Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Theatre of the absurd Chhattisgarh style

The horrific sexual violence in Bijapur in October 2015 shows what a culture of impunity has developed in Chhattisgarh. Despite the Supreme Court’s directions in 2011 that the state must register FIRs on complaints against security forces, this is perhaps the first time in a decade that the police have registered an FIR on a complaint by a women’s fact-finding group. But this is only the beginning of a long and hopeless battle in which trying to get justice becomes a means to torture the victims.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

MM Kalburgi and the death of rational enquiry?

Can a log which chisel and hammer cannot split
be split with axe and sickle?
Would a mind which
after being chiseled with the nectar of elders’ vachanas …
yield to the axe and sickle of the Veda and aagama?
It will not. 

The 17th century vachana poet, Hemagalla Hampa might well have been writing of the 21st century vachana scholar, M M Kalburgi, who was shot in his home on August 30th. Kalburgi was a Kannada epigrapher, winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award for his collection of essays Marga-4, and Vice-Chancellor of Hampi university. Can a clear, penetrating mind ever be vanquished by the petty tyrannies and guns of those who claim to own faith? Kalburgi’s name will live on, while even the police don’t seem to want to know the names of his killers.

Friday, August 14, 2015

It’s High Time We Learned Something From our Students

What did the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) have in mind when it reportedly told the striking students of Pondicherry University that academic violations by their Vice-Chancellor had nothing to do with them and would not affect their degrees? Surely the quality of academic leadership has some bearing on the quality of education an institution provides, and if not, then why waste tax payer money on the salaries and allowances of V-Cs, directors and chairpersons of academic institutions?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A little memory can go a long way

A little memory can go a long way

It is the silences that attend media coverage of Yakub Memon’s impending execution and not the Shiv Sena’s aggressive calls for his hanging that hold a mirror to Indian democracy most clearly. Leading national dailies carry photos of mangled bomb blast sites and interview those affected, as if to justify the imposition of the death penalty; none ask why other victims must continue to suffer silently the indignity of watching their attackers go scot-free.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

A journey through the shifting battlegrounds of land and human souls


The road from Jagdalpur to Lohandiguda is a smooth 30 km, turning off into some of the most beautiful and unusual villages in the region. High stone walls fence off large compounds around houses of mud, thatch and shale.  Chind or date palm trees grow along the bunds of the fields, and the tabletop hills rise flat and low in the background. The ravages of a couple of limestone quarries apart, this is fertile agricultural land.

Madhu, one of the men I met in Sirisguda, recounted a conversation he had with a shopkeeper in Jagdalpur, who asked him where he was from. “Lohandiguda”, he replied. “Then you are the maliks of Tata,” the shopkeeper said, “They will give you all the facilities you need, especially since your fields produce nothing.” Madhu replied, “Thanks, but I am earning fine now, and grow three crops a year, and don’t need the Tatas.”