Guest post by Kasturi
One of the slogans churned out of the womb of turbulent Paris in the Maydays of 1968 was ‘Don’t trust anyone over 30’. The student uprising of May ‘68 with its audacity and exaggeration might have failed. Yet the mahamichhil (grand rally) called by students which took command over the heart and pulse of Kolkata on 20th September was a literal, vivid, living embodiment of this slogan. As I stood with a video camera on a spot on the Jawaharlal Nehru Road, with hope to capture the moments and 50,000 faces that made history with each footstep, all I could see was an ocean of people most of who had perhaps not even reached their twenty fifth year, and many of who were walking their very first rally. Those slightly older, those weathered yet young at heart paced alongside them in solidarity. ‘Such a student gathering – so huge, determined and disciplined – I have not seen in my life’, wrote poet Sankha Ghosh, ‘This really moved me. It’s very early to say if this will mark the beginning of a new era but I will reiterate this is one of the biggest student rallies I have seen in my life’.
The rally was replete with slogans reflecting basic demands of the movement, but there was a unifying chant, rather a call to action, that instantly bonded with and caught the fancy of the first timers that hit the street – Hok, Hok, Hok Kolorob (‘let there be clamour’). A call, ripped off from a popular song by Bangladeshi singer Ornob and used as hashtag on social media to mobilize – was surreal, refreshing, imaginative enough to break the deafening silence, stupor and suffocation strangling students’ aspirations for democracy, freedom of expression and association across education campuses of Bengal. The other interesting aspect of this call was that unlike regular slogans where someone leads and the rest follow, here there was no single lead but many voices all chanting the four words in unison, accompanied by clapping of hands. As a comrade observed, ‘the zeitgeist and slogan of the contemporary present is #hokkolorob’!’ (‘Kolorob’/ ‘kalrav’, roughly translated here as ‘clamour’, conveys the sense of a symphony of birdsong in many Indian languages.) Continue reading Jadavpur’s Infectious Autumn Thunder Goes Viral: Kasturi