All posts filed under: Poetry

Sahir Ludhianvi – Communist and a Poet

By Saswat Pattanayak It was more than a coincidence that Sahir Ludhianvi was born on an International Women’s Day. His concern and respect for women was as much personal as it was political. For him, no one – and nothing – was more important than his mother Sardar Begum. Resenting her husband’s feudal properties, his mother had left that household and raised Sahir on her own. And Sahir grew up as an organic revolutionary against landlords and burgeoning capitalism of that era. And more importantly, as a progressive poet deeply aware of the capitalistic exploitations of women and the working class. An avid reader of Marx, Sahir early on was influenced by Faiz and Josh – prominent communist poets of that era. His early compositions included “Jahaan Mazdoor Rehte Hai” [Where Workers Reside]. In 1937, Sahir joined All India Students Federation (AISF), affiliated to the Communist Party of India (CPI) – committed to anti-imperialist and anti-colonial struggles. He was expelled from both the colleges (in Ludhiana and Lahore) that he attended, due to his political …

Meritocratic Jury

(In the backdrop of Supreme Court of India’s bench comprising Justice Misra and Justice Pant citing national interest to scrap quota in higher education institutions)   Looks like you have the merit – Birthright of the nationalist. Wearing that Sacred Thread. Making a call to daddy’s old boys network every now & then. Misra uncles and Pant uncles And their colleague uncles. Uncle’s uncles. Bhagwat uncles. Generationally scholarly. Proud Indian Hindus. Feeling the national interests Merit runs in their veins. Your access not denied to the temples. Of gods and sacred texts. Interpreted by sacrosanct gatekeepers. High Court Jagannath Temple Supreme Court Meenakshi Temple. Looks like you have the merit To determine the fate of those you get to oppress. Alas. Cannot reverse the caste, whose virtues and vices – are determined at birth. No automatic entry Into life of dignity. But Hinduism is not religion. Just a way of life. Savarna – Salvation. Dalit – Damnation. No fault of Brahmins – Just born that way. Conspiracy of the galaxy Coming together of forces To …

Modified

Modified – Dadri – Knock knock Who’s there? Your neighbor My neighbor who? Neighbor to trust – Godman – Knock knock Who’s there? Your Baba My Baba who? Baba, God, Man – Leader – Knock knock Who’s there? Your leader My leader who? Leader you can fear – Tolerance – Knock knock Who’s there? Your fan My fan who? Fanning a plane ticket – Patriot – Knock knock Who’s there? Your conscience My conscience who? Herr Herr Modi – Saswat Pattanayak, Peoples’ Poet, 2015

Silent Majority

First they came for the Muslims, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Pakistani. Then they came for the women, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Feminist. Then they came for the Adivasis, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Naxalite. Then they came for the Dalits, and I did not speak out – Because I was not an Ambedkarite. Then they came for the rationalists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the farmers, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Gandhian. Then they came for the beef-eaters, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Sickular. Then they came for the historians, and I did not speak out – Because I was not an Intellectual. Then they came for the filmmakers, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a starving Artist. They are coming …