Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

Dear Friends,

in the last 30 years since school, I have never taken a physical education class. I have walked a fair bit in my life, I am a walker, but have studiously stayed away from anything more than that much exercise. I am middle-aged now, stout; I do not care much for what I wear, how I look. I am food agnostic. Yet, one October morning last year, I enrolled for BARPS – a somatic technique conceptualised by dancer and somatic master Navtej Johar.

Here is my experience. Please read …

 

12
Mar

Panjab Elections: Comment in Woke Malayalam

   Posted by: aman

Dear Friends,

on election result day, as the numbers were emerging, Woke Malayalam asked me for my comments.

Please read, they are here …

Dear Friends,

Pheroze Vincent is travelling Panjab and filing reports on the build up to elections. We were talking and I mentioned a big lacunae I have noticed over years of election reporting, opinion and exit polls – basically when we try to gauge the mood of the people.

The lacunae is: for various reasons such as most reporters being male, inherent patriarchy in society, the reports are largely from a male point of view. On ground, as I experienced last time, it is difficult to access women’s opinions. It is assumed women in a family will vote where men are voting. I find that problematic simply because women no longer vote where the men vote. They have their own mind.

In my view, last time in Panjab assembly elections, women who form nearly 50 per cent electorate, across class, religion and caste, voted in favour of one party.

I stated that to Vincent and he quoted me. Please see here …

Sorry this is an old post that somehow went into draft. My bad! Processed it today. It is from July 2, 2021.

Dear Friends,

recently AJ Singh contacted me to speak on the #FarmersProtest. Anand Vardan from The Public India and I spoke on various issues old and new: solidarities in the protests, January 26th, SKM, foreign funding, role in state elections.

Here is the interview in Hindi. 27.15 minutes.

31
Jan

PANJAB review by Pawan Gulati

   Posted by: aman

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to share this review of both the English and Panjabi translation by Pawan Gulati. I believe word of mouth the best endorsements – when readers read and write about the readings. Thank you Pawan Gulati ji.

‘Panjab Journey Through Fault Lines’ is 559 pages, amazingly microscopic peep into what lies inside out in present day Panjab by Amandeep Sandhu, a Bangaluru based writer and journalist. Published by Westland in 2019, it created a buzz across India but Punjab somewhat missed or ignored its captivating glow beyond one’s comprehension.

Now the book has come about in Punjabi as ‘Punjab: Jinhan Rahan Di Main Saar Na Jana’ translated by Yadwinder Singh and Mangat Ram, published by Singh Brothers Amritsar. Born in Rourkela, The writer’s connections with Panjab remained remote, though he studied in a Sainik School situated in Panjab.

Most of the earlier impressions of his motherland comes to him through his interaction with his father or ailing mother but the deep urge to connect with the roots and understand the real Panjab leads him to embark on this travel. From the surface, Punjab looks surreal to a stranger with its Bhangra, tandoori chicken, sufis, langer, Bhindrawala, green revolution, partition, five rivers and so on.

However, the three year travel in the hinterland, grain markets, border towns and villages, protest sites, university corridors besides meeting with common people, activists of various hues, stakeholders, students engaged in battling out fault lines of sociological operation – table of Panjab afflicted with innumerable ailments of body, mind and soul leads him to an altogether different Punjab.

What he finds out is indicated through a line of a popular punjabi lyric: ‘Jeho je tu smajhe Mahiya, oho ji mai hain nhi…’ on the very first page of this book.

The fault lines he grasps with his passionate, sensitive eyes are well captioned in 16 chapters as Satt (Wound), Berukhi (Apathy), Rosh (Anger), Rog (Illness), Mardangi (Masculinity), Dawa (Medicine), Paani (Water), Zameen (Land), Karza (Loan), Jaat (Caste), Patit (Apostate), Bardr (Border), Sikhya (Education), Lashaan (Corposes) and Janamdin (Birthday).

What he lays bare through his searching insights is a shredded Panjab bereft of hope, eager to escape the reality through suicides, drugs, migration or quick-fix jugaads. The chapter Rog (Illness) is a traumatic pitch where he combines the personal with the political in startling precision, with such passionate touch that one is about to cry. Looking at his mother’s cancer stricken body, he observes the ailments afflicting his State. One ailment leads to another, a bigger one but the super-specialists focus on one and allow the other to creep into fatal proportions, are contented that one ailment is at least under control, failing to view the catastrophic onslaught being brought about by the other. Here, his mother’s ailments turn into metaphorically the ailments of Panjab.

Without indulging into any far-fetched intellectual jargons, he neatly makes it obvious that Panjab has missed a holistic approach so far its body mutilated, mind and soul wounded by its very own masters.

To understand the problems faced by the state and its population, he delves deep, not satisfied with what the newspapers tell or the the narratives built over the years project, into the intricacies and dimensions experienced and perceived at micro level. Yet, he analyses the big picture ably aided by credible data to draw upon the wrath of times. The identities and resources both human and natural then reveal themselves as he journeys across the state as keen observer accompanied by some friendly activist, friend or reporter. Although, his search is to understand the present Punjab, the journey goes beyond the times back and forth mapping history, geography and psychology of Punjab.

His search removes his self-doubt and reaches the conclusion: Panjab is an extensive exercise in how to keep one’s faith alive- it tests the faith of those who believe in it. Sandhu reflects further that the only pillars that stood in the ruins of Panjab were its resistance to power and hegemony. He concluded the book in 2018.

A vibrant farmers movement in 2020 against agricultural laws displayed its stamina and courage creating a near hegemony on the discourse of Panjab, vindicating what Sandhu opined about the pulse of Punjab. Not just what it seeks to convey through its sober, steady and subtle narration leading from one point to another in wonderful cohesion, the style is markedly fresh, direct, uninhibited and yet full of microscopic depth of all labyrinths and nuances of Punjab polity and social spectacle at large.

Worth a read by one and all who cherishes or claims to know Punjab.

Dear Friends,

Over many months Raksha Kumar worked on a story probing of of the most well kept secrets of the Indian IT sector: caste.

She had a long discussion with me and quotes me in the story.

Please read here …

Dear Friends,

the year long Farmers Protest and victory has become a model for resistances across the world. Sonali Kolhatkar invited me to write this piece for YES! Magazine. Thank you!

‘One of the main slogans of the protests was “Kisan Mazdoor Ekta Zindabad,” or “Long Live Farmer-Worker Unity.” When young and old Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh farmers, supported by urban folks, came together, they negated the right-wing BJP ploy to divide society along cleavages of religion, caste, and gender. Instead, the protests united the farmers through their kirrt—work.’

Please read here …

17
Dec

Farmers Protest: Interview in Woke Malayalam

   Posted by: aman

Dear friends,

This interview on the farmers protest is for in laws, in laws land Kerala and language Malayalam.

Thankful to Aswathi from Woke Malayalam for the long interview and reproduction.

Please click here …

12
Dec

Farmers Protest: Flank Attack

   Posted by: aman

Day -

Toll 720

Flank Attack

Yesterday we saw the farmers return home triumphant after quelling the front attack on them through the three Farm Laws. The farmers return to the comfort and familiarity of their home and hearth, their families, their familiar beds and bathrooms. Another winter has set in, it is high time the Bebe and Bapus, the grandparents, feel secure and safe.

Yet, what do the farmers return to?

The Farm Laws were a spin on the already depressed conditions of agriculture in the country. Especially ?in the erstwhile food bowl of India – the north India states: Panjab, Haryana, West Uttar Pradesh, to some extent Uttrakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The depression in this region is a result of government ignoring the agrarian sector for the last 50 years in its policies. The depression in rest of the country if from governments never really focussing on the agrarian systems, in spite of the demands rising, votes being manipulated.

Urban middle-class consumers are so cut off from the modes of production of all that is essential that they keep paying through their nose yet do not raise their head in dissent. The farmers protest pushed the government to withdraw laws but did not pull the urban middle-class to the protest sites.

When the laws were repealed, I wondered about the heavy investments the Adani and Ambani groups had already made in storage and retail. Farmers knew the fancy term ‘free market’ basically means a duopoly. I wondered what did the government do to appease these corporates?
As with everything, one needs to pull back and see the pattern. It is clear:

- Ambani is now attacking the local kirana – grocery – stores and salesmen, ejecting them out of the $700 billion retail sector business. In the June quarter of this year, JioMart signed up 56,000 kirana stores across 30 cities to pilot this direct-sale system. I hope this move galvanises the middle-class to oppose it. At least 4 lakh salesmen are already up in arms.

- We know how the government has been centralising the State Bank of India over the last few years. While banks routinely enter agreements with Non Banking Finance Companies, now SBI has entered an agreement with the Adani Group to issue farm-related loans. The Adani Group will be the disburser of the loans and a brutal recovery agent.

The reason the agrarian sector needs loans is because there isn’t enough money to go around in it. But what will the Adani group do? Fix the terms and conditions of the loans, push the farmers and labour to default. Adani recovery agents will auction off the lands of the defaulters to Adani and other corporate owners. The point is: corporates continue to eye that famers saved from them in this protest. The battle has now moved from the front to the flanks and the rear.

The message is clear: unless we infuse funds in rural economy, the majority of this country will keep plunging into poverty. Food, as a commodity, is vital to the nation, but corporates have ways of importing what is needed, giving kickbacks to the government, while farmers languish. Farmers and labour commit suicide – 4 lakh in the last two decades.

That is why, even more so now, though farmers are taking a much deserved hiatus, it is their compulsion to push for Minimum Support Price on 23 crops across the nation as a mechanism to bring money into the agrarian sector.

Let us see what the committee on MSP decides and how Samyukt Kisan Morcha responds on January 15th. Be ready, as long as there is corporate greed and a pliant government, the battles do not cease.

Signing off /-

10
Dec

Farmers Protest: Mubarak

   Posted by: aman

Day 380

Toll 715

Mubarak

The victorious farmers protest wishes mubarak to all of us.

It does not matter whether you were part of the protest, whether you spent time on the protest, whether you contributed to the protest, whether you supported the protest, whether you were sympathetic to protest, or whether you were unmoved by it, whether you did not understand the reasons for the protest, whether you opposed the protest, whether you indulged in state created and corporate media disseminated lies about the protest, whether when farmers and labour were asking to be seen as united over kirrt – work/labour, you wanted to look at the protesters through the prism of religion, caste and class, whether you have reservations about the timing of the ending of the protest, the congratulations are for all of us.

The reasons the farmers protest is congratulating everyone is because though for the past many decades there is a narrative that modernity – cities, urban spaces, bookish intelligentsia – seems to understand the world, can negotiate with ‘powers that be’ to create a better world, the farmers protest, rooted in villages, aware of both tradition and modernity, inspired by sewa and langar, adept at the digital world, knows that everyone of us who lives in cities came from villages – one or two or three generations back. They know that English alone is not the language of change, betterment, their own languages can do the job as well.

Unlike how the urban has turned its eyes away from the rural, associates values with itself, in the creation of middle class, in the support to governments who draw policies to suit their funders and electoral banks, preys upon the rural to sustain itself, screams outrage on social media but does not step on the streets, the rural which has been neglected in the past decades knows that beyond a point, outrage alone does not help – they need to step out, resist on ground zero.

Unlike the city, the village is wise to know that we all come from the same source and our markers of birth, our religious identity, our locations, our professions, our prejudices need not define our intentions and praxis. If we are resolved, organised, our resource lines remain intact, we are willing to sacrifice, the harshest of regimes will have to agree to our demands. The village knows its roots, it has the ability to float.

This is not to paper over the gross inequalities of the village but to learn that just because power dictates some narratives, they need not be sound. The solutions to our woes are not outside but inside us.

Please accept the congratulations but when you do so, own it. Know that wishes are also responsibilities. Ask yourself what does that mubarak say to you when it takes its place in your heart. Does it sit fleetingly or tentatively or does it sit easily and fill your heart with joy? If the mubarak opens a door to courage in your heart to stand against tyranny, indeed the farmers protest has succeeded for you. The next time, you will rise. Like the farmers did this time.

Indeed, the road is long. There are many challenges in front of us. Let us make a better world, together.