The literary award must generate wider discussion in society on what plagues us. After all, the writer has always been outspoken against extremism.
This year’s Jnanpith Award for best literature has gone to Damodar Mauzo, the famous Konkani novelist and short story writer. The great Assamese poetic talent, Nilmani Phookan Jr, has also been awarded the Jnanpith for 2020. Hopefully, as we celebrate “their outstanding contribution towards literature,” our discussions will not remain confined to the literary domain.
In his acclaimed novel, ‘Karmelin’ (1980), Mauzo writes about the abuse of women who go to work as housemaids in the Middle East. This novel came long before everybody started talking about this issue. His story, ‘The Burger’, is about two school friends, Irene and Sharmila, and the guilt little Irene experiences over ‘polluting’ Sharmila with a beef burger. Another story describes how cow vigilantes intimidated a Dalit youth long before others talked about the phenomenon.
Maybe Mauzo could see beyond the immediate and obvious, which prompted his social and political actions on issues of concern to all of society. That social engagement allowed him to observe the dangers that lurked in our society in the form of the right-wing, and gave him courage to never shy away from boldly speaking out against them.
The arrest of yet another alleged bomb-maker with right-wing links should lead to action at last.
When Crimes shoot up, they become invisible.
When pain becomes unbearable, cries are no longer heard.’
Can the provocations of a cabinet minister, who openly raises controversial slogans, be considered a “breach of peace” or are they merely attempts to “gauge people’s mood”, as the minister would have us believe? For more than a month, plenty of controversial slogans have been raised on the streets of India. People are being instigated to “kill the traitors to the country” by members of the ruling dispensation, who are issuing open threats in public as the masses are getting angrier against the CAA, NRC and the NPR.
As expected, till date, either no action has been taken by the law and order machinery or there is only an expectation of perfunctory action. This new normal is symptomatic of the rapid erosion of the rule of law in the country. A new normal wherein the chief minister of a state has no qualms in talking of taking “revenge” against protesters while his state’s police unleash unjustified violence on protesters and bystanders alike. Each of their tactics has, for this reason, received widespread condemnation. Even though the strong-arm tactics of the state are failing to pass the test of logic or reasonableness, there is still no change in the ruling dispensation’s attitude.
By distributing knives to meritorious children, organisations like the Hindu Mahasabha, are trying to give religious legitimacy to what is essentially a political use of faith.
Image courtesy: Twitter
What does an organisation do when it wants to congratulate meritorious students who have excelled in exams?
Reward them with some gifts, say, books, and (if finances allow) give them scholarships or laptops to facilitate their further studies. Definitely not gift them knives.
Well, Pooja Shakuni Pandey, the national secretary of Hindu Mahasabha, who had been making news for controversial reasons for more than a year, exactly did this on Savarkar Jayanti. This mathematics professor made it clear that she was not much interested in how they study further or what they wanted to become. With this knife distribution programme, along with a copy of Bhagwad Gita, she wanted to ‘create Hindu soldiers out of these children’ and it was basically a “[s]tep to motivate Hindus and empower them, especially the younger generation, with knives to protect themselves.”
A Statement Issued by New Socialist Initiative (NSI) on the recent arrests of human rights defenders and public intellectuals
Democracy Under Siege !
With Ground Slipping Fast Beneath Its Feet, BJP government Resorting to Draconian Measures !
New Socialist Initiative strongly condemns the arbitrary and malicious manner in which the Pune Police, at the behest of its saffron masters, raided the houses of leading human rights activists, lawyers, professors and poets in different cities simultaneously and arrested five of them – Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Varavara Rao – under concocted charges.
स्मशान में कवि सम्मेलन और वह भी अमावस की पूरी रात।
पिछले साल के अन्त में पुणे से आयी इस ख़बर की तरफ बहुत कम लोगों का ध्यान गया था। ( देखें इंडियन एक्स्प्रेस 14 नवम्बर 2015) उधर शहर में लोग दीपावली मना रहे थे और वहां सैकड़ों की तादाद मंे एकत्रित लोगों के बीच कविताएं पढ़ी जा रही थीं, एक कविता संग्रह का विमोचन भी हो रहा था, कुछ सांस्कृतिक समूह भी बीच बीच में अपनी प्रस्तुतियां दे रहे थे। पुणे के उपनगर बोपोडी की स्मशानभूमि का परिसर उस अलग ढंग के कार्यक्रम का गवाह बना था।
‘अमावस्या की पवित्र रात में स्मशान में कवि सम्मेलन’ शीर्षक से आयोजित इस कार्यक्रम के मुख्य आयोजक थे , महाराष्ट्र अंधश्रद्धा निर्मूलन समिति – जिसके निर्माण में शहीद विचारक डा नरेन्द्र दाभोलकर ने पहल ली थी – तथा सिद्धार्थ संघ और सिद्धार्थ महिला संघ। समिति के सदस्यों द्वारा गाया एक गीत काफी चर्चित हुआ, जिसके बोल थे ‘बो रहे हैं हम प्रकाश बीज’। भूतों-प्रेतों के ‘अस्तित्व’ या उनके ‘विचरण’ को लेकर समाज में व्याप्त भ्रांत धारणाओं को चुनौती देने के लिए अंधश्रद्धा निर्मूलन समिति के बैनर तले आयोजित इस कार्यक्रम ने बरबस कुछ समय पहले कर्नाटक के बेलागावी सिटी कार्पोरेशन के अन्तर्गत आते वैंकुंठ धाम स्मशान में हुए एक अन्य आयोजन की याद ताजा कर दी थी, जहां कर्नाटक के उत्पादनशुल्क/एक्साईज मंत्राी जनाब सतीश जरकीहोली ने सैकड़ों लोगों के साथ वहीं रात बीतायी थी अंौर वहां भोजन भी किया था। याद रहे कि महाराष्ट्र की तर्ज पर कर्नाटक विधानसभा में अंधश्रद्धा विरोधी बिल लाने में अत्यधिक सक्रिय रहे मंत्राीमहोदय दरअसल लोगों के मन में व्याप्त इस मिथक को दूर करना चाहते थे कि ऐसे स्थानों पर ‘भूत निवास’ करते हैं। Continue reading रौशनी के बीज बोने का माददा – ‘अंधविश्वास उन्मूलन’ पुस्तकत्रयी के बहाने चन्द बातें →
Anybody with a passing interest in consistency or coherence might be forgiven for being stumped at the political spectacle unfolding right now. Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured us that his government was committed to reservations. The statement was made at a ceremony to inaugurate the Ambedkar memorial at the Indu Mills compound in Mumbai. The fact that ordinary Dalits, in the habit of thronging any joyous celebration on Ambedkar in big numbers, were kept out of the ceremony, is possibly irrelevant. After all, officialese is officialese, and no political party – certainly not the BJP – has a monopoly on stiff-necked commemorations of people’s leaders that want nothing to do with the people. It is Modi’s commitment to reservations and the Indian constitution that is of interest. In some ways a statement of this nature made at the inauguration of an Ambedkar memorial, makes perfect sense. Apart from the occasion and locale, also not coincidental was the timing of Modi’s statement – one that he himself alluded to, when he referred to the bitterly fought Bihar elections now underway, “With a BJP government in power and polls getting under way, a malicious propaganda is being spread that the government is against reservation…”. The fact that the anti-BJP mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) in Bihar has made reservations one of their chief planks, with Lalu Prasad Yadav declaring in his inimitable style that he will kill himself if reservations are removed, is relevant.
Zooming back from the Ambedkar memorial event, the PM was clearly also responding to the threat to his Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas model begun a couple of months ago by the irrepressible Hardik Patel. Patel – erstwhile BJP supporter, self-styled Patidar-Patel revolutionary and a wild child in imminent danger of being silenced (or coopted) by the BJP – was temporarily subdued by the Gujarat administration following the wave of violence over his first call for reservation, but resurfaced a couple of days ago to be the nightmare Modi hadn’t dreamed yet – saying his aim was to expose the “Gujarat model of development”. This is for the current party nothing short of the youngest born of a rambling illustrious family running into the street from the family mansion saying our house is made of mud! our house is made of mud!
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
– Albert Einstein
Words have an uncanny ability of impinging on the receiver with clinical detachment. It is upto the receiver to unpack them or try to derive meaning out of them. It is still difficult to get over the sense of grief and shock one experienced when one received the news of the assassination of renowned rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar on the streets of Pune on Tuesday 20 th August.
Sanatan Sanstha’s link to Margao blast conspiracy just got thicker with all five accused arrested in the case having allegiance to the Hindu right wing organisation operating from Goa police said.
The latest arrest of 20-year old Dhananjay Ashtekar, an engineering student from Khed in Ratnagiri is also associated with Sanatan Sanstha’s activities. Ashtekar was arrested on Wednesday evening by state police’s Special Investigation Team, which is mandated to probe the blast. “He is related to Sanstha and has made it clear during his interrogation,” Superintendent of Police and spokesperson for Goa police department Atmaram Deshpande told PTI on Thursday.
Ashtekar was studying in an engineering college at Ichalkaranji, a town in western Maharashtra. Deshpande said that the youth was being interrogated over blast case and only when there was sufficient material on record to prove his involvement, he was placed under arrest. Ashtekar is the fifth Sanatan Sanstha activist found to be linked with the blast conspiracy which went awry on the eve of Diwali.
How to keep Procrastinating When It Comes To Hindutva Terror ?
With every passing day it is becoming apparent that Indian state has different yardsticks to treat terrorism of the Hindutva kind and that of the ‘Jihadi’ kind. It is not for nothing that more than four weeks after the bomb blasts in Goa – which saw deaths of two activists of Sanatan Sanstha, a emergent fanatic group cloaked in spiritual clothing – there has not been any significant move on part of the Goan government. Continue reading Did Goa Government ‘Partially Finance’SS Terrorists?→
PANAJI: Goa Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders like Manohar Parrikar have expressed support for the Sanatan Sanstha, the Hindu outfit blamed for the pre-Diwali blasts that killed two people on Wednesday.
Virendra Marathe, managing trustee of the Sanstha, named BJP state president Shripad Naik, leader of opposition Parrikar and party legislator Dayanand Mandrekar as politicians who stood by them in the aftermath of the blasts in Margao, 35 km from here.
Police say the blasts were engineered and executed by members of the Sanstha.
“The BJP MLAs supported us. They advised us to sue the media for defamation, for slandering the Sansthan. Dayanand Mandrekar, Parrikar and Shripad Naik supported us,” Marathe said at a press conference in Panaji.
Goa BJP leaders support us: Sanatan Sanstha IANS 28 October 2009, 02:35pm IST ( Times of India, 28 th October 2009)
How much time do the powers that be need to make any significant move when they unearth a conspiracy hatched by a self proclaimed ‘spiritual group’ to massacre dozens of innocent people supposedly to vindicate their weltanshauung and instigate a communal riot? Do they keep quibbling over minor details and let the real masterminds obfuscate their obvious links with the executioners? Do they keep talking in multiple voices and make themselves vulnerable over attacks by oppositional parties supposedly for their ‘dilly-dallying’?
It has been more than a fortnight that one witnessed a blast in Margao, where two people belonging to ‘Sanatan Sanstha’ carrying explosives in their scooter were killed and another bomb was detected – around twenty kilometres from the first spot – in a truck carrying 40 youth and a Narkasur for competition – which exposed a sinister conspiracy to instigate communal riots, but one is yet to see any concrete step on part of the government to nab the real terrorists and break their wider network. Continue reading Resurgent Hindutva Terror: Will Goa Blast Investigations Go the Nanded Way?→
It is really difficult to believe how an organisation which supposedly ‘aims to present religious mysticism in a scientific language for the curious and to guide seekers’ and which ‘conducts weekly spiritual meetings, discourses, child guidance classes, workshops on spirituality, training in self-defense and campaigns to create awareness of righteousness’ to further these aims can double up as an organisation which can invite prosecution under ‘laws meant for unlawful and terrorist organisations’.
But any impartial observer of the activities of ‘Sanatan Sanstha’ and ‘Hindu Janjagruti Samiti’ would concur with the view that these organisations need not be allowed to spread their venomous agenda among innocent people any further. The recent bomb blasts in Maharashtra where members of these organisations have been found to be involved is another reminder about the danger which these organisations present before the communal harmony situation in our country.Continue reading Spiritual As Communal ?→