Monthly Archives: August 2007

Blog for a One State Solution

‘Na jaane kaun si mitti vatan ki mitti thi’.( We never knew which soil was the soil of our land)

‘Hazaar Baar ruke’, from the film Mammo.

‘How many deaths will it take to be noticed that too many people have died?’

– Bob Dylan, Blowing in the Wind.

As long as there will India and Pakistan, this fight will never stop. Too many times has this been said.

More than 2000 people were killed, slaughtered, burnt in all the violence in 2002 in Gujarat. The mainstream in Gujarat is still in denial.

About half a million people died when the subcontinent was torn apart into Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

Bomb blasts continue to claim innumerable lives. People from each side are hurt. The real reasons behind these blasts are still elusive. We all guess: terrorism, creating communal unrest…Perhaps all these are true.

For the Hindu, Muslim and Christian Sikh, Parsi and whatever person of faith caught in the middle it is just a matter of living with dignity, with the ability to practice your faith and go on with your life which matters.

For as long as these borders remain, our psyche will always be divided, although we are not divided in our history, culture and consciousness.

We need to do away with these borders, and let us start dreaming now. Because politicians are people and it is people who create opinion. It is people like us who can put an end to communal violence.

September 10 to September 16th ,2007 is the week to blog for a united India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Voices from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh coming together to say why and how a One State Solution is possible within this subcontinent.Whether and how one State can and should be created.

Here is what you have to do:

Blog about why you want or don’t want an undivided subcontinent.How you think that the creation of One State could solve problems of religious intolerance and security in the subcontinent. And how you think this is possible. What the future holds in store for an undivided subcontinent, what could be possible…

Let us create a coalition to take these voices far and wide. The One State Solution Week. September 10 to 16th, 2007.

This is a collaborative event. If you want to design posters, hand-outs, invites…the more the merrier…

Suggestions and queries welcome.

Let’s make it happen!
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How tight are your boundaries?

‘God is not a square .God is Cross.’, ‘Parmeshvar ke sirf chaar kone nahin hain’.

14th August 2007.

A performance as part of the workshop, ‘To draw a Line’, a marathon dedicated to Nasreen Mohammedi and Bhupen Khakkar at the Faculty of Fine Art, MS University, Baroda.

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It isn’t so hard to find inspiration in Baroda. The past few months have been tight with debate, dissent and its dissolution.

This was a performance that surfaced at Vivan Sundaram’s strategic reclamation of democratic art space at the eve of the 6oth year of Indian Independence.

A confluence of diverse notions of poesis , this performance, is for me an assertion of my body, as a Muslim woman with all its markedness, within the parameters of institution, nation and godhead.The effort is to shoulder the project of embracing, recasting and reclaiming all of them.

Enveloping my insider/outsider position within each fractal of this moment and space, between stretching and slouching, this work spans the betrayal and anger of God, woman, man (as exemplified by Christ) and democracy in today’s Gujarat.

This work comes from a self that is moving within a cube, one set by the trauma, gravity and despondency of the aftermath of genocide, both on one community and other communities. Emerging from the paradigm set by this workshop, the performance is a siege of the mundane normalcy of the university space to articulate voices far beyond its (current) scope: the shadow-lines of rape mapped on the tryst of exploited women’s bodies starting to realise ‘freedom’.

In terms of type-scape and struggle with form therefore, the self morphs itself into varying positions to grapple with movement. And the release is , in this case in breaking the cube, and ironically, in an act of prayer after.

The workshop was dedicated to Nasreen Mohammedi and Bhupen Khakkar , artists who enriched and nurtured this institution and Indian art, each with their own trajectories of identity.

And as art historian Santosh reiterated again, for each one of us, it’s about time someone drew a line.

So, says the macrocosm, God is not a Square. Stop being so linear.

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*Special Thanks to Vivan Sundaram.

*Photos and video are in the pipeline.

Gone too softly…

a murmer, thats all.

You had pneumonia.Ha ha…

We’re alive you’re dead, you left-

Us.In this place with raging torrents and harsh hatred.

It killed you, too softly, too silently.

 You’re gone.You left, you went away.

Three or four days ago.

You tried to reach out, but we’re all too harrowed.Our wounds rot and the stench hangs over us, we hang in it.So you’re gone, fresher than we are.

So long.Farewell.

You had a voice.You said things, you reached out.You acted.You cared.

You were a good human being.

There is no I that seperates itself from the journey You embarked upon.We’re together, in strength and sorrow.

I dont know what is left of us.We have betrayed ourselves, each minute in this delusional wreckage of a place.We dont know virtue from vice, food from thought, sleep from the thick ice that prevents us from communicating, the awesome tiredness and exhaustion.We’re a society that needs to heal.

Bye, Bina.

We loved you. Really.

 For Bina Srinivasan.Who is dead.Gone.

A road far away from disarmament:The Indo-US nuclear deal

In his swearing in speech, the Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh pledged to be a leader in the
complete global elimination of Nuclear weapons.

Today, the opposers of the Indo-US nuclear deal , called the 123 agreement are being dared to withdraw their support of the UPA goverment on grounds of disagreement with this deal.

While the deal itself is comprehensively locked in diplomatic gives and takes, what it really spells is this.That for the future, complete disarmament of nuclear weapons is out of the question.What we will see instead is the powers that possess these weapons will also have the right to determine who else possesses them.

The threat of a nuclear war is as real now as when the US tested the first nuclear test at Alomogordo, New Mexico on 16th July 1945.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty website says ‘Arms control advocates had campaigned for the adoption of a treaty banning all nuclear explosions since the early 1950s, when public concern was aroused as a result of radioactive fall-out from atmospheric nuclear tests and the escalating arms race.

Over 50 nuclear explosions were registered between 16 July 1945, when the first nuclear explosive test was conducted by the United States at Alamogordo, New Mexico, and 31 December 1953.

Prime Minister Nehru of India voiced the heightened international concern in 1954, when he proposed the elimination of all nuclear test explosions worldwide.’

We have come a long way since then.For those of you who are interested , in more analysis here is the text of the 123 Agreement, linked via Siddharth Varadarajan’s blog.

Anti-Racist Developing-World Muslim Feminist for the International Week for Blogging Against Racism(whew!)

IWAR

This week is the International Week for blogging against Racism. And I’m joining the long tradition of speaking truth to power.

Living with labels makes you feel their histories each time you interact with someone. Indian, Black, Muslim, woman… So to put it really simply, this is my identification with all people of colour. The reason we all need to stand up against Racism (read the Angry Black Woman’s post here).

“The US and the USSR are the most powerful countries in the world

But only 1/8th of the world’s population

African people are also 1/8th of the world’s population

Of that 1/4 th is Nigerian,

½ the world’s population is Asian,

½ of that is Chinese

There are 22 nations in the Middle East.

Most people in the world are Yellow, Black, Poor, Female, Non-Christian and do not speak English.

By the year 2000 the 20 largest cities in the world will have one thing in common.

None of them will be in Europe, none in the United States.”

Audre Lorde(January1st 1989), as quoted in the book ‘Feminism Without Borders’ by Chandra Talpade Mohanty.

To understand one’s place in the world right now it is very important to understand and break white privilege. Both personally, and politically.

Working with bodies and the body, I encounter and try to deal with the affects of oppression and violence on people. And post-colonial women share with Black women the history of being oppressed doubly, by male power both at home and in the public domain by the coloniser. For post-colonial minority women, power acted at the level of the public domain by a majority ruler, and at the domestic level by a minority male.* (This isn’t to simplify either of our histories, but to cite a common ground for coming together and drawing from each other’s struggles.)

So to form a contemporary consciousness that is independent and capable of forming agency within itself, an individual who is a post-colonial minority woman would need to overcome and redefine herself as independent of oppression at the domestic, local, national and global level. That means overcoming patriarchal and majority consciousness, and transcribing a self that draws from a painful historical legacy but is not bound by it. Being Muslim this is a very complicated and interesting place to be.

Getting at the root of one’s oppression means training your body to recover from its binding memories. Being a part of a community that has been looked at as other, whose history has been carved out of violence and genocide, and has been written largely by a dominantly different consciousness, the individual wakes up to find herself cast in moulds even before she knows them, or perceives choices. And these moulds are reinforced at the level of the home, at the level of the local milieu by being in a minority and at the global level by being a post-colonial (or sub-altern).Close your eyes and imagine what it could be like to black and woman in America, or, to be Muslim and Indian in India.

Recovering from one’s history therefore would mean, lets say for a Muslim woman in Gujarat, at the immediate level of survival threatened by a majority hegemonic state government, from sexual violence engendered by majority male violence, from sexual and domestic violence at home brought about by an oppressed male, and from a historical and political denial, unacknowledgement and indifference by the (democratic post-colonial) nation state. In their everyday this means countering prejudice, objectification, poverty, and lack of opportunity among other gruesome and perhaps unnamed ills.

Recovering from one’s physical and psychological oppression is paramount to envisaging a future. And the processes that bring this about can be multiple. In Lars Von Triers’s Manderlay, a young white American finds herself in an all Black Southern village, which has just lost the White Family that owned it and its people. She takes over the responsibility of setting things right and when she goes to the wisest man in Manderlay she finds that he , for the lack of creative and better alternatives for being advocates a return to the order of the older days. He also shows her a book of classification which the masters used to configure the slaves. Everyone was put under a neat bracket, like ‘pleasing n*****’, or thinking n*****’ and these were stereotypes created in conjunction with behavior patterns that the slaves had adopted in order to cope or deal with the oppression.

While working with structure is difficult for an emancipatory politics that seeks to liberate and not stultify, such a politics should devise itself based on internal peace, radical substitutes and personalised means of coping. There are no easy answers. Social Change is slow, but in driving it, initiators and catalysts need to be both sensitive and critical of individual strengths and resistances, being aware of all the forces that s/he is dealing with.

It is easy to white-wash differences under an evasive frame-work of emancipation, and we must be wary of the variations of force that tug at the lives of young people, and women. Race, class, religion, nationality, disability, indigenousness… are real and plausible differences that contain powerful histories of struggle within themselves. To be blind about difference is like living from hand to mouth, expecting an emancipation that is out of tune with the past and out of place in an individual’s context, and hard to live by in the everyday. We need a small steady, constant battering and reconstruction of structure within and outside ourselves, and we must never stop thinking big.

And very necessary in this process is participation in debates about issues that affect our lives, be they climate change or abortion or the decisions that our countries are taking in the nuclear weapons race. All of us need to stand up and take charge of our foreign policies from within our governments, giving democracy its due as a diverse and united people, Blacks, Muslims, all coloured people, women, people with disabilities…Only participation in the larger public sphere can lead to a responsible emancipation.

Let’s hold hands across the globe and stand up for honesty, peace, and demand for responsible, true, transparent and non-hypocritical democracies.

*or a more detailed account of the post-colonial woman’s history as a body, see Martha Nussbaum’s paper called ‘Body of the Nation’.

Icon by rilina