Friends, I am very happy that my in-law state Kerala has featured me in their leading newspaper Matrubhumi. Thank you Suneetha Balakrishnan for the effort. The article features my books and thoughts on writing. This is so lovely.

Please read more here …

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6
Sep

The Book Review: Communal Violence As A Pathology

   Posted by: aman   in Punjab

Friends, my review of a very important book for the Indian sub-continent, especially north-India given our times when as a nation we are gong through a tailspin in terms of our values and politics.

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT OF THE PARTITION OF INDIA
By Sanjeev Jain and Alok Sarin Sage Publications, 2018, pp. 260, R 850.00

This appeared in the recent edition of The Book Review. Thank you Adnan Farooqui for the opportunity.

As a lay person interested in mental health, personal and community, I feel this book opens a space the nation should have been discussing and sorting out ever since our blood dimmed independence.

Please read more here …

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4
Sep

Punjab Update: Unholy Haste to Save the Faith

   Posted by: aman   in Punjab

Friends, thanks to Punjab Today for carrying my recent The Hindu Businessline piece with some additions on the discussion in Panjab Assembly over the Ranjit Singh Commission report on the series of sacrilege in the state and the new Blasphemy Law. I hold that the Congress has handed over a draconian, regressive law to BJP on a platter.

‘While Punjab looks to heal from the scourge of sacrilege, the new law now forces not only the Granth Sahib but even other religious texts behind three locks. To some extent one can understand the law in the context of monotheistic religions like Sikh, Islam and Christianity but how will it work for polytheistic Hinduism with a hundred Ramayanas, a thousand Mahabharatas, a million other revered texts and icons? My aging aunts, who find it hard to walk a few steps, habitually ask a younger cousin or their kids to get them the Gutka Sahib from the shelf at home. They sit in their chairs and doze off while praying. As they nap, they leave the Gutka Sahib in their laps, or next to the pillow. Are they committing blasphemy per the new law? Aunts and uncles in Panjab carry the Gutka Sahib, the Hanuman Chalisa, the Holy Bible in their leather purses or kurta pockets. Is that blasphemy? At village Chakklan itself, a samadh – shrine on a grave – of an unknown village elder has recently become a temple with a trishul and a shivling. Is that blasphemy? On the Pakistan border in Amritsar, at village Naushera Dhaala, the 16th Century saint Baba Jallan ji’s samadh has recently turned into an elaborate Gurdwara. Have the followers committed blasphemy? When Captain Amarinder Singh took his famous oath at Damdama Sahib in December 2015 promising to eradicate drugs, he held a Gutka Sahib in his hands. Everyone on the stage were wearing shoes. Was that not blasphemy? What exactly is a ritual, a prayer, a way of life and a blasphemy? Merely inserting names of texts into a revision of law, without due deliberation, is going to be detrimental to the way of life of the people in Punjab and the nation.’

Read full story here …

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3
Sep

The Hindu Businessline: Unholy Haste

   Posted by: aman   in Punjab

Friends, on Tuesday when the news of activists being arrested drove the country into an uproar, a lot was going on in the Panjab Assembly. A marathon discussion took place on the Ranjit Singh Committee report that probed 157 incidents of sacrilege in between 2015-17 and focused on the role of the Badals and the police in the state – a force that has enjoyed unparalleled impunity ever since the days of militancy.

While the Akalis walked out, the Assembly (Congress and AAP) passed two historical resolutions unanimously – one on SGPC and another on taking back cases from CBI. To my mind these will have great ramifications in robbing the Akalis of the Panthic (Sikh religious) agenda and centre-state relations.

These developments were important for Panjab. However, at the same time, for the nation, the Congress committed a blunder by passing an amendment to the Blasphemy Law – Indian Penal Code 295 and placing texts from Hindu, Muslim and Christianity in it. The amendment to the law was an Akali face-saver in 2016, this Congress government could have just let it slide. But it did not.

Thus the Congress has now handed over a ready-made, draconian revision of law to the BJP on a platter. Beats me why Congress shot itself in the foot. The Bill only needs the Presidential nod now to become a nation-wide law. Its ramifications are massive and dangerous.

Here is my piece. I have tried to sketch the background but print media with word restrictions does limit how much one can say at a time.

Please read more here …

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Friends, after a long time I reviewed a book for The Hindu. The collection of short stories is by Dr Anirudh Kala, a psychiatrist and friend based in Ludhiana.

Please read here …

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Friends, Indira Basu from The Quint got in touch yesterday over the Swami Agnivesh post. I told her about the temporary Facebook ban on perhaps my post being reported as ‘hate speech’. Imagine – this as hate speech!

They carried a more context driven story last evening. The story calls out the right-wing’s lack of sense of ancestry and roots. They do not know where they originate from and seem to me like a serpent devouring its own tail.

Please read here …

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Friends, I feel we don’t need to sensationalise drugs. Neither do we need quick fixes. Thanks to Indira Basu and others here I am looking at the protest, recent events and the sub-text of the war on drugs:

The political discourse in Panjab now eerily sounds ‘like the drug-addled talk of an addict: when sober, every abuser talks about quitting drugs, seeking help, not wanting access to drugs – and soon after, they fail.’

Please read …

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Friends, Kanwar Manjit Singh pushed me yesterday to expand my Facebook post. Here is the article I wrote.

‘While in the nation the Emergency lasted less than two years, in Panjab formal Emergency lasted a total of nine years including the national Emergency period. Informal Emergency – unaccountability of the government – lasts until date.’

Tip: This is a grim piece but in it is tucked a joke. Let me see who finds it.

Please read here …

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11
Jun

Sunday Herald: Stand up & be Counted

   Posted by: aman   in Other

Friends, in this essay writer Shefali Tripathi Mehta holds forth on the idea of resistance and how it is becoming more and more important to stand up and be counted in these adverse times.

She quotes me too:

I ask Amandeep Sandhu, writer and novelist, who engages with and is followed by many on Facebook, how he decides which cause is just; which he must support. He tells me that while working on his current book on Punjab, he travelled, saw and experienced the real issues facing the farmers. While it devastated him, it also gave him a grounding in not just the farmer issues, but through this experience to chaff through the real and fake with regard to other social, religious and political issues. It reconfirmed his belief that there is power hegemony and that most often than not, the poor and the marginalised are on the side of truth. On when he stood at his street corner holding a poster in support of a young rape and murder victim, I asked if it matters who or how many are in it with him. Or why some are complacent and silent. His answer was an emphatic no, he does not look for support. Interestingly, he says he does not do anything expecting action or change, “Nothing changes – but resistance is important. Speaking up is a primary right.” He believes that there can never be “true” reporting but, “Democracy is eternal vigilance. Even if it is flawed. And so, we shouldn’t stop trying.”

Please read …

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Friends, over the last few days a photograph of a Sikh police man from Uttrakhand saving a man from a lynch mob has gone viral. I wrote about it on Facebook. The post was shared many times and picked by media. Putting up links below.

DailyO picked up the post, please find here …

The Quint picked up the post, please find here …

Punjab Today picked up the post, please find here … 

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