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…

“We will not put our pens down…”

“We will not put our pens down…”

K P Sasikala, Kerala state president of the Hindu Aikya Vedi has, according to media reports, threatened writers who are opposed to the RSS. “Pray to stay alive,” she has advised secular Indian writers. She has suggested that they conduct a puja to avoid an untimely death like that of Gauri Lankesh. The Vedi is…

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…

Chandni Begum: A Novel

Chandni Begum: A Novel

    When interfaith marriages took place in the upper classes and among families of equal status, the parents usually kept quiet. The children of these couples were given indistinct names like Kabir, Rahil, Samir, Mona or Seema, or Russian ones like Mira, Zoya, Natasha. Eid and Diwali were celebrated as cultural occasions in their…

Ladai Prakashana — Making Literature of Protest

Ladai Prakashana — Making Literature of Protest

Karnataka has many progressive publications. These publications aim at educating the people of Karnataka about progressive thoughts and ideas. The lack of such publications in the northern Karnataka region led to the establishment of "Ladai Prakashana" (Ladia Publication) in 1990. At first, we were not able to concentrate on book publication because we were working…

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"'….

Roundtable with P. Sainath

Roundtable with P. Sainath

  The Indian Cultural Forum spoke to P. Sainath, founder editor of the People's Archive of Rural India (PARI), about media and culture. "Where does culture fit in media? Why is it exclusive?" are some of the questions he adresses in this roundtable.     

Liberating the Sitas of India

Liberating the Sitas of India

  Telugu writer Volga’s book, The Liberation of Sita, was recently awarded the Laadli Media Award for Gender Sensitivity in Fiction for 2017. This is cause for celebration for more than one reason: in 2016, when the Telugu newspaper Andhra Jyothi published a story of hers called “Asokam”, she was threatened by the thought police…

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…

What is it Like to Live Without the Mughals?

What is it Like to Live Without the Mughals?

The Maharashtra government has revised its history textbooks for classes VII and IX. They have come up with a marvellous plan to exclude the Mughals. According to a Mumbai Mirror report, Akbar's reign has been reduced to three lines to accomodate more from Shivaji's Maratha Empire. We hope that the textbooks will also say that…

“More than one world”

“More than one world”

A vital presence in the artistic and cultural landscape, which he helped to define and renew in the 1960s and 1970s, Gulammohammed Sheikh has been closely associated with the “little magazine movement” in English and in Gujarati. Although he is intimately connected to the city of Baroda and to the Faculty of Fine Arts where…

#WomenFreedomFighters: Remembering Ahilya Rangnekar

#WomenFreedomFighters: Remembering Ahilya Rangnekar

Ahilya Rangnekar came from a progressive family influenced by the values of the social reform. The family’s four daughters, and the daughters-in-law were graduates. On 8 August 1942, in response to the declaration of the 'Quit India' movement, Ahilya joined the students in enforcing a strike in their college. On 15 August, hearing of the…

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…

Poems by Marathi Writer F.M. Shahajinde

Poems by Marathi Writer F.M. Shahajinde

    F.M. Shahajinde is a poet who lives in Sastur, a village in Osmanabad district of Maharashtra. He was born there, in 1946, in a family of a low-ranked Muslim jati. When he was two years old, his father was murdered in communal violence. Despite social and economic obstacles, he completed school and college…

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…

The Syncretic History of Music in India

The Syncretic History of Music in India

    The music of India has a long and fascinating history even though the earliest periods are shrouded in myths and oral accounts. The priestly castes discovered that knowledge was power and so kept all knowledge to themselves. However, it is interesting that the earliest cultures had many features. The Indians believed that “Om”…

“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…

Appeal: Stop the Hounding of Writers on Social Media

Appeal: Stop the Hounding of Writers on Social Media

      August 3, 2017 We are deeply concerned about the increasing attacks on writers on social media. Writer Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar has been attacked on Facebook over a period of time, with accusations that his work is “pornographic”, and that it makes use of Adivasis, in “English language writing”, for the writer’s gain….

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…

Have We Lost Our Sense of Humour?

Have We Lost Our Sense of Humour?

Vishwajyoti Ghosh is a pioneer of the Indian graphic novel. Ghosh published his first graphic novel Delhi Calm in 2010. He has curated This Side That Side: Restorying Partition, an anthology of graphic narratives from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. He also explores another visual form, the cartoon.            

Naiyer Masud: When Comes Such Another?

Naiyer Masud: When Comes Such Another?

A remarkable pen has been stilled. With the passing of Naiyer Masud (1936-2017), Urdu literature has lost its most ambiguous voice. And with him, gone are answers to many questions that have long bedeviled his many admirers. How can we best describe Naiyer Masud is a question that has always been raised in literary circles….

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….

Naiyer Masud and the Magic of the Absurd 

Naiyer Masud and the Magic of the Absurd 

My first encounter with the magical absurdity of Naiyer Masood started when I was doing my masters in Urdu literature from Mumbai University. During a lecture, our fiction teacher said, if literature has no meaning, it cannot be called literature. Immediately, I asked her who her favourite writer was. She replied Naiyer Masud. I said…

Contentious Heritage: The Case of Ahmedabad

Contentious Heritage: The Case of Ahmedabad

  Saraspur Roza, where Ehsan Jafri is buried/ Image Courtesy: Heba Ahmed   The UNESCO has given the designation of a World Heritage City to Ahmedabad, the first of its kind in India. The declaration was followed by self-congratulatory statements by Vijay Rupani, the Chief Minister of Gujarat and Amit Shah. Ruchira Kamboj, India’s permanent…

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…

ICSSR, a Premier Body No Longer Allowed to be Premier

ICSSR, a Premier Body No Longer Allowed to be Premier

  André Devambez, 1867–1944, aquatint on vellum / Image Courtesy: The Met Museum.   In May 2017, Braj Bihari Kumar was appointed the Chairperson of the ICSSR, the premier government institution for social sciences research. Does Kumar have the academic and research credentials for this job? Or has the government, predictably, bypassed democratic procedures by…

The Complex Nexus of Fascism, Communalism and Casteism

The Complex Nexus of Fascism, Communalism and Casteism

  At the Dharwad Literature Festival held on 6-7 May, 2017, Dr. Anand Teltumbde explained how the BJP Government under Narendra Modi is slowly turning India into a proto-fascist state buttressed by the twin evils of communalism and casteism. Despite being self-declared nationalists, the BJP Government aligns with the colonial rulers in its persistent attck on…

Is Congress Acting as a B Team to BJP in Karnataka?

Is Congress Acting as a B Team to BJP in Karnataka?

The Indian Cultural Forum spoke to K P Suresha, a columnist who writes on agrarian issues and environmental movements. Earlier a faculty of English literature, K P Suresha dropped out to practice farming, and he has been farming for 20 years now. He has been involved in the Mahila Kisan Shashikta Parivarthan (MKSP), which works towards…

Who is Excluded in Agriculture?

Who is Excluded in Agriculture?

This is the third in the annual series of India Exclusion Reports, in which the Centre for Equity Studies has tried to bring together a wide range of policy thinkers and actors, scholars and social advocates. This is an initiative towards more just and inclusive laws and policies to examine carefully the record of the…

Criminalising Historical Writing

Criminalising Historical Writing

The Indian Writers' Forum spoke to Professor Ashok V. Shettar, Associate Professor from the Department of History and Archaeology at Karnatak University. He gives an insight into the recent trend of re-writing Indian history and how it is increasingly being Hindu-ised.    Glorification of Indian History There are two ways of understanding history. We can…

The Long March to Eliminate Manual Scavenging

The Long March to Eliminate Manual Scavenging

This is the third in the annual series of India Exclusion Reports, in which the Centre for Equity Studies has tried to bring together a wide range of policy thinkers and actors, scholars and social advocates. This is an initiative towards more just and inclusive laws and policies to examine carefully the record of 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…

Is this to be the future of India?

Is this to be the future of India?

  'Storybook Nightmare' Image Courtesy: Shoili Kanungo   When we heard of the lynching of Junaid, many of us were deeply saddened, and for many reasons. It is utterly tragic that a young boy should be lynched for no reason. Can such brutality be permitted in a society that calls itself civilised? Such occurrences take…

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…

Towards an Understanding of the University

Towards an Understanding of the University

    Though at different historical periods dominant political hegemonies have sought to appropriate the University, recent years have witnessed this appropriation to an unsurpassed degree with a qualitatively greater intensity. It can only be compared to the ‘nationalisation’ of the University-structure during the Nazi regime and during the historical epoch of Stalin. Here is…

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…

India and the Plurality of Dissent

India and the Plurality of Dissent

  Is dissent not “Indian”? This apparently facetious question is indeed a sign of our times. A new anthology from the publisher Speaking Tiger, India Dissents: 3000 Years of Difference, Doubt and Argument, offers rich evidence from history, literature and current affairs to remind us of the many voices of doubt and contestation which make…

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…

Who is a Professor? The Criterion of Justice

Who is a Professor? The Criterion of Justice

“The work is the revised doctoral thesis submitted at Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2004. Written more than one and a half decades ago, it bears the mark of its time, as does everything else of human creation.” I read these beautiful first lines of a new book – his third – by my friend, professor…

Know Your Independent Media: Raiot

Know Your Independent Media: Raiot

With this story, we begin a new series of interviews in which we map independent media in India. We begin our conversations with Gertrude Lamare and Tarun Bhartiya, members of the editorial collective of Raiot, a Shillong based bilingual webzine. In the first part of the interview, we discuss the beginnings: their association with the Thma U Rangli Juki…

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….

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…

Lest we Forget the Slow Murder of G.N. Saibaba

Lest we Forget the Slow Murder of G.N. Saibaba

In this short video, we trace the developments that led to the eventual conviction of G.N. Saibaba along with four others by the Gadricholi Sessions Court. His health is deteriorating rapidly. Though the Bombay High Court will deliberate on the sentence, the wait may take too much of a toll on his fragile health. In…

The Violence of Psychic Scripts: A Review of Loev

The Violence of Psychic Scripts: A Review of Loev

Sudhanshu Saria’s Loev opens with a stereotypical scene between stereotypical gay lovers in a flat in Bombay. It is a lover’s tiff between an anal, organised, super-efficient queen, and his lazy, disorganised, and callously male and artistic boyfriend. It is not just the pitch-perfect performances by Dhruv Ganesh and Siddharth Menon that redeem the scene from…

Analysing the Political Economy of the Dalit Struggle

Analysing the Political Economy of the Dalit Struggle

On the 1 May, 2017, the Maharashtra Sanakritik ani Rannaniti Adhyayan Samiti & Working group on Alternative Strategies organized a discussion at the India International Centre, Lodhi Estate. Suhas Borker from Citizens First TV inaugurated the event and paid tribute to the recent topper in the IIT-JEE Mains Examination, Kalpit Veerwal from Udaipur who is…

G.N. Saibaba – The Teacher I Could Not Have

G.N. Saibaba – The Teacher I Could Not Have

Vasantha Kumari's address to the media on 22 April I saw Professor G.N. Saibaba for the first time at the Delhi University South Campus Cafeteria. I was told that he taught one of our optional papers on Indian Literature, then offered in the third Semester for postgraduate students of the English Department. Although he taught…

[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…

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…

We Condemn the Attacks on IPTA in Indore

We Condemn the Attacks on IPTA in Indore

The media has reported that the right-wing Bharat Swabhiman Manch (BSM) attacked members of the Indian People Theatre Association (IPTA) at Anand Mathur Sabhagrah, Indore. Over 700 members of the IPTA were attending the convention on theatre and society. On Tuesday, acclaimed filmmaker M. S. Sathyu criticised the attack on Pakistani artists when he spoke…

“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…

In Search of an Ethical Life

In Search of an Ethical Life

Ajji, can I have some water?… Just a few drops will do, Ajji. With the searing sky above and the blistering earth below, like cactus the people of this parched terrain are determined to stay alive. Emaciated children scurry along, dejected farmers pawn their ploughs, weary women sleep on empty stomachs… Would those perishing now…

India: Liberal Democracy and the Extreme Right

India: Liberal Democracy and the Extreme Right

Indian liberalism makes a formidable claim: that the Republic is grounded in such a structurally elaborate and ideologically hegemonic liberal-democratic institutional framework that political forces of all hues are forced to consent to this framework, stake their claims and test out their fortunes within it, go in and out of the corridors of power through…

‘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…

Indian Nationalism v/s Hindu Nationalism

Indian Nationalism v/s Hindu Nationalism

Three very revealing statements by the then president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) imply all too clearly that the BJP is an admittedly “Hindu party”; rejects “secular policies”; and has as its main objective the establishment of a Hindu Raj so that “Hindu interests” would prevail (“rule India”). This, of course, is not Indian…

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…

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….

Kashmir: Cry, my Beloved Country

Kashmir: Cry, my Beloved Country

Gautam Navlakha Max Ernst, ‘Flowers of Seashells’ / WikiArt Burhan Muzaffar Wani and his comrades were born and died in the phase of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir that symbolises a watershed in politics in the state, before and after 1989-1990. Unlike in the past, indigenous militants now neither travel to Pakistan for guns or…

The World in Many Guises

The World in Many Guises

K.G. Subramanyan (1924–2016) is easily one of the most influential figures in modern Indian art. The wide range of eulogies written since his death on June 29, at the age of 92, is testimony to the legacy he has left behind, and the people he inspired through his art and teachings. Subramanyan’s art, seen through the…

The Word ‘Rashtra’

The Word ‘Rashtra’

Eminent historian K.M. Shrimali critiques the concept of a timeless Hindu Rashtra as an abuse of history at a conclave on the idea of India. Excerpts from his talk: Via the Idea of India Conclave Youtube channel Courtesy Newsclick. See here for Mridula Mukherjee’s talk at the same event.

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….

Why Has the Audience Gone “Wild”?

Why Has the Audience Gone “Wild”?

Celebrated Marathi playwright Jayant Pawar reviews Sairat, the critically acclaimed blockbuster that talks of love, caste and honour killings. See the trailer here. Yesterday I performed a social duty. I watched Nagraj Manjule’s Sairat [English: Wild]. Every once in a while, I miss an important film. No one quite holds you up to it. But since…

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…

Sedition and the Right to Freedom of Expression

Sedition and the Right to Freedom of Expression

Is free speech protected under all circumstances; does an elected government have the right (or indeed duty) to accuse citizens of sedition? In this detailed discussion with Rishab Bailey, legal director of the Society for Knowledge Commons, lawyer and legal researcher Lawrence Liang of the Alternative Law Forum talks about the history of free speech,…

The Tall Claims of the Foreign Education Bill

The Tall Claims of the Foreign Education Bill

The government is all set to allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India and allow them to repatriate profits from operations here. Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the NITI Aayog to study all reports regarding setting up of foreign universities and the reasons it could not move forward. The NITI Aayog…

Book Extract: from The Making of Exile

Book Extract: from The Making of Exile

Nandita Bhavnani In this book extract, Bhavnani explores the syncretic Sindhi culture which was forcefully torn apart during the Partition of India and Pakistan. When we are constantly told to take pride in a told of a monolithic nationalism, Bhavnani, through a meticulous study of Sindhis Hindus, shows us that cultures live in hybrid forms,…

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…

Reader, Translator, Friend: Remembering Lakshmi Holmström

Reader, Translator, Friend: Remembering Lakshmi Holmström

The acclaimed translator and anthologist Lakshmi Holmström died on May 6, 2016 in Norwich, UK. Shashi Deshpande and Githa Hariharan pay tribute to Holmström’s work and the friendship among them. Image courtesy The Hindu It was late night when the telephone rang. The caller was Lakshmi Holmström, and she immediately said, without any introduction, “I…

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…

Hindutva versus Hinduism

Hindutva versus Hinduism

Nayantara Sahgal © Francesco Longenecker / Allison Galgiani The Kohinoor was not gifted to Queen Victoria. It was taken at gunpoint from a young ruler who had no option but to surrender it. This was part of the routine colonial plunder of India. Whether we should have it back is another matter. The Natural History…

Keeping Higher Education Free and Alive in Gujarat

Keeping Higher Education Free and Alive in Gujarat

ICF speaks to Ghanshyam Shah For the last two years, Indian education has become something of a battlefield. Appointments are made based on the sole qualification of loyalty to the government (read Hindutva) ideology. Debate, dissent and freedom of expression are suppressed on campuses around the country.  Texts are banned through coercion by individuals and…

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…

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…

On the Legacy of Bhagat Singh

On the Legacy of Bhagat Singh

Bhagat Singh, circa 1929. (Sourced from Wikipedia) Bhagat Singh, the legendary Indian freedom fighter,  is credited by some as one of the revolutionaries who ushered in a new chapter in India’s struggle for independence.  In this special sit-down for Newsclick, D. Raghunandan of the Delhi Science Forum and Professor Chaman Lal, Bhagat Singh’s biographer,  discuss…

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,…

Rajmohan Gandhi: ‘The threat to our constitution’

Rajmohan Gandhi: ‘The threat to our constitution’

At a talk organised by the Jamia Collective, as part of their Guftgu initiative, historian Rajmohan Gandhi addresses an audience at the Jamia Milia Islamia.  He is introduced by professor of mathematics Iqbal Ahmad. The Jamia Collective is a recently launched platform of artists, intellectuals and activists that aims at promoting diversity, pluralism and constitutional…

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…

On the Liberal Indian Academic Living in Fear Today

On the Liberal Indian Academic Living in Fear Today

 Gayathri Sreedharan It’s hard to steal focus from the student community these days. Especially on a day like today, when the names Anirban, Umar and Kanhaiya continue to dominate headlines. Before a JNU students’ protest march demanding the release of Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, JNU Student’s Union Vice President Shehla Rashid described the student…

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…

‘Children of God’ by Huchangi Prasad

‘Children of God’ by Huchangi Prasad

Huchangi Prasad is a dalit Kannada poet and journalism student.  In October 2015, months after the publication of his first book of poems, Odala Kicchu (The Fire Within), Prasad was attacked by Hindutva goons who threatened to cut off his fingers.  See the ICF collective’s interview with Prasad here. Prasad’s full speech, delivered at a…

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)….

Inside JNU, Solidarity Holds Us All Together

Inside JNU, Solidarity Holds Us All Together

On February 15th, lawyers who support the BJP beat up the media, and harassed those attending the hearing of JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar. Why should the presence of teachers become such a threat? Perhaps the answer lies in a simple act of holding hands in solidarity? On February 14th, almost three thousand students, faculty members,…

JNU and our democracy

JNU and our democracy

Romila Thapar 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…

Attack on JNUSU and the Left Built on Lies

Attack on JNUSU and the Left Built on Lies

In an unprecedented move, Kanhaiya Kumar, the President of the JNU Students’ Union and an activist of AISF, was arrested by police in plain clothes yesterday, in the morning. He was charged with sedition and conspiracy, and sent to custody for three days. The case was filed over holding of an event against hanging of…

“I have always stood with all my writers”

“I have always stood with all my writers”

Souradeep Roy spoke to Kannan Sundaram when he was in Delhi to receive the Samanvay Bhasha Samman 2015 on behalf of Perumal Murugan. Sundaram talks about setting up Kalachuvadu, started initially as a magazine by his father, the Tamil writer Sundara Ramaswamy. Sundaram also talks about the status of the petition filed in Murugan’s favour…

“All literature is in some sense political…”

“All literature is in some sense political…”

Wasafiri — “travelers” in Swahili — is a literary magazine that started out as a political magazine focusing on the writings by ethnic minorities settled in the British subcontinent. Over three decades, it has become a magazine of cultural travel, binding together different parts of the world through their stories, poems and artwork. In a…

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…

When will we leave the same old republic behind?

When will we leave the same old republic behind?

Aman Kumar Image courtesy SAHMAT January 26, 2016: The Indian Republic. Long ago far away we committed ourselves to levelling its structure, redistributing wealth and reducing its importance through the public provision of water, good-enough healthcare, schools and universities, transport, sewerage… We are all citizens of a constitutional republic. All. Dalit, Muslim, atheist, all of…

Indefinite Hunger Strike: Press Release by Joint Action Committee for Social Justice dated 21st Jan, 2016

Indefinite Hunger Strike: Press Release by Joint Action Committee for Social Justice dated 21st Jan, 2016

Courtesy Round Table India Joint Action Committee for Social Justice (UOH) 1. At a time when the legitimacy of Prof. Appa Rao to continue as Vice-Chancellor is in question, without attending to the protesting students who are on INDEFINITE HUNGER STRIKE, the absconding Vice-Chancellor and the Executive Committee met today (outside the campus) and issued…

Resolution passed at the Panel Discussion on “Caste, Religion and Lived Culture” at Ambedkar University, January 20, 2016

Resolution passed at the Panel Discussion on “Caste, Religion and Lived Culture” at Ambedkar University, January 20, 2016

We — writers, scholars, students and teachers, assembled at the Ambedkar University, Delhi, on this day, January 20 2016, for the panel discussion on “Caste, Religion and Lived Culture”, during the release of the second issue of Guftugu,  organised by the Ambedkar University, and Indian Writers’ Forum — wish to record our anguish, shock  and…

Death in the Name of Merit

Death in the Name of Merit

In 2011, a documentary film by Manish Kumar called The Death of Merit highlighted caste-based discrimination in the Indian higher education system, and how it leads to a number of suicides among dalit students. On Suicides of Dalit Students in India’s Premier Educational Institutions Linesh Mohan Gawle, a second year PhD student from National Institute…

No More Deaths in Our Universities!

No More Deaths in Our Universities!

Image courtesy https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CY8oPVdUkAA19TD.jpg The death of Rohith Vemula, the dalit research scholar in Hyderabad who has committed suicide, raises many questions about the context in which our students are dying, not learning, in our universities. Three years ago there was a spate of students’ suicides — once again, mostly dalits. At that time the Andhra…

Who will speak for the Human Rights Defenders?

Who will speak for the Human Rights Defenders?

Courtesy Dalits Media Watch The Bombay high court judgment cancelling Prof. Sai Baba’s bail and initiating contempt proceedings against the writer Arundhati Roy is a major blow to the human rights defenders in the country. Dr. Sai Baba was arrested by the police in 2014 for allegedly indulging in Maoist activities. He was charged under…

Kar Seva through Universities

Kar Seva through Universities

Courtesy Sabrang Arundhati Vashishtha Anusandhan Peeth (AVAP), founded by late VHP leader Ashok Singhal, recently organized a two day seminar “Shri Ram JanamBhoomi Temple: Emerging Scenario” in the Arts Faculty of the Delhi University starting on January 8, 2016. As the Head of the Peeth, Subramanian Swamy led the seminar. The venue was booked by…

Reject Hindutva, Embrace Insaniyat: Nayantara Sahgal

Reject Hindutva, Embrace Insaniyat: Nayantara Sahgal

Image courtesy http://hydlitfest.org/speaker/nayantara-sahgal-2/ As Guest of Honour at the recent Hyderabad Literary Festival, Nayantara Sahgal made a strong case for continuing resistance to the Hindutvadi goal of a Hindu rashtra. Despite writers, scholars, artists film makers and scientists raising their voices over the last few months, Sahgal said, “The danger is by no means over……

Caste Crimes: How the Guilty Can be Punished

Caste Crimes: How the Guilty Can be Punished

Courtesy SabrangIndia In a rare show of unanimity within the political class, eight days ago, on December 22, 2015, the Rajya Sabha (Upper house of the Indian Parliament), passed, through a unanimous voice vote, the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2015. Communalism Combat has been consistently tracking the absence of political will…

Creativity and Censorship: The Insider versus the Outsider

Creativity and Censorship: The Insider versus the Outsider

ICF covered a special session on creativity and censorship held in the recently concluded ILF Samanvay in Delhi. AR Venkatachalapathy hosted speakers TM Krishna, carnatic vocalist, Kannan Sundaram of Kalachuvadu Publications and Sharmila Seyyid, Sri Lankan author, in a session on how censorship of the state and non-state forces has jeopardized creativity and agency in…

“There will be singing about the dark times…”

“There will be singing about the dark times…”

Faisal Abu Alhayjaa of the Freedom Theatre, Jenin, Palestine, and Sudhanva Deshpande of the Jana Natya Manch, Delhi, talk about a one-of-a-kind Freedom Jatha in India, an eleven-city street theatre tour starting December 18, 2015. Collaborating forces in commemoration of the founders of Janam and The Freedom Theatre, Safdar Hashmi and Juliano Mer Khamis respectively,…

Gaye Rama Aaye Rama

Gaye Rama Aaye Rama

Kalpana Sahni It was a hot summer afternoon in Palestine/Israel. Close to 40 degrees Celsius. I was in the Jewish quarter of old Jerusalem near the Wailing Wall. Two men materialized in the deserted square. One of them was wearing a large fur hat – a distinguishing feature of the Polish Jews. A fur hat!…

​The ILF Bhasha Samman: A Salute to Perumal Murugan’s Spirit

​The ILF Bhasha Samman: A Salute to Perumal Murugan’s Spirit

Tamil author Perumal Murugan was recently awarded the ILF ‘Samnvay Bhasha Samman’ on 28 November 2015, at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, for his novel, Madhorubhagan. The jury, headed by K.​ Satchidanandan, decided to honour Perumal Murugan’s dauntless writing and his contribution to the literary tradition in Tamil. A​.​R​.​ Venkatachalapathy​ and K. Satchidanandan saluted…

Ashok Singhal and the Making of Holy War

Ashok Singhal and the Making of Holy War

Dharmayuddha, the 1989 film directed by Saba Dewan and Rahul Roy, is set in the times of the events leading up to the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the communal riots that followed. The film traces the role played by Hindutva propaganda in creating a bloody sectarianism. In this excerpt from the film, Dewan-Roy…

What is to be done about Indian Universities?

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…

Let Perumal Murugan the Writer Live Again!

Let Perumal Murugan the Writer Live Again!

Perumal Murugan’s Facebook page, 12 January 2015, declaring that “Perumal Murugan the writer is dead.” We believe that the freedom with which the artistic and intellectual community go about their work is a measure of our nation’s health. In recent months, that freedom has been diminishing in India. Writers, artists and academics have been threatened…

यह वक़्त कठिन जरुर है पर स्थाई नहीं, इसका गुज़रना निश्चित है: कुमार प्रशांत

यह वक़्त कठिन जरुर है पर स्थाई नहीं, इसका गुज़रना निश्चित है: कुमार प्रशांत

लगातार तर्कशील एवं प्रगतिशील ताकतों पर हो रहे हमलों के विरोध में १ नवम्बर को दिल्ली के मावलंकर सभागार में आयोजित ‘प्रतिरोध’ नामक सभा में कुमार प्रशांत ने अपनी बात रखी। प्रशांत ने आपातकाल के भारत को याद करते हुए मौजूदा समय में व्याप्त असहिष्णुता को एक ऐसा समय बताया जो कठिन तो है पर…

The Paris Attack

The Paris Attack

Newsclick asked Mireille Fanon-Mendès France for her response to the Paris attack, which has left 129 dead and more than 360 seriously wounded. Mireille Fanon-Mendes France is the president of the Frantz Fanon Foundation and the daughter of Frantz Fanon, and active on a variety of issues including the World Social Forum. Image courtesy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/November_2015_Paris_attacks A Note…

“आज़ादी हमारा पैदाइशी हक़ है”: कृष्णा सोबती

“आज़ादी हमारा पैदाइशी हक़ है”: कृष्णा सोबती

लगातार तर्कशील एवं प्रगतिशील ताकतों पर हो रहे हमलों के विरोध में १ नवम्बर को दिल्ली के मावलंकर सभागार में आयोजित ‘प्रतिरोध’ नामक सभा में लेखक कृष्णा सोबती ने अपनी बात रखी. सोबती ने आज़ादी की लड़ाई के दौरान हुए संघर्षों को याद करते हुए वर्तमान समय में मौजूदा हालात के खिलाफ मुखर प्रतिरोध का…

संघ के मनगढ़ित इतिहास और बढ़ते सांप्रदायिक खतरे पर इतिहासकार इरफ़ान हबीब

संघ के मनगढ़ित इतिहास और बढ़ते सांप्रदायिक खतरे पर इतिहासकार इरफ़ान हबीब

लगातार तर्कशील एवं प्रगतिशील ताकतों पर हो रहे हमलों के विरोध में १ नवम्बर को दिल्ली के मावलंकर सभागार में आयोजित ‘प्रतिरोध’ नामक सभा में इतिहासकार इरफ़ान हबीब ने अपनी बात रखी. हबीब ने इतिहास के साम्प्रदायिकरण में सत्ता की भागीदारी पर चर्चा की. हबीब के शब्दों में, “ जब भी कोई फ़ासिस्ट शक्ति बढती…

The Shivaji Legend

The Shivaji Legend

Anirudh Deshpande (Introduction to Govind Pansare’s Shivaji by Anirudh Deshpande published by LeftWord Books.) This little book has a remarkable history. Titled Shivaji Kon Hota? in the original Marathi, Who was Shivaji? is based on a popular speech delivered by one of Maharashtra’s foremost Communist leaders, the late Govind Pansare, in Kolhapur – an important centre…

Blank Space

Blank Space

 Devyani Tewari You might be puzzled by the strange title of this note on curtailments to Constitutional freedom of speech in the judgement on a recent case. I wish to emphasise my disdain at the Supreme Court’s judgement in Devidas Ramachandra Tuljapurkar v. State of Maharashtra & Ors. Criminal Appeal No. 1179 of 2010. It…

असहमति पर बढती हिंसा अकल्पनीय: उदय प्रकाश

असहमति पर बढती हिंसा अकल्पनीय: उदय प्रकाश

न्यूज़क्लिक ने हिंदी के वरिष्ठ लेखक उदय प्रकाश से अनेक लेखकों द्वारा साहित्य अकादमी पुरस्कार लौटाए जाने पर चर्चा की. इसकी शुरुआत उदय प्रकाश ने एम.एम.कालबुर्गी की हत्या के विरोध में पुरस्कार लौटा कर की थी. उदय प्रकाश  ने बताया कि वर्तमान समय में अभिव्यक्ति की आज़ादी पर जो लगातार हमले किए जा रहे हैं…

Special Feature: Thought-free is Carefree!

Special Feature: Thought-free is Carefree!

Orijit Sen Graphic artist, cartoonist, muralist and designer, Orijit Sen is the author of the graphic novel River of Stories as well as many other works of graphic fiction and non-fiction. He is one of the founders of People Tree – a collaborative studio and store for artists, designers and craftspeople. Sen is also Mario…

“The current political dispensation headed by the Prime Minister is mandating an atmosphere of violence and fear…”

“The current political dispensation headed by the Prime Minister is mandating an atmosphere of violence and fear…”

More Indian academics around the world protest against escalating violence against targeted citizens and communities, and speak up for critical and creative freedom November 3, 2015 In light of the recent spate of killings of noted writers and intellectuals M. M. Kalburgi, Govind Pansare, and Narendra Dabholkar, and the Dadri lynching incident followed by forced…

Open Letter from Writers

Open Letter from Writers

November 1, 2015 Through this open letter, we address everyone, from the President of India to the child who has just learnt to read and discover the world around her. Many of us writers have spoken up, in one way or the other, whenever our country has been at a point of crisis. But in…

“The rule of law is being replaced with mob violence… The world is watching and history will judge you by your actions today.”

“The rule of law is being replaced with mob violence… The world is watching and history will judge you by your actions today.”

Open Letter from citizens and organisations in Hyderabad October 31, 2015 The President of India and the Prime Minister of India We the Citizens of Hyderabad and of India express our deep anguish and outrage against the onslaught on liberal ethos of India through attacks and killing of writers, Muslims, Christians, Dalits, and other members…

Control, Freedom and the University

Control, Freedom and the University

Shyam B. Menon It appears that there is a chronic tendency on the part of the State to exert control over institutions of higher learning, particularly the public university. This tendency has always been there. However, at times it assumes a form of an acute condition. This could be part of a mindless habit of…

On Resistance in Poetry and Art

On Resistance in Poetry and Art

K. Satchidanandan “In a room where people maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot. . . You who have wronged a simple man bursting into laughter at his suffering, Do not feel safe, the poet remembers.” Czeslaw Milosz. These lines carry the essence of what is meant by…

Press Statement by Distinguished Scientists

Press Statement by Distinguished Scientists

October 28, 2015 The scientific community is deeply concerned with the climate of intolerance, and the ways in which science and reason are being eroded in the country. It is the same climate of intolerance, and rejection of reason that has led to the lynching in Dadri of Mohammad Akhlaq Saifi and the assassinations of…

“Our voices have to be heard loud and clear… (we) condemn this intolerance…”

“Our voices have to be heard loud and clear… (we) condemn this intolerance…”

           Courtesy http://www.saffronart.com/fixed/ItemDetails.aspx?iid=2834& Anjolie Ela Menon: I have noted with growing alarm the taking over by the government of nine cultural institutions so far, including the replacement of the heads of all these nine institutions such as National Museum, IGNCA, FTII and Nehru Memorial Library. The quiet hijacking of the Lalit Kala Akademi and its…

“Our individual and collective voices are gathering cumulative strength…”

“Our individual and collective voices are gathering cumulative strength…”

                                           Sanu V.R., Courtesy Sahmat, http://www.sahmat.org/Sanu%20V.R.jpg The artist community of India stands in firm solidarity with the actions of our writers who have relinquished awards and positions, and spoken up in protest against the alarming rise of intolerance in the country. We condemn and mourn the murders of MM Kalburgi, Narendra Dhabolkar and Govind Pansare,…

“This will open up a whole area of challenge…”

“This will open up a whole area of challenge…”

Newsclick interviewed Teesta Setalvad on the series of awards being returned by various writers as a protest against the killing of rationalists, the Dadri lynching, and other instances of growing intolerance in the country. Setalvad discusses the power of the RSS diktat on the present government, and the agenda of communal polarisation. On the question…

Press Note from Goa Writers

Press Note from Goa Writers

Photo courtesy Navhind Times, http://www.navhindtimes.in/goa-writers-condemn-sahitya-akademis-silence/ October 15, 2015, Panaji Sahitya Akademi Award winning Authors from Goa who include senior poet Nagesh Karmali, Novelist Damodar Mauzo, Pundalik Naik, N. Shivdas,  Datta Damodar Naik, Ramesh Veluskar, Meena Kakodkar, Hema Naik, Dilip Borkar, Gokuldas Prabhu, Mahabaleshwar Sail, Prakash Padgaonkar, Arun Sakhardande and Tukaram Seth and Padmashri awardee Maria…

From a Hundred and Sixty Three Bengali Intellectuals:

From a Hundred and Sixty Three Bengali Intellectuals:

Our Concern about Rising Intolerance MSC Satya Sai, From the SAHMAT exhibition on The Making of India, 2004, Image courtesy SAHMAT, http://www.sahmat.org/themakingofindia11.html On October 14, 2015, a hundred Bengali writers, academics and performers wrote a joint letter to the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, to express their deep concern about the rising intolerance in India…

Keki Daruwalla returns his Akademi Award

Keki Daruwalla returns his Akademi Award

The Akademi has also not distinguished itself in standing by authors who are under political duress….” Dear Dr. Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari, This is in continuation of my letter of October 10, 2015, and it is with a heavy heart that I write this. The Sahitya Akademi has indeed done laudable work in the past, possibly…

Silenced Writer

Silenced Writer

Picture courtesy: http://meenaalexander.com/   In solidarity with  those in India who are resisting  forces that would silence the singer’s note, the poet’s cry, the painter’s arc of colour, the philosopher’s fierce light, I offer these words. I wrote them some time ago but they seem relevant now. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Silenced writer. I start with that. Without…

Keeping Count of Dissenting Voices

Keeping Count of Dissenting Voices

Writers Speak Up against the Unmaking of India Update October 19, 2015 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ “A distinguished Kannada writer and Sahitya Akademi Award winner, M.M. Kalburgi, and two Maharashtrians, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, both anti-superstition activists, have all been killed by gun-toting motor-cyclists. Other dissenters have been warned they are next in line. Most recently, a…

Oriya poet Rajendra Kishore Panda invokes the constitution of the Sahitya Akademi in his letter to the Akademi President

Oriya poet Rajendra Kishore Panda invokes the constitution of the Sahitya Akademi in his letter to the Akademi President

The President / Vice President of Sahitya Akademi Members of Executive Board of Sahitya Akademi Secretary, Sahitya Akademi Sir, 1. Professor Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi, well-known scholar-writer and a recipient of Sahitya Akademi award in 2006, was shot dead in the morning of 30 August 2015 at his residence in Dharwad district of Karnataka. 2. In…

“Your moment of reckoning has come…”

“Your moment of reckoning has come…”

Ganesh N. Devy is a renowned literary critic and activist, and is founder director of the Bhasha Research and Publication Center, Vadodara and Adivasi Academy at Tejgadh, Gujarat established to create a unique educational environment for the study of tribal communities. He led the People’s Linguistic Survey of India in 2010, which has researched and…

The Prime Minister Speaks!

The Prime Minister Speaks!

Picture Courtesy: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mridula_Garg.jpg The Prime Minister of India has finally broken his silence on the events in Dadri. The question is has his speaking helped improve the prevalent atmosphere of intolerance? Not at all. After all what did he say apart from making the inane statement that Hindus and Muslims should fight poverty and not…

Poet Adil Jussawalla writes to the Sahitya Akademi President

Poet Adil Jussawalla writes to the Sahitya Akademi President

Photo Courtesy: http://indianexpress.com/tag/adil-jussawalla/ October 10, 2015 Dear Dr. Viswanath Prasad Tiwari, I write as a person who was honoured to receive the Sahitya Akademi Award for 2014. The murder of writers M.M. Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare and the unacceptable censoring of many other writers by violently intolerant groups must be condemned. I urge…

Malayalam author, feminist and activist Sarah Joseph returns Akademi award to protest communal incidents

Malayalam author, feminist and activist Sarah Joseph returns Akademi award to protest communal incidents

October 10, 2015 Citing the growing spate of communal incidents across India, Sarah Joseph announced that she will return the prestigious Sahitya Akademi award that she won for her novel Aalahayude Penmakkal (Daughters of God the Father). Photo courtesy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Joseph_(author) Sarah Joseph, a leading feminist from Kerala, wrote poetry before she turned to fiction. Her highly acclaimed…

Eminent Malayalam poet and critic K. Satchidanandan resigns from Sahitya Akademi Executive Board and General Council

Eminent Malayalam poet and critic K. Satchidanandan resigns from Sahitya Akademi Executive Board and General Council

In a letter to the Sahitya Akademi saying, “The Akademi has to stand with writers and uphold the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of India…”, and, “To writers like me, this is an issue of our basic freedom to live, think and write”, K. Satchidanandan has resigned from the Akademi’s General Council, Executive Board, and…

“Words, strong and emotional words come to you easily. So why do we need to shout and scream for a few sentences about a man who was lynched for allegedly consuming beef?”

“Words, strong and emotional words come to you easily. So why do we need to shout and scream for a few sentences about a man who was lynched for allegedly consuming beef?”

Musician and writer T.M. Krishna writes to the Prime Minister T.M. Krishna, an innovative vocalist in the Karnatik tradition, is also an articulate examiner of cultural history. His book, A Southern Music, (2013), has been highly acclaimed as the first of its kind, combining actual music practice, technique, history and polemics. October 9, 2015 Honourable…

Making Education a Collective National Challenge

Making Education a Collective National Challenge

Making Education a Collective National Challenge Photo by Githa Hariharan Though somewhat old fashioned, one of the several perspectives on education is that it is all about knowledge. There have been other perspectives too, that held sway in different phases of human history. For early man, it was probably of prime importance for the very…

Nayantara Sahgal Returns Her Sahitya Akademi Award

Nayantara Sahgal Returns Her Sahitya Akademi Award

Eminent writer and member of the Indian Writers’ Forum Nayantara Sahgal returns Sahitya Akademi Award in protest against the government’s failure to safeguard cultural diversity. Nayantara Sahgal, renowned writer and niece of Jawaharlal Nehru, is known for her upright and outspoken political views. She took a firm stand against Indira Gandhi’s Emergency and, ​in more…

Keeping Count

Keeping Count

On August 15, 2015, India celebrated its independence for the 63rd time. As always, independence may not mean much to those on the peripheries of a republic of inequality. But economic inequality and age-old caste and tribe inequalities have a sharper edge in our country today. Since the BJP government has taken over, divisions of…

“Har Koi Chahta Hai Ek Mutthi Aasmaan”

“Har Koi Chahta Hai Ek Mutthi Aasmaan”

Souradeep Roy in conversation with Kiran Nagarkar Souradeep Roy of the Indian Cultural Forum interviewed Kiran Nagarkar, whose most recent novel The Extras has been published by HarperCollins India. Nagarkar ​discusses the conflation of mythology with science​. In this context, he makes a distinction between the ​present government and ​previous ​ones who, ​despite their conservative…

“I do not want to avoid the political . . .”

“I do not want to avoid the political . . .”

Sudhanva Deshpande, actor and director with the Jana Natya Manch and editor at LeftWord Books, speaks to the filmmaker Shoojit Sircar. Sircar talks about how he has tried to bring unconventional stories to a conventional film industry like Bollywood. He then speaks of his characters, pointing out that while these characters are unconventional by the…