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…

Fellow Decent Human Beings… (Translated)

Following is my translation of a poem by Sahir Ludhianvi: “Ae Sharif Insaanoen” I find the poem to be deeply relevant to our times. Just when the majority of us are blaming the minority among us for criminal acts of terror caused by the militarists and suddenly believing in the words of “our” national politicians to caste doubts upon innocent people of another country, at a time when we Indians have become mute witnesses to cultural bans on Pakistan and artists from Pakistan even as racist communal elements in Bollywood such as Aadesh Srivastava or Abhijeet are gaining grounds, at…

Vote for Taj! But find for me yet another place!

As India (and the world) goes to vote for Taj Mahal tomorrow, an ugly form of patriotism and appreciation has surfaced utilizing a monument declared to be most beautiful by some. The claim for “seven wonders” (and one wonders why they need to have it to be only seven, and not thirteen, or a hundred) has been reduced to a competitive exercise where people representing their countries exhibit some version of solidarity to showcase monuments that have absolutely nothing in relevance to either the present, or the future. Moreover, the past–related to sites like the Taj Mahal–also needs to be…

A Review of “The Darker Nations”

[Originally published in Radical Notes, 18 March 2007] Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World, The New Press, New York, 2007. Hardcover, 384 pp. Amazon/NP The Darker Nations is a critical historiography of the Third World. Vijay Prashad’s deeply instructive as well as occasionally mordant looks at events and processes that made up the history of oppressed peoples in the 20th century comprise this brilliant work. It is a book profound for being peremptory, and absolutely necessary for being so relevant today that it is imperative for activists and researchers alike. For one, the various…

Hindus, Muslims and Secular Traditions: Vande Mataram (Part II)

Vande Mataram debate has almost engulfed India these days. I would not claim it to be entirely of no consequence. And those who say that people should be left to sing what they want to, in the tradition of liberal democracy, in my view again, are continuing to enjoy a Hindu privilege. If for a moment, they would imagine how it feels to be member of a minority group being subjected to a song that was targeted against them, most of us would clearly understand the inherent pain. Muslims in India have been told from the beginning that they are…

Vande Mataram as a Hindu Hymn

There is no reason why Vande Mataram, the Indian national song, should be in controversy any longer. This song should be now scrapped and deleted from its current status. Ever since India’s ‘independence’, this song has created controversies, and for obvious reasons. However, just as the ‘secular’ leadership of India had tried to suppress the skeletons in its cupboard, the opportunistic media had also vociferously supported the need for the song to go on in its truncated form. And India, mostly kept ignorant about the damaging consequences of having such a song was lulled into believing that everything was well…

Happy Victory Day!

My father calls this, not the Independence day, but the Victory Day. For, on August 14-15, 1947, peoples of the brave revolutionary land of India finally won the long war against British Imperialism. The war, spanning more than 200 years was fought with occasional non-violent demonstrations of millions of people, and more importantly, was fought with organized revolutionary peasants and workers movements which finally forced the Empire to concede defeat. It was perhaps the largest victory of the landless peoples over the landlords and invaders in the history of world. In doing so, peoples from the Indian subcontinent regions demonstrated…

PostModern Blues

My resistance to post-modernists is huge. Partly because I think they make the dissident movements effete by their convenient generalizations. Partly also because I don’t see the vagueness as clearly as they do. Either of us has to be less intelligent to perceive the halos. Let me be the one, then. In the meantime, I found Stuart Hall in his “On postmodernism and articulation: An interview with Sturat Hall”, (ed. Lawrence Grossberg) say this about Baudrillard. How very accurate. Did I tell you how much I love this man, Hall, who refuses to be a mere legend. “Let’s take Baudrillard’s…