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…
I mean evil is not radical, going to the roots …that it has no roots, and that for this very reason it is so terribly difficult to think about it, because thinking, by definition, wants to reach the roots. Evil is a surface phenomenon, and instead of being radical, it is merely extreme. We resist evil by not being swept away by the surface of things, by stopping ourselves and beginning to think, that is by reaching another dimension than the horizon of everyday life. In other words, the more superficial someone is, the more likely will he be to yield to evil …
Hannah Arendt Read more…
Perhaps the clearest statement on what exactly it is in Wendy Doniger’s work that bothers some people – and who these people are – is outlined in Jakob De Roover’s empathetic account of the imagined ‘Hindu boy with intellectual inclinations’ born in the 1950′s. This boy grows up going to the temple, hearing stories about Bhima’s strength, Krishna’s appetite, Durvasa’s temper. If you were this boy,
Perhaps you rejoice when Rama rescues Sita, feel afraid when Kali fights demons, or cry when Drona demands Ekalavya’s thumb as gurudakshina.
The boy goes to school and learns about caste discrimination in Hinduism (that he had to go to school to learn about caste discrimination establishes his own caste position very clearly). This makes
You feel bad about your “backward religion” and ashamed about “the massive injustice of caste.”
You sense that it misrepresents you and your traditions—it distorts your practices, your people, and your experience…Everywhere you turn, people just reproduce the same story about Hinduism and caste as the worst thing that ever happened to humanity: politicians, activists, teachers, professors, newspapers, television shows… Read more…
Guest post by ASHWINI SUKHTANKAR AND PETER ROSENBLUM
Almost four years ago, we first traveled to Rungamuttee, a tea estate in the Dooars, so far north that it nuzzles the Bhutan border. The region has recently fallen prey to the craze of “tea tourism,” and the estates jostle for space with eco-green-homestay lodges that lure middle class families with the opportunity to play at a mythic British sahib-memsahib life, sitting on verandahs sipping tea while gazing out over vast reaches of picturesque monoculture, with rows of squat green bushes as far as the eye can see.
We were not unmoved by the beauty and the weight of history, but we were there to talk to workers and to understand what plantation life meant for them in the 21st century.
At Rungamuttee, we sat perched in red plastic chairs, almost brushing knees with a sinewy old man, also in a red plastic chair in the tiny “labour quarters” that he shared with his children and grandchildren.
The old man at Rungamuttee in his red chair
He leaned forward and unfurled the frayed scroll in his hand. It was his “depot challan,” the document that he had been given when he showed up at the labour depot in Ranchi in 1955, and it told him that he had been assigned a job as a tea labourer in Jalpaiguri District, more than three days’ journey away. Read more…
Kafila normally does not carry guest posts that have appeared elsewhere, but I think JANAKI NAIR’s article from The Telegraph needs to be read widely - a scholarly, lively, feminist take on sexuality in Hindu traditions.
It is our good fortune that our knowledge of Hinduism does not come from the authorized versions that Dina Nath Batra and his Shiksha Bachao Andolan wish to propagate. Neither does our collective imagination remain reined in by his fantasies about the Indian past. This large and luxuriantly complex society, even when all else has been brutally taken from its wretched millions, has its imagination intact. And, we fervently hope, for some time to come. Therein lies the challenge to our desperately needed “historical temper”.
As an 18-year-old, I had read the sexually frank passages of the Rig Veda with wonder and amazement. In a small village called Sanehalli, Karnataka, where the performing arts have been vigorously patronized by Swami Panditaradhya, I recently watched, along with the people from surrounding villages, the Kathakali performance at the annual theatre festival, in which Shakuntala incrementally raised the decibel level and shouted “Anarya!” at Dushyanta, violating all norms of womanly behaviour and appropriate performance voice. There was thunderous appreciative clapping at the end. I have filed past, with lots of ardent devotees of Krishna, the brilliant murals at the Cochin Palace at Mattancherry, where Krishna does not waste a single digital extremity of his eight hands and two feet in pleasing his gopis (his two flute playing hands excepted). Ditto the Guruvayur Temple, whose sexually explicit murals are now, alas, being modestly covered in (NRI-sponsored) gold plate. The erotic sculptures at the Nellaiappar Temple at Tirunelveli, the great Chalukyan temples at Aihole Pattadakkal and Badami, all visited daily by hundreds of chattering and irreverent school children, continue to stand as testimony to what our illustrious forebears were also preoccupied with. One could go onad nauseum, about the little and great traditions of Indian mythology which are not only sexually explicit but bloodstained to boot. It is Wendy Doniger’s triumph that she brings us these complexities in just one book. Read more…
Guest post by ANURAG MODI
हमारा विकास का मॉडल और हमारी राजनीति, सविंधान कि मूलभावना के ही विपरीत है. सविधान में जहाँ, समाजवादी गणराज्य की स्थापना, जिसमे हर नागरिक को आर्थिक, सामाजिक और राजनैतिक बराबरी के अधिकार होंगे, की बात है. हमारी राजनीति, यह भूल गई विकास के वैकल्पिक मॉडल के बिना न तो समाजवाद आएगा, और न ही राजनैतिक और सामाजिक और आर्थिक बराबरी स्थापित होगी. बल्कि, हम पिछले ६६ सालों से विकास की मृग-मरीचिका के पीछे भागते रहे, और देश के संसाधन की महालूट का तमाशा अनवरत ज़ारी रहा; जिसके चलते 1% लोगों के हाथों में देश के संसाधन से उपजी कमाई जमा हो गई. और देश की आम-जनता, विकास और राजनीति के हाशिए पर तमाशबीन बनी खडी रही.
यह स्थीति पिछले 10 सालों (2001-11) में और बिगड़ी है : कृषी प्रधान देश होने के बावजूद, 2,70, 940 किसानों ने आत्महत्या कर ली; जितने लोग रोजगार में लगे हो उससे ज्यादा बेरोजगार हो; गैरबराबर बढी हो;शिक्षा, स्वास्थ्य, बिजली, पानी, सड़क, यहाँ-तक की राशन जैसी सामाजिक सुरक्षा के कामों से सरकार गायब हो गई- उसे निजी हाथों में दे दिया हो. Read more…