Probing the unhealed wounds

 

Splintered Justice: Living the Horror of Mass Communal Violence in Bhagalpur and Gujarat captures the anatomy of a communal riot.

Kuldeep Kumar in The Hindu

[…] Based on interviews with victims and witnesses of Bhagalpur and Gujarat riots, what Warisha Farasat and Prita Jha have written goes to reinforce the terrible realisation that criminal justice system in our country has largely failed, and the bureaucracy and the police have been, to a large extent, politicised and communalised. It is the same heart-rending story of how FIRs were either not registered or, if registered, heavily doctored by the police persons themselves, how investigation was conducted that often led nowhere, how witnesses were intimidated or eliminated and how justice was not only delayed but often denied. The governments of the day watched over these manufactured incidents of mass violence without doing much to control the situation. Post-riot relief was often selectively distributed. The two detailed accounts of the Bhagalpur and Gujarat riots also bring out the oft-ignored reality of gender violence being used as a weapon of communal violence.

As Harsh Mander and Navsharan Singh ask in their introduction, “did the governments in Assam in 1983, Delhi in 1984, Mumbai in 1992-93, and Gujarat in 2002 or Kandhamal in 2008, fail to prevent slaughter and arson because they lacked sufficient powers or legal muscle?” The obvious answer is an emphatic ‘No’.

Warisha Farasat and Prita Jha have made a valuable contribution to the growing literature on communal riots in India through their first-hand interviews with those who bore the brunt of these massacres. Reading through these accounts is an eye-opening experience. It is an experience that shakes the very foundations of one’s belief in human goodness but also makes one better prepared to face the grim reality.

Read the full article here

Three Essays at the New Delhi World Book Fair

New Delhi World Book Fair 2017.
7 January-15 January, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.

For Three Essays books, do visit the
IPD Alternatives stall at
Hall No. 11 – Stall No. 528Book Fair Publicity

——

New releases from Three Essays:

1. Indian Society and the Secular: Essays (Romila Thapar)
2. Splintered Justice: Living the Horror of Mass Communal Violence in Bhagalpur and Gujarat (Warisha Farasat & Prita Jha)
3. The Opulence of Existence: Essays on Aesthetics and Politics (Prasanta Chakravarty)

Indian Society and the Secular

Romila Thapar‘s new book of essays, Indian Society and the Secular, arrives at a time when India is facing its greatest challenges since Independence in 1947. With ultra right in power and forces of Hindu nationalism out to revise the very idea of a pluralistic, democratic and secular republic and recast it into a Hindu rashtra. She argues that secularism is not alien to Indian society and its intellectual traditions.

romila

 

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Reality that stinks

“Dalits and Adivasis in India’s Business Economy: Three Essays and an Atlas” captures the experience of doing business in a caste-conscious social environment

KULDEEP KUMAR writes in The Hindu, 5 March 2016:

The suicide of Dalit researcher Rohith Vemula, termed “institutionalised murder” by many a commentator, has focused the nation’s attention on the status of the Dalits and other disadvantaged sections of our society as we approach the 70th anniversary of the country’s Independence next year.

Despite the “Swachchh Bharat Abhiyan” (“Clean India Campaign”) launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, not much has changed on the ground and there are an estimated 1.3 million manual scavengers in the country. Manual scavenging is a euphemism for removing faeces from dry toilets and open drains by hand and carrying them to the place of disposal. For centuries, this task has been forcibly thrust upon the members of the untouchable communities – a recent report informs us that of the 1.3 million manual scavengers, nearly 90 per cent are women. Thus, besides being an issue of caste-based discrimination, manual scavenging also involves gender-based discrimination.

Despite this shameful reality, it is also a fact that many Dalits like Rohith Vemula have tried to improve their lot by getting education and gainful employment. However, whenever we discuss the condition of the two most disadvantaged communities – Dalits and tribals – we seldom look at their role in the country’s economy in general and corporate world in particular. The same holds true for the other disadvantaged community – that of the Muslims who constitute the largest minority group in the Indian society.

Three Essays Collective, a one-man publishing house started by well-known Hindi poet Asad Zaidi to make a meaningful intervention, has brought out an excellent book titled “Dalits and Adivasis in India’s Business Economy: Three Essays and an Atlas”. It has been written by Barbara Harriss-White, Emeritus Professor of Development Studies at the Oxford University, in collaboration with Elisabetta Basile, Anita Dixit, Pinaki Joddar, Aseem Prakash and Kaushal Vidyarthee.

Ten years ago, Three Essays Collective had also published a pioneering study “Muslims in Indian Economy” written by Omar Khalidi. Reading both these books together, one gets an idea of how dismal the situation really is and, in the absence of corrective measures, how this can lead to fault lines one day erupting with serious consequences for the nation and its polity.

To read rest of the review, please go here

Following DD Kosambi

Ram Ramaswamy

Some years ago, a friend of mine at JNU proudly told me about a book that he had picked up from the library “sale”, a book that had once belonged to D D Kosambi (DDK). Apparently it had not been checked out for years, and was therefore deemed unworthy of staying on in the library, as if finding a place on the library shelf was just some sort of evolutionary game, a survival of the fittest and no more…

The JNU had, at some point in time, acquired Kosambi’s personal collection of books, that was, according to Mr R P Nene (DDK’s friend and assistant, in an interview in June 1985) “sold by his family after his death to the JNU at the cost of Rs. 75,000.” Details of how this happened are not too clear- Kosambi died in 1966, the JNU was founded in 1969, and the initial seed of the JNU library was that of the “prestigious Indian School of International Studies which was later merged with Jawaharlal Nehru University.” Our website goes on to say that the “JNU Library is a depository of all Govt. publications and publications of some important International Organisations like WHO, European Union, United Nations and its allied agencies etc. The Central Library is knowledge hub of Jawaharlal Nehru University, It provides comprehensive access to books, journals, theses and dissertations, reports, surveys covering diverse disciplines.”

The full text is here

DDK pic

“A lingering pain that seeps slowly and eternally through the flooded scars of Kashmir”

Hufaiza Pandit reviews Of Gardens and Graves

To read Of Gardens and of Graves is to witness the coming to life of Yeats’ famous line: “A terrible beauty is born”. It is to be reminded, if ever a reminder was needed, of the lingering pain that seeps slowly and eternally through the flooded scars of Kashmir, the scowl of the last half a century that darkens the fate of every subject, born under the auspices of its melancholic sky. It is hard to classify the book into a genre as it repudiates traditional hierarchies by refusing to be neatly categorized into one – it is simultaneously a memoir, a critical commentary, an anthology, collaboration, and a history all rolled into one, held together by a single source- Kashmir.  An arbitrary classification of the book structure could be that the book comprises of three basic divisions: Essays, translations and photographs. On a reading, though, the narratives under each rubric just blend with each other, without any manifest hierarchy.

To read the full review click here http://theluxembourgreview.org/2015/08/08/of-gardens-and-graves-by-suvir-kaul-a-review/

javed dar 5 aug

Perry Anderson remembers Praful Bidwai

Praful Bidwai
On publication of The Indian Ideology, I was asked by Praful Bidwai if he could interview me about it for Outlook. I was then in France, and our exchange was conducted by email. … [Before this] I had met Praful just once, at a conference in Delhi in 2010, at which I remember him gently reproaching me for being uncritical of India’s intervention in East Bengal in 1971. After the interview, however, he would unfailingly send me his articles on political and social developments in the Subcontinent. From these I formed a great admiration for him as a writer and an activist. To my knowledge, few journalists anywhere in the world possessed the combination of human and intellectual qualities that was his: clarity of expression, independence of mind, balance of judgment, warmth of feeling, in the service of solidarity with the poor and the oppressed, not only in India, but anywhere in the world. He was extraordinarily productive, and completely unsectarian, in both sympathy and outlook. His sudden death in July of this year has deprived India of one of its finest spirits of the contemporary period.

perry anderson(Excerpted from The Indian Ideology. Note to the Second Edition.)
Link to the Outlook interview:
http://www.outlookindia.com/…/respect-gandhi-if-you-…/282832

Of Gardens and Graves: Review by Gowhar Fazili in Biblio

original Of Gardens and Graves By Suvir Kaul

The juxtaposition and the parallel reading of poems written by Pandit and Muslim poets is a conscious move to se the shared language and poetry as the “affective glue that binds” them together even as they bear witness to “the destruction of the community”. Kaul does not perceive the suffering of the two communities – of one in the form of exile and its concomitant loss and hurt, and of the other, through militarized repression, systematic humiliation and denial of political agency – as opposed to each other, but as corollaries of the same phenomenon. The extraordinary sensitivity and scrupulousness with which he is able to navigate between the two sets of subjectivity, and not undermine either, despite being personally implicated as a Kashmiri Pandit, who also identifies as an Indian, is remarkable.

Of Gardens and Graves – Biblio review.

To Speak of Kashmir

Of Gardens and Graves

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“In our world, official stories are repeated ad nauseam by every form of government or corporate media, and most often these stories have more to do with administrative convenience than with people’s lives. One of the most important tasks of writers is to produce accounts of experiences and events that contest official myopia and lies. Now, as you say, there are a number of writers who are doing just that, and doing so convincingly. I also believe that academics have a special responsibility to pay critical attention to such cultural productivity, and thus to make it part of larger conversations across the globe.”

Suvir Kaul in conversation with Majid Maqbool

Full text: http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/2015/Apr/27/-we-have-to-repair-trust-and-rebuild-homes–18.asp

 

Keeper of Memory

On Eduardo Galeano

… Galeano’s death on April 13 is like the death of Gabriel García Márquez last year. The departure of both is a huge loss for the continent. Both knew how to tell a tale: one could bring his literary talent into play in histories of imperialism, of everyday life, of football; the other his historical sense and chronicler’s skill into fiction. Both started as journalists and remained rooted in the tradition of radical reporting. Their approach to writing has sometimes been described, quite carelessly, as “idiosyncratic” and “magical”; something to be clubbed with gonzo journalism. That is nowhere near a fair description of the style, let alone the substance, of their work and lives….

For the full story go to: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/radical-storyteller/

Sharing Galeano

original Open Veins of Latin America By Eduardo Galeano

In honour of Eduardo Galeano who passed away on April 13, we at Three Essays Collective are offering Open Veins of Latin America at a special price of Rs250 for next two weeks, starting April 16. For a book priced at Rs450, this amounts to a discount of nearly 45 percent, and with free postage to a 50% discount. This is not sales promotion. The book is a perennial seller at the original price. On our part it’s an act of remembrance and love.

For all those who love Galeano, this is an opportunity to gift a copy to their friends, colleagues, partners. The special offer will end on April 30, 2015.

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One writes out of a need to communicate and to commune with others, to denounce that which gives pain and to share that which gives happiness. (Eduardo Galeano, 1940-2015)

In Memorium – Daya Varma

Daya Varma died just a week ahead of the release of his second book, Medicine, Healthcare and the Raj: the unacknowledged legacy. He will be remembered for his extraordinary life – a life lived so directly, courageously and honestly. There were many books inside him, waiting to be shaped after he retired from his busy life as a scientist, teacher and progressive-radical activist in Montreal –  Three Essays Collective

DayaBW

Excerpts from the obituary notice released by his family and friends:

Dr. Daya Ram Varma
Passed on: March 22nd, 2015
August 23, 1929 – March 22, 2015

Dr. Daya Ram Varma, died Sunday March 22, 2015, at his home in St John’s surrounded by loving family and friends.

Daya was born in a small village called Narion in India to proud parents, the late Sampati and Matabadal Chowdhary. Starting at a one-room primary school in his village, pursuing his quest for education, he went on to receive MBBS and MD degrees with honours from the prestigious King George Medical College in Lucknow. He came to Canada to study in 1959 and received his PhD in Pharmacology from McGill University in 1961. He rose through the academic ranks, and then continued to work through a post-retirement appointment until 2007. He was made a professor emeritus in 2009.

He leaves behind Shree Mulay, who has been his wife, comrade and companion for twenty-eight years; his three children: Rahul (Dipti Gupta), Roli (Deepak Kapoor), and Rohit Varma (Asma Yasmin); their mother Krishna Varma; his four granddaughters: Ila, Sonia, Sarah, and Aliya, of whom he was very proud; and his step-son Aziz Mulay-Shah. Daya was pre-deceased by his step-son Sanjay Mulay-Shah. He also leaves behind his siblings, nieces, nephews, and other relatives and hundreds of close friends and comrades in India, Canada, and throughout the world.

Daya was a lifelong activist dedicated to equality, justice, and peace. He was a secularist and a socialist who applied his intellect towards social causes. He was featured in many documentary films such as Bhopal: Search for Justice, which chronicled his compelling findings as a way to find justice for victims of the Bhopal disaster (1984). He authored two books on the history of medicine, over 225 scientific papers, and a large number of political articles published in a range of prestigious journals. Never daunted, he compiled the March issue of INSAF bulletin during the last stages of his illness. Daya founded, supported, or influenced many progressive organizations such as the Indian Peoples Association in North America, CERAS, Kabir Cultural Center, the South Asia Women Community Center, Teesri Duniya Theatre, and many others. In particular, he championed the cause of peace and harmony between India and Pakistan.

Daya came from a small village in India and his life ended in a small city in Canada. He appreciated the warmth of people of St. John’s, Newfoundland and was an avid member of Bridge Clubs run by Marilyn Bennett and Joan Fitzgerald. Daya’s family thank Ms Helen Osmond who provided care during his last days.

 

Three Essays at Book Fair

New Delhi World Book Fair 2015
February 14–22 | Pragati Maidan

BF

Three Essays Collective
is present at
IPD Atlternatives
Hall No 1R
Stall Nos. 49 & 50

The Kafkalands Of India

original Kafkaland By Manisha Sethi

At a time when the world is back to debating terror, it’s clear that the ruling regime in India has made certain that things tilt in a certain direction. On December 30, 2014, in what appeared to be a New Year gift, BJP President Amit Shah was let off on all charges linked to the 2005-6 murders of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kauser Bi and Tulsiram Prajapati. While giving a verdict that seemed to be doing the job of defending Shah at every stage, the judgement held that Sohrabbudin was a crook and hence deserved to be nabbed. In doing so, there was a presumption that the “encounter” that killed him was genuine although the facts reveal that he was abducted and murdered (what followed with his wife Kausar Bi, raped and killed in custody, was truly brutal).

It was in the context of the Gujarat fake encounters that some movement had taken place towards justice for the victims and punishment for the perpetrators. Following the manner in which the Shah case has been managed, the possibility of other cases falling apart is very real. That is one of the reasons why people who engage in such issues must read a recently released book, Kafkaland: Prejudice, Law and Counter-terrorism in India. It’s written by activist-academic Manisha Sethi, who has been at the forefront of exposing random arrests in the name of fighting terrorism.

Read the full review here:

http://www.outlookindia.com/article/The-Kafkalands-Of-India/293158

Securing the Nation State as Terrorist

original Kafkaland By Manisha Sethi

Excerpt from the review in EPW by Sharib Ali

What Kafkaland: Prejudice, Law and Counterterrorism in India has to say is indeed odd and tragic. Sethi’s canvas is specific. It is not Kashmir, not the north-east, not “Naxal”. It is bomb blasts, attacks, conspiracies in “mainland” Indian cities and towns, which have together constituted the charge of “Islamist terrorism” – one of the fundamental signifiers post-2001. Meticulously examining more than 30 cases in their entirety including charge sheets, trials, media reports, conversations, etc, and the public discourse around them closely controlled by the “security analysts”, the “experts” and talk shows with police officers and politicians, as well as a close look at the military industrial complex, Sethi lays bare what Talal Asad calls “death dealing in liberal democratic times”. In the first thorough account of India’s war on terror, Sethi shows how the Indian state, in its indigenous ways, has conducted its war on terror by killing, maiming and accusing its own people of waging a war against it. How the state has rewritten its laws to suit its needs. And how it has in an ultimate sovereign act raised itself above its laws and transformed the taking away of the fundamental right to life into “breathtakingly sterile officialese”, or the sheer domesticity of Ab Tak Chhappan where Nana Patekar’s wife asks him to wash the blood stains off his shirt while giving instructions for the perfect sambar preparation.

To read the full review, go to http://www.epw.in/book-reviews/securing-nation-state-terrorist.html

‘It’s important to stay engaged and keep pressing for equality and justice.’

original On Their Watch Edited by Surabhi Chopra & Prita Jha

Surabhi Chopra is co-editor of ON THEIR WATCH: Mass Violence and State Apathy in India. Examining the Record. She is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law, Chinese University of Hong Kong. She researches transitional justice, national security and the rights of the poor. She replies to four questions we posed before her.

1. How did you get involved in this project? What made you do it?

Harsh Mander initiated the project that led to On Their Watch. Harsh had been involved in the movement for the right to information.  He had also been deeply involved in a grassroots movement for justice in Gujarat after 2002, called Nyayagraha. Nyayagraha activists were using the Right to Information Act in their work, and Harsh was keen to use this law on a larger scale in relation to communal violence.

surabhi-chopra

I had been using the RTI Act in my own work as a human rights lawyer. Seeking official information about preventing torture had led to some interesting discoveries, and I felt that the RTI Act could be used much more in documenting grave abuses of human rights and responding to them. So I was drawn to a project that would use the right to information for learning more about some of the most serious episodes of violence that India has seen.

The International Development Research Centre, and Navsharan Singh in particular, supported the research. A small team of people got involved in the project. Some, like Prita Jha, Suroor Mander and Anubha Rastogi, had experience in law and human rights. Rekha Koli had worked on using the RTI Act on a range of issues, and coordinated the rather sprawling right to information endeavor we launched. We sought official records on mass violence in Nellie in 1983, Delhi in 1984, Bhagalpur in 1989 and Gujarat in 2002.

Read more ›

Music, City, Self

Aneesh Pradhan in conversation with Nalini Taneja about his book Hindustani Music in Colonial Bombay and some key issues in contemporary Hindustani art music.

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original Hindustani Music in Colonial Bombay By Aneesh Pradhan

What in your view are the key problems in historiography of Hindustani music, as well as musicology that derives from it?

Until the last two decades or so, historiography of Hindustani music was largely restricted to hagiographies and the study of one or more treatises.  Hindustani music was almost regarded as an occurrence in a vacuum, without any reference to the socio-cultural, political and economic contexts within which the music was being made.  However, this idea of history has changed greatly, and we have to thank non-Indian scholars and Dr. Ashok Da. Ranade, eminent scholar-musician, for bringing to the subject critical writing and path-breaking analysis.  Today, Hindustani music is being written about not just by ethnomusicologists, but also by anthropologists and historians.  While this has increased critical inquiry into the subject and has thrown up several important questions, I must hasten to add that there is often a lack of dialogue between the scholarly work and the oral tradition.  In other words, the absence of familiarity with the performing tradition and its worldview, often restricts the scholarly work from adopting a multi-layered approach.  Likewise, performers are often not informed about recent research, and are therefore content with the myth and legend that they have been conditioned by.

aneesh-pradhan

Read more ›

‘No justice is possible in a system of impunity and compromise.’

original On Their Watch Edited by Surabhi Chopra & Prita Jha

Prita Jha is co-editor of ON THEIR WATCH: Mass Violence and State Apathy in India. Examining the Record. She is a human right activist working in Gujarat. She replies to four questions we put to her.

Q.: The book is based on painstaking field-work. The chapter on Gujarat, written by you, is the longest. The hurdles you faced in Gujarat, where officials are very reluctant to part with any substantial information, should be enormous. How did you manage to conduct this study?

Prita Jha

PJ: The challenge of conducting the research in Gujarat was indeed enormous. Unlike other episodes where there were a few violence afflicted districts, in case of Gujarat almost all districts of Gujarat were affected and FIRs (First Information Reports) were registered in hundreds of police stations. So, there was a kind of unexpected avalanche effect as far as RTI (Right to Information) responses were concerned. Keeping track of them was very difficult. The ten RTI applications we sent to each district, got transferred to hundreds of police stations in some instances. Sometimes we received a district level response but many times we did not.

Read more ›

MSS Pandian, 1957-2014

pandian
The sudden departure of MSS Pandian, historian, scholar and extraordinary teacher, adds a sense of emptiness to these terrible times. A massive heart attack following a gastro-intestinal complication, of which he wasn’t fully aware, took him away on 10 November 2014 at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. On the way to the hospital in the morning he was worrying about the MA class he was to teach  at 4:00 in the afternoon at the Centre of Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, where he was a professor. He will be missed by his students, friends and colleagues. A radical,  avant garde scholar with deeply egalitarian moorings, his work will remain an example of a prose that is objective, political and moral.

An excerpt:

“For a man born in 1906 and witnessed the most acute battles around caste — whether it be M K Gandhi’s threat to suicide which robbed by means of the Poona Pact the ‘untouchable’ communities of separate electorate, or the nation-wide movement for temple entry by the untouchables, or the rise of the non-Brahmin politics in the Madras Presidency during the early decades of the twentieth century — R K Narayan’s forgetfulness about caste comes through as a bit surprising. But this feeling of surprise fades away when one does a closer reading of his autobiography. All through the autobiography, caste masquerades as something else and makes its muted modern appearance. For instance, writing about his difficulties in getting a proper house to rent in Mysore, he writes, ‘…our requirements were rather complicated — separate room for three brothers, their families, and a mother; also for Sheba, our huge Great Dane, who had to have a place outside the house to have her meat cooked, without the fumes from the meat pot polluting our strictly vegetarian atmosphere; a place for our old servant too, who was the only one who could go out and get the mutton and cook it.’ It does not need much of an effort to understand what ‘strictly vegetarian atmosphere’ or meat, which is specified as mutton (that is, it is not beef) encodes. It is caste by other means.The subtle act of transcoding caste and caste relations into something else — as though to talk about caste as caste would incarcerate one into a pre-modern realm — is a regular feature one finds in most upper caste autobiographies. Caste always belongs to someone else; it is somewhere else; it is of another time. The act of transcoding is an act of acknowledging and disavowing caste at once. In marked contrast to the upper caste autobiographies, the self-definition of one’s identity, as found in the autobiographies of the lower castes, is located explicitly in caste as a relational identity. The autobiographical renditions of Bhama or Viramma, two Dalit women from the Tamil-speaking region, the poignant autobiographical fragments of Dalits from Maharashtra, put together by Arjun Dangle in his edited volume Corpse in the Well, and Vasant Moon’s Growing up Untouchable in India are all suffused with the language of caste — at times mutinous, at times moving. Most often the very act of writing an autobiography for a person belonging to a lower caste is to talk about and engage with the issue of caste.5 In other words, we have here two competing sets of languages dealing with the issue of caste. One talks of caste by other means; and the other talks of caste on its ‘own terms’ ” MSS Pandian(‘One Step Outside Modernity: Caste, Identity Politics and Public Sphere’).

Excerpt from Afthab Ellath’s Wall.

Before the Law

original Kafkaland By Manisha Sethi

Kafkaland explores the grisly underbelly of counterterrorism, where prejudice and lawlessness are the standard operating codes. From Mumbai to Bangalore, to Delhi to Madhya Pradesh, it examines some of the most prominent terror cases to show that the hallmark of terror investigations is not simply a casual subversion of norms but cynical prejudice and brutal violence inflicted in the knowledge of absolute impunity.  It also examines the disquieting trend of judicial abdication, wherein the courts indulgently ignore signs of torture, lack of evidence and absence of procedural norms, while trying terror cases.

Manisha

Kafkaland challenges the dominant narratives of counterterrorism and the emerging security-industrial complex.  Kafkaland is where impunity, bias, suspicion are sustained by laws, where erosion of constitutional guarantees is advertised as internal security, where corporate greed masquerades as national interest.  (Available from October 30)

Manisha Sethi is currently Fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. She teaches at the Centre for Comparative Religions and Civilizations, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She is also Associate Editor at Biblio: A Review of Books. Her book Escaping the World: Women Renouncers among Jains was published in 2012. Sethi is an activist with Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (www.teacherssolidarity.org).

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