Guest Post by N. Balmurli
Delhi chief minister Mr. Kejriwal’s claim that “khaps serve a cultural purpose” reproduces some popular myths about culture and caste. These myths predate AAP and have been put into place over the last few years by official and expert statements in public discourse such that they are now part of a “commonsense” of worldviews about caste and culture.
Consider two other statements made by political figures whose parties are at pains to show how retrograde AAP’s statements are.
Demand to Reconsider and Revise Sections 153a and 295a of the Indian Penal Code to Protect Freedom of Expression in India: Concerned Academics and Public Intellectuals
Statement by Concerned Academics and Public Intellectuals: Ananya Vajpeyi, Sheldon Pollock, Partha Chatterjee, Laurie Patton, Romila Thapar, David Shulman and many others
We the undersigned are appalled by the recent settlement reached between Dina Nath Batra for the Shiksha Bachao Andolan and Penguin Books India, to cease the publication of Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History (Penguin USA 2009; Penguin India 2010), and to withdraw and destroy remaining copies of the book on Indian territory. Read more…
THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN COLLECTIVELY WRITTEN BY THE PEOPLE WHOSE NAMES APPEAR AT THE END
In the aftermath of the suicide of Khurshid Anwar, friend and comrade to many of us, on December, 18th 2013, there has been a concerted attack by some democratic and secular people on ‘feminists’ who supposedly drove him to take this extreme step. The charge is that feminists did not support him when an accusation of rape was made against him by a young woman, and exacerbated the situation by their irresponsible handling of the issue.
As feminists, we feel it necessary at this trying time to recognize that this pitched battle is after all, taking place amongst allies in a bigger struggle for democracy and secularism, and to think seriously about how we can move ahead. Rather than being a definitive statement of any kind, this collectively written piece is an attempt to think through a very messy situation. Read more…
Advocate LAWRENCE LIANG has served this legal notice to Penguin Books, India, on behalf of Shuddhabrata Sengupta and Aarti Sethi.
Under instructions from, for and on behalf of my clients Sh. Shuddhabrata Sengupta and Ms. Aarti Sethi, both residing at New Delhi, I serve upon you this legal notice for the following reasons and purposes:
- My client, Mr. Sengupta, is an artist and writer based in New Delhi with a longstanding interest in the comparative history of religions. Ms. Sethi is an anthropologist with a deep interest in Hindu philosophy. Both Mr. Sengupta and Ms. Sethi are avid bibliophiles, ardent supporters of freedom of speech and expression and have in the past been admirers of Penguin Books.
- My clients were delighted when YOU NOTICEE published Wendy Doniger’s “The Hindus: An Alternative History” and as people who have closely followed the scholarly contributions of the said author they regard this book to be a significant contribution to the study of Hinduism. They consider Ms. Doniger’s translations of Indian classical texts and her work on various facets of Hinduism from morality in the Mahabarata to the erotic history of Hinduism as an inspiration for their own intellectual pursuits.
- It has come to the notice of my clients that YOU NOTICEE have withdrawn publication of the book “The Hindus: An Alternative history” pursuant to an agreement entered between YOU NOTICEE and Shri. Dinanath Batra; O.P.Gupta, Sharvan Kumar and a few other busybody etcetera’s on the 4th of February 2014. YOU NOTICEE have further agreed not to sell, publish or distribute the book and also to pulp all unsold copies of the book. Read more…
This is a guest post by R UMA MAHESHWARI
The Andhra Pradesh ministers are fighting like the hooligans they show in Telugu films (one is reminded, in particular, of an old Telugu film aptly named Assembly Rowdy). The fight is all over, and about, investments in Hyderabad and elsewhere. As it is about money. The Parliament fight is with pepper sprays and knives. Back there, on the ground, in tribal villages in AP (yet to be declared as either Seemandhra or Telangana), absolutely unarmed Koyas, Kondareddis, and a few other tribal communities are opposing the construction of the Polavaram dam. And have been marking their protests with dharnas, rasta rooks and burning of effigies of leaders of all political parties. The former have some plum real estate and business interests to protect; the latter have their everything to fight for – homes, land and histories. Not for a while, in the entire debate and fighting over the state of either unification or creation of Telangana have any of these picketers in the Parliament have sought the opinions of the tribal people whose land is today a battleground for investment. One has no qualms of using the peculiar Sanskritic terminology, in the Vedic sense of sacrificial rituals, conducted by the wealthy and upper castes for their benefits, in the name of the ‘common good’. A Former Chief Minister of the state of Andhra Pradesh, YSR, too, used the same Sanskritic term (in spite of his being a Christian) for the irrigation projects (or contractor businesses) he initiated (86 nos.) under jalayagam. Today the sacrificial ritual continues, and it is a human sacrifice, of more than three hundred thousand tribal people (as it is the sacrifice of animals and birds and every visible or invisible organism), in return for the illusory real-estate-driven world called ‘Greater’ Hyderabad; what if it is going to be a “joint capital for ten years” (and who has seen what the world will look like after ten years, any way? Or what shape it will assume? But these are matters of philosophy and metaphysics, I guess, talking of who knows where we will be, what will be…). Read more…
“This is not a pipe” (Rene Magritte)
This is not Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus. An Alternative History
None of the following are, either. They are links from which you can download the entire text:
WENDY DONIGER: Finally, I am glad that, in the age of the Internet, it is no longer possible to suppress a book. The Hindus is available on Kindle; and if legal means of publication fail, the Internet has other ways of keeping books in circulation.
People in India will always be able to read books of all sorts, including some that may offend some Hindus.
Guest Post by Arjun Rajkhowa
I read with interest Lawrence Liang and Golan Nauluk’s piece in The Hindu (4 February 2014, ‘Cultural ignorance and prejudice’). They rightly point out the various gaps and fissures in our understanding of racism and its impact on those whose identities are often placed outside the “rubric of Indian nationhood”. They also suggest, insightfully, that the “complicated history of the northeast with its various self-determination movements and armed struggles requires a slightly different imagination of multicultural citizenship”.
Using this as a point of departure, I’d like to discuss another dimension of the “cultural difference” they foreground in their piece – the manner in which Indian nationhood is constructed in the northeast. Manifold exclusionary tendencies manifest themselves in northeastern politics and, for someone who is from the region, it is impossible to disentangle these from current discussions on racism. While it is important to interrogate the existence of prejudicial attitudes towards northeasterners in a city like Delhi, such questioning cannot be extricated from the larger context of the conceptualization of nationhood and identity within the northeast, for the two are closely imbricated issues.