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 …

Dear Friends,

Pheroze Vincent from The Telegraph presents the issue Sikhs have with naming Sahibzade Shaheedi as Veer Baal Divas and linking it with narrow nationalism. He provides contextual history and references and also quotes me and my Facebook post.

“… the Sangh forgets that names are also a matter of dignity. When you name a thing, it can’t talk back to you. But when you name people or an historical event, it makes no sense to name them if the core people do not find dignity in the name…”

Please read here…

 

9
Jan

Des Raj Kali on PANJAB in translation

   Posted by: aman   in Punjab

Dear Friends,

Excellent writer and reader, Des Raj Kali conducted five shows on PANJAB Jinna Rahan Di Mian Saar Na Jaaana - the Panjabi translation of my book by Yadwinder Singh and Mangat Ram. The book is published by Singh Brothers, Amritsar.

Kali Sa’ab focuses on an important aspect: reading.

He asks us, how do we read? Then illustrates from different readings of the book with his commentary.

As a writer one seeks one’s readers. Many have read PANJAB Journeys Through Fault Lines, many have reviewed it, many readers have sent and posted messages. With respect to all of them, I feel the way Kali Sa’ab is reading the Panjabi translation is a lesson in ‘reading’ itself.

To me, this is the function of literature: to show us how to read and write.

Please view and listen to his talks through links below:

Episode 1, January 2, 2022

Episode 2, January 3, 2022

Episode 3, January 4, 2022

Episode 4, January 6, 2022

Episode 5, January 7, 2022

Then there is an earlier program when the book just reached him and he cited the book in his message.

Personally, I am stunned. I have never experienced a critic peel layer after layer of any of my books for a whole week to give both me and the readers a sense of their depth. It has been hugely educational as well. Indeed a lesson in reading! I feel I have been heard, I belong. A silsila has started.

Thank you Kali Sa’ab!

Posted January 2nd, 2022

Dear Friends,

The newly launched Bangalore-based newspaper News Trail has asked me to write a bi-weekly piece for them. Here is the third piece. Earlier two pieces were hard copy as the new news site was being set up. This one is on the scenario in Panjab after the farmers returned triumphant from Delhi. Thank you Neena Gopal for the opportunity.

‘Traditionally Punjab has had two political parties – Akalis and Congress; in 2017 it had three, AAP joined the fray; this time it is five with BJP + Punjab Lok Congress and farmer’s Samyukt Samaj Morcha throwing their hat in the ring. The field is split wide open but certainly BJP which had become persona non grata in the last year in the state is gaining traction. We are yet to see whether it serves as a win for them but it certainly divides the people’s votes and gives them a foothold in the state.

‘Meanwhile, the date the SKM had decided – January 15th – is approaching. During the protests, the SKM had mandated that no political party would be part of it. As of now, given that almost two-third of SKM unions are participating in elections, it is yet to be seen how SKM recasts itself or will it be unable to hold the central government accountable over their promise to set up a committee to decide on MSP for the whole country.’

Please see here …

Dear Friends,

On January 7th evening, Arfa Khanum from TheWire.in and I discussed PM Modi blaming a security lapse to cancel his Ferozepur rally, after which the Hindutva eco-system has started issuing ‘repeat of 1984 pogrom’ threats to the Sikhs of the country.

‘Take one step towards Panjab, its people know how to love.’

Please see here … 51.07 minutes. Hindi.

2
Jan

After the Farmers Protest: Cynicism

   Posted by: aman   in Punjab

I posted this after 19 Panjab unions out of 32 decided to form a political party to contest upcoming state elections in early 2022.

Cynicism

In the preface of my book PANJAB, having looked at the multiple, structural, systematic betrayals of the people in the land, I asked: where is that organ in the human body where trust is located?

Ever since the Farmers Protest started, I have been pained how urban middle class, rest of India, later panthic groups, stayed away from the struggle. When many critiqued the Samyukt Kisan Morcha from past experience with individual leaders, I listened to them carefully and hoped they would be willing to give a new union body a chance. It was always edgy. If the SKM had not won the protest, if the protest had cracked, the critics could have been proved right.

I have said it earlier too, and repeating it here: as weeks changed to months, it was clear the protest was cadre-led, not a leader-led. For those of us who knew internal parleys, we would often hold our heads in our hands on the behaviour of individual SKM members. It is the cadre, through their resolve, that kept the SKM together. That is why, to me the protest was a people’s movement and that was its greatest gain – a model other marginal and struggling communities can adopt. That, to me, was a victory of democracy.

In private conversations, right from the beginning of the protest, I told many folks who asked, that I do not trust three people in the protest. One was Yadav (we have spoken earlier about him), another was Rajewal, and the third will be named when it is time. This is Rajewal’s time.

Last evening, it was clear that while there are less than 20 days to the meeting with the government on Minimum Support Price, SKM has split vertically. 22 out of 32 unions want to contest elections. They have formed a new party Samyukt Samaj Morcha. They could fight Panjab elections in alliance with AAP.

This post is not about why farmer union leaders should take on a political role, or about whether they will win, or how they will change the nature of politics. When one leader – Charuni – wanted to enter politics, my view was this is not a good idea but it is his call. But a vertical split when a major intervention is pending? When Agriculture Minister Tomar yesterday said, government has taken one step back on Farm Laws but will come up with new laws after assembly elections?

This post is about why people become cynical. People become cynical when their leaders, ignoring the people’s power, betray their trust, and start seeking personal mileage. Had it not been for the farmers protest, all these leaders would have been just known in their blocks and districts. My hunch is, like AAP came out of a people’s movement, but succumbed to the neo-liberal and communal framework, the new party, SSM will also meet the same fate. That is because, unlike SKM did during protests, the SSM is not setting up its battlefield but is entering an old turf. Traditional parties will make mincemeat out of them.

But before we get there, even if we do not consider the humongous, year long effort to put up the protests, will Rajewal or any of his partners answer this question: did 727 people die in protests so you could take personal mileage out of it?

The answer to this question does not depend on what happens next. It depends on the moral framework of these leaders who want to contest elections. We know there will be no answers.

I still do not know which is the organ where trust resides, but I certainly know how cynicism creeps in. It does when leaders forget they won because of the cadre and become ambulance chasers.

26
Dec

Workers Unity Interview

   Posted by: aman   in Punjab

Dear Friends,

Santosh K and I connected during the Farmers Protest and recently, after the protests ended, we met in Bangalore to do this long pending interview.

I spoke about:

- while the protests were a resistance, they were ‘actively’ non-violent, unlike the Gandhian method of passive non-violence. I trace a bit of the genealogy of active non-violence.

- the protests, though viewed as Left were Left in their organisation, not their purpose or philosophy. Many different streams made up the protest. There is a lot to learn from each stream, and together.

- it was a hard struggle, no doubt. It was a stupendous win. But are we able to hold the victory? Its meaning? On SKM responsibilities, now that the next meeting with government is on January 15.

Please see here… 18 mins, Hindi. Thank you Santosh. This was a pleasure.

17
Dec

Farmers Protest: Radio Connect FM Edmonton, Canada

   Posted by: aman   in Punjab

Dear Friends,

recently Ramanjit Singh from Radio Connect FM, Edmonton interviewed me on my book PANJAB Journeys Through Fault Lines and its translation by Yadwinder Singh and Mangat Ram PANJAB Jinna Rahan Di Main Saar Na Jaana in the context of the farmers protest.

Please listen here …

 

17
Dec

Farmers Protest: Interview in Woke Malayalam

   Posted by: aman   in Other

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 …