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…

Kanhaiya Kumar and Betrayal of Freedom Struggles

By Saswat Pattanayak Kanhaiya Kumar’s arrest was unfortunate and so his release on bail is a great relief. But beyond that, to seek revolutionary potential in the hoopla surrounding it, is to miss the point entirely. Competing for authentic nationalism to legitimize an oppressive power structure is not what the Communists do. Quite the opposite. Sudden excitement and pronouncement of “victory” at the news of a judge granting Kumar’s bail is a betrayal of Kashmiri peoples’ struggles, given the specific contexts of denial of antinationalism on part of these students. It is as if the left-liberals of India were hoping…

Rohith Vemula: Indian Left and the Dalit Student Suicides

By Saswat Pattanayak (Written for CounterCurrents) Rohith Vemula did not just commit suicide – he was murdered. And this murder was not committed by the right-wing ABVP – it was conducted by the left-liberals. The “Dalit problem” citing which Rohith gave up his life, is not the creation of any fringe elements among communal Hindus – it is sustained by the liberal Hindus who tremendously profit from the status quo it provides. None of this is an exaggeration – these comprise a reality that must be confronted. The entire Hindu society, the Savarnas, are the perpetrators – no one among…

Comrade A B Bardhan, Lal Salam!

By Saswat Pattanayak Comrade A B Bardhan (1924-2016) was not just the foremost communist mass leader of India who raised working class consciousness among millions through his oratory and organizational persistence, he was also the Marxist historian who accounted peoples’ struggles like no one else had quite done. Well before publishing “People’s History” had become a worldwide trend, Comrade Bardhan had reflected upon the critical role of working class in India’s freedom struggle with these words – “Official histories are apt to pass over in silence the role of the working class in India’s freedom struggle. They depict the freedom…

Divided We Fall

Last year alone, an earthquake – among many – left 9,000 dead in Nepal. Stampede among the devotees caused death of 2,200 people in Mecca. Over 3.1 million children – under five – died of malnutrition everywhere in the world. They were not victims of terrorism or organized murders. They did not perpetuate any evil to justify a divine plan that took their lives. And yet, not one God or multiple versions of Gods could do anything to save them. That is because there is no God. There is no reason for a belief in God, or adherence to any…

Modi-Sharif Class Interests

By Saswat Pattanayak Narendra Modi’s newfound love for Sharif only proves how Class triumphs over everything. Capitalists can forgo all their differences in coming together for common cause. Adani/Jindal commercial interests in Pakistan ruled by a feudal lord whose family has profiteering interests in collaborating with the new souled-out India show how even the worst form of jingoism from either side has no locus standi when it comes to safeguarding class interests. No matter the religion or caste (Sharif being a Sunni Muslim and Modi being an OBC Hindu) or nationality and gender, when it comes to class interests, there…

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.

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…

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