Archive for May, 2016

Friends, a few weeks ago I had raised the question of Sikh identity in my article on the Gurdwara Amendment Law regarding Sehajdharis in The Caravan Magazine. That went viral. Here is another argument in the context of a slightly older but even more revealing court case.

However, you look at it the Sikh identity is now severely compromised. The only way ahead, and I dread it, are the calls for ‘ghar wapsi’ which the right-wing is raising and what would lead to a split in the community – the way other established monotheistic religions have gone: Islam and Christianity. Ask ourselves, did we ask for this? Look at the Sikh identity question through these two angles.

‘The irony of a Sikh community, known much beyond its numbers for its service and egalitarianism, is that it fights its identity battles in the courts of a secular country and ends up losing in the real sense when it thinks it is winning court battles.’

Please read here …

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Friends, you might have heard of the recent mother-son dual suicide in Barnala. It has jolted the state but the fact is it is not a one off case. Each day one or more farmers commits suicide in the tiny state. Once the granary of India, Punjab is fast reaching the dubious status of the suicide hot spot of the country.

My piece on it critiquing the 15-years-in-the-making Punjab government’s Rural Indebtedness Bill in The Caravan Magazine.

‘An undeniable cause that underlies these deaths is the state’s role in them. Through both the law and tone-deaf bills such as the recent Rural Indebtedness Bill, passed by the Punjab government in March this year, the state approves, aids and facilitates processes that invariably lead to the loss of a farmer’s land, and does little to resolve their indebtedness.’

Please read here …

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You are young, you can walk!’ Satnam said as I entered the gate of his home in Ranjit Nagar, Patiala. ‘I walk, all the time.’ His eyes smiled.

I met Satnam more than a decade back through Ranjana Padhi who guided me to understand the non-state space of protests and activism. After that I have met Satnam often, talked late into the night with him, stayed with him, enjoyed his hospitality. His house was indeed open.

Three years back he took me to a Bhartiya Kisan Union rally where I heard these words from the stage and crumbled: ‘When India was hungry we gave it food, now we die of thirst and the state does not care for us.’ That line set me to retrace my journey to Punjab, a state I left more that two decades back.

Satnam, author of Jangalnama, walked away last night. As I travel Punjab, I have been telling myself, ‘He is here, in Patiala. I will meet him next time.’ Now it is just too late.

Red Salute Comrade.

Please read Daljit Ami’s tribute, obituary, and response here, in translation by me.


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Friends, in the end of March I got Sukant Deepak’s call when I was driving to Barnala. He said he wanted to talk with me. I was very curious because India Today had never spoken to me. A few days later, Jasdeep Singh and I were on his Bullet mapping the dry SYL canal when we found ourselves in Ambala. We met Sukant.

The interview tilts towards the immediate because I am mid-project but then that is how it is: ‘On the surface, it might be about faultlines, but deep down, all the miles accumulated are a hunt for identity and sense of being.’

Please read here …

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Friends, some times domestic conversations become public discourses. I remain proud of Lakshmi’s endeavour to extend conversations in classrooms with artists who continue to work with students and learners.

‘In the current age, the human being is most vulnerable and is in grave danger of being appropriated by the external powers. Whether it’s a nation state, or a political discourse or a religious identity or if it’s a question of language or of gender or of caste, all these are supra-narratives that will want to appropriate your voice. So the big effort in today’s age is to create a voice that cannot be easily appropriated.’

As a part of the ongoing series with Teacher Plus and Bol Hyderabad, this radio show captures journeys of artists and their teaching and learning moments.

Please listen to the two part interview here.

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