Sunday, 4 September, 2016

E P W at 50 -the 'Small Voice'

Bernard D' Mello has written an appreciation for the magazine which has completed fifty years of existence with its reputation intact. One or two points I find very useful.  (August 20, 2016)

"1968"

A decade of rebellion in various parts of the world directed against capitalism and the "old left".
Various movements: 
1. Naxalbari, Srikakulam , 
2. Chipko movement (beginning in April, 1973)
3. Dalit Panthers
4. Women's movement: when in 1978 the Supreme Court acquitted two policemen who had committed custodial rape. This is considered "a defining moment that gave birth to the women's movement.
5. Second phase of India's civil liberties and democratic rights (CLDR) movement in the early 1970s
6. 20-day strike in the Indian Railways in May 1974
7. Popular upheavels in Gujarat and Bihar preceding the Emergency
8. The Dalli-Rajhara Spring of the contract workers led by Shankar Guha Niyogi.

"1989"

The period of capitalist triumphalism... rise of Hindutva and neo-liberalism. With this, De Mello writes began "guild" began to give way for NGOs. With this came "metamorphosis" of India into a grab-what-you-can-for-yourself capitalist system.
De Mello says that, "In neo-liberal capitalism, all personal relations become reified as relations between things.
He concludes his two page write up by saying - "you need to be able to distinguish between authentic and spurious, ethical and unscrupulous, aesthetic and ugly, civilized and barbaric...the capacity  ... to say "no" remains the basis of our hope and faith... 

Sunday, 26 June, 2016

Cynical Thoughts 1

Today, I am sharing something which may be considered as my own conclusion on the basis of my own experiences. I have to say it and move on. My own experience suggests (to me) that in the academic space in our country a choice you are not supposed to think independently. You should follow the elite academics and provide the support to his/her theory. Basically, the training for high level academic life is given to select few whereby they develop their skills in handling complex ideas in a complex manner. A paragraph written by such trained scholars is enough to identify him or her as "really competent" for high level of academic works. These high level academics, I call AC 1 passengers, are very specialised and they focus on one theme or area beyond which they will not move. Some of them, for a change, keep a side interest in film, theatre or a sport, but basically they are specialist of their own area. They follow the main road, they are always visible and there is a support system available for them, almost everywhere. (More on it later)
On the second level, which I call AC 2 tier, there are people who are hardworking, intelligent and they are not necessarily coming from elite backgrounds. They work in tandem with the AC 1 people, and try to follow them. These people may talk too much, but they never really cross the line, set by the AC1 people. They are amply rewarded and they are also seen as respectable.
Then comes the AC 3 people, who are followers of AC 2 people. Access to this is open to all those hard working, intelligent people who can do good work but never dare to speak up, challenge the dominant paradigms, set by the higher class people.
Then comes Non-Ac class in which there are reserved class and non-reserved class. This is the most creative class, but they are not given opportunity and most of them remain mere good prospects until he is backed by higher class people.
We live in democracy and fortunately the entire space can not be controlled by elites. Some concessions are made to accommodate people due to reservation, political pressure and all. The AC people are intelligent enough not to leave this nonreserved non ac co-travelers. They identify their followers, and try to control the large number of people through these people. As long as you do not assert your independence and disturb the dominant paradigms you may survive. You will be allowed to be seen with the big people, if you are lucky. But, normally you are not allowed to go beyond a point.
On the basis of my own experiences, let me be categorical on this, you will be discouraged at every point if you try to enter in crucial areas. You can be fact finder, supplier of facts, supporter of their theories and live peacefully. Once you start raising your own questions, you will see the change. Your applications would be very politely sidelined and everytime you will be given the signal that you are good but not good enough like them, the high class people. To add insult to injury, the lesser competent people are seen visible as successful people. In a country like ours, few foreign trips are good enough to buy academics.
At one level, you get the signal. Either remain with them or live as ordinary mortals. Most of us realise this by the time we reach 40. What to do ?
All your questions will haunt you, trouble you and you will have no place to move. Some of us go cynical at this stage. Some of them go to some party or group with the hope to find a way out. 45 is crossed, your energy level is down and then you realise even there asking your own questions create problems.
Then, you realise,you should have asked all your questions the way you wanted twenty years ago without bothering about anything. You should realise you can not move to AC class in your own langauge, with your questions and the baggage you carry with you for being born in a underprivileged stock.
Should you revolt at the age when your sympathisers are advising against it ? Rest assured, you will be made fun of, not by the privileged but by people like you, who are smarter than you in reading the signals of the elites.
Was Kunwar Singh right ?
I think, you have no option but to revolt if you want to die with satisfaction of being an honest man.
There is no guide for you. Let your conscience be your guide.
[Cynical Thoughts 1]