Archive for November, 2019

The Punjabi Tribune graciously covered the Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan, New Delhi discussion on the book Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines.

Here is the clipping.

 

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20
Nov

Outlook: Touching the heart, going to the soul

   Posted by: aman    in Punjab

Dear Friends,

I am so glad Sukant Deepak and I met up and spoke about Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines. If you remember, Sukant had earlier interviewed me while I was in the middle of my journeys – in March 2016. I am so glad the interview and book build on the same lines idea/representation vs reality of Panjab.

Thank you Sunil Menon and Outlook India for carrying our conversation without cuts.

Please read here …

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Dear Friends,

poet, writer, and critic writer Manash Firaq writes on a Facebook post:

Amandeep Sandhu writes on his lack of belonging to the land of his foremothers in, ‘Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines’: “Unlike people born in Panjab who have a direct connection with, and hence a memory of the land, I have no liminal or tangible marker of belonging to Panjab. While my family did hail from Panjab, I was neither born here, nor do I live here. I have no address, bank statement, Aadhaar card, passport or land ownership to prove my connection with Panjab.”

This is a fascinating point of entry, for a writer who wants to write about his not-so-imaginary homeland. Sandhu does not prioritize his identity as a reason behind his embarking on this project. Identity is an umbilical cord that is not merely physical, or even psychic. Identity is sought, self-contested, found and lost, in time. It is never to be taken for granted. Identity is a condition of being in the world. Like Dr. Anirudh Kala said, from writing on his schizophrenic mother in ‘Sepia Leaves’, Sandhu turned his attention to his schizophrenic ‘motherland’. But the schizophrenia in the passage quoted above is not of intimate memory. It is the schizophrenia of systems – “bank statement, Aadhaar card, passport or land ownership” – that territorialise belonging.

Sandhu, in a radical move, disinvests himself from those schizophrenic markers of belonging that the state thrusts upon us. Those markers too are fault lines through which you claim your relationship to a land and the land claims you. To be outside that claim is risky, and a danger, if you are still claiming a relationship. How to claim a relationship from the “outside”? We have been living this predicament since the 20th century, of how an identity that is part insider and part outsider, undergoes a partial sense of apology. It is also inflicted upon them by so-called “culturally rooted” people, who force them, in the words of Zygmunt Bauman, “to prove the legality of their presence”. It’s a fiercely political question of our times.

Sandhu makes an even bolder confession that may disinherit him from any claim to Panjab: lack of memory. Memory, we thought, is fundamental to belonging. Sandhu claims –and proves through his book – that it isn’t. This is another radical move by a writer who is writing about the land he historically belongs to. If not memory, then what is it? By writing the book, Sandhu has given us the answer: labour. Sandhu reconnects with his roots, not through memory, but labour. And labour is as much about love, as memory. This idea is very liberating for any understanding between writing and belonging and the relationship between belonging and history. Refugees and migrants, who belong to places through labour, have equal claims to belong to a place as natives, who simply sentimentalize identity. It is not that labour does not have memory. But labour does – adds – something more to memory. Labour “makes” memory. This is how we must henceforth understand our relationship with land and place, and claim it. It is time we stopped prioritizing the colonially constructed, nativist theories of belonging.

Sandhu also, again quite politically, refuses to situate identity within a security network. Identity, we thought, was also about securing for oneself, every marker of citizenship. Sandhu tells us, identity that is free of security networks is also identity. Identity, in this liberating sense, is outside the very idea of security.
Identity is not LIC (Life Insurance Corporation). It is not insurance for security. Identity is free. It is as insecure as being in the world. And something else – it is being in the world as other. It is to “risk” one’s identity: the oldest, ethical argument to be in the world. Sandhu writes a book on Panjab as other.

[At the Conference Hall, Bhai Vir Singh Sadan, New Delhi, 16/11/2019.]

——

For now I am basking in the kind reading by Manash. I will discuss more with him soon.

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18
Nov

The Wire review: Explores Punjab’s Convoluted Past

   Posted by: aman    in Punjab

Dear Friends,

I am pleased with the first detailed review of the book Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines. This is by Guneet Kaur Gulati, for The Wire, commissioned by Mahtab Alam.

I am especially pleased that early enough the reviewer uses a word my chief editor Karthika and I had decided to use for the book – panoramic.

Please read more here…

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18
Nov

Outlook: Ayodhya Verdict

   Posted by: aman    in Other, Punjab

Dear Friends,

here are my views on the Ayodhya verdict. Thank you Puttezhath Sunil Menon from Outlook India for seeking them.

‘An important aspect of the Ram Janmabhumi-Babri Masjid court order—itself not signed and, hence, unattributable to any one judge—is that it quotes the Sikh Janam Sakhis in great detail to establish that the disputed 2.7-acre land of Babri Masjid was indeed the place where the mythological Lord Ram was born. In the order, Guru Nanak is mentioned 14 times.

A common charge levelled until now on the Janam Sakhis is that because they were written at least half a ­century after Guru Nanak left for his heavenly abode, they are hagiographic and mutually contradictory. How then did the honourable Supreme Court overnight decide they are among the most reliable evidence?

The intent is even worse: using one minority religion’s sacred texts to ­refute a claim of another minority and establish the claim of faith of a third majority religion is insidious to the secular fabric of our nation. The Janam Sakhis should not have been used ­because Sikhs are not party to the claim. The court needed to test the grand Hindu faith against archaeological evidence. That it did not do. Instead it has now sowed further seeds of ­discord between the Muslim and the Sikh communities.’

For this I owe thanks to Kulveer Singh and Ch Monsoon who flagged the issue.

For more comments read…

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Dear Friends,

it was my honour to have a conversation with Deputy Editor, The Wire, Ajoy Ashirwad on Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines. Thank you Mahtab Alam for facilitating the interview.

Here is a comment by someone from the audience: ‘Someone should translate it into Punjabi and distribute it in every village of Punjab.I also request the author to gift one copy to Akalis and one to Amrinder…’

Please see here …

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12
Nov

Nagasri – my small big book store

   Posted by: aman    in Other

In the 1950s, the city of Bengaluru decided to create Jayanagar – Asia’s biggest housing colony. On a square grid, the 9 blocks of Jayanagar came up with tree-lined roads as crosses and mains.

In the 1970s, the Bengaluru Municipality decided to create a beautiful market complex in Jayanagar. They built a concrete multi angled shed roof shopping complex, with glass covered awnings for ample light; a four-storey office complex with arterial corridors, and a huge single screen cinema theatre called Puttanna, named after Puttanna Kanagal, who is known as Kannada cinema’s Chitra Bramha – God of Films.

On November 11, 1976, the first shop in the arterial corridor, next to Puttanna theatre’s parking lot, was allotted to a bookstore named Nagasri. When I arrived in Bangalore over two decades back, I started frequenting the Jayanagar market complex to buy flowers, stationery, masalas, and occasionally meat. Each time I would stop at Nagasri, buy a book or two. It was a lovely bond.

About a decade back, with the rise of multiplex cinema, the Bengaluru Municipality decided to pull down Puttanna theatre and build a multi-rise shopping centre to relocate the original market complex. The decision was to redevelop the market complex, read make a Mall or some such ugly building. The arterial corridors were covered. The multi-rise was ready five years back but was not inaugurated because first the complex shop keepers did not agree to be re-located, later political squabbling on who would inaugurate it. All this while, Nagasri being the first shop on the arterial corridor suffered blockade from two sides and the third side was taken over by footpath vendors who too had nowhere to go.

Today, when Nagasri sent me a picture of my book arriving, I went to meet Mr Venkatesh and Mr Guru Prasad
. The multi-rise is now occupied, the barricades are off, the shop looks restored to its pristine glory. Mr Venkatesh congratulated me for my book, and told me, ‘In this digital age (reference to Flipkart, Amazon and their discounts), we survived 8 years thanks to our clients and patrons. People who found it difficult to approach our shop, kept coming, kept buying, we stayed on.’

I wished them Happy Birthday. It is a pleasure to be at Nagasri Book House. Do visit. Do patronise small book stores. You matter, they matter.

 

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12
Nov

Indian Express Interview on Panjab

   Posted by: aman    in Punjab

Dear Friends,

I am so glad Parul from Indian Express did the first interview with me, the author of Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines.

‘I came to Punjab a quarter-century after militancy had ended, a half-century after the new state was formed, almost three quarters of a century after independence and the Partition, a century after the Gurdwara Reform Movement, birth of SGPC and Akali Dal, a century and a half after the Singh Sabha was created (and Arya Samaj and the Ahmediya movement), and a century and three quarters after the British annexed Punjab. My question was only one: has peace returned? I realised no. Peace has not returned. Peace has never returned. The current Punjab I witnessed is frothing over with disquiet.’

Please read more here ….

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8
Nov

Panjab: Book Alert by Amita Paul

   Posted by: aman    in Punjab

Dear Friends,

I am glad to share with you a Facebook review of my recent book by much loved and respected Amita Paul.

Friend Amandeep Sandhu’s Book Panjab: Journeys through Fault Lines has finally come out after years of hard work, focused travel, and painstaking research.

It is a treasure trove of information and insights on Punjab, its history and its current situation, not only for the outsider but for the insider as well, and most of all for those who are a bit of both or not quite sure which one they are or how much of each they are.

Who first called Panjab, Panjab? Who are the Jutts? What is the Anandpur Saheb Resolution? How and when did the idea of Khalistan evolve and where does it stand now? What is the real situation on the ground about drug addiction in Punjab? What happened to agriculture in Punjab after the Green Revolution peaked? What is the so called river waters dispute of Punjab with Haryana Delhi and Rajasthan all about? Why are Sikhs called a martial race? Did Sikhism really manage to eradicate caste from Punjab? Where does Punjab stand today? What is the way forward for Punjab?

Amandeep Sandhu does not shy away from any of these questions and many others like these, and though he does not claim to give the final answer on anything, he does take you on a journey or a set of journeys where you may be clearer about what you think the answer might be.

If you are curious about such issues and if you would like to know more about them, do read this book.

Amandeep’s voice is gentle, compassionate, truthful and trustworthy. You may not agree with all he says – I myself differ on many issues – and he could well be mistaken in some of his views but you can rest assured that he would never lie. This is a very honest book.

Panjab : Journeys through Fault Lines

Published by Westland Publishers, Chennai, is available on Amazon as well as in all leading bookstores

I would love to hear from you your reactions once you have read it. I thoroughly recommend it

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8
Nov

The Statesman Review: Filling in the Void

   Posted by: aman    in Punjab

Dear Friends,

the first mainstream media review of Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines has come out today in The Statesman, Delhi edition.

It is a bit literal but positive. I have waited all day for a web link. Yet, first is first, and since it is out, here is the review.

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