Matter & Consciousness: Revisiting Lokayata

Lokayata did not deny the consciousness so much as it complicated it. Instead of acceding to an assumption that consciousness could be a peculiarity of the spirit, it depicted consciousness as an attribute of the body. This occurred, according to them, because whereas the material elements comprise the living body, consciousness is produced in it.

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…

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.

Rape Culture and Capitalism: What is living and what is dead

By Saswat Pattanayak I understand many of us, Indians, are ashamed these days. And it is true that protests and placards do not educate the rapists. And that the students came out on the streets only because it is New Delhi. But we should not miss an important aspect of it all – most protesters clearly defying governmental bans are demonstrating an important tactic in the struggle for women’s rights anywhere in the world. This is a strategy that should not be discouraged, rather used everywhere – be it in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Orissa or Manipur. Or for that matter, in…

Rape Culture, Capitalism and India

By Saswat Pattanayak Looks like, rape still continues to shock virtuous people in India. Or was it just this latest one? The one that took place in Delhi? Was it because the “izzat” of India’s capital city has now become the new concern? The honorable India has to be reclaimed in all “her” full glory where the goddesses are worshipped and women assaulted? Or is it that the unprecedented outrage in Indian society today owes to the fact that this rape was of the “more brutal” variety? Since most of us don’t do that kind of “iron rod” rapes. We…

Two Terrorists

(On their untimely deaths. One died too late and one, too early)  Bal, You were right about the god He took care of his subjects Rewarded those to Him closer Punished any whom to Him objects Must be sins driving them to deaths Who dared appeal for divine justice Fateful nights of communal clashes Died those lesser Hindus, Muslims  You, much loved,  lived on, lives on Immortalized by  Lata and Bachhan Honored with Tricolor, your body Even in death, rules over the  nation —— Kasab, Now that you are gone We can breathe again Lose in the dance of joy…

Reflections for 15th August…

We started off with an exalted note, a thundering applause, and an optimistic tryst with destiny. Despite obnoxious Churchill laughing away sardonically. We installed the most erudite of scholars at the highest echelons of power. Even as that could not deprive us of our web of superstitious ignorance. We strived to help Indira’s India turn duplicitously socialist carving out a veritably stimulating mixed economy. That did not prevent us from cementing the biggest feudal setup in modern times. Now a full circle; we are a capitalistic mega success, a military super power in the making, an economic giant, and foremost…

Noam Chomsky speaks to Saswat Pattanayak

Saswat Pattanayak – Prof Chomsky, where do you locate the contours of the current crisis in Egypt, Tunisia and rest of the Middle East? Noam Chomsky – The source of the crisis in the Arab world goes back very far and it’s similar to what we find in the formerly colonized world. Actually it was expressed rather clearly in the 1950’s by President Eisenhower and his staff. He was holding an internal discussion which has been declassified since. Eisenhower asked his staff why there is, what he called a “campaign of hatred” against us in the Arab world. Not among…

Freedom Tree!

Tireless in pursuit of democratic rights  Relentlessly challenging plutocratic might Braving atrocities, police state’s plights Awaiting the passage of this barbaric night   Freedom Tree! Free Press shall set us Free!   In actions and spirits, journalists united Radical is our zeal, refusing to be placated No longer shall we let scribes be oppressed Duties shall manifest, and our rights protected   Freedom Tree! Free Press shall set us Free!   Unjust regimes can imprison us; not our thoughts They can chain us down, charge us with treasons Truths we shall expose, fearless in our purpose With conscience intact, misdeeds…

New India

Yes, the new India is on the rise,  Superpower in growth and size Will exceed China, in double digits Software giant, sweatshops sans limits   Poverty is the biggest crime Prime Minister’s favorite rhyme Its the Naxals that must die For the governments must lie   To protect their seats of power Must rule over a people in despair By feeding myths of developments Need to purge peoples’ movements   Yes, the new India is on the rise Racism against Dalits the Repubilc denies Merits, not reservations, shall offer success Networking is fair and so is nepotism excess   Ayodhya…