Amiri Baraka: Angry Black Communist, the Soul of the Sun

Saswat Pattanayak’s tribute to Amiri Baraka.

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2014: Let Ourselves Prevail

“Where the mind is without fear” and whistleblowers roam free Prisons abolished; die with them, values all reactionary Where the world exults in differences, amidst sheer diversity Supremacism ends; cease with it, any collective adversity Where ideas spring from challenged truths, broken promises Perfection wound up; sought after no more are divine images Where faith is exposed as a hopeless quest, of oppressed states Reason, power and strength too seen as elite privileged quests      Where rape no longer a metaphor, nor millionaires act commoners Celebrities awaken the conscience, not profiteers, accumulators  Where the admired do not endorse wars,…

Aam Aadmi Party and Politics of the Impossible

(Published in Kindle Magazine || December, 2013) Contrary to the revised emotions from electoral pundits and wild psephologists, Delhi elections have not ushered in any new kind of empowering politics for India. Poll results have merely sided with populism, the central tenet in the politics of hopelessness that pervades the country today. Aam Aadmi Party is the New Right – a nationalist party aimed at dislodging Congress and weakening the Left – using a milder, a more acceptable version of BJP politics, Saswat Pattanayak opines. The exaggerated climate of pessimism that may follow once Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) resorts to…

Fashion Dialectics

  By Saswat Pattanayak “Fashion determines, in each case, the acceptable limit of empathy.” – Walter Benjamin. Benjamin belonged to the interwar period that witnessed rise of fascism, actively aided by European intellectuals who were hostile to the masses. The bourgeois was disdainful of the “mass society”, and the ways in which new electronic media were displaying potentials for mass liberations. Its high-brow standards were being threatened by the low-brow tastes of American consumer capitalism. Its exclusive access to the sophisticated art forms was being undermined by the new medium of photography. “Socialist realism” was connecting the masses to what was historically being denied to…

Orissa Killer Cyclone 1999: Recollections & Some Lessons for Phailin

 

Cyclone Phailin is not over yet, and Orissa is not all about Bhubaneswar. If lessons be learnt from 1999, there’s an enormous amount of work to be done, beginning with the administration ending its premature jubilation. Even as this cyclone did not prove to be as catastrophic as the ’99 one, we must not undermine the challenges that are ahead of us. Evacuation is not enough, rehabilitation is the key. Farmers, fishers and the poor in the vulnerable coastal belts devoid of ecological balances, wrought upon them through corporate greed – are the sections of population that will be the worst sufferers. 500,000 hectares of crops have been damaged and the already impoverished state of Orissa has been relegated further down. 

I am sharing with you all my journey as a reporter during the 1999 “super cyclone” when the team of Asian Age covered it extensively. Some of it are pure nostalgia, but many are pointers to what may lie ahead.

Lesson from Snowden: Myth of the Free Press

By Saswat Pattanayak   The recent rise in whistleblowers in America maybe new, but the governmental scrutiny and penalization process is hardly so. Apart from the widening scope of social/virtual media’s sphere of influence, there is hardly anything unique about the circumstances unraveled by Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning. Political radicalism, underground media activism and alleged unpatriotic nature among conscientious citizens in the United States are what has indeed uniquely created this country. It has always been the case of the powerful ruling class elites duly supported by the judiciary, military and corporate media constantly engaged in wars against progressive…

Platoon of Leeches and the New Royal Parasite

By Saswat Pattanayak   BBC informed us: “Kate in Labour as the World Waits”, CNN’s Victoria Arbiter said Kate Middleton was “brilliant for delivering a boy”, Times of India updated Indian readers about “15 quirky facts” they “didn’t know about the royal baby”, while The Hindu kept up with the times as it ruptured, “It’s a boy! Kate gives birth to royal heir”. Not to mention, the famed liberal newspaper Guardian started worrying over the name with its headline, “Alexandra, Charlotte, George or James – all royal baby name bets are on.” There was perhaps not a single news establishment…