Padmavati, Karni Sena and the crisis of Hinduism

By Saswat Pattanayak The outrage against Karni Sena is entirely misplaced. These hooligans will eventually be forgiven by their gods because they know not what they do. The real dangerous elements however are those who claim to know better, and yet fervently endorse Padmavati – whether as a fictional character, a historical figure, or as a movie script awaiting screening. In all shape, way, and form, Rani Padmini legacy is a textbook instance of Islamophobia. If the practice of Sati was/is justified by the Hindus as the chaste wife syndrome, the practice of Jauhar which Padmini was said to have…

An Ode to the Unfinished

like the unfinished manuscripts unsung songs leaderless movements incomplete news abridged classics discarded mixtapes dimmed lights celebrity kids burnt-out prodigies demonetized masses abandoned refugees rsvp’ed maybe postponed suicides depressed doctors temp on sick leave upper east side homeless professor with student loans yet another president palestinian dreams pretend plays criterion collections hawaiian sovereignty discovering god forgiving abortions cultural purities national boundaries racial features gendered restrooms leaked emails exiled pirates 50c raise in hourly wage a year of promises half empty or, half full a broken calendar that rarely matters anymore… or shall it – this coming year? – by Saswat…

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…

Looking for Jesus and Finding them

Physically disabled GN Saibaba, the revolutionary from Delhi University who is suffering the brunt of a fascist Indian state for holding radical views, is Jesus. The Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar Lopez Rivera suffering from a sentence of 70 years in an American prison, charged with “seditious conspiracy”, is Jesus. Black Panther and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal who remains the undying conscience of a world crying for freedom, is Jesus.

Eurocentrism as Terrorism

Contrary to what Žižek claims, egalitarianism and personal freedoms do not comprise Western legacy—their suppression in the name of colonialism does. One cannot rule over and plunder another country for decades, if not centuries, and then blame the “backwardness” on the ruled subjects.

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…

Roots (and prospects) of Justice

Maulana Mohani was concerned that in our anticommunist quest, we were ignoring an emancipatory USSR Constitution, while heavily borrowing from colonial legacies of oppressive Constitutions of the imperialist world, and that, by doing so, we were facilitating prospects for dangerous communal violence in the coming years

The need for Political Correctness

The censorship argument just as the artistic expressions themselves needs to be politically correct – the position must spring from the point of raised consciousness where the needs of the times – taking into consideration various locations of exploitations and associated struggles for social justice – are well understood and articulated.

Sovereignty, Unity and The State Of Denial

Contradictions abound in the new political landscape. Like Savarkar’s divisive Hindutva excluded other religions, so does Modi’s prescription of Hinduism as the way of life for Indians. To reemphasise my point: Modi did not win the people’s mandate because he opposed divisive politics, but because he profited from it. Not because he spoke against identity politics but because it is the victory of the identity politics – specifically that of the Hindu identity. It is the victory of the idea of a Hindu nation.

The Politics We Deserve

By Saswat Pattanayak   “Politics hates a vacuum. If it isn’t filled with hope, someone will fill it with fear.”  (Naomi Klein) Fear-based politics reaches disproportionate heights when coupled with nationalistic frenzies. As a first sign of fascism, it assumes a normalized state, masquerading as an agency to dispel fear itself. To rejuvenate the political climate with a fresh lease by resorting to masculine rhetorics becomes its core strategy. It predictably attacks the progressives as conspiratorial and traitors, while it paints the secularists as impotent and pseudo. Fear-based politics mocks constitutional frameworks, not out of concern, but from disdain. It…