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A Hindu View of Sanitation: Ardhendu Sen

May 24, 2015

Guest Post by ARDHENDU SEN

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has many components but the main thrust is on the building of new toilets, both public and private. Why is it that we have so few toilets so many decades after independence? Many would blame the policy paralysis of the UPA II government and there is no denying the truth in that charge. Many others would go back decades and ask if any government before the present one ever paid adequate attention to such important social problems. Looking back into our hoary past, we come across an important ancient cause of our present misfortune.

It is now a well-known fact that India had aircrafts and spacecrafts long before other nations could even conceive of flying. The western educated, liberal (meaning Nehruvian) sceptic has only to visit the official website of the Indian Science Congress to convince herself of this. We know about one of these crafts in some detail because the 1903 edition of an old paper by one Rishi Bhardwaj has survived. The paper describes a fairly large craft, sixty feet by sixty feet that could not only fly in air but was suitable for interplanetary travel. This huge flying machine like that must have carried hundreds of people.

It is logical to assume that these crafts were fitted with chemical toilets. An aeroplane may do without one for a while but a spacecraft cannot because there is no force of gravity to help us get rid of the stuff. Ask Sunita Williams and she would be happy to explain it to you.  Read more…

Branding Mother India: Sarojini N, Anindita Majumdar, Veena Johari and Priya Ranjan

May 24, 2015


Indian motherhood is finally, officially being advertised. Recent news reports regarding the launch of the Japanese advertising conglomerate Dentsu Mama Labs in India, have left many of us working on women’s reproductive lives in a serious quandary. How does one explain the unthinking coverage that the firm has received?

This is their pitch (or ‘branding’, as the Corporation puts it):

Dentsu Mama Lab aims to be a thought leader on mothers, motherhood and mothering.

The beautifully shot launch advertisement of pregnant women in a scenic desert village in India, using Japanese products and living in evident prosperity belies the true nature of what Mama Labs is representing, or rather misrepresenting.

Read more…

Remembering People’s Historian Amalendu Guha (1924-2015): Bonojit Hussain and Mayur Chetia

May 21, 2015


A Tribute and a Bibliography

স্বৰ্গত ৰুচি নাই, যাওঁ মই ভাটিখানালৈ

জুৱাৰী-মদপী-বেশ্যা-সিহঁতকো মেলত গোটাই

মনৰ চিতাৰ ছাই উৰুৱাই গাওঁ আশাবৰী :

আকাশত উৰা মাৰে জাকে জাকে ফিনিক্স চৰাই !

Amalendu Guha

Amalendu Guha

I have no desire for heaven,

Instead I go to the brewhouse,

Gamblers, drunkards, prostitutes – bringing them together

I sing of hope, sprinkling ashes from my soul’s pyre:

In flocks the phoenix flies to the sky.

  • “মোৰ কবিতা / My Poetry” Amalendu Guha 1960

Read more…

The Arrest of G. N. Sai Baba – Insane, Inhuman: Nirmalangshu Mukherji

May 18, 2015


N. Sai Baba, an Assistant Professor of English in Ramlal Anand College of Delhi University was arrested by Maharashtra Police in opaque circumstances in May 2014. For the past year, there has been a small but sustained protest against Sai Baba’s arrest. Most recently, a day-long fast was held by some activists and university teachers in front of the Art’s Faculty in Delhi University. Despite impressive campaign in the social media by a group of dedicated individuals, just a few dozen well-known protestors showed up for the fast. The event was barely reported in the mainstream. In staying away from the event, the wider left-liberal fraternity in Delhi, and the rest of the country, has once again failed a vital democratic cause.

Sai Baba is one of those rare individuals in the current Indian academia—otherwise marked by its unconcealed opportunism and abject surrender to the establishment—who is at once a serious scholar, a dedicated and widely-popular teacher, and a death-defying political activist.

Sai Baba believes that Indian society must undergo an armed proletarian revolution along Maoist lines to usher in a new democratic republic as a step toward a classless egalitarian society. He has strengthened his beliefs with a deep study of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and has advocated them in a variety of public forums. Read more…

Nepal – An Earthquake Diary : Mallika Shakya

May 15, 2015

This is a guest post by MALLIKA SHAKYA

The earthquake in Nepal had been overdue for a while. At one level everyone knew that the 7.9 Richter scale jolt came from the continuing collision between the Indian and Himalayan plates. At another level, Nepalis internalized this seismic science by counterposing 2015 with personal memories of the 1934 earthquake which was the last big one in a seismic belt that shuddered every seventy or so years. Every family had stories about how some or other grand old person in the family perished under the rubble while someone else had a narrow escape, how a particular house needed to be rebuilt from scratch while another could be just mended in parts, or how one brave grand uncle mustered the courage to walk into the rubble to pull out a sack of rice so that the family could eat, so on and so forth Read more…

A Short Guide to Appropriate Behaviour in the Wake of A Judgement on Historically Respectable Personalities

May 15, 2015

[ This short guide is being released to the general public which is liable to fall into error and confusion in the wake of the recent Supreme Court judgement in Devidas Ramachandra Tuljapurkar vs. State of Maharashtra restricting freedom of speech and expression pertaining to what the Honourable Justices who have looked at this case call ‘historically respectable personalities’.]

1. Petition all history departments to start courses in historical respectability so that you know who is who and what is what.

2. Having carefully studied the history of respectability, separate out all historically respectable personalities. Genuflect.

3. Then, from those that remain, make a list of historically disrespectable personalities, starting with yourself.

4. Refer to a historically respectable dictionary of slang – for instance, ‘Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang’ by Jonathan Green, the works of William Shakespeare, or a set of curses of the historically respectable Muni Durvasa

5. Choose at least ten colorful insults, curses and terms of abuse, from the above. and construct a poem, written in the ‘voice’ of a historically disrespectable person.

6. Print in large characters, along with an image of a historically disrespectable personality.

7. Stand singly, or in groups, with the large character posters with the poems in the ‘voice’ of  historically disreputable personalities in meditative silence in front of the honorable Supreme Court of India, and in other public spaces, while considering the sagacious wisdom of our historically respectable judiciary.

8. Be ever grateful that you know now that you can always protect your constitutionally guaranteed and judicially protected freedom of speech by ventriloquizing to your hearts content in the abusive voice of a historically disrespectable personality.

9. And learn this formula by heart – “The dignity of historically respectable personalities cannot be protected without the self-flagellation and abuse of historically disrespectable personalities, which includes the majority of all populations, in all societies, in all times.”
10.  Never disobey a law, or a judgement. Only take obedience to its logical conclusion.

Position Paper on Higher Education: Academics for Creative Reform

May 14, 2015

“The manner in which the state is intervening in higher education is causing concern and even alarm in the academic community. Both the unlamented UPA—II regime and the current NDA government have been remarkably similar in their authoritarian impatience to introduce wholesale changes without adequate or careful preparation. This position paper is the collective product of roughly six months of discussion among teachers of several central universities in Delhi. It is an attempt to participate in the process of critical self evaluation of the university system as it is today. It is also our considered response to the many policy statements and directives issued by the MHRD and the UGC recently”

Please click on the link below for the complete position paper on proposed reforms in higher education, prepared by Delhi-based Academics for Creative Reform and released at a press conference today:



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