Growing up on the outskirts of Bombay, there were four types of rice that we ate at home: two for daily meals—from the Public Distribution System (PDS) ration shops and later, the local kirana (grocery) shop; Basmati Rice for special occasions or for pulav; and the red boiled rice from Goa. Most often, I did not know their name. We ate what we could afford… Sometimes, we stretched a little too much for the long-grained Basmati on birthdays and feast days. There were ten such days in a year.
People who dictate policies and the ones who implement them, those who create the propaganda and the ones who carry it, those who make art out of ordinary men’s miseries and the ones who lecture the world from comfortable TV studios, those who pretend they care and the ones who remain apathetic, those who put their individual interests above the collective benefit and the ones whose rationality borders on cruelty.
I myself fall in the same group – among those currently facing an epidemic of anxiety, loneliness and mental health issues. Long been shielded by our economic and social status, we now need to loosen our purses and our egos. As we find us and our loved ones to be as susceptible to the vagaries of the unkind world, we should do some soul searching. Here is what the elites of India, and the world, can do in our spare time.
This history – especially the unknown consequences of interactions with malnutrition and existing infections – should warn us that COVID-19 might take a different and more deadly path in the slums of Africa and South Asia. The danger to the global poor has been almost totally ignored by journalists and Western governments. The only published piece that I’ve seen claims that because the urban population of West Africa is the world’s youngest, the pandemic should have only a mild impact. In light of the 1918 experience, this is a foolish extrapolation. No one knows what will happen over the coming weeks in Lagos, Nairobi, Karachi, or Kolkata. The only certainty is that rich countries and rich classes will focus on saving themselves to the exclusion of international solidarity and medical aid. Walls not vaccines: could there be a more evil template for the future?
Manoranjan Byapari, the Dalit Bengali novelist who has written searingly about the continuing travails of the Dalits in India, recently spoke along with Kancha Illaiah in Kolkata Book Fair. The conversation turned into a bit of a debate about Dalits learning English. Manoranjan Byapari shared his thoughts about the book fair encounter on his facebook page. His FB status was translated from Bangla by Arunava Sinha and then edited by Rahul Bannerjee.
On January 2, 2019 the union minister of the Human Research Development appraised the parliament about the exact number of reserved category faculty members in the Indian Institutes of Technology. Responding to a question asked by Mr. Udit Raj, a BJP MP, the union minister Prakash Javadekar said that out of 6043 faculty members in 23 institutes there are only 170 faculty members who are from the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe categories. He also informed that the reservation in these premier educational institutes is kept open only for the entry-level positions, i.e., assistant professors and lectures.
The struggle for a separate state of ‘Gorkhaland’ in the Darjeeling hills is several decades old. But an emerging class division within the movement is characteristic of major tensions in Indian regional politics today.
The middle-class is the space in which horror consciously chooses to stalk in. Transgression in horror is, almost always, class-directed.
So who rules Meghalaya? Stick Boy explains
The Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution was enacted to protect the indigenous community from getting alienated in their own land. But the forces of alienation are present within the indigenous community and are getting further intensified. Sadly there is no protection from it; no right for the tiller; and no restriction on hoarding of land. What this will lead to is not hard to guess. Should not changes be deliberated? Only those who wish to hide the wretchedness of the poor for personal benefit will want status quo.
A friend said in a post, “Eminent citizens Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Annie Raja, Kavita Srivastava and Shiv Visvanathan were present during the jan sunwai/public hearing”. His post left me wondering what makes some of us use this phrase ‘eminent citizen’ so innocuously…
Message from a Mutating Virus
Corona is both devastatingly resilient and deeply egalitarian. There is only one way out of this – beat it at its own game. We have to be more resilient and more egalitarian. More resilience will require more than vaccines; it will necessitate massive investment in healthcare where there is no paucity of drugs or oxygen or beds.