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We, Naked Women : P Padmarajan

January 27, 2016

[P Padmarajan passed away on 24 January, 1991. In his extraordinary and brief life, he attained the status of a living legend in Kerala. Celebrated much more as a cine director and a script-writer of some of Malayalam’s most memorable films, he was however, one of Malayalam’s finest fiction-writers. In many ways, as a writer, Padmarajan was ahead of his times; no wonder then,  he never received the recognition that he richly deserved as a writer. Read more…

Sandeep Pandey threatened by RSS persons on IIT-BHU campus

January 27, 2016

Close on the heels of the planned disruption of a speech by Siddharth Varadrajan, noted journalist and ex-editor of ‘The Hindu’ on the Allahabad University campus by members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad  (http://thewire.in/2016/01/23/editors-guild-condemns-abvp-threats-to-the-wires-founding-editor-20015/) has come the news that Sandeep Pandey, who has been working as a guest faculty in IIT-BHU for the last two and half years was recently threatened allgegedly by members of the same fraternity on the university campus itself.

It may be added here that Sandeep Pandey’s services were abruptly terminated by the university on the charge of being a naxalite and being involved in ‘anti-national’ activities (http://kafila.org/2016/01/11/letter-against-dismissal-of-prof-sandeep-pandey/). Looking at the aggressive manner in which members of the Hindutva fraternity seem to be moving it is quite possible that their threats will not remain merely at the level of words and one definitely perceives a danger to Sandeep’s well being at their hands. Read more…

Saluting Rohith Vemula on Republic Day: Meena Kandasamy and Ravichandran Bathran

January 26, 2016

Meena Kandasamy in The Hindu:

Rohith, you have left behind your dream of becoming a science writer like Carl Sagan, and left us with only your words. Each of our words now carries the weight of your death, every tear carries your unrealised dream. We will become the explosive stardust that you speak of, the stardust that will singe this oppressive system of caste. Within every university, every college, every school in this country, each of our slogans will carry the spirit of your struggle. Dr. Ambedkar spoke of caste as the monster that crosses ones path every way one turns, and within the agraharams that are the Indian educational institutions, our very physical presence must embody the message of caste annihilation. Let every despicable casteist force wince when they encounter a Dalit, a Shudra, an Adivasi, a Bahujan, a woman staking claim within academia, let them realise that we have come here to end a system that has kept trying hard to put an end to us, that we have come here to cause nightmares to those who dared to snatch our dreams. Let them realise that Vedic times, the era of pouring molten lead into the ears of the Shudras who hear the sacred texts, the era of cutting the tongues of those who dared to utter the knowledge that was denied to them, are long gone. Let them understand that we have stormed these bastions to educate, to agitate, to organise; we did not come here to die. We have come to learn, but let the monsters of caste and their henchmen bear in mind that we have come here also to teach them an unforgettable lesson.

Read the rest of this tribute here.

RAVICHANDRAN BATHRAN in Tehelka

A person who is conscious of and sensitive about caste discrimination is certain to become alienated in every psychological, emotional, social and political sense in today’s campuses that breed free-market-loving, reservation hating students who benefit from caste-intensive social networks. This is why the Dalit and anti-caste students’ movement is crucial in democratising our campuses. These outfits question the present, past and future of the society we live in. They may be few in number and not always successful, but their actions are solely committed to the welfare of Dalit students as they have no other support system in our campuses. I am proud to say that many like me are the product of such movements in the universities.

Read the whole article here

Manipur Tribals Protest on Republic Day: Ajita Banerjie

January 26, 2016

Guest Post by AJITA BANERJIE

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As the country prepares itself in all the glory to celebrate Republic Day, nine bodies remain unburied in Churachandpur. With what started as a local strife between the protesting tribals and the police, the struggle is now for a graver concern – land, rights and identity.

On 31st August 2015, several young people from the tribal communities in Churachandpur took to the streets protesting against the three controversial bills. The Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015, the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2015, and the Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015, were passed unanimously by the Manipur Assembly and were a response to the earlier demand of introducing the Inner Line Permit. The protest turned violent and in the clash, nine young civilians were killed by brutal police force. Out of the nine, the youngest to have lost his life was an eleven year old boy who was shot dead by the police. What seemed like collateral damage in a political strife, became a symbol of revolution for the hill tribes. To stage their protest, the families of the 9 martyrs have refused to bury the bodies until the government takes cognizance of their demands to withdraw the three bills that threaten the very basic rights of the tribals and makes them refugees in their own land.

Read more…

Calculated Tears

January 24, 2016

modi lko croppedThe lacrimal glands have been activated once again but even if the tears remained trapped in the eyes of the leader, must they blur our vision?
That a full five days were allowed to elapse since suicide the suicide of a dalit student in Hyderabad before these gland optics tells us that what we saw in Lucknow on Friday was not at all a spontaneous expression of grief. The Telegraph has shown frame by frame the pictures of a smiling, beaming Modi on different joyous occasions – when the mother of Rohith was grieving and the nation was trying to make sense of her loss – to prove that the prime minister’s act is a little too late and unconvincing. Rohith’s father has seen through the bluff and already spoken up about it.

While some were keen to see in those brimming eyes a humane approach, I saw a cynical, strategic mind which kept its emotions in check so as to let it flow on an appropriate occasion, against a suitable backdrop.

Read more…

Before I Speak of the Stars…Ravi Sinha

January 24, 2016

Guest Post by Ravi Sinha

Let me speak first of Rohith Chakravarthi Vemula. I never met him. I wish I had, although that would have made me hardly any worthier of speaking about him. Had I met him, I would have come to know that I shared with him a passion for science, nature and stars. I would like to think that he would have found in me, despite my being from another generation, a comrade-in-arms and a fellow campaigner for a better world. Perhaps I would have also recognized a few of the scars left over from a childhood spent in poverty. But, there, the similarities would have ended.

We were born in the same country but at two different locations in the social universe. Distances separating these locations are not traversable – reason enough for this universe to collapse. Instead collapsed this remarkable young man who longed to be “treated as a mind” – “a glorious thing made up of stardust” – and who did not wish to be “reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility…to a vote…to a number…to a thing”. He was crushed under the weight of a millennial civilization. His end was precipitated by the malignant political forces ready to use state power to banish all reason and every shred of freedom from modern institutions and public sphere. He may have chosen the mode and the time of his death but it was an instance of a death foretold. In choosing death he has challenged the powers-that-be in a manner and with a force that no demons of deception, no army of liars and no battery of ministers can defend against. Read more…

Translators’ Dilemmas and Entering ‘South Asian Literature’

January 23, 2016

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Ever since Hangwoman, my translation of K R Meera’s modern epic in Malayalam, Aarachaar was published, I have been repeatedly asked whether I edited it to ‘shape’. The question sometimes irritated me, because it was posed as if I had carried out the intellectual equivalent of cosmetic surgery on that fine work.

I struggled to communicate the subtlety of the editing that translation demands. One is always conscious of the fact that the readership of an English translation is qualitatively different from that of the original Malayalam text, but editing in the process of translation is not primarily aimed at making the text palatable to the former. Much more significant is the fact that what may need a whole sentence in the source language can perhaps be conveyed in a word in the target language or vice-versa. And, more importantly perhaps, any translation is hugely dependent on the translator’s reading of the text. The translator is constantly faced with the problem of how to interpret – is a certain word or phrase or sentence a simple description, or a complex one, or perhaps a metaphor or a simile? Editing rests quite decisively on such micro-decisions.

Read more…

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