Tag Archives: Lal Ratnakar

Bharat Mata and her unruly daughters

Bharat Mata’s daughter? But the Hindutvavadi motherland produces only sons – Hindu, savarna sons – to protect their mother’s ever fragile honour.

Let us begin these reflections with a moment from Nisha Pahuja’s disturbing film the World Before Her, which tracks two young women – Ruhi, a beauty pageant contestant and Prachi, a trainer with the Durga Vahini, women’s wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

While Ruhi and her fellow participants emerge as conventional and pallid, Prachi is fierce and questioning, independent minded. But towards the end of the film, you realize that for both women (and not for Ruhi alone), this period of training was only a small window that gave them a brief glimpse of broader horizons. It was only a brief moment of excitement and hope, and what seemed like freedom, before real life – the real lives of real women – closed in on them.

Throughout the film, Prachi has been telling the film-maker that she will never get married, she will live her life as a Hindutva activist. She emphatically rejects the ordinary life of a wife and mother. But towards the end, her father declares quite explicitly that this is out of the question. She can never be a full time activist. Of course she must get married. She has a womb, do men have wombs? Her responsibility then, is to bring up children. Initially in this sequence, Prachi argues against him vehemently, verges on the insolent, but gradually she falls silent. Her expression, still rebellious, but devastated, resigned, signals to us her recognition that the daughter of the Hindu nation is only in training to be a mother. That is the highest ambition she can have.

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On RSS ignorance, the “upside down map” of India, and on being “anti-national”

himal_map_4501Himal Southasian’s ‘right-side-up’ map. In their words: “This map of Southasia may seem upside down to some, but that is because we are programmed to think of north as top of page. This rotation is an attempt by the editors of Himal to reconceptualise ‘regionalism’ in a way that the focus is on the people rather than the nation-states. This requires nothing less than turning our minds downside-up.

Turn your eyes away, gentle reader. You have already become anti-national by viewing this image.

More on this in a minute. First some background.

On the 3rd of February, ABVP called a bandh in Jai Narain Vyas University (JNVU), Jodhpur, forcibly stopping classes and demanding suspension of the organizers of a conference and police action against them, as well as against myself. Police complaints have now been lodged, and perhaps FIRs, we hear.

The charge? The conference, and my lecture in particular, was anti-national. Not one of these ABVP students attended the event, nor is there yet a video recording available to my knowledge, largely because the ABVP also gathered in intimidatingly large numbers outside the shop that had conducted the recording, and the owner shut up the shop and fled. The entire drama and some sensationalist and outright false stories in the local Hindi press, is based entirely on the testimony of one person, NK Chaturvedi, retired professor from the History department at JNVU, who attended just one session, mine.

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