Ambedkar, Gandhi and the battle against caste

The Doctor and the Saint

By ARUNDHATI ROY | 1 March 2014 |  The Caravan

BR Ambedkar in Bombay

BR Ambedkar in Bombay, in 1939—three years after publishing Annihilation of Caste, his most radical text.

ANNIHILATION OF CASTE is the nearly eighty-year-old text of a speech that was never delivered.* When I first read it I felt as though somebody had walked into a dim room and opened the windows. Reading Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar bridges the gap between what most Indians are schooled to believe in and the reality we experience every day of our lives.

My father was a Hindu, a Brahmo. I never met him until I was an adult. I grew up with my mother, in a Syrian Christian family in Ayemenem, a small village in communist-ruled Kerala. And yet all around me were the fissures and cracks of caste. Ayemenem had its own separate “Parayan” church where “Parayan” priests preached to an “untouchable” congregation. Caste was implied in peoples’ names, in the way people referred to each other, in the work they did, in the clothes they wore, in the marriages that were arranged, in the language we spoke. Even so, I never encountered the notion of caste in a single school textbook. Reading Ambedkar alerted me to a gaping hole in our pedagogical universe. Reading him also made it clear why that hole exists and why it will continue to exist until Indian society undergoes radical, revolutionary change.

Revolutions can, and often have, begun with reading.

Ambedkar was a prolific writer. Unfortunately his work, unlike the writings of Gandhi, Nehru or Vivekananda, does not shine out at you from the shelves of libraries and bookshops.

Of his many volumes, Annihilation of Caste is his most radical text. It is not an argument directed at Hindu fundamentalists or extremists, but at those who consider themselves moderate, those whom Ambedkar called “the best of Hindus”—and some academics call “left-wing Hindus.”1 Ambedkar’s point is that to believe in the Hindu shastras and to simultaneously think of oneself as liberal or moderate is a contradiction in terms.

When the text of Annihilation of Caste was published, the man who is often called the “greatest of Hindus”—Mahatma Gandhi—responded to Ambedkar’s provocation. Their debate was not a new one. Both men were their generation’s emissaries of a profound social, political and philosophical conflict that had begun long ago and has still by no means ended. Continue reading

US Public Radio interview with Arundhati Roy

Smiley and West, NPR — December 13, 2013

West: From PRI, Public Radio International in Princeton I’m Cornel West.
Smiley: And in Los Angeles I’m Tavis Smiley.

Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy

West: Brother Tavis, we are blessed to have one of the great and courageous intellectuals of our time. She is Arundhati Roy. We call her Sister Roy. Of course she’s the winner of the Booker Prize of her renowned novel The God of Small Things. She is the author of a variety of very powerful prose, non-fiction prose. She is in the process now of finishing a new text called Capitalism: A Ghost Story.
What a blessing to have you, Sister Roy.
Roy: Thank you, Dr. West.
West: Let’s start, before we get to your magnificent political activism, your visionary political activism, let’s go all the way back to your upraising, your training as an architect very much like Thomas Harding, becoming a great writer like Thomas Harding.
How do you connect your childhood with your training as an architect to your becoming a great writer?
Roy: I don’t know if I’m a great writer.
West: I can testify to that.
Roy: I’m a little embarrassed by all the good things you’re saying about me.
I grew up in south India as the child of a divorced mother which was unusual in that area. You know it’s a very parochial community called the Syrian Christians. My mother had married outside the community and then got divorced and come back to the village.
Growing up there in a very traditional space where caste was practiced, where there was all kinds of bigotry hidden and not so hidden, then growing up outside of this great Indian family unit.
I suppose it just made you look at society and wonder why it wasn’t offering you the certainties and the assurances that it offered a lot of other people from my kind of background.
I think that’s what initially made you want to explain it to yourself through writing.
The architecture was actually something that I did because I knew that I had to do something where I could earn a living very quickly so as to not be dependent on anybody because I knew that once that happened I wasn’t going to have even half a chance to write or to think or be anything other than live a very constricted, suffocating life. Continue reading

India: The largest “democracy”? — or, a brazen — but false — electoralism?

[As Maoists in India denounce India's claimed "democracy" as deceptive and fraudulent, the Indian state deploys nearly 150,000  troops, and moves hundreds of voting stations out of rebellious regions.  See the following two reports from the mainstream Indian press.  --  Frontlines ed.]

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Maoist posters calling for poll boycott found at bus stand

Business Standard, Tuesday, October 22,

Bottom of Form

Maoist posters calling for boycott of the upcoming Assembly polls were found pasted at a bus stand in the Kanker district in Chhattisgarh, where as many as 18 Maoist-affected constituencies will go to polls on November 11.

Three posters and two banners were found put up at the waiting hall of the bus stand under Pakhanjore police station limits last evening, a senior police official told PTI today.

Although, security personnel regularly visit villages to instill confidence in the people to vote, the rebels have appealed to villagers to kick both the BJP and Congress out of power, the police said, adding that a case has been registered in this connection.

Meanwhile, taking serious note of the Maoist threat, the Centre has sent additional 40,000 personnel of paramilitary forces to ensure peaceful polling, in addition to around 65,000 police personnel and 27,000 paramilitary troops already engaged in anti-Maoist operations in the state. Continue reading

Indian TV interview with Delhi U. Professor Saibaba: “Are Left sympathisers being branded as Naxals?”

Sep 19, 2013

Is GN Saibaba, the wheelchair-bound professor of English in one of the country’s premier university, the new face of Naxalism? The Maharashtra Police raided the home of Delhi University professor Saibaba last week, alleging that he is an active member of the banned CPI-Maoist.

India: “Condemn the Arbitrary Raid of the House of Prof. GN Saibaba, An Intellectual and Joint Secretary Of RDF!”

Press Release By Committee For The Release Of Political Prisoners, 13 Sep 2013
Condemn The Criminal Designs Of The Joint Intelligence-Special Cell-Gadchiroli Police Combine To Implicate Prof. GN Saibaba Along with The False Charges Framed Against Hem Mishra, A JNU Student!

In an unprecedented act of terror to terrorise, on the 12 September 2013, around 3 pm, a joint operation of a team from the National Investigation Agency (NIA), 7 members from the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, 15 member police team from the Aheri police station, Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, 7 member police team from the Maurice Nagar Police Station, Delhi University—all put together 50 member squad—barged into the premises of the quarter in which Prof. GN Saibaba was staying with the family. The Aheri police team comprised of Mr. Suhas P Bawache who happens to be the Investigating officer of the case in which Hem Mishra, a JNU student has recently been shown as arrested in Aheri police station limits. Additional SP Shashi Kumar was also part of the team. The NIA team refused to reveal their identity. Sub Inspector Sanjeev Kumar identified himself as part of the Maurice Nagar Station while his colleague Narendra Dubey from the same station refused to reveal his rank. As mentioned before the team comprised of 50 members just to raid the premises of a family comprising of three—Prof. GN Saibaba who moves in a wheel chair with serious disability, his life partner AS Vasantha and their daughter Manjeera in her teens. Undoubtedly it was an act of intimidation, cold and calculative.

Prof. GN Saibaba had just returned from Ramlal Anand College where he teaches in the English department. Sooner than later the marauding team of police/intelligence had seized all the mobiles—Saibaba, his partner AS Vasantha and daughter Manjeera—and confined them to a room. Continue reading

Nehru U. Students/Cultural Activists branded “Naxals”, arrested

[Political protests and cultural expressions of oppoosition to the repressive and undemocratic Indian state continue to grow, and the States' response continues to be: slander the opposition, call all activists "Naxals" or "Maoists", and round them up for some combination of interrogation, torture, or disappearance--and thereby create a climate of fear for other activists and political opponents.  It is the common method of repressive regimes everywhere, including India. -- Frontlines ed.]

  26 August 2013
by Nupur Sonar, Tehelka
JNU Student arrested in Gadhchiroli for alleged Naxal links

August 25, 2013

Hem Mishra, a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and executive
member of Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) was arrested
along with two others by the Gadhchiroli police in Aheri on Friday morning
for having alleged Naxal links. The two others identified as Mahesh Tirki
and Ram Purate belong to Murawala region.

Although reports of his arrest have been rife in some sections of the local
and national media since this morning, the police had neither confirmed nor
denied his arrest. However, speaking to TEHELKA, DIG Ravindra Kadam has now
confirmed the arrest.  “A courier from senior most female Naxal leader
Narmada Akka was recovered from Mishra apart from other ‘incriminating
material’ and he was seen moving around suspiciously in the area for two
days prior to his arrest,” he said. Continue reading

India: Soni Sori’s husband, Anil Futane, passes away

By the time he was acquitted, Anil Futane was beaten so severely in jail he became paralyzed. With his death on 2 August, serious questions are being raised about the working of the police force in Chhattisgarh
In custody: The next SC hearing in the Soni Sori case will be held on 23 January

is led by the police outside the district court complex in New Delhi
Photo: Shailendra Pandey

’s husband, Anil Futane, died on 2 August at his native place in Geedum tehsil in Dantewada district of . Like Soni, he had been arrested and jailed as a . On 1 May 2013 he was acquitted by the court after spending nearly three years in jail. While in jail he was beaten so severely he became paralyzed. Soni, Anil’s wife, is still lodged in Jagdalpur central jail and his last rites were performed in her absence.

Soni and her husband were residents of Sameli village in . While Soni was a teacher in a government primary school, her husband, Anil ferried local passengers in a Bolero jeep. In July 2010 a case was filed against , Anil and Lingaram Kodopi for carrying out a naxal attack on the house of Avdhesh Gautam, a Congress leader from Nakulnar in the Dantewada district of . Although Anil was acquitted in all the cases, his health has severely deteriorated in the three years he spent in jail.

NRK Pillai, a CPI leader and a senior journalist from Dantewada, says that the police left Anil at his house in the Geedum tehsil of Dantewada. Although he had been acquitted in all the cases, no one came forward for his treatment. Pillai says he had gone to Anil’s house to meet him and saw that he was in serious need of medical attention. He talked to his associates in Delhi regarding Anil’s health and was advised to send him to Delhi for proper treatment. According to Pillai no one came forward to take Anil to Delhi because of police fear. Continue reading

Nepal: The Strange Bedfellows of Nationalist Politics

[The following three articles, from the Nepali bourgeois press, describe new twists and turns in the politics of the former kingdom and nascent republic.  The announcement of the move by the leadership of the CPN(M) may have some relation to Baidya's recent trip to capitalist-imperialist China (countering the UCPN(M)'s embrace of relations with the aggressive-yet-comprador Indian  bourgeoisie). 

And the move also reflects the ongoing urban orientation of the CPN(M).  The masses of peasantry in the countryside will undoubtedly view this with dismay, as a further CPN(M) downgrading of the struggle against feudal relations--a struggle which has been repeatedly downgraded, marginalized, neglected and suppressed since the end of the People's War seven years ago.  

On the other hand, there are feudal forces (landlords) who have indicated their love of this shift. 

And Baburam Bhattarai, speaking for the revisionist-cum-bourgeois "republicanism," jumped on it immediately, condemning the "collaboration" of Baidya and Biplav with the king. (see the third article, below). 

With this, what has been characterized as the struggle of a revolutionary CPN(M) vs. a revisionist and neo-comprador UCPN(M) begins to reflect two competing forms of nationalism, one aligned with China, the other with India. 

This turn poses a significant challenge to genuine revolutionaries in Nepal, and to all who support the revolutionary struggle in the Himalayas: May the revolutionary peasantry, youth and former PLA fighters keep their independence and revolutionary mass orientation!   --   Frontlines ed.]

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Business Standard:  “Nepal: CPN-Maoist may join ex-king to protect ‘nationalism’”

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

CPN-Maoist, the breakaway faction of Nepal‘s Unified CPN-Maoist, today said that it could join hands with former monarch King Gyanendra for the sake of protecting “nationalism”.

CPN-Maoist Chairman Mohan Vaidya said that there could also be collaboration with the former king, “who carries true feelings of nationalism”.

66-year-old Gyanendra’s reign ended in 2008 when the Constituent Assembly declared Nepal a republic and abolished the monarchy.

At a function in Nuwakot district, Vaidya also said that there was no alternative to the formation of a greater front with all the nationalist forces including the former king on this issue. Continue reading

India: Maoists Warn of Ruling Class Hysteria, Threats, Attacks, and False Promises

COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (MAOIST) — CENTRAL COMMITTEE

Press Release, June 11, 2013

See through the conspiracy of the ruling classes to launch bigger offensives on the people using the 25 May attack as a pretext

Unite, Fight back and Defeat the ‘War on People’

The gangster community that made Indian Parliament its lair is in panic. Terrified. Aflutter. Seething. Fuming. Up in arms. Baying for blood. Baring its fangs. Spitting poison. After all the May 25 Jeeramghati attack struck down one of their best trusted lieutenants in field. Quite Understandable.

Actually speaking, the scamster-gangster bunch does not care much for Mahendra Karma’s death because they knew that this was something waiting to happen even when they were carrying on mayhem and murder under Salwa Judum (SJ) which they all had contributed to create or let pester like senators watching gladiatorial contests in amphi-theaters, with Karma as SJ’s public face and with the support of fascist central and state mercenary armed forces. They are frightened more because in this country where every kind of exploitation, oppression, suppression, corruption and scam is carried on almost unchallenged, as the order of the day and shamelessly under public gaze, the fact that somebody ‘out there’ can bring these fascist scamster-gangsters to book and deliver justice is not so easy to stomach. It is like finding oneself completely naked and vulnerable with all robes of Z plus securities and paraphernalia of security suddenly vanishing into thin air with the fury of the suppressed masses breathing down their necks. Highly explicable. A strong reason to be upset.

Who knows who will be next? More chillingly, what would be in store if people completely vexed with the increasingly unbearable treacherous, undemocratic, slavish and wicked anti-people deeds of the pet-dog politicians choose to consider this as an option to vent their ire to put an end to their habitual comprador performance? Even worse, what if they consider doing away with the whole bunch by overthrowing the parliamentary system as the Maoists vouch to and call upon the people to follow? Very worrying indeed.

And for once it is better that they be. They better understand that not every politician can get away with the kind of neo-fascist suppression of the poorest of the poor of this country that was perpetrated in the name of a Salwa Judum, a Sendra, a Shanti Yatra, a Shanti Sena, a Harmad Bahini, a Bhairav Bahini, a TPC or an Operation Green Hunt, can get away with selling the riches of our country one by one as a daily routine at breakfast, lunch and dinner to fill the insatiable black-hole belly of the imperialist beast, can get away with turning every word that gives meaning to our existence as human beings like freedom, independence, sovereignty, self-reliance and democracy meaningless. They better realize for the umpteenth time (counting all such instances since the days of a Spartacus) that a people crushed so cruelly can never take everything lying down forever. For once it is better that they be alarmed.

Karma, a medieval type land lord, architect of SJ, looter, sadist, rapist and enemy of his own tribe; most of his security men, cannon fodder but undoubtedly deployed to aid in his mayhem and massacre; some SJ leaders; and some top Congress leaders were wiped out in the 25 May incident. Unfortunately a few others who got caught in the initial firing also died in spite of our sincere efforts to minimize the casualties once the main targets were caught and Comrade Gudsa Usendi, the Spokesperson of our Party’s DK unit had already tendered apology for it. The list of brutalities perpetrated by Karma and his ilk could fill many a volume. Though not all, many of them have been documented in detail by the CPI (Maoist), revolutionary and democratic mass organizations, civil and human rights organizations, democrats, journalists and concerned citizens for all those who want to see. There is no purpose to the various conspiracy theories doing their rounds in the media about the reasons for this attack other than diverting the people’s attention from the truth. An unabashed conspiracy by the corporate media to hide the truth about the brutality of the SJ and the role of the Indian Army, big corporate houses, central and state governments, the Congress and BJP parties and slaughterers like Karma in its creation and developing it into a man-eating monster. Such is its impatience to get rid of the Maoists that it did not even take into account that SJ was termed illegal by their own highest institution the Supreme Court. And all of them including Jairam Ramesh have once again repeated the most nonsensical and exhausted argument of ‘sandwich theory’ that Adivasis are being crushed between the armed forces on one side and the Maoists on the other. If they really believe in this then why don’t they demand first that the armed forces deployed in lakhs by the central and state governments be immediately withdrawn when they are agreeing that they suppress Adivasis? Their lies fly in their face with the fact that the overwhelming majority of Maoists are Adivasis in the strong areas of the movement. Our Party reiterates that we never work against the interests of the people. It is solely the ruling classes and their forces that suppress the people and our Party fights it back. Continue reading

Dual Power in a Guerrilla Zone: Two Reigns of Political Violence in Bastar

by Bernard D’Mello and Gautam Navlakha

The ambush on May 25 by Maoist guerrillas in the Darba Ghati valley (in the Sukma area of the Bastar region in southern Chhattisgarh), 345 kms south of the state capital of Raipur, of a convoy of provincial Congress Party leaders has shocked the Indian state apparatus. The Z-plus and other categories of armed security personnel — entitlements of the ‘lords’ of India’s political establishment — were no match for the guerrillas. The main targets of the attack were Mahendra Karma, founder of the state-promoted, financed and armed private vigilante force, Salwa Judum (SJ), and Nand Kumar Patel, the chief of the Congress Party in the province and a former home minister of the state.

A press statement issued by Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) (CPI [Maoist]) on May 26 states that the “goal of this attack was mainly to eliminate Mahendra Karma and some other reactionary Congress top leaders”. It pointedly reminds Chhattisgarh’s state government leaders and state police officials “who are hell-bent on crushing the revolutionary movement of Dandakaranya” that they suffer from a “big illusion that they are unbeatable”. Mahendra Karma too falsely believed “that Z-plus Security and bullet proof vehicles would save him forever”. The statement also clarifies that in Chhattisgarh “there are no differences between [the] ruling BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] and opposition Congress in terms of policies of suppressing the revolutionary movement. Only due to public pressure, as well as to gain electoral benefits, some of the local leaders of the Congress at times came [out] in condemnation of incidents like [the] Sarkeguda and Edsametta massacres”.

The convoy was returning from a “Parivartan Yatra” (“March for Change”) rally in Sukma and the Maoists knew not only that Karma and Patel were in the convoy, but even the route that it was to take. The assassinations were thus meticulously planned and executed, though they took a two-hour long gun battle with the state forces to accomplish, a clash in which many who merely serve or protect (the latter, armed personnel) the oppressors, and do so because they have little choice, were either killed or injured. The Maoist guerrillas reportedly even provided first aid to some of these persons who suffered injuries. Continue reading

Chhattisgarh: Maoists Torch Road Construction Machines

Outlook India | Raipur | Jun 10, 2013
Maoists today torched two road construction machines and took away a tractor in the insurgency-hit Kanker district of Chhattisgarh.”Maoists torched a bulldozer and a JCB machine of the forest department, apart from taking away a tractor, engaged in road construction work in Mendra village,” Pakhanjore Sub-Divisional Officer of Police Anil Kumar Soni told PTI.

Maoists are observing Jan Pituri Week from June 5 to June 11 to commemorate their `martyrs’.

Vehicular traffic was thin at many places in south Bastar’s remote areas. People faced difficulty in reaching their destinations.

As the Railways have decided not to run the passenger train from Visakhapatnam to Kirandul beyond Jagdalpur fearing Naxal attacks during the week, passengers were forced to travel by bus from Jagdalpur to Kirandul.

Police said patrolling by paramilitary forces had been intensified in the Naxal-infested areas.

However, this time Maoists neither announced any relief for public transport system nor gave any call for bandh during the Jan Pituri week, contrary to their past practice.

Meanwhile, a Naxal was arrested from Mardapal police station area of Kodagaon district, police said. “Guddu Muriya, 25-year-old member of Usri Jan-militia, was arrested in Mulnar village on Sunday late night,” Additional Superintendent of Police Surjeet Atri said.

India–”Peals of Spring Thunder”: Oppressive System cannot control the struggle against oppression

The Naxalite Attacks at Sukma
by BINOY KAMPMARK, writing in CounterPunch

naxal_attackThey have been considered one of India’s most pressing threats, and the recent attack by the Naxalites that ambushed a convoy of the Congress Party went that much further.  The ambush took place over the weekend in Sukma on the Maharashtra, Andra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh border. Reports suggest that there were as many as 200 Maoist rebels who inflicted heavy losses – 28 killed and 24 others wounded – before fleeing.

The attacks have shaken the establishment.  Among the dead were four state party leaders including Mahendra Karma of Chhattisgarh, and five police officers.  For BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar, “This new aggressive strategy of the Naxalities is a real threat to the Constitution and the rule of law. It is a challenge to sovereignty” (Times of India, May 26).  Former police chief of Punjab state KPS Gill is pessimistic about the new surge – the government of the day did not “have the political will and bureaucratic and police set-up to prevent such attacks” (Dhaka Tribune, May 26).

How the Naxalites have been treated has varied.  In 1967, when the movement first made its presence felt in the West Bengal village of Naxalbari, the Home Minister Y. B. Chavan treated the matter as a case of “lawlessness” in action.  The mistake was classic but fatal.  During the 1970s, the state authorities moved in on the movement hoping to crush it with repressive enthusiasm.  As usual with such measures, the quotient of extra-judicial killings and corrupt practices accompanied the operations.  Legislation was passed to enable various state authorities to take measures – the attempt, for example, by the N.T. Rama Rao government to free up arms licensing in Andra Pradesh in 1983 for individuals to protect themselves against the Naxals. Continue reading

“The mighty Chhattisgarh falters, once again”

Monday, May 27, 2013 | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

Securitymen inspect the site of ambush on Sunday. 27 people were killed and over 30 injured in the attack.One lakh (100,000) men of state police, 40,000 paramilitary fighters and 11 IAF copters fail to make a difference on ground.

[Photo:  Securitymen inspect the site of ambush on Sunday. 27 people were killed and over 30 injured in the attack. - PTI]

 

 

 

The biggest Maoist strike in Chhattisgarh in terms of political impact that killed 27 people, including four state Congress leaders, has once again proved that little has changed on the ground in the tribal heartland and the CPI (Maoist) remains well entrenched there, capable of calling shots almost at will.

The undetected movement of a well equipped force of over 250 Maoists that engaged for nearly two hour gun battle in broad daylight on a state highway has thrown up several questions for both Centre and Raman Singh-led state government to answer for.

The first and the foremost question that intrigues is how over a lakh strong state police machinery that has support of almost 40,000 central armed police personnel on ground and air support of drones and 11 IAF and BSF helicopters failed to track and fight such a large movement of Maoists.

While the security officials blamed vastness of the area, its rocky and jungle terrain and ill-equipped and low morale state police as reasons for unable to overpower the Maoists, activists like GN Saibaba, vice-president of Revolutionary Democratic Front of India claimed the reason for Maoist domination lies in having a popular support base among the tribals.

“The tribals have been at the receiving end at the hands of the state machinery. They have been harassed and killed by repressive governments for last 60-70 years and find a natural ally among Maoists. Till you do not have a pro-people government such situations will keep arising,” said Saibaba.

Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh indicated slackness on part of the Chhattisgarh government for not being able to change the ground situation. “If you go by statistics I don’t think we have been able to see any change in districts like Kanker, Narayanpur, Bijapur, Sukma and Dantewada in last 9 years like we have been able to see in several Maoist affected districts across Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal…. The target of the attack was to send a message that this is a liberated zone, political parties keep off,” said Ramesh. Continue reading

Documentary filmmaker Sanjay Kak talks about his new film, Red Ant Dream, and the architecture of revolutionary desire

 


Red Ant DreamTrailer Published on May 1, 2013
A documentary about those who live the revolutionary ideal in India
Director: Sanjay Kak
Synopsis:  ‘Let us declare that the state of war does exist and shall exist’, the revolutionary patriot had said almost a hundred years ago, and that forewarning travels into India’s present, as armed insurrection simmers in Bastar, in the troubled heart of central India. But to the east too, beleaguered adivasis from the mineral-rich hills of Odisha come forth bearing their axes, and their songs. And in the north the swelling protests by Punjabi peasants sees hope coagulate–once more–around that iconic figure of Bhagat Singh, revolutionary martyr of the anti-colonial struggle. But are revolutions even possible anymore? Or have those dreams been ground down into our nightmares? This is a chronicle of those who live the revolutionary ideal in India, a rare encounter with the invisible domain of those whose everyday is a fight for another ideal of the world.
Gondi, Odiya, Punjabi with English Subtitles
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Talking about a revolution…

Sanjay Kak. Photo: Apal Singhby BUDHADITYA BHATTACHARYA, The Hindu,

 

  • [Sanjay Kak. Photo: Apal Singh]
  • The third in a cycle of films that interrogate the workings of Indian democracy, Red Ant Dream by Sanjay Kak looks at the revolutionary ideal as it exists in India today. Moving between Punjab, Bastar and Niyamgiri, the film documents the songs, histories and struggles of people who try to imagine a different world into being. The director responded to questions in an e-mail interview:

 

Can you talk about the beginnings of Red Ant Dream? When and why did you get interested in making this film?

 

A still from the film.

[Photo:  A Still From the Film]

It’s always difficult to say where the beginnings of a film lie, because in a sense what you put into a documentary could be the summation of many years of thinking about an idea, your whole life even! For more than a decade all my films have been about resistance – Words on Water was about the movement against big dams in the Narmada valley, Jashn-e-Azadi about Kashmir, and now with this new film we look at the stirrings in Bastar in Chhattisgarh, the Niyamgiri hills in Odisha, and briefly Punjab. More specifically, I think Red Ant Dream was a reaction to the way in which the rebellion led by the Maoists in central India was being depicted in the media and in public discourse – as an isolated, autonomous outbreak of something like a pestilence, something alien called Maoism. Continue reading

India: Maruti Suzuki Workers Union pamphlet on the occasion of May day

Sanhati, April 30, 2013

[Note from Maruti Suzuki Workers Union : We are currently on an indefinite dharna in Kaithal, Haryana since 24 March 2013, which included an 8-day Hunger Strike, and will continue until our demands are met. Please join us, in large numbers on 8th May 2013 in Kaithal (in front of the D.C. Office) for a program and rally to take the struggle forward.]

sitin2

Make Stronger the Unity of the Workers of Gurgaon-Manesar-Dharuhera-Bawal and the Toiling Masses of Haryana !

On the occasion of May Day, take the pledge to challenge the attack of the Capitalists and the Government which serves their interests !

Friends and Comrades,

Our experiences in struggle since 4th June 2011 provide us with the realization of a renewed importance of May Day and its glorious history. Moulded and tempered in the hearth of the struggle against exploitation and repression, the meaning of this history confronts us with an immediacy and concreteness today.

Exploitation and unceasing exploitation, struggle and repression: what all have we not witnessed during the space of these two years! On the strength of our unity and the solidarity of the workers of the industrial belt of Gurgaon-Manesar, after three phases of strike actions in 2011, we finally formed our Union in March 2012. This expression of our collective strength was unbearable to the management of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, Manesar and the state administration, who, to break this unity, as part of the conspiracy of 18th July 2012, declared us to be mindless criminals and terminated the jobs of 546 permanent and around 1800 contract workers. Along with this, 147 of our innocent fellow workers were thrown into jail, who continue to languish there, while non-bailable arrest warrants were thrust on 66 of us. An atmosphere of terror through continuous police repression and administrative intransigence firmly on side of the company management has been hounding us ever since. When we look at the horrible exploitative conditions of work of our fellow workers inside the factory today, the rationale behind the lies and fabrications of the company’s narrative around 18th July 2012 become clear to us. The workers working inside the factory today are bereft of all the rights that we won during the first phase of our struggle. Fewer workers than earlier toil harder than before. When even as much as an inkling of a renewed attempt to raise our voice, to establish our Union inside the factory came, 13 of the more active workers were promptly transferred to various corners of the country, and the attempt crushed there itself. So much for ‘everything’s under control’ in the Maruti’s ‘way of life’! Continue reading