Our Dead Uncle

Our Dead Uncle

  On this Diwali my Didi sat to write a letter to our uncle who got killed in the  second war between  India and Pakistan. I was looking at Didi. And as I was looking at her the white cat,  the one which came to our home  only yesterday, now  all his body in fierce black,  came…

“The State is Lawless”

“The State is Lawless”

Soni Sori, a human rights defender and an adivasi school teacher from Chhattisgarh, was in Mumbai recently to talk at an event organized to commemorate Justice (retd.) Suresh Hosbet's 25 years of contribution to human rights struggles in India post his retirement. This event was organised by Majlis, in collaboration with Human Rights Law Network (HRLN),…

সাক্ষাতকার: শমীক বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায় ও সৌরদীপ রায়

সাক্ষাতকার: শমীক বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায় ও সৌরদীপ রায়

ইন্ডিয়ান ক্যালচারাল ফোরাম এর পক্ষ থেকে বিশিষ্ট প্রাবন্ধিক ও সমালোচক, শমীক বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়ের সাক্ষাতকার নিলেন সৌরদীপ রায় ।  সাক্ষাতকারের প্রথম অংশ দেখুন এখানেঃ সাক্ষাতকারের দ্বিতীয় অংশ দেখুন এখানেঃ

They Saw No Longer the Battlefield

They Saw No Longer the Battlefield

  (After Valmiki's Ramayana: Yuddhakanda, sarga 55)   And then like the blindness of fury in WAR a solid rising column of iron-coloured dirt & skin & blood & hair & pollen & chondrite buffeted in the ten directions the combatants of both (monkeysrakshsasasboth) sides, all beings wrapped and tossed in it– and they saw…

Mistaken Identity

Mistaken Identity

  Obasa min Dahlin’ used his head to stop a bullet. The people in the press room used their eyes. If they blinked with their eyes closed they sometimes saw a deeper red. Their wideangled phones caught everything – they were so powerful. They were so powerful they could tune rumour into fact. [One of…

Easy ; Sugar

Easy ; Sugar

  Easy Death is easy to pronounce. He deserved to die. They ought to be shot. Hanging’s too good for him. The words fall glib. Throw-away lines sentencing them to death. Distant observer, you speak without guilt, or fear of misplaced allegiances. You just need something to say, that’s all. The right sentiment, rightly declared…

Poem on Demonetisation: What Colour, Money? Ballad of the Commoners

Poem on Demonetisation: What Colour, Money? Ballad of the Commoners

(Of real people, real narratives and real lives. In my neighbourhood and city, Hyderabad.)     Bajji seller Hanumanthu Mestri Yadgiri Bangle seller Mohammad Laeeq Earth-worker, brick layer, matti pani Ramachander Footwear seller Lakshmamma Shaadi-khana labour Najeeb Coolie, cook, etc Jahangir Miscellaneous labour: Suryanarayana, Baburao, Nagaraju…  Srikakulam, Mahbubnagar, Nalgonda, Hyderabad, Kurnul North Andhra, Telangana, Rayalaseema…

Missing Student

Missing Student

Missing Student A student missing  in the university  doesn't matter; the classes will continue,  and the student  missing  will rue many  a time that  the classes  were not missing, the university  grounded in dust   in New Delhi. There is campus  rumpus, a student is missing,  students protest –  where is he?  And the Vice Chancellor …

“Be As Irreverent As You Like”

“Be As Irreverent As You Like”

List three words that you love to taste. Currently, it would be emollient, amaretto, agape. List three words that make you flinch with their violence. Slaughter, eviscerate, bludgeon. A fourth: asphyxiate. Describe a recurring daydream. When I was in school, I had a recurrent daydream about slipping out through the side-gate of the playground during…

We Don’t Need No Surgical Strikes

We Don’t Need No Surgical Strikes

Continuing our Citizens Against War series, we present a ground report from Jantar Mantar, Delhi. On November 9, several organisations called a cultural protest against war-mongering between India and Pakistan. Called “Action Against Warmongering”, the day saw several prominent speakers and cultural groups telling our leaders, “Make art, not war”. Over the last few months, there has been an…

A Nation Filled with Anti-Nationals!

A Nation Filled with Anti-Nationals!

I thought the Muslims were the only anti-nationals in this country. But I was mistaken. Earlier, thousands of people including even women and children who were questioning the Koodankulam nuclear plant were declared as anti-nationals. They are not the only ones outside the community of Muslims, though. Over 11,000 NGOs in India are restricted from the…

Illusions

Illusions

    Illusion I Virgin paper—a soldier Writes a glorious poem in blood-ink. Later crumpled Tear-blotted, Torn and scattered (Like his own body), After Victory is declared.       Illusion II   (inspired by Siegfried Sassoon’s “Survivors”) Men who went out to battle, grim and glad; Children, with eyes that hate you, broken and…

A Secular Case for a Common Civil Code

A Secular Case for a Common Civil Code

The news regarding Muslim Personal Law Board and other Muslim organisations’ adamant stand on the issue of triple talaq and the BJP-led union government’s attempt to push for a Universal Civil Code (hereafter UCC)1 has energised the debate on reforms in Muslim personal laws verses a UCC. A section of Muslim women along with the Bhartiya…

Three Poems

Three Poems

AFTER THE WAR At the end of the war When the counting of dead bodies began, the Pandavas and the Kauravas beat their brows together in horror. ‘Why did we fight at all?’ asked the Pandavas.  ‘How did they die?’ asked the Kauravas. ‘Whose cruel deed was this?’ enquired the Pandavas. ‘Who was behind it?’…

Ghalib’s Ghost

Ghalib’s Ghost

Meena Alexander   Kabir Sings in a City of Burning Towers What a shame they scared you so you plucked your sari off, crushed it into a ball then spread it on the toilet floor. Sparks from the towers fled through  the weave of silk. With your black hair and sun dark skin you’re just…

Reflections of a Cartographer

Reflections of a Cartographer

Through the thick magnifying glass— Veins in my honed eye Streams of red—the contour Lines are taut webs, gradients Coalesce from blue to green, To the burnt sienna of dry blood, To spurs concaved and drowned, To bludgeoned, pocked scarps, To another fresh mound On the ground and a single flower. Each year the lens…

Another Way

Another Way

To swing yourself from moment to moment, to weave a clause that leaves room for reminiscence and surprise, that breathes, welcomes commas, dips and soars through air-pockets of vowel, lingers over the granularity of consonant, never racing to the full-stop, content sometimes with the question mark, even if it’s the oldest one in the book….

Of Peace and War

Of Peace and War

  We know very well that there is no heaven and no hell we accept them notionally, just as the sky is notional, and the Divine. War is an exile from heaven, real state of exile from a notional one. Night exiting from day and day from night are real, the clock tells us so…

Listen to Our Poets on War!

Listen to Our Poets on War!

Rabindranath Tagore wrote a short story titled "Dhvangsa"  (Destruction), based on the Second World War. The story ends with the narrator reciting a poem on war. Here, eminent translator and theatre and film critic Samik Bandyopadhyay reads the story and the poem. Also read his introduction to the story and a translated excerpt from the poem…

“Nobody has a monopoly on God”

“Nobody has a monopoly on God”

Artistes, intellectuals, spiritual practitioners and activists came together at a symposium on Sufism and the Attack on Syncretic Culture, organised by Anhad, to condemn these nefarious attempts to communalize our social fabric, and to share views on this subject, one of vital importance in our troubled times. Here is a short compilation of interviews with the…

Project Heartland 2: Meet the Men Who Started the Una Movement

Project Heartland 2: Meet the Men Who Started the Una Movement

Project Heartland captures the struggles of people from marginalised communities, mainly Dalits in Gujarat. It shows the courage and determination of Dalit women and men to assert their rights despite all odds. Project Heartland wants these brave people to be known, recognised, and be seen as an inspiration to others. This YouTube mini series brings out different stories from the…

Project Heartland: Meet the Men Who Started the Una Movement

Project Heartland: Meet the Men Who Started the Una Movement

Project Heartland captures the struggles of people from marginalised communities, mainly Dalits in Gujarat. It shows the courage and determination of Dalit women and men to assert their rights despite all odds. Project Heartland wants these brave people to be known, recognised, and be seen as an inspiration to others. This YouTube mini series brings out different stories from the…

Lokayat: Fighting Fascism

Lokayat: Fighting Fascism

Lokayat is an activist group and forum based in Pune that is part of the larger anti-globalisation movement and upholds the principles enshrined in the Constitution of India. This forum looks at the impact of the liberalisation of the Indian economy after 1991 and the consequences of running an economy on the bases of profit…

“The Fascists, in Germany too, first came after the universities”

“The Fascists, in Germany too, first came after the universities”

Writer Githa Hariharan spoke to renowned writer, editor, translator and theatre critic Samik Bandyopadhyay on the continued attack on the space for debate, discussion and imagination in Indian universities, and collective resistance to such attacks.   Read the statement by the Indian Cultural Forum editorial collective condeming the incident in Haryana here. Also see here for photographs from…

Ayodhya or Saket: The Politics of Ram Temple

Ayodhya or Saket: The Politics of Ram Temple

This documentary by Vidya Bhushan Rawat, on the Ayodhya issue and how it affected the communal harmony of India, is pertinent in the context of the resurgent Hindutva programme in India which catapulted Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister in 2014. It is being republished, since the subject Rawat tackles is all the more significant…