प्रेम और दार्शनिकता का कवि

प्रेम और दार्शनिकता का कवि

हिंदी समाज में ऐसे लोग अब बहुत कम बचे रह गए हैं जो अपने व्यक्तित्व में सांस्कृतिक बहुलता और अपनी भाषा में सचाई, शराफत और नैतिकता की रौशनी लेकर चलते हों. कुंवर नारायण ऐसे ही मनुष्य और लेखक थे. उनके जाने से दुर्लभ गुणों वाले एक व्यक्ति का अवसान हो गया है और हिंदी कविता…

How the Salwa Judum Looted and Killed Villagers in Kondasawali Village in Chattisgarh

How the Salwa Judum Looted and Killed Villagers in Kondasawali Village in Chattisgarh

In a letter dated 16 June 2017, The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) directed the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (Chhattisgarh) to make further inquiries into a complaint it had received regarding the looting and burning of huts and the killing of seven persons of Kondasawali, a village in district Sukma of Chhattisgarh. Sometime during…

Mahapadav: Prominent Intellectuals Support Workers, Demand Action By PM

Mahapadav: Prominent Intellectuals Support Workers, Demand Action By PM

Over 50 well-known intellectuals, writers and artists have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that his government at the Centre intervenes to resolve their basic demands. Among those who endorsed the letter were writers Krishna Sobti, K. Satchidanandan and Githa Hariharan; classical dancer and activist Mallika Sarabhai; Bezwada Wilson of the…

In Times of “Bharat Mata”, Revisiting Mother India on the 60th Year of the Film’s Release

In Times of “Bharat Mata”, Revisiting Mother India on the 60th Year of the Film’s Release

Introduction Mother India (1957) completes sixty years this year. Produced and directed by Mehboob, famous for his social agenda films packaged with a lot of chutzpah, grandeur and melodrama, the film was assessed among the ten biggest hits in Indian cinema in the 20th century. Seventeen years into the 21st century and its memories remain…

Understanding the Marxism in Gandhi’s Fight Against Imperialism

Understanding the Marxism in Gandhi’s Fight Against Imperialism

Uday Mehta (UM): I think of you, especially in the essays that constitute this book, as doing a rather particular kind of philosophy. It is a very distinguished tradition of practitioners, including the late Richard Rorty, Bernard Williams, and Alasdair MacIntyre in the Anglo-American tradition; Michel Foucault, in the French tradition; Adorno and Walter Benjamin…

#FreedomToDraw: Cartoons of Nehru and Indira Gandhi by E P Unny, R K Laxman and K Shankar Pillai

#FreedomToDraw: Cartoons of Nehru and Indira Gandhi by E P Unny, R K Laxman and K Shankar Pillai

Cartoonist Bala was arrested from his residence in Chennai last Sunday, 5 November, 2017, for his cartoon that criticised the Tirunelveli Police Commissioner, the District Collector, and the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, over the Tirunelveli immolation tragedy. In protest against this curbing of freedom of speech and expression, the Indian Cultural Forum has decided to come out…

Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar: “I don’t like being labelled as an adivasi writer”

Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar: “I don’t like being labelled as an adivasi writer”

In this latest interview for our series Writers Talk Politics, Souradeep Roy talks to Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, the writer and doctor, whose work includes a novel, The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey, and a collection of short stories, The Adivasi Will Not Dance. The Jharkhand government banned the latter book, calling it obscene. Shekhar, also…

Independent Publishing in India: Aainanagar

Independent Publishing in India: Aainanagar

In the latest on our series on independent publishing in India, we speak to Nandini Dhar, co-founder and co-editor of Aainagar. It calls itself an "online little magazine", and its name has come from a song by Lalon Fakir: আমার বাড়ির কাছে আরশিনগর, তাতে এক পড়শি বসত করে। আমি একদিনও না দেখিলেম তারে  (A neighbour dwells in the…

Are ‘Anti Nationals’ Traitors, Or Are Those Groups who Call Others ‘Anti-Nationals’ Traitors to the Idea of Independent India?

Are ‘Anti Nationals’ Traitors, Or Are Those Groups who Call Others ‘Anti-Nationals’ Traitors to the Idea of Independent India?

Krishan Chander’s Urdu novel, Ghaddaar, meaning ‘traitor’, begins with a delicately woven romance between an unmarried Muslim girl, and her married Hindu lover. But the world outside is being torn asunder and Krishan Chander shows how love, brotherhood and humanity swiftly turn into redundant emotions, as permanent lines are drawn between two nations. 'Traitor' is a word…

Danish Husain: “It is not easy for theatre practitioners or writers to return awards they’ve earned after years of practicing their craft.”

Danish Husain: “It is not easy for theatre practitioners or writers to return awards they’ve earned after years of practicing their craft.”

In the latest interview for our series Theatre and Politics, Danish Husain speaks to Souradeep Roy on returning his Sankeet Natak Akademi award in 2015; the attack on Urdu; and his new work qissebaazi. Watch more from the series Theatre and Politics: “Censorship outside of the Censor Board is the problem in Maharashtra”: Rajeev Naik “It’s…

Narendra Nayak on the Karnataka Anti-Superstition Bill – “Something is better than nothing”

Narendra Nayak on the Karnataka Anti-Superstition Bill – “Something is better than nothing”

In this interview, produced by Newsclick and the Indian Writers' Forum, D. Raghunandan from the Delhi Science Forum talks to Narendra Nayak, President of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations (FIRA), about the recently implemented Anti-Superstition Bill in Karnataka. Even though it is a diluted version of proposed bill which was initially proposed, Narendra Nayak…

#OurGauri: My Salaam to Gauri…

#OurGauri: My Salaam to Gauri…

  They killed Gauri madame. They ended up killing Gauri madame. They have permanently taken away our Gauri madame from us. No matter how many times I say this to myself, my mind is not ready to believe this truth. We are all on the street. We are doing everything that we can think of….

The Classmate

The Classmate

      “I haven't slept for twenty days. I stay awake through the night…because of the dream. The minute I fall asleep. The dream begins. In it…”He released his hold on my hand and grew serious. Basavegowda was not the type easily given to fear or tears. But he was shaken by what was…

Terror in the Time of the Yogi-Modi Regime

Terror in the Time of the Yogi-Modi Regime

On 10 October, 2017, the editorial collective of the Indian Writers' Forum and NewsClick participated in a meeting organised by the Bhim Army Defence Committee to protest the atrocities committed against minorities, dalits and women in the state of Uttar Pradesh under Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Hear the testimonies of all the speakers who have…

#OurGauri: Why Did They Kill Gauri?

#OurGauri: Why Did They Kill Gauri?

  P. Lankesh introduced me to Kannada literature. I can never forget him or his family. The article titled “Nanna e jana ondagabeku” (My people should be united), written by Lankesh in the 1980s, helped me take my first step in literature. “Weren’t we always united?”; “Who were responsible for breaking this unity?” was my…

Fireworks and Firearms: The Festival of Lights in the Mughal Court

Fireworks and Firearms: The Festival of Lights in the Mughal Court

The Mughal court became a site of cultural production in the early modern world. It was a curious confluence of "Islamicate" and "Indic" cultures. Like any other dynasty with the desire to rule, the Mughals, contrary to the present state-sponsored communal (mis)understanding, did not rupture the existing socio-cultural fabric of the land. Besides introducing Timurid and Mongoloid traditions,…

#OctoberRevolutionSeries: Studying György Lukács, Rosa Luxemburg and Nikolai Bukharin through Letters, Diaries and Notes

#OctoberRevolutionSeries: Studying György Lukács, Rosa Luxemburg and Nikolai Bukharin through Letters, Diaries and Notes

We continue our #OctoberRevolutionSeries with an interview with Professor Sobhanlal Datta Gupta, who has been reading the autobiographical writings of György Lukács, Rosa Luxemburg and Nikolai Bukharin. Their political writings have already been published, but Datta Gupta has been closely analysing their letters, diaries and notes. In a conversation with Sruti M D, he says that this…

“The idea of popular science is an authoritarian version”: Satyajit Rath

“The idea of popular science is an authoritarian version”: Satyajit Rath

How are science and culture related? Have we abandoned science and scientific temper for an overtly 'elite' politics? Satyajit Rath, in conversation with Githa Hariharan, explains about the significance of reclaiming scientific temper for the general public. Also see the first part of the interview: “Scientific temper is what elite politics denies in our humanness…”  

Last Days of the Mahatma

Last Days of the Mahatma

    … [I]n 1944, Nathuram Godse was arrested at Panchgani as he was hurrying towards Gandhiji carrying a knife. This statement has been made before the Justice Kapur Commission by the owner of Surati Lodge of Pune, Shri Manishankar Purohit. Shri B.D. Bhilare Guruji, ex-MLA of the Congress from Mahabaleshwar, who was present, has…

With Dwijen Bandyopadhyay’s Passing, the Cultural Left in Bengal Loses One of its Most Treasured Thespians

With Dwijen Bandyopadhyay’s Passing, the Cultural Left in Bengal Loses One of its Most Treasured Thespians

While several obituaries have flown in after Tom Alter died on 29 September, 2017, the death of another veteran actor and director, whose work, too, has primarily been in theatre, received little attention. Dwijen Bandyopadhyay, director of the theatre group Samstab, passed away amidst Pujo festivities on 27 September 2017. He was 68. A known…

Protesting the Assassination of Gauri Lankesh

Protesting the Assassination of Gauri Lankesh

  The Indian Cultural Forum participated in the protest march organised by the All India Coordinated Mobilisations For Justice For Gauri Lankesh. Four hundred people from different parts of Karnataka participated in this march.  The ICF Team spoke to lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan, and Mr. Vasu, one of the columnists in Gauri Lankesh Patrike. They promise…

#OctoberRevolutionMonth: The Fight for The Party During the Ebb Of the Revolution

#OctoberRevolutionMonth: The Fight for The Party During the Ebb Of the Revolution

  Thus began a new period of remote and protracted emigration. While in distant Russia the proletarian party was persecuted with terror and driven far underground, the tsarist minister Stolypin ruled unchallenged, rearing forests of gallows (‘Stolypin’s neckties’) for the revolutionary workers in the towns, creating kulak households in the villages at the expense of…

History is an Unending Dialogue between the Past and the Present

History is an Unending Dialogue between the Past and the Present

Ramin Jahanbegloo, in his introduction to this book of conversations, says, "When… we study Professor Thapar's analyses of early India, we do not have a sense of historiography as a positivistic science, but that of history as an unending dialogue between the past and the present. As a result, this continuous process of interaction between…

Independent Publishing in India: Tara Books

Independent Publishing in India: Tara Books

Tara Books is a collective of writers, artists and designers that publishes illustrated books for children and adults. Their visual books span a range of genres: children’s literature, social and art pedagogy, popular culture, photography, and art. Tara Books is “committed to returning the senses back to the physical book in an age busy writing…

Protest for Rohingyas in Delhi

Protest for Rohingyas in Delhi

A protest meeting was called on 13 September 2017, to protest the Government of India's decision to deport the Rohingya refugees and the ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas in Maynmar. The protest meeting was supposed to be held in front of the Maynmar embassy but was changed to Teen Murti in the last minute because the…

A Commemorative Edition of Gauri Lankesh Patrike

A Commemorative Edition of Gauri Lankesh Patrike

  The Gauri Lankesh Patrike has brought out a special commemorative edition on September 12, 2017 to pay tribute to the committed, independent voice of the Patrike, led by Gauri Lankesh. A large number of journalists, writers, activists and other figures have contributed to this edition. The Indian Cultural Forum will publish English translations of…

They Sang through the Dark Times: Nakul Singh Sawhney’s Latest Documentary Savitri’s Sisters

They Sang through the Dark Times: Nakul Singh Sawhney’s Latest Documentary Savitri’s Sisters

With Savitri’s Sisters, filmmaker Nakul Singh Sawhney takes the camera back to women. His camera follows two women from the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikaar Manch – Laxmiben and Madhuben. He shoots the film during the Azaadi Kooch yatra, a journey that began to mark the one-year anniversary of the Una protests.  In its intent, the film…

ईरानी औरतों की कहानियां 

ईरानी औरतों की कहानियां 

    मेरे बालिग़ होने में थोडा वक्त है ईरानी फ़िल्मकार मर्ज़ियेह मेश्किनी ने एक दूसरे बहुत मशहूर फ़िल्मकार मोहसेन मखलमबाफ़ की स्क्रिप्ट के सहारे तीन लघु कथा फ़िल्मों के जरिये ईरानी समाज में औरतों की दुनिया को बहुत संजीदगी से समझने की कोशिश की है। इस कथा श्रृंखला का नाम है द डे आई…

Indira Jaising: “It’s tragic that there were no women in the SC Bench that delivered the Triple Talaq Judgement”

Indira Jaising: “It’s tragic that there were no women in the SC Bench that delivered the Triple Talaq Judgement”

Shivangi Misra from the Lawyers Collective in conversation with the former Additional Solicitor General of India Indira Jaising on the Supreme Court judgement that anulled instant triple talaq. In the first part of the interview, they discuss the long tradition of cases that preceded the judgement, and then move on to discuss the judgement in detail.    Also see:…

On Literary Activism

On Literary Activism

In December 2014, Amit Chaudhuri, novelist, essayist, and Professor of Contemporary Literature at the University of East Anglia, decided to add to the activities of UEA in India by starting a series of symposiums and conversations that would inhabit and aim to create a space different from both the "academic conference" and the "literary festival"'….

Remembering Sova Sen, Legendary Actress of Political Theatre in Bengal

Remembering Sova Sen, Legendary Actress of Political Theatre in Bengal

Sova Sen, the legendary actress of Bengali theatre and cinema, passed away five days ago, on 13 August. Sen joined the political theatre of Bengal after she passed out from Bethune College. With these excerpts from Himani Banerji's essay, based on her interviews with Sen, we begin a series of tributes which critically evalute Sen's contribution to the political theatre…

On Dalit Autobiographies

On Dalit Autobiographies

The kind of experiences which are narrated in Dalit autobiographies have had no models before. One of the first points that strikes the readers of Akkarmashi by Sharankumar Limbale is the dehumanising impact of caste oppression in Hindu society. His autobiography documents his struggles against poverty, deprivation, discrimination and caste violence. His family rarely enjoys…

दलित छवियों से क्यों डरते हैं वे?

दलित छवियों से क्यों डरते हैं वे?

    भारतीय सिनेमा में, चाहे वो कथा फिल्में हों या गैर कथा फ़िल्में, दलित समाज की अभिव्यक्तियाँ बहुत मामूली रही हैं। यह बात उसी तरह सच है जैसे हमारी सिनेमाई दुनिया मेंमहिलाओं और अल्पसंख्यकों की कहानियाँ भी बहुत कम हैं। भारी-भरकम संख्या वाले हिंदी सिनेमा में एम सथ्यू निर्देशित सिर्फ़ एक फ़िल्म गर्म हवा…

Fearless Godavari Parulekar Led the Warli Tribes in the Freedom Movement

Fearless Godavari Parulekar Led the Warli Tribes in the Freedom Movement

  When we hear the phrase “freedom fighter”, we often imagine a male freedom fighter. But nearly half of the freedom fighters involved in the struggle for Independence were women who participated in equal numbers, and strove fearlessly to attain freedom from the British colonisers.  The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) has compiled a list…

मैनुअल स्केवेंजिंग से हुई मौत – कहाँ है इंसाफ?

मैनुअल स्केवेंजिंग से हुई मौत – कहाँ है इंसाफ?

    ऐ, रहबरो मुल्कों कौम बता, ये किसका लहू है कौन मरा– इंकलाबी तेवर वाले मकबूल शायर साहिर लुधियांवी की ये नज्म अनगिनत वाकयों पर जनता के ऊपर होने वाले जुल्म, कत्लेआम की बानगी के तौर पर पेश की जाती रही। यहां पर जिन लोगों की हत्याओं की बात कर रहे हैं, उनका भी…

“I resemble everyone/ but myself”: Revisiting A K Ramanujan and the Controversy Over “Three Hundred Ramanayas”

“I resemble everyone/ but myself”: Revisiting A K Ramanujan and the Controversy Over “Three Hundred Ramanayas”

Poet, folklorist, essayist, and translator, A K Ramanujan, died on 13 July, twenty four years ago. A multilingual writer, Ramanujan worked tirelessly in translation after translation to draw our attention to folktales, oral stories, and literatures from classical Tamil, a language that is older than Sanskrit. In 2008, the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), took offence…

Warning: Dangerous Poet!

Warning: Dangerous Poet!

  Lucas Samaras, "Photo-Transformation", 1973/ Image Courtesy: metmuseum.org   In 2006, the Hindi translation of Paash’s famous poem "Sabh Ton Khatarnak" (The Most Dangerous) was included in the Class XI Hindi textbook. Now, in one of its periodic blows to education and culture, the RSS affiliated Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas has recommended that the NCERT (National…

Independent Publishing in India: Thema

Independent Publishing in India: Thema

WIth this conversation, we begin a series of interviews on independent publishing in India. Set up in the late 1980s, Thema is an independent publishing house based in Calcutta. Here, Samik Bandyopadhyay and Sudeshna Banerjee of Thema, talk to Souradeep Roy. Since their motto is "publishing for change", they discuss ways in which books can bring about change….

India’s Fascist Democracy

India’s Fascist Democracy

Jackson Pollock, Untitled, ca. 1943/ metmuseum.org On May 2, 2017, the present ruling dispensation eventually confirmed the suspicions of sceptics about India being a democracy. The Attorney General, Mukul Rohatgi, told a Supreme Court bench of Justices, A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, that citizens could not claim “absolute” right over their bodies. He waxed…

On the Attack on Minorities, Shabnam Hashmi says “Nothing surprises me. It is only the beginning.”

On the Attack on Minorities, Shabnam Hashmi says “Nothing surprises me. It is only the beginning.”

Well-known human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi recently returned the National Minority Rights Award in protest against mob lynching. Her protest comes in the wake of 16-year-old Junaid's murder in broad daylight. Hashmi has said that the National Commission for Minorities, which conferred the award on her in 2008, has lost all its credibility. ICF interviewed…

Desecrations in Goa

Desecrations in Goa

Image courtesy: Facebook page, oHeraldoGoa.   Since early July, Goans have woken to the shock of daily headlines reporting desecrations, mainly of Catholic religious sites, apart from two idols inside a Krishna temple including that of a nandi. Many wayside crosses in villages have been knocked down. The latest was a vicious attack on the…

ईद मुबारक कहूँ किसे?

ईद मुबारक कहूँ किसे?

    राजधानी दिल्ली से अब एक लंबे अरसे से   कोई ट्रेन मथुरा नहीं जाती.    मथुरा की कल-कल बहती यमुना ने तो घोर अँधेरे में क्रूर हत्यारे को अँधेरे में रखकर नवजात कन्हैयाको   नदी पार कराई थी.   गोकुल में बाल गोपाल मोर के गीतों का पंख सिर पर बाँधकर गायों के झुंड…

From Godhra to Una

From Godhra to Una

  "My birth is my fatal accident."                       — Rohith Vemula Are suffering and oppression mere accidents of birth? If so, resistance must also be an accident of birth. Harsh Mander has titled his recent book Fatal Accidents of Birth: Stories of Suffering, Oppression and Resistance after the powerful phrase from Rohit Vemula's suicide note….

In Dispute

In Dispute

  This is all about a small shrine in a cave on a hill known as Baba Budan Giri, after a Muslim saint belonging to the 17th century. The same shrine is also known as Dattatreya Peetha – literally ‘seat’ – is widely used for holy places and shrines; and as Guru Dattatreya Baba Budan Swamy…

Writers Protest the Unmaking of India

Writers Protest the Unmaking of India

    Nayantara Sahgal "This is Hindutva's version of the Nazi 'final solution' for the Jews, but a cleverer version." The Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha were twin souls. Both wanted a divided India. Jinnah achieved his desire in 1947. The followers of Golwalkar and Savarkar are now busy fulfilling theirs. The massacre of Muslims…

#NotInMyName #NoMoreLynching

#NotInMyName #NoMoreLynching

    Today, 28 June 2017, our citizens have planned simultaneous protests across the country and in some other parts of the world. Some of the protests are also scheduled for June 29th and July 1st, 2017. The protests are against the countrywide targeted lynchings. Most recently, 16-year-old Junaid was lynched on 23 June 2017…

Our House of Love

Our House of Love

    Once upon a time, Indians were taught to be proud of their country’s linguistic diversity, its long multicultural history, the great profusion of art and architecture, music and dance, painting and sculpture, theatre and poetry, science and mathematics, religion and philosophy – all manner of creativity that has manifested on the subcontinent from…

Who is the Dalit?

Who is the Dalit?

It is imperative now to think the political at a different level than has been done so far, to think the political beyond strategies, negotiations, and playing cards (caste card, gender card, minority card etc.). This means that to demand justice in the name of a repressed caste or a gender in itself cannot be…

Achhe Din Roundup: The Week that Was

Achhe Din Roundup: The Week that Was

1. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting denied three documentaries permission to be screened at the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala. The films are on Rohith Vemula, unrest in Kashmir, and protests in JNU.   2. In Pratapgarh, Rajasthan, activist Zaffar Hussein was beaten to death by civic officials because he objected…

Why Was Dalit JNU Professor Saitya Brata Das Denied Promotion by the VC?

Why Was Dalit JNU Professor Saitya Brata Das Denied Promotion by the VC?

Dr. Saitya Brata Das, Associate Professor of English at the Centre for English Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, was recently denied promotion to Professorship by the JNU Vice Chancellor Jagadesh Kumar Mamidala. Dr. Das has six books, three edited books of essays, and several published papers to his credit. He has also been teaching for over…

आदिवासी महिला कवि होने का मतलब, जसिन्ता केरकेट्टा की जुबानी

आदिवासी महिला कवि होने का मतलब, जसिन्ता केरकेट्टा की जुबानी

  जसिन्ता केरकेट्टा ने गाँधी पीस फाउंडेशन में दिए अपने वक्तव्य मैं झारखंड के उरांव आदिवासी समूदाय से आती हूं और हिंदी में कविताएं लिखती हूं। मैं हिंदी में कविताएं लिखती हूं इसलिए आदिवासी साहित्य की परिभाषा गढ़ने वाले लोगों के अनुसार मेरी कविताओं का टोन आदिवासी न होकर सवर्ण है। दलित समूदाय के बीच…

“Are the murderers of Kalburgi not being nabbed because they’re from the Sanatan Sanstha?”: Keki Daruwalla

“Are the murderers of Kalburgi not being nabbed because they’re from the Sanatan Sanstha?”: Keki Daruwalla

Keki N. Daruwalla, poet, fiction writer, and a former officer with the Indian Police Service, speaks to Souradeep Roy for our latest feature on writing and politics. Having served in the police force for decades, he recalls how he had led encounters, nabbed criminals, but had always ordered his force to show maximum restraint. Now, deaths in encounters are lauded….

“When will this plot be foiled?” Remembering the Revolutionary Somen Chanda on His Birth Anniversary

“When will this plot be foiled?” Remembering the Revolutionary Somen Chanda on His Birth Anniversary

In a telling passage from Somen Chanda’s story “Riot”, Ajoy, the protagonist Ashok’s younger brother, bitterly admonishes the latter for failing to identify with his militant “Hindu socialist” ideology. This period emerges in the wake of a gruesome riot that polarises the people of the town into two religious identities. In a bid to drive…

Mohandas Nemishrey Discusses Dalit Participation in Sahitya Akademi

Mohandas Nemishrey Discusses Dalit Participation in Sahitya Akademi

Eminent Dalit writer Mohandas Nemishrey highlights the biases and prejudices prevalent against the marginalised communities in state funded intitutions such as the Sahitya Akademi. He discusses his experiences as a writer, and the continued discrimination against writers on the basis of their caste which limits their participation on such platforms, and generally excludes their works from what the state sponsors…

[Book Extract] A Girl Swallowed by a Tree: Lotha Naga Tales Retold

[Book Extract] A Girl Swallowed by a Tree: Lotha Naga Tales Retold

Nzanmongi Jasmine Patton is an Assistant Professor at the Department of English, Gargi College, Delhi University. She has translated and compiled the first anthology of Lotha-Naga folktales entitled A Girl Swallowed by a Tree: Lotha Naga Tales Retold. Describing the book as a “personal imperative”, Nzanmongi believes that producing more literature from North East India…

[Book Extract] Including the Socially Excluded

[Book Extract] Including the Socially Excluded

Policymakers and academics have viewed poverty—its definition and extent, causes for its persistence and ways to tackle it—as a source of concern for a long time. The subject of social exclusion and initiatives to encourage inclusion have recently emerged as responses to the continuing poverty in India. In Including the Socially Excluded, Rahul Ramagundam explores…

Art as Evidence in Court Rooms

Art as Evidence in Court Rooms

Image Courtesy: KHOJ International Artists' Association Can art be provided as judicial evidence in court trials? The KHOJ international Artists Association and Zuleikha Chaudhari staged a mock trial with artists presenting evidences and lawyers arguing for and against the case of art as judicial evidence. This mock trial was staged at the constitution Club in…

Theatre Today: Punjabi

Theatre Today: Punjabi

Atamjit Singh is a renowned Punjabi playwright and director. In 2009, he won the Sahitya Akademi award for his play, Tatti Tavi Da Sach. He returned the award in 2015 as a sign of protest against communal hatred and assault on writers and journalists. At the North Eastern and Northern Writers’ Meet, Singh spoke about…

Theatre Today: Hindi

Theatre Today: Hindi

Ravindra Tripathi is a renowned film and theatre critic who writes in Hindi. At the recent North East and Northern Writers Meet that was hosted by the Sahitya Akademi on 27 March, 2017, he presented a paper on the state of Hindi theatre in the country today. Later, we sat down with Mr. Tripathi to discuss…

The Importance of Metaphor

The Importance of Metaphor

The attack on art, culture and social sciences has not subsided. Similarly discontent among writers and cultural practitioners has not dwindled. Poets Khalid Javed, Mangalesh Dabral and Anamika speak of the significance of poetry at such a time. They say that language and metaphor are great tools for expressing dissent.   Read Keeping Count of Dissenting…

Roundtable with Romila Thapar

Roundtable with Romila Thapar

We spoke to historian Romila Thapar in an attempt to uncover the historical background of dissent and debate in India, and how today, this tradition is aggressively being erased. The space for dialogue and discussion is shrinking in an ideological environment that increasingly shuns the practice of fundamental rationality. Watch it here:

Remembering Another Rama on Ram Navami

Remembering Another Rama on Ram Navami

Several groups associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are holding the “largest ever demonstration in Bengal” over a week till April 11th to mark Ram Navami. The rallies will be “fully armed”, said RSS sources to The Hindu on the 5th of April. The news item continues: “In the districts, they will be carrying…

Theatre Today: Manipur

Theatre Today: Manipur

N. Premchand is a theatre director from Manipur, and a faculty member at Manipur University. We met him at the North East and Northern Writers Meet at the Sahitya Akademi where he presented a paper on the theatre tradition of Manipur. We spoke to Dr. Premchand after the session to discuss the politics of representation…

Unholy War

Unholy War

Men have gone to war since time began, for conquest, for plunder, for glory, for keeping muscles in trim and adrenalin flowing. In the Hindu caste system which divided people and conferred status according to their occupations, the warrior ranked second highest in the hierarchy of caste. War is central to our epics. Go to…

‘Does it help to have a woman editor cut a blatantly sexist film? Not so much.’

‘Does it help to have a woman editor cut a blatantly sexist film? Not so much.’

Our ongoing series of interviews with a number of women we admire – teachers, journalists, musicians, students, lawyers, startup employees – all young, established, or retired professionals in their fields, discussing gendered aspects of their work and working life.  We hope you like these heartfelt discussions.  Stay tuned for more!             Lara Bhalla Homemaker,…

Women We Admire: Mridula Koshy

Women We Admire: Mridula Koshy

On our latest in the Women We Admire series, we have an interview with Mridula Koshy. She is the author of two novels — Not Only the Things That Have Happened and Bicycle Dreaming, and a collection of short stories — If it is Sweet — which won her the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize. In the first part of the interview,…

Attacks on Writers and Scholars Continue

Attacks on Writers and Scholars Continue

    What does a writer and theatre personality, a professor fighting for justice for a slain RTI activist, a filmmaker questioning Hindu rituals, a young dalit student and writer questioning the system of caste, and an eminent academic of Vachana literature have in common? All of them have faced the wrath of the right-wing…

Some Fine Photographs by Derek Walcott

Some Fine Photographs by Derek Walcott

Let me take you to the Derek Walcott poem most on my mind these days and then we will continue our conversation: Midsummer, Tobago Broad sun-stoned beaches. White heat. A green river. A bridge, scorched yellow palms from the summer-sleeping house drowsing through August. Days I have held, days I have lost, days that outgrow,…

Poem by Maaz Bin Bilal

Poem by Maaz Bin Bilal

In our own lifetimes? Of another people, in another part of the world, or its many parts? Will they be vaporised, or chemical-fried, once already demonised, hung-up, lynched,  raped, crucified, shot to death, hounded in and out, blockaded, terrified? Will their children die, torn out of wombs, or drowned in the seas, bombed on beaches…

Derek Walcott’s Nobel Prize Lecture

Derek Walcott’s Nobel Prize Lecture

Felicity is a village in Trinidad on the edge of the Caroni plain, the wide central plain that still grows sugar and to which indentured cane cutters were brought after emancipation, so the small population of Felicity is East Indian, and on the afternoon that I visited it with friends from America, all the faces…

Empire and the Overpass

Empire and the Overpass

The sea has been on the move in Karachi. Over the decades, as the city has burst its seams, it has moved farther and farther away into the distance. If you arrive very early in the morning at the beaches closest to the city and drive out until the road ends, you can sometimes see…

‘A woman should never stay behind a man; we must stay ahead of them’

‘A woman should never stay behind a man; we must stay ahead of them’

  Our ongoing series of interviews with a number of women we admire — teachers, journalists, musicians, students, lawyers, startup employees — all young, established, or retired professionals in their fields, discussing gendered aspects of their work and working life.  We hope you like these heartfelt discussions.  Stay tuned for more to come!   From Mohenjo-Daro, first millennium BCE / via…

This Old World Is a New World and a Bold World for Me…

This Old World Is a New World and a Bold World for Me…

To commemorate International Working Women's Day, ICF kicks off a month-long series of interviews with a number of women we admire: teachers, journalists, musicians, artists, students, lawyers, startup employees — all young, established, or retired professionals in their fields — discussing gendered aspects of their work and working life.  We hope you like these heartfelt discussions.  Stay tuned for more to…

Women We Admire

Women We Admire

This Women's Day we bring you a collage of video interviews with a number of women activists, academics, intellectuals, writers, musicians, teachers… talking about their work.  This is the first in a month-long series of video and text interviews, so stay tuned!     The above clips draw from essays and interviews published in ICF,…

[Book Extract] Interpreting the World to Change It

[Book Extract] Interpreting the World to Change It

"Prabhat Patnaik, whose life and work this volume celebrates, is exceptional in many ways. While he is widely recognized as a brilliant economist with mastery over contending theoretical traditions in the subject, he made quite clear his predilection for and commitment to applying, developing and extending the Marxist approach. Known primarily as an economist of…

“Media Must Report the Truth” — Saeed Naqvi

“Media Must Report the Truth” — Saeed Naqvi

Many media houses reported the recent violence in Ramjas college in a biased manner. While it was clearly the ABVP that was attacking common students, it was claimed that both sides faced casualties. Such reporting was asserted as "objective journalism". It was clearly not truthful journalism. Senior Journalist Saeed Naqvi opines on what is objective…

How Should Rape be Reported?

How Should Rape be Reported?

The 2012 Nirbaya gang-rape case, as it is popularly known as, had led to intense discussions on how sexual assault must not be reported by media. There has been a rise in the coverage of sexual assault cases by the Indian media since 2012 and it has given rise to discussions around violence against women….

Aamhi Saare Pansare

Aamhi Saare Pansare

Comrade Govind Pansare, a rationalist, communist and leader of the masses was shot by members of a right-wing organisation on 16 February 2015. He succumbed to the injuries and died four days later. Newsclick covered a daylong event in Kolhapur on his second death anniversary. Comrade Pansare wrote extensively on a range of subjects, including…

Freedom, Justice & Resistance in Kashmir

Freedom, Justice & Resistance in Kashmir

  In a conversation with the Indian Cultural Forum, Sahba Husain, activist and researcher, and Gautam Navlakha, human rights activist, talk about why Kashmir is seen as integral to the Indian psyche, the role of the state in the militarisation in Kashmir, the language used when talking about resistance in Kashmir, and how impunity for the…

Will Valentine’s Day Soon Be Wiped from Public Memory?

Will Valentine’s Day Soon Be Wiped from Public Memory?

It is not surprising that the right-wing ruling class is usurping Valentine’s Day and stigmatising the celebration of love by Hindu-ising the day. The Directorate of Public Education of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led Chhattisgarh government has issued notices to schools, directing that February 14 be marked as “Matru-Pitru Diwas” (Mother-Father Day) to inculcate “bharatiya sanskriti”,…

What Does it Mean to be Inclusive? 

What Does it Mean to be Inclusive? 

Inclusiveness has taken many forms in India, but now it has become a rallying cry because it is under attack. May I give you my own understanding of how it became an integral part of our modern identity and came to mean ‘We Indians’. Now that we are being told that India means 'We Hindus',…

F U Kalluri: Going, going… gone?

F U Kalluri: Going, going… gone?

  Exchange of SMSs between Kalluri and advocate Piyoli upon demanding security for Bela Bhatia / DailyO   On 2nd February, IG SRP Kalluri wrote on a Whatsapp group, “Bela Bhatia wins.” He has been asked to go on “long leave” by the Chhattisgarh State government. It appears that the reign of Kalluri may be…

Bezwada Wilson on Eradicating Manual Scavenging

Bezwada Wilson on Eradicating Manual Scavenging

This is a talk organised at Ambedkar University, Delhi (AUD) in collaboration with Indian Writers Forum (IWF) on 'Eradicating Manual Scavenging: Join the Struggle'. Bezwada Wilson talks about the need to eradicate manual scavenging, the reasons given by the government for implementing demonetisation, its impact on the poor of the country and the lack of political will…

A State Without a Constitution

A State Without a Constitution

“We must state that we were aghast at the blindness to constitutional limitations of the State of Chattisgarh, and some of its advocates, in claiming that any one who questions the conditions of inhumanity that are rampant in many parts of that state ought to necessarily be treated as Maoists, or their sympathizers, and yet…

What the Nation Really Needs to Know: Extracts from JNU’s Nationalism Lectures

What the Nation Really Needs to Know: Extracts from JNU’s Nationalism Lectures

The massive outbreak of protests in February 2016, in the wake of sedition charges being filed against some students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, took the form not only of sloganeering, human chains and streetplays, but also a lecture series on nationalism, attended by thousands of students, every day for almost a month. To mark the first anniversary of the attack, the…

Learning from John Berger

Learning from John Berger

In the past weeks so many persons around the world are together in remembering John Berger — as though he were a friend, almost as though we are all friends. As though in this mourning there is some elation reminiscent of another time and another life when it was possible to pronounce the word solidarity without…

They Chose Death over Humiliation

They Chose Death over Humiliation

  Vidhya & Tilak Tewari   A year ago, death knocked on the doors of a university in Hyderabad. Rohith Vemula, a 27 year old student, chose death over a life of humiliation. “My birth is my fatal accident”, he said in a note that exposed an unequal society. His death woke us from our…

From Khairlanji to Kopardi, a Poem by Neeraja

From Khairlanji to Kopardi, a Poem by Neeraja

  From Khairlanji to Kopardi via Dilli, Mumbai, and any other desolate spot in a town or village. Only the names of places keep changing. Flags of power are thrust into my moist, protected yoni. And making candles of these, morchas are taken out, discs of news played, blaring out proofs of cruelty. Which is a woman’s caste,…

“The Ambedkarite movement in India is about the power of articulation”

“The Ambedkarite movement in India is about the power of articulation”

Professor Y. S. Alone, along with four other teachers of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), has been served a legal notice from the administration. He has been persuaded to not address students at the Administrative Block in JNU. ICF's Anubha Rana recently interviewed Professor Alone on the possible ways of creating alternative politico-cultural spaces in academic institutions. Watch the video…

“No Hindu Rashtra”: Nayantara Sahgal

“No Hindu Rashtra”: Nayantara Sahgal

The following statement from Nayantara Sahgal was read out at the programme "Hastakshep: Jantantrik Aur Sanskritik Bahulata Ke Paksh Mein" in Gandhi Bhavan, Lucknow, December 28, 2016: The dangers we face today come from the fact that this Government is destroying the meaning of India, and step by step, stealthily and openly, is converting our secular…

Dakshinayan: The Long Path Towards Reason

Dakshinayan: The Long Path Towards Reason

A constant drumbeat broke through the murmuring of hundreds of voices, old and young, men and women. Margao, the cultural capital of Goa, had spent the last few weeks preparing to host hundreds of visitors from all over the country. For three days in November, the Dakshinayan Rashtriya Parishad was to organise the biggest demonstration…

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

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…

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…

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…

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…

पर्दे पर उभरता ‘प्रतिरोध का सिनेमा’

पर्दे पर उभरता ‘प्रतिरोध का सिनेमा’

सिनेमा के क्षेत्र में हमेशा से ही एक बड़ा तबका ऐसा रहा है जो हर तरह के दमन के खिलाफ अपनी आवाज़ बुलंद करता है. ‘ प्रतिरोध का सिनेमा’ इसी आवाज़ का एक साकार रूप है. इस आवाज़ को दबाने की कोशिश भी लगातार होती ही रहती है, और इसी दमन के प्रयास का एक…

My Protest

My Protest

© Sohan Qadri, Untitled / Tao Art   जब बाण लागियो तबै रोस जागियो – गुरु गोबिन्द सिंह Some time ago, I returned my Padma Shri award in protest against the rising religious intolerance in our country prompted by certain sections of the ruling political class and civil society. I was not alone in registering such…

What is to be done about Indian Universities?: Reflections from Concerned Teachers

What is to be done about Indian Universities?: Reflections from Concerned Teachers

The manner in which the state is intervening in higher education is causing concern and even alarm in the academic community. Both the unlamented UPA —II regime and the current NDA government have been remarkably similar in their authoritarian impatience to introduce wholesale changes without adequate or careful preparation. This position paper is the collective…

सांस्कृतिक अवमूल्यन की राजनीतिक साज़िश

सांस्कृतिक अवमूल्यन की राजनीतिक साज़िश

बोलने की आज़ादी पर बढ़ते हमलों के इस दौर में जो सबसे बड़े प्रश्न हमारे सामने खड़े हैं वह यह है की इन हमलों के सांस्कृतिक प्रभाव क्या होंगे और कितने घातक होंगे? सांस्कृतिक क्षेत्र अनिवार्य रूप से सामाजिक-राजनीतिक क्षेत्र से जुड़ा हुआ है, तथा इन हलकों में चल रहीं हलचलों की तरंगें सांस्कृतिक क्षेत्र…

“There are some who shoot the messenger; there are some who sue. The casualty in both cases is democracy.”

“There are some who shoot the messenger; there are some who sue. The casualty in both cases is democracy.”

At a time when corporatisation of the media in the country is virtually complete and organisations and individuals are being increasingly hounded for their perceived political and social dissent, there are still journalists and percipient writers who work overtime to bring riveting and incisive stories to readers that delve far deeper than mundane and insipid…

Book Extract: Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora?

Book Extract: Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora?

We present here an extract from Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora?, a collection of perspectives on the horrific night of February 23, 1991, when members of the 4 Rajputana Rifles regiment of the Indian Army gangraped women from the villages of Kunan and Poshpora in Indian Kashmir. The book includes survivor testimonies, medical records, accounts…

Standing up for Equal Rights

Standing up for Equal Rights

SAHMAT organised an evening of performances entitled "Article 14: Stand Up for Equal Rights" at the Mavlankar Hall in Delhi on 15th September, 2016. The performers included Ginni Mahi, a 19-year old singer whose Punjabi pop songs on B.R. Ambedkar have recently stirred up the music scene; Sheetal Sathe of the Kabir Kala Manch; Sanjay…

Tell the Tale, Urvashi

Tell the Tale, Urvashi

Translated by Bhupinder Singh Dalip Kaur Tiwana is one of the foremost writers in Punjabi today. She has published forty novels, seven collections of short stories, two autobiographies and a literary biography. The recipient of several awards, including the Padma Shri and the Sahitya Akademi Award, she retired as Professor of Punjabi and Dean of…

‘Assassinations will not defeat reason’

‘Assassinations will not defeat reason’

To commemorate the murders of Narendra Dabholkar (on 20 August 2013), Govind Pansare (20 February 2015) and M.M. Kalburgi (30 August 2015), the Maharashtra Andhshraddha Nirmulan Samiti (Maharashtra Committee for the Eradication of Superstition, MANS) and other activists and organisations led a march 'Against Violence, Towards Humanity' from New Delhi to Pune, between July 20…

Tribal Voices: The Bhasha Research and Publication Centre

Tribal Voices: The Bhasha Research and Publication Centre

The Bhasha Research and Publication Centre was founded in 1996 to study, document and conserve India's non-scheduled languages. ‘Bhasha’ stands for the ‘voice’ of the tribals, and has over the years emerged as an institution with the active involvement of tribal society, making possible meaningful and sustainable interventions. The major activities of Bhasha include the…

Saffronising and Corporatising Indian Education: Critique of the National Educational Policy 2016 Draft

Saffronising and Corporatising Indian Education: Critique of the National Educational Policy 2016 Draft

Ajay S Sekher Image courtesy http://govtvia.com/ After almost three decades the Hindu Nationalist Party in power has proposed paradigmatic shifts through an elaborate restructuring of the Indian educational policy frameworks. It is a drastic change from the previous NPE 1986 of Rajiv Gandhi government. The NEP 2016 Draft is released by the MHRD with reference to a background…

Read Widerstand – the Magazine Banned by Pondicherry University

Read Widerstand – the Magazine Banned by Pondicherry University

Souradeep Roy Acche Din for higher educational institutions in India have only increased, and adding to the list of institutions which have already seen wonderful days is Pondicherry University. The university made news three days ago when 4000 copies of the annual magazine Widerstand was confiscated. The administration of the university buckled under the pressure of…

Book Extract: from ‘Bollywood’

Book Extract: from ‘Bollywood’

Bollywood, part of the series, Oxford India Short Introductions, is a comprehensive look by well known film scholar M.K. Raghavendra at the mainstream Hindi film:  its beginnings, its unifying role in the history of the Indian nation, the grammar and aesthetics it subscribes to and their origins in traditional culture, its production and distribution, and…

A Holy Grail Called Sanjeevani

A Holy Grail Called Sanjeevani

Mrinal Pandey Image Via Historical Rama Announcements about locating a life-enhancing medicinal herb will kindle extraordinary emotions and hopes among people. So, the news that the present Uttarakhand government has announced a budget of INR 25 crore to locate the mythical Sanjivani Booti in Uttarakhand, went viral. This plant is referred to in the Valmiki…

Things the Left Needs to do Right

Things the Left Needs to do Right

Prabhat Patnaik Communism’s slide worldwide is due to its ambivalence towards globalisation and democracy. The Indian Left has shed that ambivalence, but it has no concrete alternative development strategy.  Exactly a century ago around this time, Vladimir Lenin was in Zurich completing a manuscript that would go on to become perhaps the most consequential book…

Are you O, P, W or D.W.?

Are you O, P, W or D.W.?

Controlling Culture with the New Grading Weapon ICF Team Image via Cartoon Stock We have recently heard from the media of the Culture Ministry’s plan to “grade” artists and writers in the country so it can extend government patronage to those considered worthy of representing India at festivals and other events. … the Culture Ministry…

Freedom of Speech in the University

Freedom of Speech in the University

Partha Chatterjee Image courtesy https://medium.com/@montouche/a-collection-of-thoughts-on-the-perils-of-nationalism-816981f0b75f#.sxagk2mj4 "Even though from childhood I had been taught that the idolatry of the nation is almost better than reverence for God and humanity, I believe I have outgrown the teaching, and it is my conviction that my countrymen will truly gain their India by fighting against that education which teaches…

In the Dark

In the Dark

K. Satchidanandan Insha Malik, 14, on July 14 in Srinagar / AFP via Hindustan Times   (For the maimed and blinded children of Kashmir)   The sun was falling into the lake like the red leaf of a chinar tree. She walked, head bent, holding her grandpa’s arms, jingling her bangles to tickle her doll…

Face/Off: The Unmaking of India in Bisada

Face/Off: The Unmaking of India in Bisada

ICF Team Image courtesy http://www.delhidailynews.com/news_image/1444371749dadri-lynching.jpg July 14, 2016: A local court in Surajpur directed the Greater Noida police to register a case of cow slaughter against Mohammad Akhlaq Saifi and his family under the UP Cow Protection Act, 1955. September 2015: A man was lynched by a mob in Bisada village near Dadri, Uttar Pradesh….

Statement on Kashmir from Academics, Writers, Artists and Filmmakers

Statement on Kashmir from Academics, Writers, Artists and Filmmakers

Image courtesy Vishwajyoti Ghosh & Niha Masih We the undersigned, express our grave concern regarding the current state of affairs in Kashmir. The disproportionate use of state violence on unarmed protesters in Kashmir reflects severe human rights violations. Setting aside the paramount concerns in terms of continuous interventions in the normal lives of the people,…

Perumal Murugan: A Parable of our Times

Perumal Murugan: A Parable of our Times

Writer Githa Hariharan talks to ICF and Newsclick about the Madras High Court’s judgment in the Perumal Murugan case. While the judgment is to be celebrated, literary merit cannot be decided by either mobs or courts; readers and citizens must be the arbiters of free speech.  See the full text of the judgment here.

Imprisoning Minds

Imprisoning Minds

Amol Palekar translated by Paritosh Joshi Image courtesy Amol Palekar August 29, 1970: The Maharashtra Theatrical Performances Examination Board (MTPEB) banned Vijay Tendulkar’s play Gidhade (The Vultures), contending that its realistic portrayal of perverted socio-familial complications was unsuitable for a public performance. An extended battle led by the producer, Satyadev Dubey, and the director, Shriram…

The Artist as Activist

The Artist as Activist

K. Satchidanandan Pablo Picasso, ‘Guernica’ / Museo Reina Sofia Theodore Adorno’s famous statement “Poetry is impossible after Auschwitz” beautifully sums up the inevitable impact of politics on art. The statement was certainly not literal. He must have meant that poetry – and art in general – can no more remain what it was; it cannot…

Yes, the Adivasi Will Not Dance!

Yes, the Adivasi Will Not Dance!

Statement from the Indian Writers’ Forum Lalgarh / Wikimedia Commons June 19, 2016 The award winning writer, Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, has given us insights into the conditions of Adivasi life, both as a medical officer posted at the additional public health centre in Beldanga block of Pakur district in Jharkhand, and as a questioning, truth-telling creative writer….

As We Remember Eleanor Zelliot

As We Remember Eleanor Zelliot

Ananya Vajpeyi Eleanor Zelliot, October 7 1926 – June 5 2016 / Carleton.edu   The recent death of American Ambedkar scholar Eleanor Zelliot is another reminder that scholarship about India has been the work of many minds, some Indian, others foreign. The field of Maharashtra Studies alone, for example, is impossible to imagine without the…

Extract from Words Matter: Writings Against Silence

Extract from Words Matter: Writings Against Silence

India prides itself in a rich tradition of diversity, dialogue and debate. Our democracy draws its sustenance from this tradition. Myths, texts and systems of faith and thought have been cherished, revisited and also challenged. They have often inspired imaginative versions through oral retellings and local adaptations. The dynamism of Indian culture has kept it…

The Sanatan Dharma Recipe for Historical Writing and Research

The Sanatan Dharma Recipe for Historical Writing and Research

ICF speaks to Gopinath Ravindran The Indian Cultural Forum interviewed historian Gopinath Ravindran about the current establishment’s agenda for Indian historical research. Ravindran, who teaches at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, was Member Secretary of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) till he resigned halfway through his term in 2015. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons…

I am language

I am language

(Her Voice in First Person) Keki Daruwalla 1 I am language I don’t just speak I also hear. I must hear the street listen to the trapped air hissing up from under the flagstones; Keep my ears unplugged for the grind of the cane-crusher, rice-huller river and watermill; not to forget the friendly cry-and-chirp of…

The Gopalaswami Panel Recommendations: Teaching a Regressive Science in Sanskrit

The Gopalaswami Panel Recommendations: Teaching a Regressive Science in Sanskrit

ICF speaks to Satyajit Rath and Prabir Purkayastha Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 'The Blind Leading the Blind', 1568 / Wikimedia Commons Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani has presented students and teachers of science and technology with a tool to 'facilitate' their studies: the Sanskrit language.  The purpose of teaching Sanskrit in institutions such…

How Do We Help the Arts Flourish?

How Do We Help the Arts Flourish?

ICF Team Maqbool Fida Husain, ‘The Birth of Buddha’ / mfhussain.com In a country as diverse as India, the arts – part of our living, breathing culture – must flourish too, like multiple streams that occasionally flow into the same vast ocean. The creative practice of the arts, whether it is “high culture” or “popular…

Book Extract: from The Partition of Bengal: Fragile Borders and New Identities

Book Extract: from The Partition of Bengal: Fragile Borders and New Identities

Debjani Sengupta At a time of increasing communal polarisation, we present an excerpt from Debjani Sengupta's The Partition of Bengal: Fragile Borders and New Identities (Cambridge University Press, 2016), which looks at the Noakhali riots and Mahatma Gandhi's efforts to placate communal tension. The Noakhali Riots and the Mahatma The Place Noakhali (1,658 sq. miles)…

Remembering the Real Ambedkar

Remembering the Real Ambedkar

ICF Team Image courtesy Sabrang Celebrating Ambedkar Jayanti this year has to go beyond the usual formal gestures. On his 125th birth anniversary, we need to recall—and renew—the challenges Dr. B.R. Ambedkar made to a caste-ridden Hindu status quo. We also need to hold fast to the vision he had for an equal India. Remembering…

Ambedkar and Freedom

Ambedkar and Freedom

Professor Sukhadeo Thorat—economist, former head of the University Grants Commission and chair of the Thorat Committee, constituted in 2006, which found evidence (pdf) of widespread harassment of students from the scheduled castes and tribes at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi—spoke recently at JNU’s Freedom Square on Ambedkar’s ‘nationalism’, his concerns about…

The NCPUL’s Attack on Free Speech

The NCPUL’s Attack on Free Speech

Rahman Abbas The form currently in contention. Courtesy Rahman Abbas. On March 17, 2016, Kolkata-based Urdu poet and writer Professor Shahnaz Nabi shared an alarming document with other Urdu language writers—a form she had received from the National Council for the Promotion of the Urdu Language (NCPUL), which operates under the Ministry of Human Resources…

Resolving Binaries: Remembering ONV Kurup (1931-2016)

Resolving Binaries: Remembering ONV Kurup (1931-2016)

ONV Kurup (Sourced from Wikimedia) K. Satchidanandan Kesari Balkrishna Pillai, one of Kerala’s foremost critical thinkers had once observed that Malayalees enjoy poetry primarily through their ears. The late ONV Kurup’s popularity depended partly on the auditory appeal and easy accessibility of his lyrics, and partly on his consistent engagement with social issues. He was…

A Fig Leaf Called ‘Vandalism’

A Fig Leaf Called ‘Vandalism’

Statement by the SC and ST Faculty Forum and Concerned Teachers of the University of Hyderabad Egon Schiele, 'Bare Tree Behind a Fence' / WikiArt For the past three days the news media has been widely circulating stories about ‘vandalism’ by students of the University of Hyderabad that led to the police crackdown. Surprisingly little…

Writing the Age

Writing the Age

Nayantara Sahgal © Anselm Kiefer, 'Morgenthau Plan' / Royal Academy of Arts The title for my talk — “Writing the Age” — was suggested to me and I thought it was appropriate because my writing seems to have been about the making of modern India. This was not a decision I made. As you know,…

Mourid Barghouti in conversation with Githa Hariharan

Mourid Barghouti in conversation with Githa Hariharan

The acclaimed Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti was in Delhi recently for a series of events organised by the publishers Women Unlimited. Writer Githa Hariharan spoke to Mourid Barghouti on how literature, and poetry in particular, challenges authoritarian discourse around the world. Barghouti discusses the fine balance between the writer’s primary identity as an artist, and…

Caste, Religion and Lived Culture

Caste, Religion and Lived Culture

K. Satchidanandan © Ghulam Rasool Santosh, 'In the Snows of Kashmir'  (Image courtesy Saba Hasan) We are holding this discussion in the wake of a deeply disturbing sequence of events at the Hyderabad Central University.  It was spurred on by a right-wing anti-Dalit students’ organisation through baseless propaganda, and abetted by the University’s new Vice-Chancellor…

Singing About the Dark Times

Singing About the Dark Times

Shubha Mudgal Sings Dushyant Kumar’s  “kahaan to tai thaa charaghaan har ek ghar ke liye” कहाँ तो तय था चिराग़ाँ हर एक घर के लिए – दुष्यंत कुमार कहाँ तो तय था चिराग़ाँ हर एक घर के लिए कहाँ चिराग़ मयस्सर नहीं शहर के लिए यहाँ दरख़तों के साये में धूप लगती है चलो यहाँ…

The Indian Cultural Forum Salutes Our Students

The Indian Cultural Forum Salutes Our Students

​The Indian Cultural Forum congratulate​s​ K​anhaiya Kumar​ on his speech at JNU after his release on bail​. We are proud to stand in solidarity with him​,​ as also with the ​thousands of JNU students and faculty who have ​supported him, and with the ​thousands of students from universities across the country who have demonstrated their…

Lecture by Aijaz Ahmad: The Languages of a Union

Lecture by Aijaz Ahmad: The Languages of a Union

Aijaz Ahmad, noted academic and cultural critic, delivered the inaugural lecture for the Indian languages festival of the India Habitat Centre — ILF Samanvay 2015. Using the phrase “transnational matrix of the country”, he says that the Indian nation-state is conceived as a union of several autonomous linguistic nationalities. Hence the name we have given…

Delhi Stands with Rohith Vemula

Delhi Stands with Rohith Vemula

Souradeep Roy On 23rd February, over 10,000 people marched in support of Rohith Vemula. Called “Chalo Dilli”, the march was organised by the Joint Action Committee for the Justice of Rohith Vemula, Hyderabad Central University (HCU). The organisers explained that the Committee consists of all student organisations except for the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP)….

Romila Thapar: “The battle now is between religious nationalism and secular nationalism . . .”

Romila Thapar: “The battle now is between religious nationalism and secular nationalism . . .”

Romila Thapar, who has been associated with Jawaharlal Nehru University for many years, speaks to writer Githa Hariharan on the idea of a university like JNU. The idea was to explore Indian society through inter-disciplinary studies and discussion. At the Centre for Historical Studies with which she was associated, the past was not another country;…

Shital Sathe of the Kabir Kala Manch in conversation with Sudhanva Deshpande

Shital Sathe of the Kabir Kala Manch in conversation with Sudhanva Deshpande

Singing songs of ordinary people, especially Dalits, Shital Sathe has been singing of the marginalised, dalits and others all over Maharashtra. She is one of the vibrant singer-poets of the Kabir Kala Manch. Attacked for her trenchant critique of the caste order, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) – currently behind the attacks of students…

JNU and Our democracy

JNU and Our democracy

  Image: Ishan Anand Recent events at the Jawaharlal Nehru University raise many questions pertinent to us as citizens of India. The questions have become imperative because it is apparent that many who govern us have little sensitivity to understanding the fundamental issues crucial to governance. For example, what are the necessary aspects of a…

Romila Thapar: “The protests by JNU students and teachers have been remarkable . . .”

Romila Thapar: “The protests by JNU students and teachers have been remarkable . . .”

Eminent historian Romila Thapar has been associated with JNU since its earliest years. She talks to writer Githa Hariharan about JNU's vision for educating the young to be questioning citizens. She also traces the pattern of recent attacks against voices of dissent on Indian campuses. Her advice to students and teachers is that they should…

Because Huchangi Prasad is a Dangerous Young Man

Because Huchangi Prasad is a Dangerous Young Man

Huchangi Prasad is a twenty-three-year-old journalism student in Davenegere, Central Karnataka. Last year, he published  a collection of poems called Odala Kicchu (The Fire Within) — which describes dalit lives, and issues a challenge to the continuing violence, as well as day-to-day discrimination against dalits. After his book was published last year, Prasad was attacked…

“Negative language in dalit writing persists because of the negative lives we’re forced to lead”

“Negative language in dalit writing persists because of the negative lives we’re forced to lead”

Urmila Pawar, author of the autobiography The Weave of my Life, and Jerry Pinto, the translator of the first dalit autobiography, Baluta by Daya Pawar, discuss the two books with Professor Gopal Guru at the recent Samanvay Festival in Delhi. Pinto speaks about the word Baluta preserving the history of bonded labour in caste discrimination….

“Cut through the system instead of cutting ourselves…”

“Cut through the system instead of cutting ourselves…”

​Githa Hariharan ​spoke to ​Tamil writer ​Bama on her ​groundbreaking ​work​ as a dalit feminist, and the difficulties she faced after the publication of her ​autobiography Karukku ​in 1992. ​Bama spoke of the lot of dalit women​, ​vulnerable on the ​three levels of caste​, gender ​and class​. They must build, she said, on the collective…

Book Extract: from Looking Away: Inequality, Prejudice and Indifference in New India

Book Extract: from Looking Away: Inequality, Prejudice and Indifference in New India

Harsh Mander’s latest book laments the erosion in the imperative for sympathy at both  state and individual levels. It is this erosion that is principally at the base of the vast inequities which afflict India. In this extract, Mander compares the traditions of pluralism and acceptance in India with those of Scandinavian nations – traditions…