together in many marches against injustice, oppression, gender violence. I remember the day I first met her, several months back. It was opposite the Indian Coffee House on College Street. She had become an activist of the radical left students’ organization AISA by then. After that I met and chatted with her on many occasions. On the very day she was raped, she had participated in a students’ demonstration against the corporate-communal onslaught personified by Narendra Modi. She was slated to participate in another program the very next day. When night struck.

The night that rolled on to dawn
Continue reading Anatomy of a Rape and Its Immediate Aftermath – A Report from Kolkata: Kasturi

Lesser Citizens: Trapped in a Queer world of Dystopia: Indrani Kar, Shuvojit Moulik & Somya Tyagi

This is a guest post by Indrani Kar, Shuvojit Moulik & Somya Tyagi

Any dominant, mainstream model undoes the very idea of multiple modes of living and diversity which excludes the real demands of the minority groups and contributes to their social exclusion. Whereas everyone is entitled to equal and inalienable rights and opportunities set forth in the Preamble to the Constitution of India without distinction of any kind, such commitments are yet to be translated into action. Although Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees ‘Right to life and personal liberty’ to all, of which the Right to Healthcare forms an integral part, a large section of the society is still insensitive to the healthcare needs of the transgender community.


The transgender population faces grave misunderstanding, prejudice, harassment, ridicule, rejection and even exploitation at the hands of health service providers as they do not fit into the society’s prescribed, rigid gender roles. Though the transgender community is hardly a homogeneous entity and is considerably diverse in terms of gender identity and livelihoods, in public imagination such complex identities of gender ranging from hijra to transgender are all lumped into one category, which becomes extremely problematic. Unfortunately, government policies also seem to feed on these generalisations, making use of such umbrella terms rather than focus on the specific needs of different groups.

Continue reading Lesser Citizens: Trapped in a Queer world of Dystopia: Indrani Kar, Shuvojit Moulik & Somya Tyagi

Because Presidency is an Idea – All You Need to Know About What Happened at Presidency University: Waled Aadnan


Guest post by WALED AADNAN: On 10th April, 2013, an unprecedented incident happened at Presidency University (erstwhile Presidency College), Kolkata. Now, unprecedented is a strong term when it relates to Presidency College, because it has, over its 196- year- long history,  seen much. It has been broken in by rioting mobs in 1926; in the 1960s and 70s, it was the so-called headquarters of the Naxal movement in Bengal; it has nurtured Indian Nobel Prize and Oscar winners and consistently over its history. It has been one of India’s elite colleges and a hotbed of left-wing politics.

Continue reading Because Presidency is an Idea – All You Need to Know About What Happened at Presidency University: Waled Aadnan

Photographs of Calcutta by Che Guevara, 1959

These three photographs were taken by CHE GUEVARA in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1959. The photos are taken from the book Self Portrait by Che Guevara, published by the Centre for Che Studies, Havana, in collaboration with Ocean Books, Australia. They were obtained by Jansatta editor Om Thanvi from the Centre for Che Studies in 2007, and come to us courtesy Thanvi.


Continue reading Photographs of Calcutta by Che Guevara, 1959

A Rickshaw Ride in Kolkata: Waled Aadnan

Guest post by WALED AADNAN

“Amar naam Chatterjee!” My name is Chatterjee! sounds like a proclamation from a fiery leader of the masses at a public rally, but it came from a rickshaw wallah plying his trade in the dusty bylanes of North Calcutta and addressed to no one in particular.

As I sat on his rickshaw, the frail old man launched into an indignant tirade against the ruling political party, whom he branded as a group of turncoats, insisting vehemently and repeatedly to nothing but the evening breeze that he had always been a Congressman.

Yes, he defended, petrol prices have been rising, but surely the bosses in Delhi would admit to that! What is the point of protesting about that in an insignificant meeting of rickshaw wallahs’ union? His tone of uncompromising understanding of world affairs drew me to listen to him, rather than plug in my earphones and switch off the world. Continue reading A Rickshaw Ride in Kolkata: Waled Aadnan

Durga Puja as a Homecoming Metaphor – Prasanta Chakravarty

(This is a guest post. It was also published in Hindustan Times, October 2, 2008)

Tagore’s short tale Kabuliwallah concludes right in the middle of autumn—saratkaal. Mini’s marriage takes place during the puja holidays, and Rahman’s own Parbati awaits her father’s return in her distant mountain home. Even as Mini prepares to initiate her journey to her in-laws, Rahman, having been released from his own figurative abode-of-the-in-laws, the jail, seeks home afresh in his “… mountains, the glens, and the forests of his distant home, with his cottage in its setting, and the free and independent life of far-away wilds.” Uma’s arche story is reinvented by Tagore and a secret bond is established between two fathers. But such weaving of the puranic akhyan as a homecoming narrative is realized, or used to be realized shall we say, at a different order where home is also a matter of participating in a certain generous spirit during the pujas. The essence of Kabuliwallah lies in basking in such an aura of human generosity. So, the fundamental question to me is whether such a spirit can be glimpsed during the pujas even today without being overly sentimental about it.

Continue reading Durga Puja as a Homecoming Metaphor – Prasanta Chakravarty