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In Solidarity with the Students of the Film &Television Institute of India (FTII)

August 19, 2015

We, the undersigned teachers, scholars and researchers within and outside the university system in India, are disturbed by the repeated and systematic attempts to undermine the academic autonomy of universities and other institutions of teaching and learning, such as the FTII (Pune), by the government. There is a concerted effort to monopolise academic spaces by replacing substantive academic autonomy with policies aimed at destroying academic excellence, diversity, creativity and an atmosphere in which students and teachers can think critically and function freely.

Further, we strongly protest the organised attacks against students and other individuals, in universities and elsewhere, for critiquing the state, be it through film screenings, books, talks or exhibitions. The growing number of censorships and bans is encouraging a widespread culture of intolerance and anti-intellectualism that is openly threatening the freedom of academic expression, democractic and participatory governance, and fundamental rights. Read more…

പൊതുചർച്ചായിടം അങ്കത്തട്ടല്ല : കേരളത്തിലെ മുസ്ലിംജനങ്ങളെക്കുറിച്ച് ചർച്ച ചെയ്യുന്നവരോട്

August 18, 2015

കേരളത്തിലെ മുസ്ലിംജനങ്ങളെക്കുറിച്ച് പൊതുമണ്ഡലത്തിൽ വ്യാപകമായിത്തീർന്നിരുക്കുന്ന തെറ്റിദ്ധാരണകളെ തിരുത്താനുള്ള ഒരെളിയ ശ്രമമാണ് ഈ ലേഖനം.

വിമർശനാത്മകമായി ചിന്തിക്കുന്നവരും പരന്ന വായനയുള്ളവരും  പൊതുമണ്ഡലചർച്ചായിടങ്ങളിൽ ധാർമ്മികമായ മേൽനില സദാ അവകാശപ്പെടുന്നവരുമായ ബുദ്ധിജീവികളുടെ എഴുത്തുകളിൽപ്പോലും ഈ വാദങ്ങൾ പ്രത്യക്ഷപ്പെടുന്നത് അപകടകരമായിത്തോന്നുന്നതുകൊണ്ടാണ് ഇതെഴുതുന്നത്. കേരളത്തിലെ ജനജീവിതത്തെ സസൂക്ഷ്മം വീക്ഷിക്കാൻ നമ്മെ സഹായിക്കുന്ന വസ്തുതാശേഖരങ്ങളും ചരിത്രപഠന-സാംസ്ക്കാരികപഠനസംപത്തും കൈയിലുള്ളപ്പോൾ ആത്മനിഷ്ഠനിരീക്ഷണങ്ങളെ മാത്രം ആശ്രയിച്ചുകൊണ്ട് ബുദ്ധിജീവികൾ നടത്തുന്ന ഇടപെടലുകൾ ഗുണത്തെക്കാളേറെ ദോഷം ചെയ്യുമെന്ന് സംശയം വേണ്ട.

പ്രത്യേകിച്ചും, ഹിന്ദുത്വവാദഭീകരത സർവ്വത്തേയും വിഴുങ്ങാൻ ഒരുങ്ങിനിൽക്കുന്ന നമ്മുടെ കാലങ്ങളിൽ മുസ്ലിംസമുദായത്തെക്കുറിച്ച് പറയുംപോൾ, വിശേഷിച്ചും ഭൂരിപക്ഷസമുദായത്തിലെ മേൽത്തട്ടുകാർ പറയുംപോൾ, ശ്രദ്ധ ആവശ്യമാണ്. ഭൂരിപക്ഷതാതാത്പര്യങ്ങളാൽ രൂപപ്പെട്ടുവരുന്ന സാമാന്യബോധത്തെ കണ്ണുമടച്ച് ആശ്രയിക്കുന്ന രീതിയെ പ്രതിരോധിക്കാനാണ് ഞാനിവിടെ ശ്രമിക്കുന്നത്. (മേലാളാവബോധത്തിൻറെ വാഹനമായാണ് സാമാന്യബോധത്തെ Marx മുതൽ Bourdieu വരെയുള്ള സമൂഹശാസ്ത്രജ്ഞന്മാർ കണ്ടത്. അതിനെ വിമർശിക്കലാണ് സമൂഹശാസ്ത്രത്തിൻറെ മുഖ്യധർമ്മമെന്ന് അവർ അവകാശപ്പെട്ടതും അതുകൊണ്ടു തന്നെ).

അതുകൊണ്ട് ഈ ലേഖനത്തിൽ പറയുന്ന പല കാര്യങ്ങളും പുതിയ അറിവല്ല. കേരളീയപൊതുബോധത്തിൽ നിന്ന് ഭൂരിപക്ഷമേധാവിത്വം അവയെ മായ്ച്ചുകളഞ്ഞുവെന്ന് തോന്നുന്നതുകൊണ്ടാണ് അവ ഇവിടെ ആവർത്തിക്കുന്നത്. Read more…

Two Or Three Things I Know About My Country: Pradeep Jeganathan

August 18, 2015

As the people of Sri Lanka complete the voting process for the Parliamentary elections of 2015, PRADEEP JEGANATHAN  reflects on his country’s history and politics.

We’ve never really had a father. We like to think we did, of course, be it D.S. Senanayake, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike or S.J.V. Chelvanayagam. But they never had a vision for Lanka that made sense, in the end. Unlike a Mahathir, Nehru or a Mandela, their vision was partisan, and the results plain to see. Senanayake’s great contribution was to disenfranchise the up country Tamils, and ignore the vernacular language question. Bandaranaike and Chelvanayagam were his children, fighting for the house that he never finished building.

We’ve gone along since, fatherless children that we are. So many have been killed, and so many have killed. Maimed. Seen the essence of inhumanity, lived with it, so it has become ordinary. Many of us like to think Rajapakse is our father, since it is said he rescued us from all this, took us over the mountains to the valley of peace. Certainly, he’s proclaimed himself father and king, and his sons princes. And he’s had his moments.

Read the rest of this piece in Colombo Telegraph.

The penultimate paragraph refers to a song by Nanda Malini:

We’ve always had our mother. She is Lanka. That is the third thing I know about my country, and when I say, our mother is Lanka, or Ilankai or Eelam (for that too is a name for Lanka), I do not mean it in the sense of an inanimate goddess that is to be adored, appropriated and used as a cover for racism, violence and inequality. No, I mean it in the sense of Lanka’s lament, in the great songstress’ lyric, “Deddahas Pansiya Vasarak. (For 2,500 years).” In this beautiful song, Nanda Malini sings Lanka’s lament, her almost helpless sadness and deep grief, at the robbers and killers she has given birth to, who have then become big men and women, clinging to power by selling her name.

Here is the song:

Pradeep Jeganathan is currently Professor, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Shiv Nadar University.

What did Colonialism do to India? Ram Puniyani

August 13, 2015

Guest post by RAM PUNIYANI

A video of Shashi Tharoor speaking at Oxford on a debate related to the colonial period has been ‘viral’ on the social circuit for a while. In this video Tharoor makes a passionate plea to the British that they make reparations for the losses to Indian economy during the British rule. He puts the blame of India’s economic decline on the British and also recounts Jalianwala Bag, Bengal famine as the major highlight of British rule which reflected the attitude of British towards this colony of theirs’. Tharoor points out that resources from India were used by British to build there economic prosperity and to fund their Industrial revolution.

However, Dr. Manmohan Singh (2005), the previous prime minister, had made a very different kind of argument. In this Dr. Singh as a guest of British Government extols the virtue of British rule and gives them the credit for rule of law, constitutional government, and free press as the contributions which India benefitted from.

So where does the truth lie? Not only the context and tone of the speeches by these two Congressmen is totally different, the content is also totally on different tracks. Dr. Singh as the guest of the British Government is soft and behaving as an ideal guest and points out the contributions of the British rule and there is some truth in that. Tharoor as an Indian citizen with memory of the past; is narrating the plunder which this country suffered due to the British rule. He is also on the dot. These are two aspects of the same canvass. What Tharoor is saying is the primary goal of British and what Dr. Sigh is stating is an incidental offshoot.

Read more…

Upward Futility – The ‘Servant Class’ and Everyday Forms of Discrimination: Joyeeta Dey

August 12, 2015
by

This is a guest post by JOYEETA DEY

Clubs in Delhi bar ayahs from from common spaces. It is not uncommon to find employers tacitly or overtly restricting domestic workers’ access to their toilets. In some multi-storey apartments, the refusal to share space extends even to elevators.

Such indignities constitute acts of “gratuitous humiliation,” according to Delhi School of Economics sociologist Satish Deshpande. Think of it this way. Police officers and auto drivers wear uniforms, which separate them out from the public. This serves a purpose because the ability to identify them has direct bearing on the execution of their duties and the provision of services. With domestic staff and lifts? No such need is satisfied. “There is no justification for it,” Deshpande suspects, “other than the fact that affluent, upper-caste people cannot tolerate proximity with those whom they consider their social inferiors.”

Naturally, it would be hard to find segregators admitting as much, on the record.

So, what do they say?

“The foremost reason is security.” Read more…

Understanding the Neo-liberal Agenda of Knowledge: The Unexposed Dimensions of the CSAT Controversy: Ayan Guha

August 12, 2015

This is a guest post by AYAN GUHA

The Central Government’s decision, to make the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) a qualifying paper in the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) Civil Services Examinationhas come as a huge boost to the morale and aspirations of the students of social science and vernacular background who have been badly bitten by the CSAT bug since introduction of the paper.Every time their counterparts from the science and technical fields raised the cut-off beyond their scoring reach. They have long been campaigning for scrapping the CSAT on the ground that it clearly favours the students of English medium and science and technical background. Read more…

The Medical (Un)profession : Caveat Empty

August 11, 2015

This is a guest post by CAVEAT EMPTY

As a twenty something year old it was not the first time I had gone to see a gynaecologist, and been asked what was now the question of the hour.

“Are you married?”

This question had bothered me even during the visits to the gynaecologists (and other doctors), which were prior to my abortion, and where I had not been horror-struck. This question was the doctor’s way of determining if I was sexually active. Apart from the warped moral high horse it was riding, it was completely unprofessional, and maybe even dangerous. There was the risk that someone may not make the connection that these doctors were making between marriage and being sexually active. I myself had only made the connection belatedly, and only after having responded to it instantly. And, even when I did understand the question I did not exactly want to scream “Hey you judgemental pig, I am having pre-marital sex!” Read more…

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