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…

Why is Hurricane Sandy a Political Issue?

President Obama and his administration have been exchanging high-fives and posing for stock images to bring home the point that Sandy’s aftermath is being dealt with successfully. Reassuring this to the rest of the world, the president then visits his campaign rallies. And after his inspiring speeches are registered the liberal media spins portray how neighbors should be helping each other, how communities should come together and how individual charities make all the difference in resolving natural disaster crisis. They paint the aftermath a victory for a president who hugs the visibly grateful citizens with a confident smile facing the…

Occupy Wall Street: Challenges, Privileges & Futures

“One who tells the people revolutionary legends, 
and who amuses them with sensational stories, 
is as criminal as the geographer 
who would draw up false charts for navigators.” 
 – HPO Lissagaray, “History of the Paris Commune of 1871” (1877) The challenges to Occupy Wall Street are many. Some even more critical than the very issues the protestors are fighting against. Whereas it claims to be the 99%, yet the movement practices the age-old privileges of class and race blindness. Similar to most white liberal movements, the OWS is hardly inclusive of the people of color. Although the spirit is…

India vs Indians: Peoples’ History of Orissa’s Dispossessed

Tribal uprisings in Orissa were the first of organized assaults on the British, against the Hindu Kings, as well as on the Brahmin supremacists. The indigenous were united against oppression way before the Sepoy Mutiny took shape. They had no loyalty towards the kings and unlike the Paikas and Sepoys, they had no interest in releasing the royal families from British domains. In fact, the tribals shone in their capacity to challenge the Rajas as much as they expressed disdain towards British agents. Therefore, when the native Kings of Khurda, Kanika and Kujang made a confederation to oppose the British…

India vs Indians: Revolution Never Ends in Orissa

Freedom will not come Today, this year Nor ever Through compromise and fear…. I do not need freedom when I’m dead I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread – Langston Hughes Using brute police force to silence indigenous peoples’ mass uprising in Orissa is not just an act of sheer cowardice and criminality; it is a decision founded upon gross ignorance of the unique stream of struggles which characterize the class war in the land that has witnessed more organized revolutions than enforced reforms. Orissan tribal uprising has a definitive historical pattern. It is not exclusive to the current state of…

India vs Indians :: Orissa’s Freedom Struggle

By Saswat Pattanayak Originally Written for Radical Notes If laws are meant to protect the people, then the only thing illegal in India must be the Government. Only a morally bankrupt, democratically inept and humanistically regressive group of parasites can sustain corruptible power through twisted legal clauses organically designed to crush collective aspirations. It is only logical that a group of vandals in active collaborations with their masters stationed abroad get united to use the name of a country to misappropriate authorities, subjugate millions of informed as well as ignorant people, and repress dissent as though indifferent silence on part…

Remembering Howard Zinn (August 24, 1922 – January 27, 2010)

(For publication in Radical Notes) By Saswat Pattanayak “To be neutral is to collaborate with whatever is going on, and I as a teacher do not want to be a collaborator with whatever is happening in the world today.” (Howard Zinn) In the grossly unequal world that we inhabit, it is always tempting to remain apolitical, especially if one is an academician materially benefiting from the status quo system of education. It is only logical to separate classroom instructions from political activisms, since teachers are desired by the system to enhance employability of students within the social framework, not to…

POSCO in Orissa – A Case of Global Masters against Local Preys

By Saswat Pattanayak Pohang Steel Company (POSCO) operates two of the world’s leading steel projects–the Pohang and Gwangyang works, and conducts business in over 60 countries around the globe. Since last couple of years, POSCO has been setting goals for the economically backward and minerals-rich Orissa. If Vedanta promises the biggest university in the world, POSCO promises the largest steel plant, and the biggest foreign direct investment in history (Rs 51,000 crore). After signing a Memorandum of Understanding with POSCO, Orissa-a largely obscured cultural site for Hindu pilgrims, has now found the biggest reserved location on World Exploitation Map. According…

Beyond the Judiciary – Reservation as Reparation

Written for Radical Notes Thursday, 19 April 2007 Saswat Pattanayak “The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expressions of the dominant material relations, the dominant material relations grasped as ideas; hence of the relations which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance” (Marx and Engels). The recent Supreme Court of India decision imposing a stay on the implementation of the 27 percent reservation for the “other backward classes” (OBCs) in elite institutions is a desperate attempt to secure a few public institutions exclusively for the ‘meritorious’ few, whose merit rests on accumulated…

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…