An unusually delightful class

Following was my screening of a movie and contextualization of it in the class of Prof. Nirupama Prakash. Dr McAdams too came by to attend the class.

Tracing the utility values of films in understanding society and predicting social characters to inspire movies have been the preoccupation of post-colonial discourses. In addition, there is a need of subjective positioning of the audience since societal study involves the historical frameworks of human sufferings as well as living patterns emanating from this specific background.

Any attempt to understand women in a uniquely complex Indian society requires for subtler examination of core issues that the present film Mrityudand (Death Penalty) raises. Any apparent problem we are about to witness in the movie directs to multiple layers of societal adjustments. At the base, they will appear rudimentary and reflexive. But as we have studied in the earlier classes already, there are historical factors behind the reinforcement of certain values in any economically backward region.

Mrityudand chiefly raises the following questions:
Religious fanaticism: Is communalism a prevailing threat to the world order now or is it a historically existing order that is increasingly being challenged by empowered women?

Caste conflicts: Lower caste people are the ‘other’ in any society. They are pronounced as racially inferior. Who dictates the terms and defines the caste levels?

Caste politics: Why does the lower caste ‘play the card’? What is the histiography of caste politics? Is caste politics (especially when almost half of India is ruled via caste politics) a necessary evil?

Gender: Why doesn’t the ‘other’ gender unite, despite needs? Is it a family concern or a societal issue? Is there a need to distinguish family from society?

Culture: Is culture all pervading or differentiable? Is there anything such as a low culture and high culture?

Class issue: Are every other type of distinctions going to dissolve with distinct socio-economic class formations? Does radical uprising of the oppressed provide any solution? Or is it the only solution?

Duration of Hindi film Mrityudand is 2 hours 34 minutes. Released in 1997, it is directed by Prakash Jha.
Jha, an alternative cinema maker, has to his credit other ‘social’ theme based films like Hip Hip Hurray (1984), Damul (1985), Bandish (1996), (1996), Rahul (2001) and Gangaajal (2003).

Other films that might interest you:
Damini (1993), Tejasvini (1994), Astitva (2000) and Lajja (2001)


Neo Cons on the Run?

Since Blogger may not always keep it alive, try the link. or read the story below. I think it’s revealing. And I view Cons as Cons. You know what I mean 🙂

It has become very fashionable to believe that the neocons are on the run, and their hold over American politics has finally come to an end. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although Iraq isn’t going well, and the torture issue is proving to be a bit of an embarrassment for certain Washington elites, the power of the neocons continues pretty much unabated. They are keeping a low profile until it is clear that oil prices will stay low enough for Bush to be reelected, but their ultimate plans for the Middle East and the world remain in place, and are quietly advancing. Americans who think that some fairy godmother – either the CIA, ‘patriotic’ U. S. generals, or the U. S. Congress – is going to rescue them are dreaming in technicolor. All kinds of terrible legal things are supposed to be in the works for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, and all the infamous neocons from Wolfowitz on down. Just who exactly will be bringing all these people to justice?
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Culture, Caste and Women in Indian Society

Prof (Dr) Nirupama Prakash of BITS, Pilani, India is holding a Summer course here in Maryland. The course (WMST 498A/SLCC 498I) is titled “Culture, Caste and Women in Indian Society”. For the ones to be more interested, “this course is intended to examine the status of women in Indian society and explore the issues & challenges in process of empowerment. Uniqueness of Indian women stem from the social location which apart from being post-colonial also represents the global character of modern achievers.

I am assisting the professor in some minor ways and preparing to show a movie or two to encourage a class discussion. The course will explicate the inherent complexities in progression of Indian women from being rendered a subject status by a patriarchal society dominated by male rulers, to the subjugated women’s struggle to reclaim centrality in modern India.

Women’s status in India is bound with social, cultural and economic factors that influence all aspects of their lives. There are strong cultural influences on fertility, preference for sons, education of the girl child, age at marriage, dowry system, widowhood, decision-making, child-bearing practices, nutritional status, access to health care and degree of access to the outside world. All these factors have profound implications on the status of women in India. The course also reflects on various facets of Indian culture, viz., institutions of caste, tribes, family, marriage and also highlights the policy issues for development of Indian society with focus on gender issues.

American tortures evoke painful memories

Here is another news one can use.

Brenda Norrell (Southwest Staff Reporter/Indian Country Today) writes on how U.S. tortures elicit painful memories in Indian country.

American Indians said apologies would not erase the tortures in Iraq and President Bush should be held responsible for leading America into a groundless war.

“It seems like white people are the worst savages,” said Bessie Taylor, Navajo from Ch’ooshgai Mountain on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico.

After viewing the photograph of a female soldier holding a leash tied around the throat of a naked Iraqi, Taylor said the female soldier should be dragged in the same manner. “She probably doesn’t know what it feels like to be tortured.”

After Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld apologized for the abuses in Iraq, Taylor said, “An apology is nothing. What does an apology do for you – nothing.”

Taylor said Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld should be held responsible for the tortures in Iraq. “They were so eager for this war, now look what has happened. President Bush is responsible for leading America into this war. He is responsible for this. This war was about oil and making Bush’s friends rich.”
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