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Women Strike Back!

February 1, 2015

Just to share with Kafila readers two wonderful performances against misogyny by two cool young women, Rene Verma and Vasundhara Kaul, putting down sexism with a light touch that cuts very deep indeed – take a look at the string of comments that follow Vasundhara’s performance , from scared and threatened men unable to deal with it.

These are already ‘going viral’ as they say – just wanted to add Kafila’s contribution to viralizing them!

Here’s Rene Verma taking on Honey Singh. Unfortunately we cannot skip the compulsory advertisement for Modi and His Technicolour Dream Coat That Costs as Much as a Small Village Hospital.

(Oh, okay, the ad seems to have gone now, but that coat – that coat!! Ain’t going nowhere, to use the slang of the land of Modi’s new unilateral BFF).


Here’s an interview with Rene Verma on The Ladies Finger:

I’ve always been invested in performance art and its relation to policy and society. My piece was never intended to be a takedown of an individual rapper or two, it was a beleaguered response to a culture that privileges narratives of violence, restrictive norms, and ideals of beauty that are often untenable. Pop music, and pop culture at large has been perceived as a sanitized area of operation, where anything and everything goes, but songs and the discourses they promote operate in insidious ways. There is a silencing of body diversity, queer voices, dissent, and anything perceived as ‘not-the-normative’, both in overt and covert ways. I love rap, but I often find myself confounded over the lyrics packaged within these catchy, and annoyingly pervasive songs. This piece was actually part of an inter-college competition where I was given an hour to prepare a spoken word piece on the theme, “Portrait of a ‘Lady’”. And I thought it would be nice to construct a normative portrait of a ‘lady’ through a rap parody and deconstruct it through contrasting voices.

And here is Vasundhara Kaul, telling “Men With their Big Penises – rahendo beta, tum se nahin ho payega…”



Gandhi’s Assassins

January 31, 2015

“It is far too early to dismiss the possibility of a future Hindu State in India. However, the possibility does not appear a strong one. The secular state has far more than an even chance of survival in India” (India as Secular State, 1963).

It was the early sixties when American political scientist Donald Eugene Smith commented about the “possibility of a Hindu state in India”. Today, even to a layperson, the secular state in India seems to be standing on very weak foundations, and the possibility of a Hindu State is far stronger than it was half a century ago, in 1963.

Perhaps, a pertinent expression of this transformation of India is the metamorphosis we witness in the image of Nathuram Godse – the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, as part of a conspiracy which was hatched by many bigwigs of the Hindutva Supremacist movement. The makeover in the image is for eveyone to see: from a murderer, a conspirator, terrorist to a ‘martyr’ who supposedly ‘deserves’ a temple in his name everywhere. We also learn that after the ‘successful’ run of a drama in Marathi called Me Nathuram Boltoy (I Nathuram Speak) for the last few years, plans are afoot to have a movie made on him, supposedly to communicate his ‘viewpoint’. With the changed political situation, where even the censor board of the country is populated by rightwing people, one can guess that it won’t have any difficulty in release. And with an ambience which is more prone to illiberal ideas, one can as well prophesy that it will have a good run.

Read the full text here.

Confronting Gandhi’s Ghost

January 30, 2015

” I imagine you believe that he was for the most part adored; in fact he was hated and he is still hated today. Hatred is still alive in India and he died of it. Those who were for mostly from those what is called the scheduled castes, those who belonged to the gutters with whom he had sided. Yet he did not ask anything of anyone; he simply went his own way….But the simple fact that he lived according to his own law—which was ascetic and demanding of himself was something people could not tolerate.”  French writer Helene Cixous turns to Gandhi to compare his life with the ways of writing that “may hurt, may dissatisfy and give the feeling that something is taken away.”

Read more…

@NarendraModi, or how I learned to stop worrying and love the brand: Joyojeet Pal

January 30, 2015

Guest post by Joyojeet Pal

Political Social Media had a minor event this week. The world’s two most followed elected leaders on social media, shared the media centerstage. Barack Obama, with 45 million fans on Facebook and 54 million followers on Twitter, and his Indian counterpart Modi, with 27 million on Facebook and another 9.8 million on Twitter, together command the arguably most powerful political brands on social media. In a rare moment of realpolitik bromance, Narendra Modi sent Barack Obama a smiley for quoting Shah Rukh Khan in the Lok Sabha. A day later, Narendra Modi became the first Indian politician to use Twitter’s new video feature in a carefully cut 30-second monologue.

Modi campaign’s exceptional presence on social media is not news. He is India’s most “liked” person on Facebook. While he still trails actors Amitabh Bachchan the Khan troika and the Dalai Lama from among India’s resident Tweeters, his average of adding 20,000 followers daily for much of the last year should put him safely past his competition by the end of the year.

Read more…

Climate Change – Keep the Climate, Change the Economy: Sagar Dhara

January 29, 2015

Guest post by SAGAR DHARA

Contrasting outcomes of recent global warming meetings

Two recent meetings on global warming, one scientific and the other political, are of great public interest as they have a bearing on human society’s future course to become a sustainable global community. The meetings stand in sharp contrast with each other in terms of the clarity of their outcomes.

The first meeting was held by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body of over 2,000 scientists. IPCC released its fifth assessment’s synthesis report in Copenhagen end-October 2014. The report states unequivocally that “Human influence on the climate system is clear.” Further, it warns that the emission of another 1,000 Giga tonnes1 (Gt) of carbon dioxide (CO2), referred to as the carbon space, is likely to raise average global surface temperatures by 2oC above pre-industrial times. This is considered dangerous to the environment and human society.

Since the industrial revolution began in the mid-18th Century, humans have used 35% of the known 1,700 Gt of conventional fossil fuel reserves, and cut a third of the then existing 60 million km2 of forests to emit 2,000 Gt CO2. The consequent 0.85oC average global temperature rise over pre-industrial times has triggered significant changes in the physical, biological and human environments. For example, rainfall variation has increased, extreme weather events are more frequent, pole-ward migration of species is noticeable and their extinction rate is higher, human health, food and water security are at greater risk, crop yield variations are higher, a 19 cm mean sea rise and a 40% reduction in Arctic’s summer ice extent have occurred over the last century, glaciers have shrunk by 275 Gt per annum in the last two decades, and social conflicts have increased. Read more…

Storm in a Kahwa Cup: Organizers of the Kashmiri Food Counter at the International Food Festival, JNU 2015

January 25, 2015

Guest Post by Organizers of the Kashmiri Food Counter at the International Food Festival, JNU 2015

Universities are supposed to be the centers of free inquiry, speech and expression. However, in the recent months universities and other democratic spaces have been under attack from right wing fascist elements across India. University authorities under the influence of right wing forces have increased surveillance on sections of students and have started to monitor and control campuses. As a premier institute of learning Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has always has preserved its democratic culture and has resisted such attacks tooth and nail. However, in recent days even JNU is experiencing pressures from the right wing fascist forces.

Every year, JNU organizes an International Food Festival (IFF) where students from diverse cultures and nations displaying their flags come together to offer global cuisines. This year on 20thJanuary, a group of students from Kashmir booked a counter at the IFF. After completing necessary formalities and depositing security amount the festival organizers allotted space for Kashmir food counter along with the Tibet food counter. However, International students association (ISA), body that organizes the festival started receiving threats from the ABVP goons. The president and other members of the organization were harassed and intimidated. The organizers received open warnings from ABVP threatening them with disrupting the festival in case Kashmiris were allowed to open their food counter. International students who organize the festival were threatened with legal action and deportation. Just two days before the festival the booking for Kashmiri food counter was cancelled by the organization. Read more…

Long Live Charlie Hebdo : Harsh Kapoor

January 25, 2015

A letter to the left leaning in wake of Charlie Hebdo shootings of January 2015

Guest Post by HARSH KAPOOR

The January 2015 terror attack on the Paris satirical weekly and its gross misinterpretation by people of Left liberal sensibilities in India and much of the world.

We recently witnessed a devastating terror assault by fanatics who gunned down close to 200 children in a school in Peshawar. Was this a desperate cry of the dispossessed in Pakistan? I am glad that the various tiny fractions of the left in Pakistan stood up and condemned it openly, some in India also stood up for the first time. It provoked widespread shock and disdain.

But the terrorist assassination of 12 cartoonists, journalists and workers at Charlie Hebdo in Paris on 7 January 2015 has provoked very different reactions. Geographical location of the murder seems to drive this.

I am utterly astounded and shocked at the manner in which many in the left leaning and liberal circles in India have reacted to the devastating terror attack in Paris. Has a section of left gone mad? Why do they have to deflect a straight forward issue and start providing rationalisation for terror attacks from the Muslim fundamentalists. We are being given an endless spiel on French colonisation, the war for decolonization in Algeria, the exclusion of the so-called Muslim ‘community’ in France, the blowback for France’s foolish involvement in the recent wars in Libya and Syria and so on. The role of poor and dispossessed is being invoked.

( Read the full article here :


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