Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Naxalism ....-- Mahasweta Devi (Writer & Social Thinker)

The topical relevance of Naxalism and the people’s response about it is not riding low ebb. On the contrary, one feels that the movement has more relevance in our times than in the 70s. During the period of last 10- 15 years, there has been a marked increase in the number of starving and destitute masses. The political and economical (tantra) is a lame mare in the hands of the rich and the influential. This movement is going to intensify in the forth coming times as a plethora of people are standing on the edge of razor in this existing socio- economic system. The government too feels that the influence of this movement is increasing by leaps and bounds and further more at least more than one – third of the country’s area is under the strong influence of this movement [ Government have termed this area as The Red Corridor]. However, the government is always in a dilemma regarding this movement- either to term it as a law and order problem or consider it as a socio- economic problem. The real problem is that the government walked on the road of curbing down the Naxalite movement with force, but never paid heed to curb down the socio- economic problems, which resulted in the augmentation of the Naxalite angst.
Naxalism still finds a place in people’s heart and more and more people are drawn into it because the activists of this movement never want any thing in return to quench their own needs. They neither want power, nor vote. They are self-sacrificing warriors fighting an ideological war. They are bestowed with inconceivable bravery. I find my ideals in the sacrificing personality of these activists. Their [andolan] movement is [imandar] and attractive and is for good ideals. This is the reason why they get a prominent position in my writings. You also need to understand that Naxalism is not a separatist movement like ULFA, BODO, NSCN. Moreover, the local support earned is much more and stronger in the case of the Naxalites as compared to the separatist groups. The roots of the Naxalite movement are still at hand because it has its roots at the very base of the social strata. For example the very first instance of this movement is when the tribals of Chhattisgarh were unified against the [Bichaoli] and Tendu leaves contractor [thekedar] who were exploiting these tribals. As this movement started at the very base of the social order, it has become a bone of contention in the eyes of the government (curbing it has become a challenge for the government). The criminalization and paralysis of the state-system is the reason for the rapid growth of Naxalism.
The issues that led to the birth of this movement are still as fresh as new; therefore there is no reason why this movement will lose its vitality. Today, there are 56 Naxal groups in our country, who have their influences over around one- third of the total land available. I understand and foresee that in near future, the area of influence under this movement will definitely increase as [asantosh] and [bikshobh] in society is yet to be razed down. Lakhs of people are starving, suppressed, oppressed and are bereft of even their basic needs [fundamental rights? It is a distant dream]. In such a dismal situation, how can we hope for the demise of Naxalism? As long as there will be an unbalanced growth in the socio- economic system, suppressed, oppressed, exploited, demoralized people will struggle and rise up in arms against so called ‘System’. This struggle will be eternal and universal.
[Inspired by a interview published in Rashtriya Sahara, Tuesday, 5 August, 2008 (Hindi) by Ashutosh Pratap Singh]

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

window to iberian puppetry

Throughout history, puppet theatres have fascinated audiences and served as sources of inspiration (as referred in the Introduction to ‘Window to Iberian Puppetry) for both Eastern and Western creators who use the doll-size stages as mediums of expression. The pantomimes of these marionettes form the part of our ancestral human culture resources. From Ancient Egypt to classic Greece, to the Roman Empire, to the thousand year-old culture of China, puppet theatres have played essential roles in the art of theatre, interpreting every genre, including satire. Thus, the theatrical microcosms created by the puppet world bring our history together and keep alive our advances.With this in mind, the State Corporation for Spanish Cultural Action Abroad (SEACEX) together with the centre for Initiatives of Tolosa and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) is organising an exhibition called ‘Window to Iberian Puppetry’. The exhibit features Spanish and Portuguese puppet shows, styles and marionettes from the 18th Century through today, demonstrating the peculiarities of this form of cultural expression that all the world shares, from Latin America to the Asian Pacific.The representations of the puppets and their construction reflect the cultural and social diversity of this art form –these exhibits can and should become a vehicle for the exploration and knowledge of different cultures and cities. Thanks to the invaluable effort of the private and public collectors, and of course the organisers, who toiled so hard to put up a show like this.
Recently, Bahroop visited this exhibition to learn this unique mode of expression and were quite informed by a Spanish Puppeteer himself, who took us around the exhibition explaining every bit to the infinitesimal details. The Exhibition will be on till 26th Februray’08 in ‘Mati Ghar’ at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi. It is a must see for theatre lovers and practitioners .

Saturday, February 09, 2008

22nd Suraj Kund Mela

On 9th February, I visited the 22nd Suraj Kund Mela. Situated on the bank of Historical Suraj Kund, this year the theme was Bengal. Thus it was a familiar sight every where around it was peaceful with a folk ambience all around. The ‘Bikki-Kinni’- buying and selling as we call it in Bengali is on with a melodious classical flute tune or Sehnai (a musical instrument in flute genre) being played there.

The Theme Pavilion was Apna Ghar- AMAR GHAR- OUR HOUSE.The artist who was in charge of this theme was Mr. Goutam Sutradhar. He is a CHHAU Mask Maker from Baghmundi, Purulia, West Bengal, INDIA.
He is a very enthusiatic fellow. I had a chat with him that led me to understand that what a plight these artists are in. he is getting a daily wage of Rs.200 each for attending this 15 Day festival of international repute. Thus, we are showcasing them as the cultural heritage of India, but in reality these artists are leading a miserable life that is unseen by any of us, the visitors, guests, the lovers of art.
i was much moved by their ernest cravings. so, i thought of portraying this family apart from portraying the mela a visual treat to us. the story will go on....
Of course i will tell the readers to go and visit the Suraj kund Mela , because amidst the din and bustle of Rushing Delhi Life ...that place will take a rejuvinator... giving in new life... where we can almost breath the raw smell of the soil.. thus, remembering our roots.....

Friday, February 01, 2008

AISA XIV JNU Unit Convention

AISA (All India Students Association), JNU Unit is organising its XIV th Unit Convention. To uphold the tradition of protest and to stand against all odds is what AISA always stands up for. Every issue that AISA takes up concerns the sociaty at large, making the students not only Academically sound in the University like JNU , but developing them into a social being.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Bidrohi Kavi...... forgotten?

Few days back, we all were busy celebrating the birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore on 25th Baisakha. However we tend to forget that on1st Jyastha (25 may) was the birthday of Kaji Nazrul Islam (better known as the ‘Vidrohi-Kavi’ -‘Revolutionary Poet’). Every year these days are celebrated in the Bengali community. A Bengali, who may belong to Bangladesh, or West Bengal in India, someone staying in Tripura or a NRB (Non Residential Bengali) who stays in the foreign, all meet in their possible spheres on these dates to honour and commemorate these great poets of Bengal and Bengali imagination. The basis of this confluence is the indivisible cultural identity and the sense of a cultural nationhood among the Bengalis. Rabindranath Tagore was a Bengali poet too. However, he gradually surpassed his cultural identity as a Bengali and systematically first he became the poet of the country (more particularly and aptly of the whole subcontinent) then become the ‘Viswa-kavi’- Poet of the whole World. This is not true in Nazrul’s case. He internalized the diversity in the Bengali identity, mixed socio-cultural heritage, and remained the poet manifest of the Bengalis. If Rabindranath Tagore is the ‘Poet of the whole World’, then Nazrul is the ‘Poet of the Bengalis across the globe.’

Bangladesh is politically separated from India dividing Bengal into two. However, the culturally inseparable identity still stays undivided. The political division may have led way to some technical differences, but it could not change the fundamental structure and character of the culture and heritage of the Bengalis across the border that is prevalent for a thousand years. As the peoples of both the Bengal i.e. West Bengal & Bangladesh (Formerly East Bengal) have equal rights on the water of river Ganges, in the same way they have equal rights on ‘Charja-Padas’, to Rabindranath-Nazrul-Jibananda and the flow of culture in all these could not be divided merely by a political division. The population of Bengalis around the whole world is just 40 crores. Therefore, when the English language has created a cultural nationhood across the globe, it is only the assertion of our right to preserve and establish a cultural nationhood based on our language and heritage that can save us from extinction.

At the time of partition, when the Bengali community was rip apart with the violent weapon of communalism, it was the pen of Nazrul that spoke –‘Mora ekie brintay dooti kusum hindu –musalman’-‘we the buds from same branch-Hindu & Muslim’(translated by me). Nazrul was the poet of Bengali renaissance at the critical period of partition and there after. His poems and songs still move the nerves of Bengali imagination. However, the revitalization is on the verge of total apocalypse. The Bengalis from both the sides of the Ganges or Padma, are on the same line of cultural extinction. Society, politics, economy, and virtually in every field Bengalis are the target of this chaos and confusion. The neo-hip-hop slang western culture is very aggressively gobbling up the ancient culture and heritage of the Bengalis. If one wants to preserve one’s own culture and heritage, one has to first rejuvenate the Bengalis on either side of the Ganges and result in a mass uprising and assertion of our voices. Once again, one needs the songs of uprising, once sung by the revolutionaries of Bengal and then the whole of India. Nazrul can only pen these songs.
Nazrul can only once again unleash the tide of this uprising. For last fifty years, we have been worshipping the Viswa-Kavi, now time has come to add flavour to our taste where along with the pedantic carol music songs of the Kavi, one has to strengthen ourselves to sing the songs of Nazrul that are militant in tone and vigorous in sense. Therefore, the need of Vidrohi-kavi Nazrul is all the more very ardent in this era of social, moral and cultural degeneration. The greatest epitome of the cultural unity that forms the base of the Bengali existence is Nazrul himself. Thus, one must not let this vital resource, the fountain of militant rejuvenation-‘Vidrohi kavi’ Nazrul into oblivion.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

CP market :A Heaven during Diwali

I was spellbound when I Visited CP four days before Diwali and Id.. The Footpathes were Flooding with Stalls and people flocking at these stall as if Bees flocking near their hives..The variety of handicrafts,handpainted clothes,carpets..Etc were altogether a new experience for me. It is true that a Kolkata basi will have no wonders as we are used to see Dharmatala footpath market and Kolkata's very own CP is the New market but still..The variety one gets to see here is really enthralling...Thus it is my advice to every Kolkatabasi that if you are visiting Delhi..Love a bit of Shopping (be it just window), do visit CP and you will experience the vibrant Delhi alive in it...