Parents are valuable allies in the Disability Rights Movement thanks to their intimate engagement with persons with disability. To view them as representatives of a ‘disabling’ society does them a grave injustice. However, the heated debates over the new Rights for Persons with Disabilities Bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha have seen a confrontation of stances between two groups along these lines.
The first group consists of vocal self-advocates who point out a number of weaknesses and contradictions in the Bill from a Rights perspective, citing the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability ratified by India in 2007.
The other group is a loose coalition of ‘cross-disability’ activists including lobbying for a speedy passage of the Bill, with crucial amendments, in what is the last session of this Parliament and of the government of the day, which just happens to be UPA.
It is important to note that this Bill has not just dropped down from the heavens; it is the end result of years of protracted consultations, contestations, confrontation by stake-holders across the sector. I do not propose here to go into the pros and cons of its provisions; rather, I wish to highlight a rather disturbing trend that I discern in the frenetic exchanges between some self-advocates in the sector and parent activists on the social media. Read more…
Guest Post by SAJAN VENNIYOOR
“There is no Hindu canon,” declares Wendy Doniger in The Hindus. “The Vedas did not constitute a closed canon, and there was no central temporal or religious authority to enforce a canon had there been one.”
This is a curious argument in defence of heterodoxy. Canons don’t spring fully formed like Athena from the head of Zeus, or drop from the lips of a passing Archangel. Someone has only to do the hard work, and it’s never too late to make a nice hard canon.
As Doniger says, Hinduism as we know it today “is composed of local as well as pan-Indian traditions, oral as well as written traditions, vernacular as well as Sanskrit traditions, and nontextual as well as textual sources.” That’s good news – plenty of material there to choose a canon from.
Back in the 16th century, the Church found itself up the creek without a canon. Plagued by fifteen hundred years of heresies and heterodoxies, disagreements over the sacraments and the scriptures, not to mention a perfect storm of lusty, busty images in Renaissance religious art, the Catholic Church sat in ecumenical council between 1545 and 1563 and decided, once and for all, what was IN and what was OUT.
Index of Prohibited Books
It took the Church just over 1500 years – from the crucifixion of its founder to the Council of Trent – to decide which of its written books and unwritten traditions were truly sacred and which were profane (and which were to be banned). Read more…
[Unfortunately no one in this country is a stranger to the levels of idiocy to which politicians descend in their scramble to find someone to blame for their own defeats (electoral or otherwise). Now, the BJP MLA from Delhi, Harsh Vardhan has, in his wisdom, decided that the way to take on the challenge of the emergence of the AAP is to attack a 24 year old doctoral student as a CIA-agent bent on destabilizing the Indian government. This would be completely ludicrous if it were also not dangerous for the student in question. And finally, one wonders if Mr. Vardhan realizes what an anachronism he is: "CIA-agents" were the stock figures of abuse of conspiracy theorists in the 70s and 80s, in 2014 he is only 20 years out of date. Please find below her statement in response to this bizzarre allegation. Hopefully this is the last we will hear from Mr Vardhan.]
This week my name started trending on Twitter after an Indian politician alleged that I was part of an elaborate CIA plot to destabilize the country. The truth is that as a 19-year-old undergraduate in 2010 I spent two sweaty months living in New Delhi, while volunteering for a non-profit I found on the Internet called Kabir. I have recently learned that my former boss and his associates are now leading a political party called the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that is having some success. Read more…
A Letter to my Indian students on the linguistic effects of shots fired from the deck of an oil-tanker : Alberto Prunetti
This is a guest post by ALBERTO PRUNETTI
[Translated into English by Francesco Giannatiempo, Eva Salzman and Tommaso Sbriccoli]
Dear Boys and Girls,
For many months I was your teacher in Mumbai and Bangalore. Most of you came from Kerala. Some among your parents were fishermen. I remember the sacrifices of your relatives who had hopes for your future, who worked hard to help you achieve degrees in nursing or Italian. I remember that Italy and Europe represented for you a potential turning point in your lives and careers. I also remember that Italian propositions cause many problems for you, as does for many students. To introduce yourself, you would say “Sono nato a Kerala” [I was born at Kerala]. But, as I explained to you, the grammar rule foresees the use of the preposition “in [in Italian] + name of State” and “a [in Italian] + name of city”. So, one would say, “Sono nato a Roma” [I was born in Rome]. Given that Kerala is a State (to be clear, India is a confederation of States, like the US) one has to say “Sono nato in Kerala, a Trivandrum” [I was born in Trivandrum, Kerala,], as one would say “Sono nato in Colorado, a Boulder” [I was born in Boulder, Colorado].
मैं 2014 की सबसे महत्वपूर्ण किताब पढ़ रहा हूँ. यह है मनोज मित्ता की किताब द फिक्शन ऑफ़ फैक्ट फाइंडिंग: मोदी एंड गोधरा यह सौभाग्य बहुत कम किताबों को मिलता है कि वे अपने समाज की अंतरात्मा की आवाज़ की तरह उभरें जब ऐसा लगे कि वह पूरी तरह सो चुकी है. वे हमें खुद अपने सामने खड़ा कर देती हैं और मजबूर करती हैं कि हम अपने आपको पहचानें,खुद को दिए जाने वाले धोखे से निकल सकें और खुद को इम्तहान की खराद पर चढ़ा सकें.ऐसी किताब लिखने के लिए निर्मम तटस्थता चाहिए और सत्य के लिए अविचलित प्रतिबद्धता. इसमें तात्कालिक आग्रहों से स्वयं को मुक्त रखना एक चुनौती है.
सत्य की खोज के मायने क्या हैं? क्या यह सिर्फ इरादे से जुड़ा मसला है? अभी हम आध्यात्मिक स्तर पर सत्य की खोज की बात नहीं कर रहे.वहाँ भी यह मात्र नेक इरादे से हासिल नहीं किया जा सकता.दुनियावी मसलों में, खासकर राज्य के संदर्भ में इसका क्या अर्थ है? ऐसे अवसर आते हैं जब उसकी भूमिका और निर्णयों पर प्रश्नचिह्न लगता है और सच जानने की मांग होती है. उस वक्त अपेक्षा की जाती है कि वह ऐसे उपाय करेगा कि उसके सीधे प्रभाव से मुक्त प्रक्रियाओं के माध्यम से सत्य का पता किया जा सके.आधुनिक राजकीय संरचना में न्यायालय को अपेक्षाकृत स्वायत्त संस्था माना जाता है,ऐसी व्यवस्था जो कार्यपालिका के सीधे नियंत्रण में नहीं है और इसलिए जो उसके बारे में भी सच बोल सकती है. लेकिन क्या भारत में यह हो पाया है? क्या सबसे संकटपूर्ण क्षणों में न्यायपालिका से जुड़े लोग इस भूमिका का निर्वाह कर पाए हैं? Read more…
Guest Post by Rijul Kochhar
In the lives of the disabled, the disability certificate is a commanding entity. It is the artefact of government and the state that interprets the myriad experiences of persons dealing with disabilities, translating and transforming those experiences into a public fact. Thus, the disability certificate offers a particular form and definition of disability, with its attendant mathematical percentage, supplanting the shards of experience with bureaucratic rationality and certitude. This transformation of messy lived experience into mathematical and medical certainty, at once, also affects that larger lived experience of lives lived with a disability.
Whose “Hurt Sentiment”? On Pulping of Wendy Doniger’s Book: Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge (ASEAK)
Issued by Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge (ASEAK)
From Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses to Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History, we are witness to an increasingly regressive trend of banning books, films and art in the name of ‘hurt sentiments’. However, while in a plural and diverse society as ours where sentiments are routinely hurt, when do certain instances of ‘hurt sentiments’ translate into the clamping down of such ‘hurtful’ narratives, leading to their censorship and banning? The aggressive intolerance towards any effort that challenges the dominant discourse on religion, caste, gender, sexuality, nation, etc. points us in a direction where knowledge produced takes the shape of propaganda. In the face of this attack, let us reclaim our right to think, question, challenge and criticize – the pillars of knowledge production. Read more…